Three in four consumers will pay for packaging sustainability

Product packaging is set to play an evermore important role in creating a more sustainable global economy and consumers are ready to play their part in this movement. They’re increasingly keen to choose brands that help them make sustainable choices and packaging is a key factor.

This is one outcome from the BillerudKorsnäs consumer panel on packaging sustainability where consumers from cities all over the world have described their view on the role of packaging in their everyday life and as a contributor to a sustainable future.

Some 72 per cent of consumers around the world are willing to pay more for products with packaging that brings sustainable benefits. The research was conducted by BillerudKorsnäs, a leading developer of sustainable packaging for the global consumer goods market. These include world-leading paper and board material, and other new solutions that increase brands’ profitability while reducing environmental impact.

“We conducted one of the first consumer panels on packaging sustainability because we wanted to really understand how aware consumers are to packaging sustainability and their aspirations to act, and we were very encouraged by the results,” says Jon Haag, director of consumer insights at BillerudKorsnäs.

“What we discovered is that consumers are ready for action. They want packaging that helps them change behaviour and they are ready to pay for it. But they want to see some benefits in return.”

This might include avoiding food waste. On average 15 per cent of the contents of a jar of mayonnaise, for example, will be wasted because the packaging isn’t well designed.

“Consumers want to avoid wasting food like this,” says Mr Haag. “According to our survey, the top two dream results from better packaging are clearly to ‘reduce food waste’ and ‘make it fun and easy to recycle’.”

To achieve this BillerudKorsnäs has recently collaborated with engineering company Bosch Packaging Technology to create a new variety of container that is made entirely from mono-material paper, and is therefore easier to recycle because consumers and recycling plants don’t have to separate out its different constituent parts. The world’s first sealed paper packaging, this new sustainable product is ideal for free-flowing goods such as sugar, flour, pasta, grains or powders.

“It’s an exciting example of Bosch’s packaging technology and our expertise in packaging papers,” says Mr Haag. “The result is that you get a better consumer experience, you save on production costs and you ruin no natural resources.”

To answer consumer demand for easier recycling, BillerudKorsnäs is also creating packaging that can be used up or consumed once the product has finished. Already it is enjoying considerable success in the construction sector with its award-winning product D-Sack.

Developed with building materials manufacturer LafargeHolcim, this cement package goes into the concrete mixer, along with its contents, minimising litter and cement waste at the same time as helping to create a cleaner, healthier and safer workplace. The dissolvable paper sack optimises time needed for handling and mixing, and as an added benefit it leaves behind no costly waste-disposal requirements. Similar products to D-Sack are set to enter the consumer market.

“Consumers are more and more aware of the effects of packaging on the environment from litter on the streets to pollution in the oceans,” says Mr Haag. “They want to take action and so empowering them to recycle more is already paying off. Increasingly, we’ll see this as a brand differentiator. As well as the design and feel of packaging, shoppers will choose products with packaging that is easier to recycle. Collaboration will be key to solving the challenges of the future and we encourage all stakeholders to reach out to find those partnerships.”

The BillerudKorsnäs survey reveals regional variations. “We discovered that packaging sustainability is particularly important to Asian consumers,” says Mr Haag. “You normally see 5 to 7 per cent of respondents making the effort to add an additional comment to a survey, but we had over 20 per cent globally and 31 per cent in Asia. That’s a remarkable level of engagement.

“Making your brand differentiate with sustainability benefits in packaging will have quick impact in Asia today, and will happen shortly in Europe and the US, so brands have to start taking action now.”

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