Consumers vote to reject unsustainable packaging, new survey shows

Eco-conscious Brits are crying out for greater guidance on the sustainability of product packaging, with 88% of UK shoppers requesting on-pack information that highlights how environmentally-friendly the packaging format is.

It comes as the public continues its drive to be more sustainable, 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.

And with over a third (36%) of Brits already shunning products because of concerns about packaging, it’s clear that consumer goods manufacturers need to do more to match increasing expectations.

Over 50s the most critical of retailers and brands

Baby boomers in the UK are the most critical of brand and retailer actions, when it comes to sustainable packaging.

According to the European Consumer Packaging Perceptions Survey, which in total involved 7,000 shoppers, eight in 10 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.

Taxing unsustainable packaging

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.

UK not as ‘green’ as others

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.

Commenting on the research, Tony Hitchin, general manager at Pro Carton, says: “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.”