Consumers back paper-based packaging

Two Sides report put together with Toluna
Two Sides report put together with Toluna

A new study, conducted just before the lockdown, has reported that just shy of two-thirds of consumers believe paper-based packaging is better for the environment.

Commissioned by paper advocacy group Two Sides, 5,900 European consumers were questioned by independent research company Toluna in March 2020 on their packaging preferences, perceptions and attitudes.

Paper or cardboard packaging was favoured for ten specific attributes.

As well as 63% considering it better for the environment, consumers preferred paper or cardboard for being easier to recycle (identified by 57% of respondents) and home compostable (72%).

Three in ten consumers correctly believed paper or cardboard to be the most recycled type of packaging material, stating that they believed 60% of paper and board was recycled (the actual rate is 85%).

Around half the survey’s respondents (51%) favoured glass packaging for product protection and 41% preferred the look and feel of glass to other forms of packaging.

Consumers believed glass to be the second most recycled packaging material, followed by metal. However, the actual recycling rates are 74% and 80% respectively.

Additionally, the survey showed that consumer attitudes towards plastic packaging are largely negative.

Two Sides managing director Jonathan Tame said: “Packaging was placed firmly on the agenda for consumers after thought-provoking documentaries, such as David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2, which demonstrated the impact our waste is having on the natural environment.”

Almost three-quarters (70%) of respondents said they were actively taking steps to reduce their use of plastic packaging, while 63% of consumers believed it had a recycling rate of less than 40% (42% of plastic packaging is recycled in Europe).

Consumers across Europe said they were willing to change their behaviour to shop more sustainably, with 44% willing to spend more on products packaged in sustainable materials and 48% willing to consider avoiding a retailer if they believe that retailer is doing too little to reduce its use of non-recyclable packaging.

“Consumers are becoming more aware of the packaging choices for the items they buy, which in turn is applying pressure on businesses – particularly in retail,” said Tame.

“The culture of ‘make, use, dispose’ is slowly changing.”