A recent study found that, when recycling of food packaging isn’t an option, consumers were interested in whether packaging is biodegradable. For 43% of consumers, including information on packaging about how to recycle was important. About a third of consumers felt that labels should include information regarding sustainability credentials and the product’s carbon footprint.
Asia Pulp and Paper conducted an online survey in June, among more than 1,000 U.S. adults, to gain insight into what consumers think about sustainability for packaging and their preferences, with the results presented in their 2017 Paper & Packaging Consumer Trends Report.
The biggest surprise for Ian Lifshitz, Vice President of Sustainability & Stakeholder Relations at Asia Pulp and Paper, was that 45% of consumers surveyed would like brands to use biodegradable packaging if their packaging cannot be recycled. Lifshitz said the findings revealed that sustainable choices in food packaging were important to consumers, who look for brands that focus on the well-being of the environment. Biodegradable packaging breaks down, or “degrades,” naturally over a period of a few weeks, and may be a good option for packaging of hot foods and beverages, that often cannot be recycled due to the polymer barrier coating required in packaging of these types of foods.
The study focused primarily on packaging used in grocery stores and fast food/quick serve restaurants, and found that, when it comes to sustainable attributes of food packaging, quality was most important. This was followed by recyclability, sustainability, biodegradability, and food packaging created using deforestation-free sources.
It’s critical for brands to implement an end-to-end sustainability program according to Lifshitz, who said the importance of sustainability had increase substantially over the last five years. Additionally, brands should engage in education and awareness of sustainability solutions, ensuring clear communication to consumers that their commitments are being met via package labeling that includes sustainable attributes.
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