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Key Drivers Fueling the Shift Towards Eco-Friendly Packaging


Change in the packaging industry isn't isolated; it's driven by significant influences including demands from retailers, consumer expectations, and stringent regulations. This insight comes from the PMMI Business Intelligence 2023 report titled "Moving to Sustainable Packaging – Closing the Innovation Gap," which gathers perspectives from participants in the 2023 Vision 2030 sessions.


Industry leaders identify major factors prompting a shift towards sustainable materials. A consumer goods executive highlighted their company's strategy focusing on providing sustainable products as a primary motivation. Additionally, they pointed out the growing impact of "extended producer responsibilities" and regulatory requirements.


Moreover, the executive mentioned that some customers and retailers have begun enforcing fines, penalties, or creating cost disadvantages for producers not adhering to sustainable packaging standards.


A panelist from the packaging industry emphasized the importance of maintaining a global view on regulatory developments, noting that laws often originate in Europe and then spread to the U.S. This panelist highlighted a renewed consumer focus on sustainability post-COVID, with increased attention on recycling and the use of recycled materials. Consumers are keen on ensuring that companies fulfill their environmental promises.


The discussion also converged on the necessity of enhancing the recyclability of products and the use of recycled content. Both aspects are seen as crucial, and there's a consensus on the need for clarity in instructing consumers on how to dispose of products responsibly once they're no longer needed.


A spokesperson for the industry underscored the benefits of incorporating recycled content into product packaging, describing it as an effective method for brands to gain immediate recognition from consumers for their sustainability efforts. Furthermore, she noted the rising significance of measuring the carbon footprint of packaging solutions, indicating a shift towards more quantifiable environmental accountability.


Are Consumers Ready to Pay More for Sustainable Packaging?


The debate over whether consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging reveals mixed responses. A representative from the packaging industry confirmed that there is indeed a price threshold beyond which consumers are hesitant to go. She noted that while a 20% price increase might be too steep, consumers seem comfortable with an additional cost closer to 10% for more recyclable options.


Additionally, this representative pointed out that consumers are likely to spend more if the sustainable packaging is part of a broader enhancement to the product, such as the inclusion of health benefits like added probiotics or a product relaunch.


Another viewpoint from a consumer packaged goods (CPG) representative highlighted strategies to manage the higher costs associated with sustainable materials. He mentioned efforts to balance these costs by employing cost-saving measures elsewhere in the production process, such as using thinner, less expensive resins, to avoid passing on the extra expenses to consumers.

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