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Sustainability is a ‘top-of-mind’ issue for US consumers despite Covid-19 upheaval, new report finds

Genomatica CEO Christophe Schilling

The coronavirus pandemic has not dampened consumer appetite for sustainability in the US, according to new research conducted by California-based biotechnology company Genomatica.

In its new study, Genomatica maintains that 85% of Americans have been thinking about sustainability the same amount or more during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of those who thought about it more, 45% noticed less traffic and 24% noticed cleaner air. The study also reveals that more than half (56%) of Americans want both the government and brands to prioritise sustainability even while facing other issues.

“The collective consciousness on sustainability is rising, and certainly faster than most would have expected during these unprecedented times,” said Christophe Schilling, Genomatica’s (@genomatica) CEO.

He added: “While this shift has been underway for decades, and particularly strong in Europe, many of us in the US have been inspired by the rapid improvement in air quality and traffic that shine a bright light on how our behaviours and decisions impact our environment and quality of life. As brands are learning, Americans are increasingly spending in line with their values, fuelling a ray of hope in a tough year.”

The survey also found that the rise of sustainability has taken root across an array of surprising groups. For those feeling the brunt of Covid-19, nearly half (46%) of those who say they live in areas hit hard by Covid-19 claim they’ve been thinking more about sustainability, while 43% of Americans who’ve been laid off, furloughed or seen job disruption say they would still pay more for sustainable products.

Across ideologies, nearly half (46%) of Republicans say the government should continue to prioritise sustainability. Fox News viewers are as likely as anyone else to say the pandemic has made them personally more sustainable.

Other findings from the Genomatica study include:

Americans believe life at home is more sustainable 

  • Six in 10 Americans (59%) say working from home is more sustainable than working in an office, with just 13% disagreeing.
  • The top reasons? No need to commute (85%), followed by using less energy to heat and cool large workplaces (64%).
  • Americans who have been more sustainable lately cite driving less as the number one reason (68%), followed by buying less stuff (54%), throwing fewer things away (42%), not commuting (41%) and flying less (37%).
  • Three times as many Americans say they’ll drive less, as opposed to driving more, this year.

Americans seek more sustainable products — but are hesitant to return to the sharing economy or public transit

  • More than a third (37%) of Americans are willing to pay a little more for sustainable products, even during an economic downturn — and across age groups, Gen Z is the most willing (43%).
  • Of Americans who have been more sustainable lately, 1 in 3 (32%) say it’s because they’re buying more sustainable products.
  • Four in five (82%) Americans trust natural-based cleaners to protect against COVID-19.
  • Half of Americans are comfortable using natural cleaning products today (50%) and even more (60%) will be comfortable using reusable bags at the store as soon as they’re allowed to.
  • Half of Americans won’t be comfortable using sharing economy services like Uber or Airbnb (53%), riding public transportation (54%) or carpooling (50%) until there is a vaccine, if ever.

If you were interested in this bioeconomy story, you may also be interested in the ones below.

Read: Industry milestone hit as first ton of renewable nylon intermediate produced by Genomatica.

Read: Prada to unveil recycled nylon bag collection made from ocean plastics, fishing nets and textile fibre waste.

Download: New report – Standardisation and certification developments in the bioeconomy

Read: Expert View: Brands – a pragmatic approach to bio-based chemicals.

Read: Genomatica and Covestro team up to research plant-based ‘high-performance’ materials.

Read: Sportswear giant adidas to make more of its products from recycled plastic and polyester.

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