Plastics confusion may mar sustainable consumer appeal - report

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Soft drinks Soft drink Recycling United states

Less may seemingly be more for some soft drinks pack designs amidst consumer concerns over waste, though uncertainty about the recyclable properties of plastic may be setting back some industry sustainability commitments, says new research.

In a survey carried out by packaging group ITW Hi-Cone, some UK consumers believe that it is the responsibility of major soft drinks groups operating in the market to pioneer and trial more sustainable forms of packaging.

The research suggests that this responsibility may not be a complete burden for drink makers though, with potential environmental benefits found to be an increasingly important part of a brand’s shelf-appeal.

“While in-store price promotions remain the overriding factor in most purchasing decisions, the research revealed that environmental concerns among consumers are becoming increasingly important,”​ state the findings. “Nevertheless, confusion still surrounds the disposal of fizzy drinks packaging.”

Plastic confusion

The research suggests this confusion stems from uncertainty about whether certain plastics packs can be recycled as opposed to disposed of in bins. Despite the use of the recycling logo on some packs, the survey conclude that many consumers surveyed still make assumptions over what types of material can be reused.

A general area of agreement among the studies respondents is that minimal packaging remains preferable to consumers, though the wrapping itself must remain sturdy, robust and convenient, state the findings.

“In addition, contrary to what many marketing professionals may believe, respondents considered functionality of packaging as more important than aesthetics,”​ the report adds.

For the survey, Hi-Cone says it gauged the opinions of four UK specific target groups including, males and females between 18 and 40 years of age, females aged 25 to 50 and mothers of the same age. The company was unable to confirm the exact number of respondents at the time of publication.

In looking at the reactions of these groups, Ton Hoppenbrouwers, European business director for ITW packaging, says the research shows that although the environment is increasingly important for consumers, communicating potential sustainability benefits was just as vital a consideration.

“While our research was specifically targeted at soft drinks packaging, and cans in particular, research into glass packaging for beer and PET packaging for water have shown similar conclusions,”​ he states. “Clearly, this type of feedback has relevance for the future development of packaging for all major consumer markets.”

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