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Environmental awareness amongst UK consumers has surged in the past year, with one-third of those taking part in a new survey looking for brands with strong sustainable credentials following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Deloitte’s Sustainable Consumer research surveyed 2,000 UK adults and found their behaviour is being driven by three priorities: waste reduction, reducing their carbon footprint, and a desire to adopt more circular practices, such as buying products in sustainable packaging.

The study found 61% of respondents have limited their use of single-use plastic in the last year, by far the most common way in which consumers are being more consciously sustainable, albeit down eight percentage points from March 2020.

Deloitte’s research also reveals generational differences in sustainability behaviours. Whilst pre-Baby Boomers (aged 74+) were the most likely generation to have reduced their use of single-use plastic in the last year, Gen-Z and younger Millennials have led the trend towards reducing the purchase of new goods.

Meanwhile, a third of consumers have actively chosen brands in the last year with strong sustainable (34%) and ethical (30%) credentials, with some avoiding those perceived to lack these values (28%).

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“Consumers have made up their minds about which brands have delivered on sustainable or ethical expectations over the course of the pandemic. How this will impact brand power and future purchasing decisions remains to be seen,” says Emily Cromwell, sustainability director at Deloitte.

Despite the overall increase in environmental awareness, the research also found that a quarter (24%) of respondents who do not reduce the amount they buy in order to be more sustainable, do so because they are either disinterested or unaware of there being a sustainability issue.

Cromwell adds: “Whilst sustainability is already front of mind for many, there is still more to be done to help consumers make better-informed decisions. Many consumers would like more help on how to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, such as how to recycle old products. Likewise, many are also prepared to pay more for goods and services from ethically and environmentally sustainable brands.”