3M Warns Producers: Inconvenience Hinders Sustainable Buys

3M is warning about barriers to sustainable shopping
Industrial machinery firm 3M’s survey reveals plenty of good intentions – but there is a ‘tipping point’ stopping consumers from making sustainable choices

Companies are being urged by 3M to remove the obstacles and inconvenience that are the tipping point stopping consumers from choosing sustainable products.

The US-based materials science and manufacturing giant says the majority of people are happy to change their daily lives to be greener, but cost and other barriers are putting them off.

The 3M State of Science Insights Survey reveals 89% of UK consumers prioritise addressing climate change on a personal level.

But Tina Monk, EMEA Sustainability Manager at 3M, said: “Although UK consumers are enthusiastic about the concept of going green, cost and inconvenience remain significant obstacles.

“Despite an overwhelming majority expressing that addressing climate change is of great personal importance, these financial barriers are hindering initiatives like the push for electric vehicle ownership.

“It's evident that while the passion exists to truly push through change, we must eliminate these barriers by providing accessible, affordable climate solutions and alleviate the 'inconvenience point' for consumers."

3M's US HQ

The survey says

According to the survey, certain financial questions over green and sustainability credentials are among the reasons that consumers do not always commit to making green choices.  

However, 57% actively prefer and seek out businesses, including hotels, cafes and office spaces, with clear sustainability missions.

It is clear from the research that there is real intent to make planet-positive buys.

But 3M says: “Nevertheless, challenges like cost and infrastructure create a tipping point where larger behavioural shifts become inconvenient, underscoring the urgency for accessible and cost-efficient climate solutions.”

Solar power is thriving in the UK

Solar is still key 

The survey reveals an 81% recognition among UK consumers of renewable energy options, including solar power.

Figures from the Microgeneration Certification Scheme revealed that 2023 was a record year for rooftop solar panels, with the initiative hitting a 12-year installation high.

This is reflected in the SOSI (State of Science Insights), where it was revealed that, to be greener (with costs not considered), 59% of consumers would be willing to install solar panels in their homes.

The research adds: “Community solar gardens, where consumers can source electricity from solar panels located somewhere other than their property, are also of interest to 56% of consumers, who said they would be interested in taking part in this initiative.”

Solar energy has been a key climate action from the UK government, with a recent big push from the current government on solar on industrial rooftops.

The report adds: “These pushes have helped spread awareness and increase interest from consumers in bringing in solar panels to help their daily lives become greener.”

3M says UK take-up of EVs is hampered by cost

Electric vehicles fail to get going

Worryingly, the research suggests that a line is drawn by consumers when it comes to investment in electric vehicles.

It says: “With ongoing economic uncertainty in the UK and across the globe, information from the SOSI reveals that consumers find an ‘inconvenience point’, which hinders the behavioural change needed to invest in an EV.

“83% of respondents revealed that they wouldn’t purchase an electric vehicle due to the high cost of vehicles and less than a quarter (24%) are planning for their next vehicle to be an EV.

“This is despite an appetite existing for electric vehicles overall – 51% of respondents revealed that, with costs set aside, they would be more than willing to drive an electric vehicle to help address climate change.”

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Consumers also say that, alongside cost, the UK EV infrastructure is another area where there is not enough to warrant the purchase of an EV.

More than half of survey respondents (51%) believe that the UK does not have a solid infrastructure in place, which is reflected by 83% of consumers being concerned over the ease of finding a charger whilst travelling.

This is despite a 46% increase year-on-year in the total number of charging devices since January 2023, with a total of 55,301 electric vehicle charging points across the UK, across 31,445 charging locations, according to ZapMap.

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