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Reusable Bag Study

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Paper, plastic, or neither? This ubiquitous question posed at the checkout aisle was recently examined in a comprehensive consumer study by Edelman Berland. Amidst a trend of grocery bag regulations in some cities and states, ‘reusable’ shopping bags which include non-woven polypropylene and low density polyethylene bags, are often emphasized in legislation as an environmentally friendly alternative to paper and plastic bags. The team conducted this consumer survey to determine how often consumers reuse their ‘reusable’ bags and also find out which bag consumers ultimately pick for groceries.

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Reusable Bag Study

  1. 1. Edelman Berland: Reusable Bag Study May 2014
  2. 2. Methodology 2 Audience: Consumers who have received/purchased reusable bags in the past year Qualification Rate: From a national sample of 3,568 individuals, 2,566 terminated due to not having acquired a reusable bag in the past year, resulting in a 28% incidence rate. Sample Size: 1,002 National MOE: ± 3.1% Methodology: Online Survey Timing: February 28 – March 7, 2014
  3. 3. Key Findings • Our calculation indicates that non-woven polypropylene (NWPP) bags used for grocery shopping are each used approximately 15 times. – Additionally, many of these bags are infrequently or never cleaned. • NWPP bags are forgotten on approximately 40% of grocery trips, leading many bag owners to use plastic bags. – Many NWPP bags are also used for other purposes, such as transporting items or storing items at home. • Low density polyethylene (LDPE) bags are reused by a much smaller percentage of the population for groceries and have a reuse frequency of approximately 3 times. 3
  4. 4. NWPP Re-usage
  5. 5. The following process was used to compute the average number of bag reuses per year. Corrections/Exclusions One outlier bag usage recoded to equal total number of bags (from 65 to 6), and individuals who do not own NWPP bags were removed. Those who do not own any NWPP bags that they use for groceries were excluded (n=135). Calculate Grocery Trips Per Week Based on trips in the past week. Value is capped at 7. Those who did not report a grocery shopping trip in the last week are assigned a value of 0.5. Calculate NWPP Bags Used Per Trip Based on number of NWPP bags at last trip. Those who did not use a NWPP bag were assigned a value equal to the population median (1). Calculate Freq. of NWPP Use Number of times in the last 10 grocery trips a person remembered to bring NWPP bags, divided by 10 so as to be expressed as a percentage. Calculate NWPP Bag Replacements Values assigned based on the frequency of bag replacement. Those who “never” replace are assigned a value equal to the bags received in past year. Calculate NWPP Reuses Divide the number of bags used per year by the replacement value to arrive at the median number of NWPP bag reuses per person. 5 Assuming the number of shopping trips made in the last week and the number of NWPP bags used in that trip are both typical and can be extrapolated to a full year…
  6. 6. First, the average number of bag reuses per year was calculated based on grocery trips per week, NWPP bags used per trip and the frequency with which NWPP bags are use for grocery trips. 6 NWPPR = NWPP bag reuses 52 = Number of weeks in a year GTRIPSPW = Average grocery trips per week NWPPPT = NWPP bags used per grocery trip NWPPFREQ = Frequency of bringing NWPP bags on grocery trips Among Consumers who Received/Purchased a Reusable Bag in Past Year (52 x GTRIPSPW x NWPPPT x NWPPFREQ)NWPPR = The following formula was applied at the individual level in the data set to determine the average reuse rate per respondent
  7. 7. This value was then adjusted to account for the number of bags a person cycles through per year. This value (U1) was assigned as follows: 7 44% 24% 20% 4% 5% 4% Never Once a year A few times a year Once a month Once every few weeks Once a week or more *If respondents “never” replace their bags AND did not acquire at least one NWPP bag over the past year, they are assigned an implied rotation rate value based on half the age (in years) of their oldest bag, based on a midpoint value. Q27: And how often do you discard and replace your non-woven polypropylene bags that you use for groceries? Value Assigned 52 17 12 3 1 # of NWPP bags acquired in past year* Frequency of NWPP Bag Replacement
  8. 8. Finally, the adjusted NWPP reuses per year was calculated using the reduction factor identified by bag replacement. 8 15.0 NWPP Bag Reuses Among Consumers who Received/Purchased a Reusable Bag in Past Year (52 x GTRIPSPW x NWPPPT x NWPPFREQ) NWPPR = U1 NWPPR = NWPP bag reuses 52 = Number of weeks in a year GTRIPSPW = Average grocery trips per week NWPPPT = NWPP bags used per grocery trip NWPPFREQ = Frequency of bringing NWPP bags on grocery trips U1 = Number of NWPP bags a person cycles through annually The following formula was applied at the individual level in the data set to determine the average reuse rate per respondent
  9. 9. When one additional exclusion is made removing individuals who shop for groceries at warehouse clubs (their use of NWPP bags does not offset the use of plastic retail bags) the overall reuse rate declines slightly. 9 14.6 NWPP Bag Reuses Among Consumers who Received/Purchased a Reusable Bag in Past Year and Do Not Shop at Warehouse Clubs (52 x GTRIPSPW x NWPPPT x NWPPFREQ) NWPPR = U1 NWPPR = NWPP bag reuses 52 = Number of weeks in a year GTRIPSPW = Average grocery trips per week NWPPPT = NWPP bags used per grocery trip NWPPFREQ = Frequency of bringing NWPP bags on grocery trips U1 = Number of NWPP bags a person cycles through annually The following formula was applied at the individual level in the data set to determine the average reuse rate per respondent
  10. 10. Additionally, when looking at individuals in markets where a plastic bag ban is legislated versus those in markets where a ban is not legislated, those in legislated markets tend to use their bags slightly more frequently.* 10 17.3 NWPP Bag Reuses Among Consumers who Received/Purchased a Reusable Bag in Past Year and Do Not Shop at Warehouse Clubs (52 x GTRIPSPW x NWPPPT x NWPPFREQ) NWPPR = U1 The following formula was applied at the individual level in the data set to determine the average reuse rate per respondent * Note that legislated market results are based on a small sample size of 65 respondents compared to 733 in non- legislated markets. Additional sample could further validate these results. Legislated Markets 13.9 NWPP Bag Reuses Non-Legislated Markets
  11. 11. Shopping Bag Preferences
  12. 12. 61% 22% 10% 6% 45% 41% 8% 3% Non-woven polypropylene Plastic Paper Low density polyethylene Preferred Bag Typically Used Shopping Bag Preferences Consumers who have purchased/received a reusable bag in the past year generally prefer using NWPP bags, but are using plastic just as often. Q16/17: What one type of bag do you typically use or ask for when grocery shopping? Q18: And thinking about the different types of bags available to use or ask for when shopping, which one would you say is your preferred bag? Preferred Bag 12
  13. 13. 37% 86% 86% I'll only use resuable shopping bags if they're free Reusable shopping bags are sturdier than other bags Reusable shopping bags are more environmentally friendly than other bags These consumers are favorable toward reusable bags in general and believe they are eco-friendly and sturdy. 13 Q37-40: How much do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? Reusable Bag Perceptions (% Agree)
  14. 14. Those who prefer NWPP bags over other types of bags specifically cite durability and environmental reasons for this preference. 14 Q19: For what reason is this your preferred bag? Plastic (n=222) Non-Woven Polypropylene (n=607)
  15. 15. Plastic bag legislation has little impact on reported bag preferences. Q18: And thinking about the different types of bags available to use or ask for when shopping, which one would you say is your preferred bag? 65% 18% 11% 5% 60% 23% 10% 5% Non-woven polypropylene Plastic Paper Low density polyethylene Aware Not Aware Preferred Bag By Legislation Awareness Preferred Bag 15
  16. 16. NWPP preference declines slightly when there are a higher number of grocery trips per week. Q18: And thinking about the different types of bags available to use or ask for when shopping, which one would you say is your preferred bag? 64% 18% 13% 3% 60% 23% 9% 6% 54% 22% 11% 12% Non-woven polypropylene Plastic Paper Low density polyethylene 0-1 trips/week 2-4 trips/week 5+ trips/week Preferred Bag By Number of Trips Preferred Bag Interestingly, LDPE preference increases with the # of grocery trips per week 16
  17. 17. And while NWPP is the preferred bag irrespective of store type, consumers who shop big-box stores for groceries are more likely than others to prefer plastic bags. Q18: And thinking about the different types of bags available to use or ask for when shopping, which one would you say is your preferred bag? 62% 21% 11% 5% 58% 28% 7% 6% 61% 14% 18% 8% 65% 12% 10% 10% Non-woven polypropylene Plastic Paper Low density polyethylene Supermarket Big-Box Warehouse Specialty Preferred Bag By Preferred Store Preferred Bag 17
  18. 18. Recent Grocery Trip
  19. 19. Despite a high level of NWPP preference, many of these consumers are using both NWPP AND plastic at the grocery store. Type of Bag Used 9% 10% 17% 59% 61% Box Low density polyethylene Paper Non-woven polypropylene Plastic Average Number of Bags Used 19 Q13: Which of the following types of bags were used to pack your groceries during your most recent grocery trip? Q14 And thinking about each of the different types of bags hat were used during this most recent grocery trip, how many of each was used? 5.8 3.3 2.8 3.5 2.2
  20. 20. About half of consumers who are aware of some type of plastic bag legislation in their area still used plastic at their most recent grocery shopping trip. Q13: Which of the following types of bags were used to pack your groceries during your most recent grocery trip? Type of Bag Used By Legislation Awareness 48% 71% 25% 16% 65% 56% 15% 9% Plastic Non-woven polypropylene Paper Low density polyethylene Aware Not Aware Type of Bag Used 20
  21. 21. And half those who prefer NWPP report having used plastic bags at their most recent grocery shopping trip. Q13: Which of the following types of bags were used to pack your groceries during your most recent grocery trip? 88% 30% 13% 7% 51% 76% 14% 8% Plastic Non-woven polypropylene Paper Low density polyethylene Prefer Plastic Prefer NWPP Type of Bag Used By Bag Preference Type of Bag Used 21
  22. 22. Plastic bag usage is highest among those who generally shop supermarkets and big-box retailers. Q13: Which of the following types of bags were used to pack your groceries during your most recent grocery trip? 61% 60% 17% 8% 72% 53% 13% 13% 36% 62% 20% 22% 35% 78% 33% 8% Plastic Non-woven polypropylene Paper Low density polyethylene Supermarket Big-Box Warehouse Specialty Type of Bag Used By Preferred Store Type of Bag Used 22
  23. 23. Non-Woven Polypropylene Bags Ownership Summary
  24. 24. On average, consumers who have received/purchased a reusable bag AND own at least one NWPP bag own 5.1 NWPP bags and use most for groceries. Q22: Approximately how many non-woven polypropylene reusable shopping bags would you say you own in total? Q23: And approximately how many of these non-woven polypropylene reusable shopping bags would you say you use for groceries? Q24: Over the past year, how many non-woven polypropylene bags did you receive or purchase? 87% use their NWPP bags for groceries Total NWPP bags NWPP grocery bags 54% acquired 3+ NWPP bags in past year 5.1 Average NWPP Bags Owned 3.8 Average NWPP Bags Used for Groceries 24
  25. 25. These consumers remember their bags for about 60% of their grocery trips. 25 Q29: How often do you remember to bring your non-woven polypropylene bags into the tore with you when grocery shopping? Q30: Thinking about the last 10 grocery shopping trips you’ve taken, on how many occasions would you say you’ve used a non-woven polypropylene bag to pack your purchases? 1% 7% 19% 43% 31% Never Not very often Sometimes Most of the time Every time How Often Do You Remember Your NWPP Bags? How Many Times Did You Use NWPP Bags in Your Last 10 Trips? 6.4 trips
  26. 26. Those who own NWPP bags are using them for more than just groceries – they also transport items when they visit family and friends, use them for other shopping trips, etc. 26 Q31: Do you use non-woven polypropylene bags for any of the other items below? 64% 40% 36% 31% Taking items when visiting family / friends Other shopping trips Taking items with me to work Storing items around the house Other Uses for NWPP Bags
  27. 27. On average, these consumers’ oldest NWPP bag is around 2 years old, but despite the age, many are not cleaning and disinfecting their bags. 27 Q25: Thinking about the non-woven polypropylene reusable bags you own and use for groceries, approximately how long have you had your oldest one? Q26: And thinking about your non-woven polypropylene reusable bags that you use for groceries, approximately how often do you clean and disinfect them? Q27: And how often do you discard and replace your non-woven polypropylene reusable bags that you use for groceries? 2.0 Years old 28% 4% 15% 19% 19% 16% Never Once a year A few times per year Once a month Once every few weeks Once a week or more Average Age of Oldest Bag How Often Do You Clean Your NWPP Bags?
  28. 28. Cleanliness of NWPP Bags 28 Approximately 16.4 million consumers in the U.S. are walking into grocery stores each week with bags that have NEVER been cleaned. That’s more than the adult population of New York. CALCULATION: 240 million adults in the US 28% purchased/received a reusable bag in the past year (study incidence) 87% of study sample use NWPP bags for groceries 28% of these consumers NEVER clean their bags
  29. 29. Low Density Polyethylene Bags
  30. 30. One-third of consumers who purchased/received a bag in the past year got an LDPE bag, most of whom reused that bag. Q32: In the past 12 months, have you purchased or received one of these bags? Q33: After purchasing this type of bag did you reuse it for any other purposes? Yes, and reused 25% Yes, but did not reuse 8% Did not receive LDPE 68% LDPE Bag Ownership 30
  31. 31. Those who reuse LDPE bags claim to reuse the bag for groceries more than five times; however, to calculate the average number of reuses overall, we assume that for each non-grocery reuse the bag is only used once. 31 Q33a: How did you reuse the low-density polyethylene bag that you purchased or received? Q34: And approximately how many times did you reuse this bag for grocery shopping trips? 29% 32% 34% 39% 47% 51% Other shopping trips Taking items to work Storing items Grocery shopping As a garbage bag Taking items when visiting friends LDPE Bag Reuse Value Assigned Reported # of grocery reuses 1 1 1 1 1
  32. 32. By accounting for both grocery and non-grocery reuses, we calculate that the average reuse rate for LDPE bags is approximately 3 times each. 32 Q33a: How did you reuse the low-density polyethylene bag that you purchased or received? Q34: And approximately how many times did you reuse this bag for grocery shopping trips? Average LDPE Reuses 3.1 Reuses Among Consumers who Received/Purchased an LDPE Bag in Past Year

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