Sustainability forecasted to be a growing priority in retail, as 84% shoppers make ‘green’ choices

  • 84% of Aussies take environmentally friendly choices in their online shopping journey

  • Recycling of packaging ranks highest for all Aussies - at 47% - and increases with shopper age 

  • Choosing sustainable retailers decreases consistently with shopper age: 45% of under-30s seek out such retailers

New research has revealed the most – and least – popular ‘green’ choices that Aussies make in their online shopping journey, giving retailers insights into the potential return on investment in their own sustainability initiatives. The good news is that a whopping 84 per cent of Aussies are making efforts to shop sustainably, from choosing sustainable retailers with ethical policies to recycling packaging. The study also shows older Aussies are leading the charge on some environmentally friendly practices such as reusing and recycling, while younger shoppers care most about ethical policies. 

The findings were derived from a survey of an independent panel of 1005 Australian adults commissioned by Australia’s fastest-growing franchised parcel delivery service, CouriersPlease, to glean the rates of sustainable choices made by consumers while shopping online. CouriersPlease presented respondents with seven of the most popular environmentally friendly practices such as choosing retailers with sustainable practices, with just 16 per cent confessing they take no such actions at all.

For the full survey results, click here.

Recycling came out as the most popular environmentally friendly choice among respondents, with 47 per cent saying they recycle their product and parcel packaging. Avoiding impulse buys and re-using and re-wearing items multiple times came out as the equal second most favoured green choice, chosen by 34 per cent. 

Disappointingly, just 29 per cent of respondents return items in the same satchel they arrived in. An even lower 20 per cent say they return unwanted items rather than keeping them unused or disposing of them.

An impressive 34 per cent sometimes or always shop at retailers boasting sustainably sourced fabrics and ethical labour practices, with 10 per cent exclusively making that choice.

Boomers boom in recycling but Gen-Z are most ethical shoppers

The CouriersPlease survey shows that the older the shopper, the more likely they are to recycle their packaging: 56 per cent of over-50s do so, compared with just 36 per cent of under-30s, while 43 per cent aged 31-50 make the effort.

However, the younger the shopper the more likely they are to choose ethical or sustainable retailers and return items in the same satchel they arrived in, to save on packaging. Almost half (45%) of Gen-Z sometimes or always choose ethical or sustainable retailers, compared with just 25 per cent of over-50s. One third (36%) of Gen-Z also returns items in the same satchel, compared with 27 per cent and 25 per cent of 31-50s and over-50s respectively.

CouriersPlease CEO Richard Thame says the figures showcase the rise of sustainability concerns for all Aussies, with a study revealing Australians are more worried about climate change than most other issues2. 

Richard says: “I believe companies who can and do make sustainable choices will increasingly wind up with a larger share of the consumer pie. These figures also show where opportunities lie for retailers looking to be sustainable leaders. We can see that recycling packaging is a key concern for all Aussies, so ensuring packaging is recyclable and/or comprises recyclable materials is paramount.  

“With few shoppers returning their goods in the same package, this also creates a chance for retailers to make it as easy as possible for their consumers by implementing resealable parcels, for example.”

While climate change concerns are often considered a greater issue for younger Aussies, the data shows that over 50s are the most concerned about recycling, which could indicate better habits and education.

Richard says: “Nearly all Australian households boast access to waste and recycling kerbside collection services and much of the country adopted curbside collection for recycling in the 80s and 90s[1]. This could explain why older Australians are better at disposing packaging correctly as they’ve had more time to adapt. Federal and state governments have also spent considerable money on promoting recycling.”

West Australians take the sustainability crown

Among the mainland Aussie states, WA shoppers shirk impulse buys the most and correctly dispose of packaging, with 40 per cent prioritise reusing items over impulse purchases, and 53 per cent recycle their packaging. Queenslanders were the second most likely to recycle with almost 1 in 2 (49 per cent) making the effort to correctly dispose of packaging.

Richard says: “Given a decade-long renewed focus on recycling across Western Australia, it’s unsurprising the state is leading the sustainability charge in some respects. Waste disposal across Western Australia fell by 24 per cent on a per capita basis according to the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy for 2030 , which was the largest fall in waste disposal nationally in 2017.

“We’re proud to be a part of that trend with our new Perth facility in High Wycombe, due for completion in April, being constructed to a highly sustainable standard while boasting provisions for future solar panel installations, rainwater harvesting and electric car charging points.”

Richard adds that greater corporate responsibility on environmentally friendly practices must be increasingly embraced across the nation.
CouriersPlease is prioritising sustainability in its own business by opening three new depots in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth that are built to a Green Star Standard, to support the growth of its customers and franchisees.