Consumers given blueprint for a greener world

briefing: Environment
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Consumers will have to do more than recycle bottles and paper if they want to save the planet, a watchdog group warns today.

The National Consumer Council says real progress will only be made when people give up their cars and realise the need to be more energy efficient. But the group claims consumers cannot do this alone, and calls for better environmental information and the manufacture of greener household products to make a real difference to the future of the world.

The report - A Consumer Blueprint for a Greener World - says 36 per cent of consumers claim to want to "do their bit" for the environment. But poor information means people see problems in terms of poor air quality and toxic waste rather than the big issues of global warming and sustainable development.

It says recycling "has a higher environmental reputation than it warrants" - creating pollution through cars and lorries delivering it to and from the bottle and paper banks. Instead, consumers need to cut back on the amount of waste produced in the first place. Even more important is the need to cut back on the energy used by domestic activities including cars, household heating and appliances which account for 50 per cent of the UK's energy use.

NCC chairman David Hatch said: "The report is a real eye opener. It reveals those weekend forays to the bottle bank and diligently choosing `green' washing up liquid only scratch at the surface of the problem.

"What we need now is committed action by government to persuade local authorities, businesses, manufacturers and service providers to make positive changes that will enable consumers to act on their green concerns."