The Consumer Organization has published the results of the surveys carried out within the framework of the European CIRC-PACK project, coordinated by CIRCE
The study reflects that environmental aspects influence the purchase decision of the Spaniards, but they are not decisive. Quality and price continue to prevail

The Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU) has carried out a survey of 1,219 Spaniards between 18 and 74 years of age to know to what extent consumers are involved in recycling and learn about the habits and perceptions they have about plastic containers.

The OCU survey is part of the European Research Project CIRC-PACK, which is coordinated from Spain through CIRCE. The project is funded by the European Commission and its objective is to contribute to developing a more sustainable plastics production chain, less dependent on fossil fuels and more oriented towards a circular economy.

The result of the survey reveals important aspects to consider:

What do we think about plastics?

  • In Spain we know the importance of becoming aware of this waste, 92% recognize that plastics are a problem for the planet, but the reality is that the environmental aspect is not the main criterion by which we are governed when we are going to buy packaged products like food, detergents or hygiene products. Quality and price continue to prevail.
  • Environmental aspects such as recyclability, possible reuse and the absence of polluting substances that influence the purchase decision, but only moderately.

What do we think about plastic containers of household products?

  • 11% always avoid buying or using products with plastic content and 8% do not buy products that are wrapped in it.
  • 43% say they meet very often with unnecessary packaging and for more than half it is usual to give them a container that is too large for the size of the product.

Do we do waste separation at home?

  • 69% of Spaniards claim to separate plastic waste systematically at home compared to 8% who say they never do. The rest, 23% confess that, although it separates it does not do it very strictly.
  • Among the most frequent reasons for not separating household waste or not doing better, is the one that has to contain too many specific containers at home and that the delivery points placed on the street are far from the house.

Do you buy grocery bags or take home? Would you pay to use plastic bags that used biodegradable?

  • Six out of 10 Spaniards (59%) carry home bags (from previous purchases, cloth bags …) and only 13% of dice without using any type of bags.
  • 60% of consumers have never offered to use biodegradable bags (or biological materials) even though 82% of respondents would be willing to pay to use them. Although we would not pay too much, 18% would not pay anything and only 19% would pay more than 10 cents.

What do you think about new plastic materials, from biological or biodegradable sources?

  • Many consumers would be suffering to assume changes, although not equally in all products. For example, 58% of Spanish respondents would opt for biodegradable plastic for coffee capsules, while for hygiene products such as shampoo it would be reduced to 37%.
  • The Spanish prefer to buy the products packaged in biodegradable plastic rather than in plastic from a biological source and are stored to pay a little more for these new packages (71%). There is also a significant percentage that is not willing to pay anything else.
  • However, the information on these new materials, the advantages and differences is insufficient, since 49% of respondents are missing data and 39% feel alone informally.
  • Information on the characteristics and sustainable advantages seems key to the success of its implementation and, therefore, of the progress in solving the plastics problem. However, only 30% of the interviewees believe that they are well informed about the consequences of the use of plastic and the number of them who know well what national and community policies in this regard are even smaller.

Change, everyone’s responsibility

Given the results of this survey, OCU believes that Spanish citizens are mostly inclined towards a change in recycling and environmental care. In addition, the Organization considers that it is possible to take simple measures on a day-to-day basis to avoid mass consumption of plastic, such as purchasing bulk products or avoiding very short-lived plastic products such as straws, plastic cups and plates, wipes, sticks, etc.

In addition, OCU believes that there are important measures that depend, on the one hand, on the will of the public authorities (to encourage the use of recycled materials, reduce the plastics that end up in landfills or strengthen the circular economy) and, on the other, on the manufacturers to get involved from ecodesign to fight a material that threatens to solve the problem.

More information about the CIRC-PACK project: