Resource Use

Consumers want sustainable packaging

Nearly 70 per cent of drinks can purchasers would consider switching brands if one could demonstrate that it had better environmental credentials, new research finds.

The finding comes in a report written by sustainability not-for-profit organisation Forum for the Future (in association with Madano Partnership) for aluminium can manufacturer Novelis.

The ‘Scaling disruptive innovation in sustainable packaging’ report, commissioned to explore consumer and stakeholder attitudes to sustainable packaging and brand preference as part of Novelis’ aim ‘to explore how to take sustainable disruptive innovation to scale’, surveyed 3031 drinks can purchasers from the UK, US and Poland.

Survey findings

According to the survey, which was undertaken in March 2014, 68 per cent of all respondents said they either ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ with the statement that ‘if taste and price were the same’, they would ‘consider switching to another drinks / beverage brand that had a better environmental impact’. (This dropped to 56 per cent when asked if they would actually switch to a brand with a better environmental impact.)

Sixty-one per cent of respondents also agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that they would consider buying a different product if it was more environmentally friendly.

When looking to brand perception, 73 per cent of respondents said that they would ‘feel better’ about a drinks/beverage company if they supported recycling, with 71 per cent saying they would feel better about the company if their packaging was made of recycled material.

Indeed, 62 per cent went so far as to say that they would ‘feel negatively towards a company that didn’t use the most environmentally-friendly packaging available when it could do’.

In total, 75 per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that companies ‘should make it easier’ for consumers to ‘help the environment’, with consumers stating that they thought drinks or beverage can companies had the most important role in encouraging the use of recycled content and, after government, using the planet’s resources ‘responsibly’.

Other findings included:

  • 84 per cent of people said that they thought companies should provide information on whether packaging can be recycled;
  • 82 per cent agree that companies should increase the amount of recycled material in packaging;
  • 76 per cent agreed that companies should reduce the amount of energy used in the production of a product or service; and
  • 75 per cent agreed that companies should reduce the amount of new raw materials used in creating packaging.

Novelis evercan

Novelis said it would use the research to help establish consumer insights into its evercan™ product, which is certified to contain at least 90 per cent recycled content.

Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director of Forum for the Future, said:  “There’s such a compelling story with evercan™ that could really play to a brand’s advantage. I’d like to see the first global roll-out supported by a brand that wants to invest in telling consumers why it’s such a significant innovation.”

John Gardner, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer for Novelis Inc, added: “Although aluminum is one of the most abundant metals in the earth's crust, extracting it from bauxite is an energy intensive process and has environmental impacts to consider.

“However, recycling produces exactly the same product, saving 95 per cent energy and carbon emissions. Our focus on recycling technology and capacity expansion at Novelis is based upon the belief that it’s the right thing long-term not just for our business, but supports a fully closed-loop system with positive social, environmental and economic impacts for all stakeholders.”

Read the ‘Scaling disruptive innovation in sustainable packaging’ report.