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Ethical and Sustainable Consumption

An increasing proportion of the population say they care about sustainable and ethical issues.

The number of shoppers translating this to ethical purchases in the UK has grown rapidly in the last decade – in 2018 Ethical Consumer valued the UK ethical market at over £83bn.

Our research in this area explores attitudes to ethical and sustainable consumption, models and forecasts consumer trends and market stability.

Can AI help us to overcome the value-action gap in sustainable consumption?

It can be difficult for consumers to find products which address their concerns on climate change, human rights, animal welfare etc.

Those looking for ethical/sustainable products often have to study and compare detailed product descriptions on multiple products in order to find an appropriate one – making the whole process a time consuming and laborious one.

This PhD project is exploring the possibility of using AI technology as an ethical personal shopper for online purchases.

Helping the pig industry prepare for the future


PigSustain is a £2 million project to create a model to support the UK pig industry to respond to future challenges posed by the intensification of production, fluctuations in consumer demand, climate change, global production levels and international trade.

The project is part of the UK’s cross-government programme of food security research and involves biologists, economists, spatial scientists, statisticians, computer scientists, vets and industry representatives.

CDRC researchers are part of a team at Leeds Institute for Data Analytics, that are developing the model that will forecast consumer trends and market stability.

Do only affluent consumers buy green labelled products?


Combining sales and demographic data can provide better insight into consumer behaviour. Much evidence on consumer buying behaviour and sustainability issues relies on attitudinal, self-reported or national sales data. This is often not close enough to real behaviour nor helpful at a company level.

With access to sales and demographic data, we are able to see the detail at a geographical, product or consumer type level that can only help decision making. But this can only be done through exciting collaborations across sectors.

The Consumer Data Research Centre, Asda and Callcredit came together to explore if there are links between the affluence of consumers and green-labelled products they buy.

Tackling food waste with Asda


It is estimated that one-third of edible food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally each year. In the UK, food waste derived from households accounts for 7.3 million tonnes of total food and drink wasted annually. UK households throw away approximately a third of the food they purchase for consumption.

In a bid to tackle this problem, CDRC Co-investigator Professor William Young and his team at the University of Leeds joined with Asda to implement a multichannel initiative aimed at changing customer attitudes and behaviour.