How important is sustainable packaging to consumers?
In recent years, sustainable packaging has become a key factor for many consumers making purchasing decisions. This level of influence continues to grow as more people gain an awareness of the environmental effects of materials like single-use plastic and synthetic fibres. Despite other world issues like the coronavirus pandemic, a large number of consumers have maintained their commitment to eco-friendly products and materials, with the message spreading further every day.
Where does the demand for sustainable packaging come from?
According to Trivium Packaging’s Global Buying Green Report of 2021, those under the age of 44 are 23% more likely to pay for sustainable packaging solutions than older generations. So, it’s probably not surprising to see that it is the younger demographic pushing for more environmentally friendly packaging.
This is because it is this age group who have seen the damage to the planet at its worst and their impact going into the future could make all the difference in reversing the effects. Reportedly, consumers in the 18-24 age bracket are 59% more likely to pay up to 10% more for eco-friendly types of packaging.
Trivium’s study found that across three regions (South America, United States, and Europe) South America was in first place as the consumer group that is most likely to action and encourage sustainable values. On a global scale, 66% of consumers have sustainable values, with 52% putting those values and beliefs into action. This figure has grown year on year and become increasingly mainstream with more people adjusting their buying choices based on environmental impact.
How can manufacturers help with sustainable packaging?
It’s important that both consumers and manufacturers are encouraged to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Trivium’s Report states that 67% of consumers consider themselves to be ‘environmentally aware’. As well as this 67% of consumers stated the importance of packaging products being made from recycled raw materials.
This is especially important in the food industry, which is one of the main producers of unsustainable packaging. There are certainly ways manufacturers can adapt to use their food packaging machine for creating recyclable materials.
When it comes to labels, the removal process to ensure that the product component is recycled to the highest grade can cost a significant amount of energy. This is because taking off a standard label adhesive needs the use of heat.
Using recycled content
The report showed that 64% of consumers feel it is essential for product packaging to contain recycled content. This allows for a more circular economy of packaging where post-consumer content is used to form new, reusable packaging. Often, this is most efficiently achieved with metal because of its infinitely recyclable capabilities.
This year the government has introduced a Plastics Packaging Tax that encourages business to use a minimum of 30% recycled content in their plastic packaging. With this in place, hopefully a greater demand for recycled materials will be put into motion. If you need help adhering to the government’s new rule regarding recycled content and putting the necessary measures in place, a professional process design engineer like our team at FESS Group will be able to help.
Changing packaging materials
A substantial 63% of consumers associate plastic with ocean pollution. The problem of plastic waste has been at the forefront of customer concern in recent years, especially with the increased popularity of environmental documentaries. Also, the study found that people link plastic with being wasteful and harmful to the environment. This clearly shows how important sustainability-based packaging has become to consumers and manufacturers need to respond to that increased demand.
Being honest about packaging materials
Consumer opinions of packaging materials, particularly the negative understanding of plastics, usually comes from an unclear knowledge of recyclability. So, it’s important to be honest about your packaging materials and whether they can be recycled or not. Education and clarity on the recyclability of specific materials will demonstrate an ethical position on sustainability from a brand.
As we can see, sustainable packaging is extremely important to consumers and becoming more so all the time. That’s why manufacturers need to ensure they are being as environmentally friendly with their packaging as possible. If you need any help with this our consultants are experts in not only food service equipment but the manufacturing process as a whole and can work with you to make sure your processes are efficient, cost effective, and sustainable.