New Report: Reactions to Plastic Ban amidst COVID-19 — Top 5 findings. (Second part)
III. 1 out of 3 people participate in neighborhood clean ups
In July 2019, 52% of people interviewed indicated that they did not participate in environmental activities. In April 2020, they were more than 36% to participate in neighborhood clean-ups and 37% actively raising awareness in their entourage.
The results support an increased engagement to have clean streets. Many mention taking part in neighborhood “Cleaning Days”, launched in early January 2020 by the President Macky Sall, for clean-ups on every first Saturday of the month. As well as “Set Setal” (“make clean” in Wolof) or the Young Volunteers for the Environment association, which is one of many examples of youth involvement in environmental issues !
IV. 49% of consumers do not know any alternatives to plastic
The interviewed merchants are directly concerned by the plastic law as 80% of them have an important or very important use of plastic in their activity (packaging, water sachets, coffee cups, fruits & vegetables bags, etc.). Almost 1 in 4 are aware of sanctions linked to the law, and many are worried as 73% of merchants recorded a drop in their turnover due to COVID-19 and 41% think that the “Plastic law” will weaken their turnover.
Some water sachets sellers — known for calling out “pure water” on the streets — think that “the government must find them work” because at the moment their activity does not comply with the new law. 18% think that the government are the ones who should help most in adapting the law to merchants and consumers.
If 55% of merchants plan to adapt by using paper & cardboard as an alternative to plastic, up to 49% of consumers do not know any alternatives to plastic. This last figure reinforces the need for tailored communication and support regarding alternatives. In July 2019, 51% of the population interviewed knew that plastic bags could be recycled, but many added that they didn’t know how or where to recycle.
V. 72% of consumers notice positive changes in the current environment
31% even mentioned a benefit to their health: they breathe better. This enthusiasm can serve as a springboard to embed some of the new behaviors related to COVID-19 in the long term. A particular emphasis can be put on the link between better waste management and health.
- 84% of consumers are willing to not throw their waste on the ground
- Nearly one out of two consumers is willing to recycle.
- 42% are willing to have more plants, which would result in more vegetation in urban areas.
- 17% are willing to use solar energy, many referring to solar kits.
Adapt communication to the COVID context
A communication adapted to the current situation would clearly distinguish between the two laws and highlight a possible synergy between health measures undertaken in the COVID-19 context, as well as the fight against plastic and waste.
Use of social networks to organize the Set Setal or the dissemination of the “Trashtag Challenge” in which users pick a place filled with litter, clean it up, and post “before and after” pictures.
Crowdsourcing platform for alternatives to plastic
In light of economic tensions, it seems important to direct upstream action towards producers who are able to offer alternatives to plastic.
Similarly to masks produced by tailors against COVID-19, local initiatives should be considered for waste reduction, as a source of revenue, or in the production of reusable cloth bags and baskets/calabashes — respectively 30% and 24% of consumers mention these alternatives.
“Green merchant” initiatives
A “Green merchant” label, also feasible on an online sales platform, is one option amongst others that could encourage merchants to comply with the law and offer the possibility for consumers to support them financially.
The “Plastic law” is part of the “Zero Waste Program” of the senegalese government and is inscribed in a growing awareness surrounding the importance of protecting the environment. However, alternatives and initiatives are still to be developed to gain traction amongst the population, and one of the key challenges is to find the most effective communication and arguments that speak to the notion of a common battle
The results demonstrate a growing awareness of the population of the link between the environment and health. Some of the new behaviors related to the COVID-19, can serve as a springboard to embed greater respect for the environment.
Written by Cloé Marche (Market Researcher) and Aïssatou Sow (Data Analyst)
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