Americans are more concerned about the impact of plastic waste in oceans than they are about the impacts of climate change, according to a survey produced by Shelton Group, Minneapolis.

When shown a list of 10 different environmental issues, 65% of Americans expressed feeling very concerned or extremely concerned about plastics in the ocean, compared to 58% who felt very or extremely concerned about climate change. Asked about the environmental issues they hear about the most, from television, newspapers, friends and social media, respondents reported that discussions about plastic waste polluting oceans (57%) is now on par with mentions of climate change (59%). Furthermore, 63% say they’ve heard some-to-a lot about single-use plastic bans.

Notably, 80% of Americans said if they had the option to buy goods or products that don’t use single-use plastic packaging, they would. Awareness of plastic bans and efforts retailers, brands and restaurants are making to reduce single-use plastics are both strongly correlated with heightened concern and individual action to reduce plastic use, a strong signal that consumers will increasingly demand plastic-alternatives as awareness of waste grows.

“This is a moment of tremendous market opportunity – or significant challenge – for a variety of organizations in the consumer packaged goods, packaging, retailing and foodservice industries,” says Suzanne Shelton, chief executive officer. “It will be increasingly hard for Americans to believe a company cares about sustainability, which is now a driver of brand preference and purchase decisions, when a company continues a ‘business as usual’ approach to single-use plastics. It’s time for everyone in these value chains to get creative and figure out circular, reusable models, as well as material alternatives.”