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Call for big business to do more to help consumers tackle climate change

Published: 25 April 2023.


Results of a new survey from Public Health Wales, in which participants were asked if they agreed or disagreed with statements about climate change and sustainability, have revealed that 90 per cent of people in Wales would like to see big businesses do more to help them do more for the environment. 36 per cent agreed while 54 per cent strongly agreed with the statement ‘Big businesses such as supermarkets need to do more to help people change their behaviour’.

1007 panel members responded The Time to Talk public health survey conducted in February and March 2023 which asked Welsh residents their views on a range of health-related subjects.

Dr Sarah Jones, Consultant in Environmental Public Health at Public Health Wales said:

“Big businesses could do more to support consumers to make better choices for the environment. By working with manufactures to develop and promote the use of more sustainable alternatives, supermarkets could help make it easier for consumers to make small changes that could add up to large reductions in emissions.”

For example, a simple change to encourage the use of solid soaps and shampoos instead of liquid versions could;

  • Reduce the amount of plastic packaging used - a paper wrapper can be recycled more easily
  • Help to reduce transport emissions; solid soaps and shampoos tend to last longer than liquid equivalents and are easier to transport. This helps to reduce personal CO2 emissions, and lower transport costs for businesses because the product is smaller and needs to be moved less often.
  • Reduce the pressure on our valuable drinking water supplies because less water needs to be used to manufacture products.
  • Help to improve our water quality – we often overuse liquid soaps and shampoos compared to their solid versions, by switching to solid versions we are likely to reduce the amount of detergents entering the water system and over the longer term this will help to contribute to better water quality.

Concern about climate change among people in Wales is high. The survey revealed that 81 per cent of people were very concerned (40 per cent) or fairly concerned (41 per cent) about climate change. Moreover, when asked about their role in tackling climate change 72 per cent of people agreed (51 per cent) or strongly agreed (21 per cent) that ‘It is my responsibility to do something about climate change’.

The survey also showed that the lack of consensus around climate change causes uncertainty with 45 per cent of participants agreeing with the statement ‘There is so much conflicting information about climate change it is difficult to know what to believe’.

Dr Eurgain Powell, Sustainable Development Programme Manager at Public Health Wales’ Health and Sustainability Hub said:

“While it is very encouraging to see that so many people feel a sense of responsibility to take action to help mitigate against climate change, the survey also highlights some of the challenges people face accessing reliable sources of information on climate change.

“It is understandable that people could feel overwhelmed by the quantity of information available, but there are trusted resources available to help people make informed choices. There is evidence that if we can all make small changes, collectively this could make a huge difference.

“The Health & Sustainability Hub has recently published a guide to explain what people can do to help cut their carbon emissions.  There are some simple calculators available to help you calculate your carbon footprint (eg WWF Footprint Calculator) and to help you identify actions you can take – the good news is that lots of things that are good for our environment are also good for our health such as walking, cycling and trying to eat a more plant-based diet. Some of the best ways to make a personal carbon difference is by switching to green energy sources, eating less meat and dairy and avoiding flying as much as possible.”

The latest survey was conducted in February and March 2023 and over 2,500 panel members were invited to complete the survey. Welsh residents were asked their views on a range of subjects including awareness of screening programmes and campaigns, sustainability and their current concerns. 

For more information on tackling climate change, we have published a range of guidance which can be accessed HERE

If you are interested in being a panel member, please sign up here.

Time to Talk Public Health February - March 2023 Panel Survey Findings

This report presents findings from the February March 2023 survey, covering issues including screening, sustainability, campaigns and current concerns.