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Paper Packaging Has Become Preference of Europeans, Survey Says

June 10, 2020
Author: Travis Durkee

Two Sides Europe recently released the results of a survey that measured packaging preferences of 5,900 consumers in Europe. The results bode well for the pulp and paper industry.

Those surveyed ranked their preferred packaging materials (paper/cardboard, glass, metal and plastic) based on 15 environmental, practical, and visual/tactile attributes. 

Paper/cardboard was the preferred packaging material in the following 10 categories:

  • Home compostable (72 percent of surveyed consumers)
  • Better for the environment (63 percent)
  • Less expensive (54 percent)
  • Easier to recycle (57 percent)
  • Lighter weight (62 percent)
  • Safer to use (37 percent)
  • Easier to open/close (41 percent)
  • More practical (40 percent)
  • Better product information (36 percent)
  • Easier to store (41 percent)

Paper/cardboard came in second behind glass in reusability, brand image, and preferred look and feel. Glass the preferred choice for better protection, while metal was the preferred choice for strength.

“Packaging is receiving more attention than ever as society tries to achieve a more circular economy," said Jonathan Tame of Two Sides Europe, Inc. “Consumers are becoming more aware of available packaging choices for the items they buy, which in turn is influencing packaging decisions by businesses – particularly in the retail sector. The culture of ‘make, use, dispose’ is gradually changing.

“We conducted this research to better understand consumer perceptions when it comes to packaging. Results show that paper-based packaging is the preferred choice of consumers for its environmental attributes, such as recyclability and compostability, as well as many practical factors, such as ease of storage.”

The findings of this survey speak further to the commentary of Fisher International’s Nancy Hassan, who wrote the following excerpt in the Fisher analysis “From Plastic to Paper: How Will Sustainability Trends Impact the Pulp and Paper Industry?

The sight of massive islands of plastic waste floating in the Pacific Ocean are just a small sample of unforgettable images that have heightened consumer awareness of the excessive plastic pollution both on land and sea. … Plastics don’t biodegrade. They only break down, slowly, into smaller fragments called microplastics, which are making their way into our food chain and subsequently into our bodies. The health risks of microplastics are not fully understood, but anti-plastic sentiment is already pushing sustainability trends in packaging.  

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • 70 percent of consumers are actively taking steps to reduce their use of plastic packaging
  • 73 percent of consumers prefer products ordered online to be delivered in paper packaging rather than plastic packaging
  • Consumers ranked paper bags highest for environmental attributes such as recyclability (52%), compostability (47%) and made with recycled content (43%)

Click here to read the full findings from Two Sides Europe.

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