Folding Carton Recycling

Brand owners could do more

Some 89% of UK consumers would choose to shop at a supermarket or retailer actively encouraging brands to use sustainable packaging, with 7 in 10 (73%) of 19-39 year olds claiming the environmental impact of a products packaging affects their purchasing decisions, according to a new survey published this week.

The European Consumer Packaging Perceptions study commissioned by Pro Carton – the European Association for Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers – has shown that 77% of European shoppers are willing to pay a premium for sustainable packaging. In the UK, consumers are slightly less likely to part with their cash overall, although two thirds (64%) would still pay extra for more environmentally friendly packaging.

The drive for change is further demonstrated by almost half (48%) of UK shoppers saying they have reduced their use of plastic packaging in the last year, with 72% acknowledging they have been influenced by the media attention about packaging making its way into our oceans. In the UK, 63% of those surveyed recognised cartonboard as being the most environmentally-friendly form of packaging followed by glass with 24%. In fact, 85% of British consumers said they would prefer to buy a product packed in cartonboard than plastic.

However, the research revealed that more than two-thirds (72%) of consumers in the UK think retailers and brands are not taking the necessary steps to introduce more environmentally-friendly forms of packaging, only 17% of over 50s think retailers are doing enough. Overall, consumers north of the border, in Scotland, were the least impressed, with just 15% believing enough is being done.

Furthermore, the report suggests that non-recyclable packaging and unnecessary packaging are the two most pertinent reasons for people changing brands. Despite efforts from retailers to demonstrate long-term sustainability plans, consumers no doubt want to see more active changes from unsustainable packaging to sustainable. These shortfalls across all the countries polled highlight an opportunity for brands to gain a competitive advantage by investing in pack formats that meet today’s demand.

Knowing that 89% of UK consumers would choose to shop at a retailer that was pro-actively encouraging more environmentally-friendly packaging, the pressure mounts on retailers to respond to the call for change. Added to which nearly nine out of 10 (88%) in the UK want more information on-pack about the environmental credentials of the packaging.

Speaking about the research, Tony Hitchin, General Manager at Pro Carton, said, “There is much that the FMCG sector needs to do in order to move towards a truly circular economy. Retailers and brands that invest in more sustainable forms of packaging and actively promote their environmental achievements will surely, long term, see the benefit in terms of brand loyalty and market share.”