Canadian Consumers Support Single-Use Plastic Packaging Reductions

Prior to COVID-19 the general public supported the phase out of single-use plastic and the integration of reusable container and cup programs were gaining in popularity throughout Canada.

Although support for single-use plastic bans is still very high across the country, COVID-19 has slowed progress on the phase out.

This is exactly what the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University had set out to understand when it released the report, Plastic Food Packaging: Before and After COVID-19.

The aim of the survey was to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Canadian consumers’ attitudes towards single-use plastic food packaging.

The report which compares two cross-national surveys, generated interesting results. The initial one was conducted in 2019 while the most recent one conducted in the middle of July 2020, during the pandemic.

Some outstanding figures include (images from our instagram post):

Some additional key figures include:

  • The percentage of respondents actively shopping for non-plastic packaged goods is essentially unchanged, from 58% in 2019 to 60% in 2020. 

  • 2020 results see small but measurable decline in concern (from 91% to 87%), and in consumers’  motivation to avoid plastics (from 89% to 85%) - but with steeper declines among men.

  • 29% of respondents feel they are buying more plastic packaged goods during COVID. Women are more likely than men to buy more plastics (34% vs 25%). Young people are particularly buying more – with 47% of 18-25-year old and 34% of 26-39-year old reporting more plastic packaging consumption.

  • 55% of respondents are more concerned about food safety since COVID – particularly female, urban, and respondents in BC and the Atlantic.

  • 40% of respondents consider new safety concerns during COVID to be either “very important’ or “extremely important” to their decisions about buying plastic packaged goods.

  • In 2019 there was strong support for both stronger regulations on plastics (90% in agreement) and also for a single use plastics ban (70% in agreement) Support was equal between men and women.

  • In 2020, support for stronger regulations has declined by 11 percentage points to 79%, and support for a ban is down 12 points to 58%.

  • 52% of respondents agree that any new regulations should wait until after COVID is resolved.

The full survey results can be found on the here.

Plastics and COVID Preliminary Data EN
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Survey Notes:

Methodology: A representative survey of Canadian consumers was carried out from July 10 to July 14, 2020, in partnership with Angus Reid. A total of 977 valid responses were collected. In order to observe changes over time, we compared these recent results with baseline data collected by this lab through an earlier survey of 1014 Canadians conducted on May 13 to 18, 2019.

Margin of Error: Each sample carries a margin of error of +/‐3.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

The 2019 Angus Reid study quoted is not available online, however this CBC article, 82% of Canadians urging government action to tackle plastic pollution, refers to the study.

DreamZero is a strong supporter of reusable containers for food and beverage.

Scientists state reusables are safe and a recent Survey of Canadian Consumers Shows Strong Support for Single-Use Plastic Reduction Strategies.

For sporting events, restaurants takeout, delivery, patios, and parties -whether you need 100 pieces or 10,000 - we offer reusables solutions to meet your needs.

Check out this resource if you want to learn how to use reusables at events.


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