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But not enough BCers are doing their part to reduce single-use plastic consumption

Vancouver, BC — Single-use plastics do not sit well with BCers. A large majority of people across the province are concerned about the environmental impact of throw-away, single-use plastics with a similar amount in support of an outright ban. These are some of the findings of a new survey conducted by Insights West on the topic of single-use plastics. The study also found that while many BCers are doing things to reduce their use of single-use plastics, there’s more that citizens and businesses can do to help.

Single-use plastics, or disposable plastics, are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled and are commonly used in items like plastic bags, drinking straws, beverage containers, food packaging, and more. While cheap and easy to make and ever so portable, they have long lifespans, often languishing in landfills, polluting waterways and oceans, and harming wildlife.

This problem is a significant concern to many residents in “Beautiful British Columbia” – a nearly all (88%) BCers express concerns about the environmental impact of single-use plastics. In fact, half (51%) of those polled in the Insights West study are very concerned, with 37% somewhat concerned.

But what’s being done? And what can be done?

In June of 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new federal government policy proposal to ban “harmful” single-use plastics across Canada by 2021 in an effort to reduce the country’s amount of plastic pollution. In British Columbia, that idea is being met with overwhelming support: 81% of those polled support the government’s proposed ban – 50% strongly supportive and 31% somewhat supportive.

That support is almost universal across the generations (83% for ages 18-34, 77% for ages 35-54, and 83% for those 55+) and regions (82% in Metro Vancouver, 83% on Vancouver Island, and 76% in the rest of BC). However, there is a bit of gender gap: women (87%) are more likely than men (74%) to support the idea of the single-use plastics ban.

Aside from being concerned and supporting a federal ban on such plastics, what are BCers doing in their everyday lives to reduce their personal use and consumption of single-use plastics? The Insights West survey asked about a number of actions and decisions people can take to reduce plastic waste and found that although a large number are participating in some actions, there are some actions where participation levels are less than ideal.

The percentage of BCers that frequently do the following list of activities to help reduce plastic use includes:

•    71% bring their own bags to stores to avoid using plastic bags

•    68% use a reusable water bottle in place of a plastic bottle

•    56% use a reusable coffee mug in place of a disposable one

•    50% use reusable bowl covers/wraps instead of plastic alternatives

•    25% use a reusable straw in place of using a plastic straw

•    23% consciously make choices about what they buy or don’t buy based on how much plastic is in it

•    19% bring their own reusable containers to a store

In each of those actions above, with one exception, a slightly larger percentage of BC women were more likely to frequently do these plastic-reducing activities than men in BC. The only exception was bringing reusable containers, where the genders met in equal proportions.

While many BCers are trying to cut their plastic waste, that is countered by the convenience of our modern shopping and eating habits.  With 12% of people reporting that they frequently order takeout food and 20% reporting frequently ordering items online for delivery to their work or home, that extra convenience comes wrapped in extra plastic.

“It’s not often that we get nearly universal consensus on any public initiative that any level of government proposes, but the proposed federal plastics ban is one exception,” says Steve Mossop, president of Insights West. “In the past couple years, global warming has topped the public’s agenda and a whole host of personal environmental initiatives have followed suit, with the reduction of plastics being at the top of the list. Despite this, our poll shows that we still have a long way to go when it comes to changing our own environmental behaviours and actions.”

About Insights West:

Insights West is a full-service marketing research firm based in Western Canada. Since 2012, the company has conducted over one million surveys, executed 2,000 studies, and issued over 350 press releases on a variety of topics, correctly predicting the outcomes of 24 out of 25 elections and plebiscites. Insights West is a team of passionate, truth-seeking researchers who question everything to uncover the truth and what is emerging for a diverse set of clients. With an understanding of shifting markets, consumer and societal trends, and commitment to uncovering truths through a proprietary toolkit and innovative research approaches, Insights West helps organizations make better decisions.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from October 13 to 26, 2019 among a representative sample of 1670 BC adults. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 2.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click HERE to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
Insights West