As part of research carried out by packaging group ITW Hi-Cone, a number of consumers in markets like Spain and the UK were found to actively require alternative packs for mineral water.
The survey, which took in the views of four geographical groups each consisting of 8 to 10 people, was independently compiled to capture views on the packaging of leading bottled water suppliers across Europe, says the company.
Hi-Cone's findings come amidst wider criticisms by environmental groups and certain authorities of packing water products. However, bottled water groups continue to fight back against the criticisms suggesting that the focus on their environmental impacts are allowing them to promote improvements to their green commitments.
According to Hi-Cone’s findings, the bottle industry may face some difficulties in offsetting consumer green concerns though. The report identified a number of keys area it claims most concern respondents about the bottled water industry’s environmental commitments. These include, over packaging, an apparent lack of functionality, cost and poor distinction.
Of these concerns, the group suggests that, despite high levels of recycling for Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), consumers show concern over the number of plastic bottles disposed in the environment.
Alongside worries about waste, consumers were also found by the research to favour packs that are generally more convenient, from consumption and carrying around to storage. According to the research, this preference for convenience was matched by interest in lower cost alternatives as well.
Ton Hoppenbrouwers, European business director for ITW Hi-Cone said the findings highlighted the types of areas packagers and bottlers needed to be looking at beyond simply meeting certain environmental concerns.
“Companies are getting the message about minimal packaging, but they have to reconcile this with the need to differentiate their brands on shelf,” he states.
However, representatives of the bottled water industry such as the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) claim that manufacturers are already reaping numerous pack benefits from pushing for more sustainable products.
“The focus on packaging and its environmental impact provides the bottled water industry with an opportunity to highlight the wide variety of innovations in packaging that are occurring. These include the re-designing of the bottles so that they use less plastic and the use of recycled plastic in the manufacture of the original bottles,” stated BSDA spokesperson Liz Bastone.
“The efficiencies being gained in water use, energy use and transport is also positive news, as is the growth in recycling rates of plastic bottles and on-the-go recycling facilities.“