Sales of FMCG products increase when switching to more environmentally friendly packaging according to one in three (31%) marketing professionals surveyed by Pro Carton, the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard Manufacturers.
All 51 UK marketing managers and directors contacted agreed that packaging – and the material used to package products – is an important or extremely important part of the marketing mix, and that their company believes that sustainable packaging is important to their business.
When asked about the most important factor in making decisions about packaging, 37% said being environmentally friendly, followed by quality (25%) with brand value communication (13%) surprisingly third.
Over half of the respondents (55%) still feel that retailers and brands should be doing more to introduce more environmentally-friendly packaging. Last year, Pro Carton asked the same question to 1,000 UK consumers who felt that the pace of change was too slow as 72% said that brands and retailers weren’t doing enough.
Encouragingly, 59% of marketing professionals surveyed believe that cartonboard is an environmentally-friendly material, although 57% think that flexible plastic (which is neither renewable nor biodegradable) is eco-friendly. Pro Carton says that even amongst decision making marketing professionals there needs to be further education about the sustainability of different materials.
Pro Carton’s Tony Hitchin points out, “According to the Cambridge Dictionary, sustainability is the idea that goods should be produced in ways that do not use resources that cannot be replaced and that do not damage the environment. The origin and end of life of materials is, therefore, key as to whether a piece of packaging is truly sustainable and thus environmentally-friendly. Interestingly, over a third of our survey thought sustainability was just another word for recycling!”
When asked to choose the most fitting meanings of ‘sustainability’, 55% said that it meant using materials that do not deplete the earth’s natural resources, while 53% said it was about reducing packaging and 43% said it was about recycling materials, regardless of where they come from. The most important element, however, of their company’s environmental packaging strategy was light-weighting with 63% saying this was extremely important.
Hitchin added, “Sustainability is about so much more than recycling or light-weighting. There really is little environmental benefit in light-weighting a material that is not recyclable or biodegradable.
“Whilst it’s hugely encouraging to see packaging decision makers understanding the value of environmentally-friendly packaging and that all of them agree that packaging is a key element of the marketing mix, we need to help marketers make more informed decisions to ensure that we don’t further damage our planet.
“Though most of them recognise that cartonboard is the most environmentally-friendly material as it’s recyclable, biodegradable and comes from sustainably managed forests, there’s still a job to be done. Cartonboard is the ideal choice for brands looking to be part of the circular economy.”