A study released by Forum for the Future, commissioned on behalf of Novelis, found that shoppers react positively towards companies that use green packaging and would consider switching to a comparable brand that offered a more sustainable option.

With waste reduction rated as one of the most important issues, consumers are increasingly expecting companies to address sustainability through the materials they use and the products they offer.

According to the study, 90% of consumers stated that if they learned of a company’s irresponsible or deceptive business practices, they would stop buying its products, with 55% stating they would boycott those products or services altogether.

When it comes to specific measures, 84% of people agreed that companies should provide information on whether packaging can be recycled, while 82% thought that companies should increase the amount of recycled material in packaging.

The vast majority (76%) also felt that companies should reduce the amount of energy used in the production of a product or a service, with 75% stating that companies should reduce the amount of virgin material used in packaging.

According to experts who fed into the research, brands can mitigate reputational risk by adopting market-ready solutions with significant sustainability benefits. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of consumers see recycling as a shared responsibility between themselves, business, and government – and brands can take the lead by providing the best technology available.

One material scientist said that large corporations are key influencers in helping to push behaviour change among consumers: “That’s why it is important for me; transparency in your supply chain, honesty in your material flows, understanding the future forecasting of where your business will be in 20 years’ time.”

Experts also forecasted that sustainable packaging will become a ‘hygiene’ factor for companies, fuelled by increased transparency and higher consumer expectations of the sustainability of the products they buy.

The study surveyed 3,000 people across the UK, US and Poland and the findings will feed into further work by Forum for the Future and Novelis to explore how sustainable disruptive innovation can be scaled up in the packaging market.

The research backs up findings released last year by Tetra Pak that consumers are demanding more renewable materials and environmental labelling on the products they buy.

Download our reports about how businesses can decrease their relaince on virgin materials and join the circular economy here.

Maxine Perella

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