The Flexible Packaging Association (FPA), Annapolis, Md., released its latest sustainability report, “Perspectives on the Meaning of Sustainability in Flexible Packaging.”
FPA commissioned the study to better understand perspectives on sustainability and packaging among consumers and brand owners. The study integrates insights from brand owners surveyed online in June 2018 by Packaging World and insights from an online survey of consumers conducted by The Harris Poll, Rochester, N.Y., in July 2018, both surveys conducted on behalf of FPA.
Brand owners know consumers care about sustainability in general and particularly sustainable materials, but many do not think consumers care about sustainable processes. The majority of brand owners believe that consumers care about the sustainability aspects of packaging materials, however, brand owners are split about whether or not consumers care about the sustainability aspects of packaging processes.
Consumers see sustainability as important, but specific lifecycle attributes of sustainability are not always top-of-mind. Sustainable manufacturing processes and transportation efficiency, for example, are less often associated with sustainability than with aspects that are more obvious to consumers, such as recycling. Consumers are also more likely to believe glass or corrugated packaging is more sustainable than flexible packaging, perhaps due to recycling benefits that are more obvious to consumers.
From a sustainability perspective, Millennials present the greatest opportunity for flexible packaging companies. Though not all consumers seek out sustainable packaging benefits or are willing to pay more for them, Millennials are more likely than other generations to do either or both. They are also more likely to view certain “behind-the-scenes” attributes such as transportation efficiency and energy efficiency as important.
Brand owners surveyed say that sustainability is a priority for their companies, and packaging plays a key role in sustainability efforts. Barriers to increasing sustainability efforts relate to price and quality, and brand owners expect bio-based packaging and biodegradable packaging to drive sustainable packaging trends in the future.