‘The Naughty Nine’: the UK’s worst excess packaging offenders revealed

The Chartered Institute of Marketing today reveals the top nine brands voted Britain’s worst packaging offenders, with Amazon leading the way for a second consecutive year.

This year’s list, which is made up of the views of 2,000 UK adults, shows that 48 per cent of consumers think Amazon is the worst brand for creating excess packaging. The next two brands received considerably less votes, with 9 per cent saying Tesco uses too much packaging, followed by eBay at 7 per cent. 

The list sees notable new additions including heritage brands, M&S and John Lewis. Meanwhile fast fashion brand, Pretty Little Thing, dropped off this year’s league table. The full data showing the nine brands who produce the most excess packaging according to UK adults, are:

PositionCompany% of UK adults that believe the brand is the worst for excess packaging 
1.Amazon48%
2.Tesco9%
3.Ebay7%
4.Asda6%
5.Sainsbury’s6%
6.M&S6%
7.Asos5%
8.Boohoo5%
9.John Lewis5%

The results show that the vast majority (82%) of UK adults agree companies use too much packaging when delivering or selling in-store products. Additionally, 78 per cent want to see more being done by large companies to promote sustainable packaging, up 16 percentage points from last year.1

Consumer’s behaviour towards packaging and recycling has also changed significantly in the last twelve months, with the number of people keeping packaging to wrap their own gifts doubling from 12 per cent in 2020, to 25 per cent this year. 

The issue of over-packaging appears to influence consumers’ shopping habits too, with  30 per cent saying receiving an online order with excess packaging has put them off ordering from the same company again, whilst 34 per cent prefer click and collect services that save on carbon emissions associated with home deliveries.

Gemma Butler, marketing director and expert in sustainable marketing at CIM, says: “Consumers are far more switched on when it comes to the challenges of excessive packaging, especially plastics, and today’s findings show it’s having an impact on brand association. Companies that therefore refuse to address their product packaging impacts risk damaging not only the planet, but their reputation too.”

The research goes on to show that over half (53%) of UK adults who celebrate Christmas think it is important to do so in a more environmentally-friendly way this year. This compares to just 34 per cent who think it is important to have a big celebration to make up for missing out last year as a result of the pandemic. Some of the most popular ways consumers are seeking out more sustainable festive options for themselves include:

  • Two fifths (41%) are reusing Christmas decorations rather than buying new ones 
  • Over a fifth (22%) are buying from local businesses
  • One quarter (26%) are using a plastic reusable Christmas tree rather than buying a real tree

Butler continues: “It’s clear from our research that consumers are increasingly conscious of the impact the festivities and its associated consumerism is having on the planet, and they’re expecting companies to be more transparent about it too. It’s time for brands to step up and rethink how we can celebrate the magic of Christmas without leaving a mountain of waste behind.”

For marketers looking to upskill in the area, the Chartered Institute of Marketing offers two programmes: ‘The Sustainable Marketer’ course providing marketers with the opportunity to rethink how their business approaches sustainability whilst helping to leverage it as a source of brand loyalty, competitive advantage and commercial success; and the ‘Sustainable Transformation Programme’ which has been designed to equip marketers and businesses to take the lead in developing transformational sustainable, and responsible business and marketing strategies for their organisation. 

For more information on sustainable marketing and how marketers can drive sustainability change across the business visit the: CIM ‘Sustainable Transformation Hub’.