What’s trending: Earth Day 2018

April 19, 2018
4 min read

This year’s Earth Day shined a spotlight on plastic pollution. We’ve seen the damaging effects plastic waste can have on the planet, from poisoning marine life to littering our world’s great beaches. While tackling plastic pollution is certainly an urgent environmental issue, the challenge remains in fundamentally changing human attitudes and behaviors about plastics. Mintel’s 2018 Global Packaging Trend ‘Sea Change’ speaks to how plastic packaging adrift in the world’s oceans has become the new catalyst driving brands to rethink packaging in a context consumers can understand and act upon.

Below, we highlight three companies that are innovating their products and services to better align with the sustainability concerns of consumers around the world.

Upcycled clothing – US

A growing awareness of plastic pollution has led to the growth of an entirely new industry dedicated to turning plastic waste into new products. Adidas partnered with Parley for the Oceans to create soccer jerseys made from upcycled plastic ocean waste. The jerseys are made from plastic sourced from trash found on beaches and in coastal communities and will be worn by all 23 MLS teams over the Earth Day weekend. Adidas has previously partnered with Parley to repurpose plastic waste for use in its popular Ultra Boost shoes.
50% of UK consumers are interested in buying fashion items made from wholly/partially recycled plastic.
And this isn’t just a North American-focused cause, with nearly 50% of UK consumers interested in buying fashion items made from wholly/partially recycled plastic, according to Mintel’s UK report on fashion accessories. As perceptions of upcycled clothing change, fashion retailers have an opportunity to create a more impactful narrative around their products, speaking to the positive impact these goods have on the environment.

Community litter pick – Global

Players of Pokémon GO are being encouraged to pick up litter on Earth Day in exchange for in-game rewards. Game developer Niantic is partnering with a number of non-profit organizations to run 45 different litter-picking events in 14 countries globally. The in-person events will run alongside a tiered in-game reward system, meaning the more people who participate, the better the rewards offered for the Pokémon GO community.

Unlike many other mobile games, Pokémon GO actively encourages players to explore their surroundings; therefore its decision to focus on protecting what nature has to offer is a relatable step for its players. And while some brands focus on donating money or resources to charitable causes, the game’s decision to actively involve its players in its efforts is also likely to chime with its community-focused approach.

Reusable bags – Malaysia

Shoppers at Tesco stores in Malaysia will be given a rebate for bringing in their own reusable bags. While shoppers want to stop using plastic bags, they often forget to bring their reusable bags to the store. In response, Tesco created new reusable bags that feature designs of the region’s most endangered sea creatures hoping to ultimately change consumer habit. The shopping rebate serves as another added incentive, with Tesco being the first hypermarket in Malaysia to provide rebates of this nature to shoppers.

Younger adults find more value in reusable products, despite it being less convenient. Brands that commit to the use of recycled content can help drive the circular economy, ultimately reducing ocean plastic waste. Even so, consumers still need motivation to purchase and use these products, so offering small incentives like shopping rebates can help nudge them toward those better habits.

Gabrielle Lieberman is the Director of Trends and Social Media Research, Americas, at Mintel. Gabi leads the research, strategy and development of content within the Trends and Social Media Research departments across the Americas.

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