Paper – The Preferred and Sustainable Packaging Choice
Non-recyclable, single-use packaging has been brought sharply into focus over the past few years, rising pollution and its impact on animals and habitats has been widely publicised. A 2020 report by the Pew Charitable Trusts estimates the current amount of plastic reaching the oceans is 11 million tonnes a year. This is driving consumers to look for ways to reduce waste and create a sustainable, circular economy. Research shows that paper packaging is the preferred sustainable option for many.
In the study, consumers were asked to choose their preferred packaging material based on a range of environmental, visual and physical attributes. These packaging materials were paper/cardboard, plastic, glass and metal. The study revealed that paper/cardboard was the favoured packaging choice for 10 out of 15 attributes. 55% of UK consumers preferring paper packaging as better for the environment, 51% for being easier to recycle and 77% for being home compostable.
Consumers are right to believe that paper is easier to recycle. In Europe, 84% of paper packaging is recycled, making it the most recycled packaging material in the world. Glass has a recycling rate of 74%, metal 80% and plastic 42%. (Eurostat, 2019)
The study showed that consumers are demanding that brands, retailers and supermarkets do more to reduce the use of non-recyclable packaging. The study revealed that 32% of UK consumers believe that brands, retailers and supermarkets are the most responsible for reducing the use of non-recyclable packaging. Furthermore, 46% of UK consumers believe retailers, supermarkets and brands are not doing enough to introduce more sustainable packaging in their stores. That being said, consumers also hold themselves responsible, with 29% of UK consumers believing “the individual (your own choice)” has the most responsibility to reduce the use of non-recyclable packaging.