SYDNEY: Australian consumers remain enthusiastic recyclers but they appear to be growing more cynical about the claims made regarding threats to the environment and the prices charged by environmentally friendly products, new research suggests.

A study conducted by research firm Roy Morgan to coincide with National Recycling Week found that more than 90% of Australians agreed with the statement: "I try to recycle everything I can".

While the majority of respondents regarded themselves as environmentalists at heart, the proportion has been decreasing over the past 15 years – from 69% in 2001 to 63% today.

And that figure was under 50% among 14-17 year olds, B&T Magazine reported, although the most striking drop observed – from 73% to 62% – occurred among 35-49 year-olds.

For brands seeking a purpose and thinking of hitching themselves to green issues, it may be worth noting that a significant proportion of Australians – men especially – believe that the threat to the environment is exaggerated.

Some 30% of male respondents, and 22% of female ones, expressed this view, up five percentage points and three percentage points respectively since 2001.

And there was a similar growth in scepticism over the cost of green products: 70% of men and 67% of women agreed that "environmentally products are overpriced", a rise of 702 percentage points for men and 3.4 percentage points for women.

Commenting on the study, Roy Morgan's CEO Michele Levine observed a "a curious cognitive dissonance" among Australian consumers.

"These results suggest that environmental organisations may need to ramp up their efforts to understand the values and attitudes underpinning Australians' views on these related but different issues," she said.

Brands, too, may need to understand which segments of the population are more or less likely to care about which environmental issues and to tailor their communications strategies and campaigns accordingly.

Data sourced from B&T Magazine; additional content by Warc staff