The pandemic and the environment: consumers in search of more sustainable packaging

A survey of more than 7,000 European citizens from 11 countries commissioned from Perspectus Global by Pro Carton (the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers) reveals that a larger proportion of consumers in Italy and the UK (54% and 50% of respondents, respectively) have gained in environmental awareness during the pandemic compared to their Spanish, German and French counterparts (all below 50%).

In Italy, almost 4 out of 5 consumers (78%) said they would be willing to pay more for sustainable packaging. 88% of young Italians (aged 22-28) declared that they would be willing to spend more on more environmentally friendly packaging, compared to 66% of the over-65s, despite the latter having greater spending power. Young Italians are surpassed only by their Spanish and German peers (91% and 89%, respectively).

Only 25% of Italian respondents said that retailers do not do enough to introduce environmentally friendly packaging, the lowest percentage among all European countries. However, almost all European adults believe that governments (96%) and brands (96%) should do much more to protect the environment.

“Cartonboard was confirmed as the most popular material for packaging, with less than one in ten respondents preferring plastic,” said Pro Carton General Manager Tony Hitchin. “Consumers are asking brand owners for more sustainable packaging, and the properties of cartonboard make it sustainable in terms of both economics and the environment. It is made from renewable resources, it is recyclable, biodegradable and originates from sustainably managed forests.”

The survey also asked European citizens questions about the behaviours they consider most effective for combating climate change. In Italy, 1 in 4 consumers (27%) believe that planting more trees is a viable solution, 25% believe there should be more recycling and 24% would like to see the use of more renewable materials. This sentiment is shared by British, French and German consumers, whereas Spanish consumers prioritise recycling (28%), followed by the use of renewable materials (23%) and planting more trees (22%).