Consumers: Packaging Needs to be Eco-Friendly
Consumer Attitudes on Packaging & Sustainability, a new report commissioned from GfK by Pro Carton, shows unequivocally that sustainability in packaging is important and consumers are interested in, and concerned about, this issue. More than 64 percent of respondents said that packaging should consist of environmentally friendly materials and more than 55 percent felt that packaging should contain as little plastic as possible. People are aware that cartons are made from a renewable resource and that they can be recovered and recycled more effectively than other materials. As one respondent says, “Cartons or paper can be reused in various ways. Furthermore, they are produced from renewable resources.” Consumers also felt that cartons made of cartonboard were easier to recognize on the shelf and one said “plastic harms the environment and the look of a product.”
The various different aspects of sustainability were then looked at in more detail. About 75 percent of respondents see it as important that as little packaging as possible be used, that there should not be double packaging, and that the packaging should be recyclable. Nearly two thirds wanted packaging to be made from an environmentally friendly material and 55 percent said it was important that any packaging should contain as little plastic as possible.
Environmentally friendly materials: In total over 60 percent of respondents said that it was important that packaging be manufactured from an environmentally friendly material. But the proportion of “responsible dedicated” and “critical consumers” was much higher than the other groupings with the “self dependent family” group being the lowest.
The use of plastic: When asked specifically about the use of plastic in packaging, just more than 55 percent said that they would like packaging to contain as little plastic as possible. Once again, the highest figures came from the “responsible dedicated” and “critical consumers.”
When asked if packaging should be recyclable, nearly three quarters of all respondents said that this was important. The differences between the different groupings was not as marked as in the previous two examples and therefore this can be seen as one of the key criteria of packaging expected by all consumers. Consumers were asked to look at different types of packaging for the same product and asked to give their preferences in terms of creativity of the pack, environmental friendliness, the information contained on the pack, and how functional and efficient they felt the pack was. In the first example for a cereal product, on three of the four criteria, consumers felt the carton was better. While the plastic bag was thought to be more functional and efficient, in the other three areas the carton was liked almost twice as much. In the detergent sector the results were very much the same, with plastics being preferred from a functional point of view. But the carton was preferred on all other criteria.
How important is sustainability in packaging? All respondents were asked how important the sustainability of the packaging was to them when choosing what products to buy. Overall 35 percent of all respondents considered this an important aspect when choosing what to buy. But there is a distinct variation between the different purchasing groups with the “responsible dedicated” and “critical consumers” seeing this aspect as nearly twice as important.
Will consumers pay more for sustainable packaging? The 2,500 respondents were also asked if they agreed with the statement, “I am willing to pay a higher price for an environmentally friendly package.” Overall 15.8 percent of all respondents said they either completely agree or agree but yet again there was a distinct variation between the different consumer groups. The “responsible dedicated” and “critical consumers” both agreed with the statement to a much higher level and when compared with the self dependent family people were nearly three times as likely to agree.