Most Australians want to shop at outlets that use sustainable practices, and don’t mind paying more for less waste.

Almost two thirds (65 per cent) of Australians believe the retail industry creates too much waste, a report released on Tuesday found.

Some 63 per cent would be willing to pay more for products made using ethically sourced or sustainable materials and practices.

The sustainable retailer in 2022 is investigating, questioning suppliers and responding to what customers want to see on climate change and ethical products, according to e-commerce analysts Power Retail and sustainability advisory group The Purpose Agents.

Top sustainable retailers named in the report are Flora and Fauna, World’s Biggest Garage Sale, vegan retailer Biome, underwear firm Modibodi, toxin-free Go for Zero, B2C Furniture and ethical shoemaker Twoobs.

Go For Zero founder Ellie Degraeve says starting with something simple can create a ripple effect across your staff, workplace, customers, and communities.

“Perfection isn’t the goal – change is,” she said.

“Transitioning from plastic to sustainable pens, for example, or from bottled water to an under-sink purifier and glasses for your customers.”

However, the report found carbon neutral claims rank low among the sustainability practices that make a retailer appealing, because it’s difficult for consumers to see and understand.

Crucially for retailers chasing the return customer, one in two Australians would be more likely to return to an outlet with sustainable or ethical practices, the Power Retail Sustainability Spotlight report said.

One in three consider a product’s life-cycle and packaging before purchasing it.

And almost half of those surveyed (47 per cent) prefer shopping with retailers that explain their sustainability approach.

The majority (56 per cent) of consumers say recyclable packaging appeals most, followed by lack of animal cruelty (42 per cent) and knowing where the product has come from (41 per cent).

Many businesses see sustainability as a trade-off with growth and profit.

But data from the report shows sustainable practices create long-term value, minimise business risk, and attract customers and talent.

Marion Rae
(Australian Associated Press)