A recent survey found that 84 percent of U.S. shoppers said that they are concerned about plastic and packaging waste.

Consumer Brands/Ipsos polled 1,530 people in July and concluded that boomers have the highest level of concern as 87 percent of respondents said they are worried about packaging waste.

Additionally, 79 percent of Generation X said they are worried about packaging waste, while 83 percent of millennials and 85 percent of Gen Z said they are concerned as well, according to the survey.

The poll also found that 47 percent of Americans would choose to buy recyclable products if given that option, while 20 percent would opt for compostable products.

However, consumers have limited environmental-friendly options when it comes to packaging. Companies reported that only 65 percent of plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable, according to a 2020 study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Global Commitment.

Still, some companies are offering environmentally friendly packaging. For instance, Procter & Gamble recently said it plans to test refillable shampoo bottles and launched a shampoo bottle in 2017 that is made up of 25 percent of recycled beach plastic.

Other individuals have taken matters into their own hands and proposed different concepts to degrade plastic waste. Last month, two U.S. scientists won a 1 million euro ($1.18 million) prize for creating a food generator concept that turns plastics into protein.

The 2021 Future Insight Prize went to Ting Lu, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Stephen Techtmann, associate professor of biological sciences at Michigan Technological University, for their project. It uses microbes to degrade plastic waste and convert it into food.

Consumer Brands/Ipsos are optimistic about the $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan currently being discussed in the Senate, saying it designates “historic” levels of funding for recycling infrastructure.

“Not only is this an important step forward for the CPG industry, which has long called for more federal involvement in our broken recycling system, but it is also an important win for consumers who want to protect their environment and ensure items tossed into their bins are actually recycled,” Katie Denis, Vice President of Research and Industry Narrative at the Consumer Brands Association said in the survey.

Global plastics production totaled 368 million metric tons in 2019. The only decline in the past 60 years came because the COVID-19 pandemic choked production of goods worldwide as factories sputtered and shipping slowed down.

In May, the Plastic Waste Makers Index revealed that 20 companies are responsible for producing 55 percent of all single-use plastic waste generated globally.

The report also identified the banks and financial institutions that fund the production of single-use plastic, tens of millions of tonnes of which ends up as pollution each year.

Plastic waste
Over 80 percent of Americans said that they are concerned about plastic and packaging waste with boomers generation having the highest level of concern, according to a poll. The picture above shows a paper cup, small bits of plastic and an overgrowth of algae in the Los Angeles River in Long Beach, California. April 2015.
Maureen Sullivan / Contributor Getty Images

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