Young people will pay more for sustainable packaging, report shows

Consumer demand for sustainable packaging is still growing, despite the pandemic, led by a younger generation who are willing to pay more for eco-friendly packaging, according to a new report.

Metal packaging giant Trivium Packaging has released its 2021 Global Buying Green Report in partnership with Boston Consulting Group, surveying more than 15,000 participants across Europe, North America, and South America on their behaviours related to sustainable packaging.

The study revealed a ‘steady climb’ in younger consumers’ dedication to sustainable living. 83% of those aged 44 and under were willing to pay more for sustainable packaging. Younger consumers were 23% more inclined to pay for sustainable packaging than older generations, with no major difference in income bracket, or between Millennials and Generation Z.

Key findings in Trivium’s report conclude that overall consumer demand for sustainable packaging remains high, despite the major impact COVID-19 had globally. 67% of consumers identified as ‘environmentally aware’, consistent with 2020’s report. Additionally, 67% identified recyclable packaging as important, and 64% identified packaging that contains recycled content as a priority in their buying decisions. Less than 1 in 3 consumers de-prioritised sustainable packaging due to the pandemic.

Trivium Packaging’s CEO, Michael Mapes, said: “No event in recent memory has had as much impact on consumer behaviour as COVID-19, yet the majority of consumers did not de-prioritise sustainability in the face of the pandemic, a true testament to the unwavering sustainability movement led by young consumers.”

Consumers are aligned across all surveyed regions on identifying plastic as the most unsustainable packaging material on the market. Survey respondents consistently associated plastic with undesirable attributes such as ocean pollution (63%), harmful (55%) and wasteful (36%).

While consumer awareness of environmental impact, pollution, and harmful materials remains high, Trivium’s study points to an ‘alarming’ consumer misconception: a gap between actual material recyclability and consumer perceptions of it.

“Consumers did not recognise that metals are infinitely recyclable and overestimated the recyclability of other materials, such as plastic and glass,” said Jenny Wassenaar, vice-president of sustainability at Trivium. “This is a result of too many inconsistencies in environmental messages and labels, differences in local recycling processes, as well as a general lack of awareness of best recycling practices.

“It is at the core of Trivium’s value system to address these disparities by working with brand partners and across our entire supply chain to support recycling initiatives, amplify sustainability messages, for example through our standardised Metal Recycles Forever™ logo, and provide clear, fact-based resources that will inspire and educate the end consumer on best recycling practices.”

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