A recent initiative by the supermarket chain Waitrose to reduce the amount of single-use plastic by banning the sale of magazines that are sold with disposable plastic toys has been announced. This ban on magazines that are aimed at children comes on the heels of McDonald’s pledging to eliminate plastic toys from its Happy Meals in 2020 and Burger King announcing a similar initiative prior to that in 2019. This ties into a wider trend which is seeing key players, both in foodservice and commerce, pay more attention to the ways they can improve their sustainability credentials and appeal to increasingly environmentally-conscious consumers.

As shoppers become more socially responsible, they strive to limit the negative economic, social, and political effects caused by their actions. Making more ethical and responsible lifestyle choices, sees consumers favouring brands that are more proactive and transparent in their social responsibility strategies and this feeling could benefit the supermarket chain. Indeed, 35%* of UK consumers admit that they are always or often influenced by how environmentally friendly a product is when making a purchasing decision. These shoppers may welcome a change in the marketplace and be encouraged by magazines aimed at children that align with environmentally sustainable concepts and values.

This initiative to reduce plastic waste has also been witnessed in the fast-food industry where, in 2020, McDonald’s pledged to remove plastic toys from its Happy Meals in an effort to protect the environment. This will also likely have a knock-on effect on other areas of the FMCG industry where disposable toys are sold in conjunction with cereal and confectionery. Not only could going green capitalise on nearly a third (30%)* of UK shoppers who admit that their purchasing choices are somewhat driven by how the world around them is changing, and this includes the damage done to the environment and the global warming crisis, but it could also help to spur on other supermarket chains and retailers to do the same.

The effect of such a ban will be far-reaching within the industry and could even cause manufacturers to rethink their own processes and materials used, effecting a switch toward greener and more sustainable methods and products. Driven by such large and established chains as Waitrose and McDonald’s will continue to pressure other major players to adopt a similar initiative, helping to drastically reduce single-use plastic at all levels of the FMCG and foodservice industries and may reap the rewards of a favourable consumer response in return.

*GlobalData’s 2021 Q1 global consumer survey, March 2021 – combined responses: ‘Always’ or ‘Often’