Plastic? No thank you!
In the past two decades there has been a strong movement away from single use plastic and plastic packaging. Whereas most companies assumed that consumers do not care very much about sustainable packaging, there are more and more studies proving the opposite.
In the CGS 2019 U.S. Consumer Sustainability Survey, more than 1,000 consumers were surveyed as to their buying habits, revealing that more than two-thirds of the respondents consider sustainability when making a purchase and are willing to pay more for sustainable products. Gen Z shoppers led the way, with 68 percent having made an eco-friendly purchase in the past year.
This case was also proven by another more recent study by Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU). They study showed that consumers are willing to pay more money for food packaging that they themselves perceive as sustainable. Conventional plastic and so-called bioplastics, on the other hand, fare poorly.
Bioplastics fared particularly poorly in the survey, although earlier studies had shown the opposite. Respondents said they knew too little about the material and its properties. "Our results indicate that behind the term bioplastic, people tend to assume a product that is just as bad for the environment as conventional plastic," said co-author Christoph Herrmann.
According to the team, the findings also provide important starting points for retailers: "Until now, many companies assumed that their clientele would not be willing to pay more money for more sustainable packaging. For the time being, we cannot confirm this. Rather, we see: Dissatisfaction with plastic packaging is enormous, and there is great potential in this," concludes Rhein.
Big industry players like Target, Starbucks and McDonald's have taken notice and are making pledges to more sustainability and less plastic. How successful their commitments will be implemented will depend on continued consumer demand and also on the availability of plastic alternatives.