Retailers should be accountable for sustainable packaging, survey finds

Tom Allsop
Thursday, December 6, 2012

Only 10% of branding and packaging managers think major packaging converters should be responsible for sustainable packaging, according to an EasyFairs survey.

The survey, which was carried out on 500 UK branding, packaging and marketing managers, revealed that 44% of respondents felt that retailers should be responsible for packaging sustainability, while 19% thought it was the manufacturers’ responsibility and 10% thought packaging converters should take the lead.

The two biggest issues affecting the packaging sector, according to 68% of respondents, were budget controllers not understanding how packaging affects profitability and lack of understanding from consumers of the important role of packaging.

Other issues were packaging not being incorporated into the marketing remit and designers’ lack of understanding of the role of packaging.

The survey also revealed that 59% of respondents thought consumers were "partially" influenced by environmentally friendly packaging while only 3.1% thought they were "significantly" influenced.

Asked which of the country’s top ten retailers had the best environmental approach to packaging, 32% of the respondents voted for Marks and Spencer, followed by John Lewis/Waitrose (22%) and the Co-operative Group (15%). 

Meanwhile 9% and 4% respectively said that Tesco and Amazon should have a "more responsible" approach.

Andrew Speck, commercial and environmental packaging manager at Marks & Spencer said the company had increased the recyclability of its packaging to over 91%.

"We are pleased that our efforts conducted under Plan A, our ethical and environmental programme, have been recognised by the industry in this survey. But we know there remains a challenge for all of us to be able to communicate the environmental benefits that packaging plays in the role of food waste, and how best to recycle packaging items after the customer has consumed the products," he said.  

Only 14% of respondents thought retailers should be responsible for recycling with the majority (28%) feeling it was a job for councils. 

According to 74% of respondents the planning time for pack promotions had shortened due to having to be more responsive because of the downturn.

Of these, 17% said the time had shortened "dramatically" and 57% said it had done so "to a certain extent".

The survey comes ahead of EasyFairs’ Packaging and Print Portfolio 2013 trade show, which will take place on 27 and 28 February at Birmingham’s NEC.

The event will include the Big Packaging Debate, in which a panel of packaging professionals will debate whether consumers buy sustainable packaging.

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