Sustainability is now a necessity rather than a choice – particularly in the consumer product sector.
Consumer product brands of all sizes are striving to hit key environmental targets and meet changing consumer expectations.
One key trend we’ve seen as a result is a shift towards more sustainable packaging. And, so far in 2023, there have been some exciting developments! Many are still in their early stages, but have the potential to change the game in the long-term.
So, what do you need to know?
- Do consumers really care about sustainability?
- 2023’s biggest sustainable packaging innovations.
- Helping your organisation to innovate.
Do consumers really care about sustainability?
It’s undeniable: consumers in the UK and beyond care more about sustainability than ever before.
According to NielsenIQ’s recent analysis on attitudes towards climate change:
- 69% of UK consumers say that sustainability has become more important to them over the last two years.
- 55% say that they actively try to make more sustainable choices.
- 77% say they would stop buying products from a company that had been found guilty of ‘greenwashing’.
But, while consumers do want to make more sustainable choices, there are obstacles in their way. For starters, 41% of respondents to the NielsenIQ study reported finding sustainable products too expensive. With the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, it’s no surprise consumers are struggling to pay the premium.
Then, for those that can stretch their budget, 35% say that availability of sustainable products is too limited.
And that’s why innovation is essential!
2023’s biggest sustainable packaging innovations
There have been a few big sustainable packaging breakthroughs so far this year. Here are four of the most newsworthy, from the coolest to the most controversial.
Have you ever had your vodka from a paper bottle before? Well, now you can!
Spirits brand Absolut have just announced their paper bottle prototype. Made entirely of recycled content, the single-mould bottles contain 57% recycled paper and 43% recyclable plastic.
They’re being sold in Tesco as part of a three-month pilot, making it the first ever paper-based bottles to be sold commercially by a global spirits brand. So, who knows? If all goes well, paper bottles could become the norm for all our favourite drinks.
If you want to try them for yourself, they will be available in 22 Tesco stores across Greater Manchester over the summer.
‘Our aim is to produce bottles from sustainably-sourced wood fiber. Think strong-and-sturdy paper, turning fresh pine into iconic containers.’
Another trial that looks promising is PepsiCo’s bagless multipacks for its Snack A Jack brand, also due to be trialled in Tesco stores across the UK.
It sounds more severe than it is: the only bag they’re actually getting rid of is the big bag that holds the five individual packs. Instead, a sticky, tape-like strip will keep them all together, helping the company to cut out a massive 86% of plastic per pack.
And, if that wasn’t enough, both components (the plastic packaging and the strip) will qualify as recyclable under the UK On-Pack Recycling Label Scheme (OPRL).
Hopefully, the trial will act as proof of the fact that excess packaging on multipacks isn’t all that necessary.
‘It’s our third major sustainable packaging trial with Tesco in recent months, after we trialled a new cardboard design on Walkers multipacks to replace its outer plastic packaging.’
These initiatives are just one part of the PepsiCo company’s pledge to eliminate unsustainable packaging. Their commitment to testing and learning more about the potentiality of compostable packaging is another exciting development.
PepsiCo’s mission is to make 100% of their packaging recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable by 2025. But compostable packaging is still a relative unknown at the moment, which is why investment and initiatives like this one are so key.
Especially because compostable packaging is the solution favoured by the majority of eco-conscious consumers. In fact, in a survey of our own followers, the majority (56%) of respondents favoured compostable packaging over paper and bio-based alternatives.
And now, for a more controversial entry: vacuum-packed meat packaging. It’s proved to be a divisive move, even though it means using at least 55% less plastic per unit.
Sainsbury’s was the first UK supermarket to switch out the traditional tray packaging of their entire beef mince range, replacing it with a vacuum-packed alternative. But consumer response has been strong – and not in a good way!
People have been saying that the newly packaged product looks ‘very medical’ and ‘too compressed’. But, while it certainly isn’t the prettiest solution, the benefits definitely outweigh the critiques.
Given that the initiative is set to save 450 tonnes of plastic a year, it’s no surprise that other retailers have followed suit. Grocers including Co-Op, Nisa, and discounter Lidl have also begun vacuum-packing their mince range.
‘We strive to be bold in the changes we are making, which is why we’re pleased to be the first UK retailer to vacuum pack all our beef mince range without impacting the quantity or great quality of product that our customers expect.’
Helping your organisation to innovate
Innovation is essential at a time like this. However, it’s simply not possible without the people to drive it.
Interested in supercharging your sustainable initiatives to supercharge your sustainability initiatives?
As talent partner to some of the most exciting global names, innovators, and challenger brands in the consumer product industry, we have a proven track record of not only sourcing top talent, but improving employer brand, candidate journey, and talent acquisition strategies.
Take on talent with the skillsets, experience, and passion to innovate and accelerate your green strategy.
Get in touch today!
Call us: 0333 772 7200
Image credit: iStock, Absolut, Packaging Europe, Sainsbury’s.