GLOBE Foundation

Consumer acceptance of biobased and “Green” household products set to rise

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Source: GLOBE Foundation

New consumer research released today demonstrates the market potential in North America for biobased and 'green' household products with environmental benefits.

The Genencor Household Sustainability Index found that four in ten American consumers and about a third of Canadian consumers already have heard of the term 'biobased' to describe products or product ingredients used in cleaning and personal care products, clothing, and fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.

According to the survey, more than two thirds of Americans and Canadians said biobased ethanol for vehicles, laundry and dish detergents, and clothing made with biobased enzymes are definitely or likely green.

About eight in ten consumers in both countries said they would definitely or likely purchase biobased household products instead of non-biobased products if comparable on cost and effectiveness.

'The findings indicate that consumers are prepared to actively choose biobased products, especially those consumers who are familiar with green products and are generally confident about their environmental claims,' said Tjerk de Ruiter, CEO of Genencor, a biotechnology company that makes enzymes used in nearly 400 consumer and commercial products, including many green household materials.

'Biotechnology has both a valuable legacy and an important role ahead in creating a more sustainable world,' he added

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that there are 20,000 biobased products currently being manufactured in North America.

As part of a new program launched in March, the USDA already has certified dozens of consumer products with its 'BioPreferred' label, which designates a product is made with a high percentage of agricultural ingredients.

Snapshot of 'Green' Product Purchases and Attitudes

Beyond the biobased product findings, the Genencor Household Sustainability Index also provides a snapshot of recent consumer purchases and attitudes on products perceived to be green.

Overall, nearly three quarters of consumers in Canada (71 percent) and more than half of American consumers (53 percent) purchased a household product considered to be green in the last 60 days in categories such as: cleaning supplies, personal care, detergents and soaps, recycled paper and energy efficient light bulbs.

The survey also found that in the U.S. women are twice as likely as men to purchase green cleaning products, while men are twice as likely as women to purchase energy efficiency bulbs.

However, while three-quarters of consumers in the U.S. and Canada consider themselves familiar with household green products (those considered better for the environment than comparable products), one-third are not confident these products are really better for the environment than other products. Confidence in green products does increase somewhat with level of familiarity.

In the U.S., consumers who are very familiar with green products are almost twice as likely as consumers overall to say they are very confident that such products are better for the environment (22 percent versus 12 percent). This relationship is not as strong in Canada.

'Our research shows that while consumers in North America are interested in purchasing green household products, they also want to be assured that the environmental claims are sound,' said de Ruiter.

'As an industry, we have an important responsibility to take into account these results and work to better inform consumers about the environmental benefits of these products.'

About the Index

The research is based on telephone interviews conducted by Environics Research with representative samples of 2,000 Americans and 2,000 Canadians (ages 18 and older), between April 5 and 17, 2011.  For each country, a sample of this size will produce results accurate to within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points in 19 out of 20 samples.

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