Sustainable packaging an increasingly high priority for consumers

PrintAction Staff
July 14, 2018
By PrintAction Staff
Consumers are increasingly putting pressure on manufacturers to improve the impact that packaging has on the environment, with ethical packaging now becoming a ‘must have’ quality when purchasing a product, according to data and analytics company GlobalData.

Results of a recently released GlobalData global consumer survey finds 75 percent of consumers worldwide now think that living an ethical or sustainable lifestyle is important to creating a feeling of wellbeing.

“This sudden interest in sustainability has been driven by more open discussion via social media, and increased government lobbying resulting in action against plastics. The result of this pressure is evidenced by changes to legislation, such as the UK introducing a minimum 5p charge for plastic carrier bags,” Mayu Teeven, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, says. “Using sustainable packaging to reflect cleaner and healthier living has become a priority for many consumers. As demand for organic and natural products grows, and the clean label trend continues to increase in popularity, having non-recyclable plastic packaging will start to limit the success of products which rate highly on ethics and sustainability in other parts of the supply chain.”

Research continues into recyclable materials, with the University of Warwick recently discovering lignin, a new type of biodegradable plastic made from tree glue that can be discarded with food scraps.

Lignin normally holds cellulose fibres to stiffening plant stems, and researchers found that it can be turned into a strong, moldable plastic. Although the process of creating this material is still difficult at this stage, it could be on shelves within five years if scientists can ascertain a more efficient way of breaking down lignin, explains GlobalData.

“Currently, the biggest challenge for producers is to convince consumers that sustainable packaging materials are worth the extra cost,” Teeven says. “Although there are long-term savings to be made by manufacturers moving to more sustainable materials, in the short term, prices will likely need to increase to cover the research and development costs of developing new materials and upgrading machinery to work with the new packs.”

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