Study highlights demand for greater levels of sustainable packaging

UK consumers are demanding greater guidance on the sustainability of product packaging, with 88% of UK shoppers requesting on-pack information highlighting environmentally-friendly credentials, according to a new study.

The survey was commissioned by Pro Carton, the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers, covering a full range of goods including confectionery and snacks items.

According to findings from the study, the public is continuing its drive to consider sustainability as an issue, highlighted by the fact that half of UK consumers are reducing purchases of products packed in unsustainable materials, and that 9 in 10 shoppers in the UK want packaging to be easily recyclable.

As Pro Carton adds, with over a third (36%) of Brits already shunning products because of concerns about packaging, consumer goods manufacturers, including confectionery and snacks companies, are increasingly under the spotlight to match increasing expectations. Baby boomers in the UK are the most critical of brand and retailer actions, when it comes to sustainable packaging.

The European Consumer Packaging Perceptions Survey which in total involved 7,000 shoppers, eight in ten of over 50s in the UK revealed more should be done to introduce environmentally-friendly packaging. And highlighting the impact of the recent packaging media coverage, when given a choice of the same product in carton and plastic, 92% would choose the former.

But it’s millennials causing the most alarm, with over half of the UK’s 19-29 year olds surveyed (53%) saying they have decided to switch brands in the last year because of a product’s packaging, with recyclability and overpackaging cited as the main reasons. In his recent Autumn Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond pledged a new ‘world-leading tax’ on UK produced or imported plastic packaging that doesn’t contain at least 30% recycled content. The move is likely to chime well with a huge number of shoppers – only 20% of UK consumers survey did not think there should be a tax to force retailers and brands to adopt more sustainable packaging.

However, UK consumers are still some way behind their European counterparts in their commitment to environmentally-friendly packaging. While 68% say the environmental impact of a product’s packaging affects their purchasing decisions, shoppers in Spain (81%) and Germany (77%) are even more likely to be influenced by the packaging’s environmental credentials.

Tony Hitchin, general manager at Pro Carton, said: “The research points to the rapidly changing attitudes and behaviours of consumers since the sustainability debate came to the fore in 2017. Retailers and brands know they must satisfy customers, and to boot the government, in their demands for more environmentally-friendly packaging.”


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