Time to Go Green: Consumers Demand Sustainable Packaging

The Rising Tide of Sustainability

In the previous six months, 77% of Millennials said they have chosen products with sustainable packaging. According to Trivium Packaging’s 2023 Buying Green Report, there is a noteworthy trend among consumers: they are actively choosing sustainability rather than merely talking about it.

Sixty-six percent of customers in Europe, North America, and South America were polled for the extensive report, which included over 9,000 people. Reusing bottles and containers, cutting down on food and packaging waste, and choosing products in environmentally friendly packaging are just a few of the astounding 71% of people who practice sustainability.

The urgent need for sustainable packaging solutions is highlighted by the fact that nearly 80% of plastics end up as waste (J. Mater. Chem. A, 2023), contributing to significant pollution of aquatic and terrestrial environments.

“Consumers are no longer just paying lip service to sustainability; they’re putting their money where their mouth is,” says Jenny Wassenaar, Sustainability Director at Trivium Packaging.

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Rejecting Unsustainable Packaging

This shift is particularly pronounced among younger generations: 76-77% of Gen Z and Millennials lead the charge in avoiding products with harmful packaging. Michael Mapes, Trivium Packaging CEO, states “It’s clear that consumers are paving the way for a sustainable future, and businesses need to listen”

To address this pressing environmental issue, the development of a circular economy for plastic treatment is crucial.  This involves a shift from the traditional linear model of plastic consumption and disposal to a more sustainable and resource-efficient framework. The approach emphasizes recycling and repurposing plastics, reducing their negative environmental impact, and contributing to sustainability. Creating a circular economy for plastic treatment will reduce reliance on finite fossil materials, alleviate environmental risks, and manage end-of-life waste plastics through recycling.

Sustainability Across the Board

While food and beverages lead in sustainable packaging, over half of respondents stated that many products still lack eco-friendly options. This gap indicates a significant opportunity for businesses to innovate and expand their sustainable offerings.

Edible coatings and films (ECFs) have emerged as a promising sustainable packaging solution. ECFs are increasingly important in biobased packaging because they have a prime role in enhancing the organoleptic characteristics of food products and minimizing the spread of microorganisms.These sustainable ingredients are crucial for a safer and healthier environment. ECFs are created from proteins, polysaccharides, lipids, plasticizers, emulsifiers, and active substances, making them eco-friendly since they are made from innocuous materials. Nanocomposite films are also beginning to be developed and support networks of biological polymers, further enhancing the sustainability and functionality of ECFs.

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Clear Labelling is Key

The importance of transparent sustainability claims cannot be overstated. While 59% of consumers look for recyclability information, 26% are unsure about what to look for. This confusion underscores the need for clearer, more straightforward labeling.

A study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that clear labeling can significantly increase the recycling rate of plastic packaging The study revealed that when consumers understand what types of plastics can be recycled and how to properly dispose of them, the recycling rate can increase by up to 30%.


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