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Sustainable packaging, Sustainable problems?

The message is clear- sustainable packaging is here to stay.

While packaging is central to a products visual appeal for purchasers, many brands, especially in the home care and personal care divisions, have begun to prioritise sustainability and circularity when considering design, use and disposal of the package.

The FMCG production model of ‘take, make, dispose’ still exists but is slowly being dismantled by the leaders in  the sustainability agenda. For example Unilever’s flagship brand Dove announced it is moving to 100% recycled plastic bottles and plastic-free packs for its beauty bar.  Positive changes like this can be seen across the FMCG industry and will benefit the long term health of our planet.

But how will their consumers react to these changes should packaging quality be impacted?

How will this new sustainable packaging perform through supply chains overtime? Will consumers be more accepting of packaging imperfections or will quality continue to play a key role in the purchase decisions of your consumers – these are key questions that we in Eolas help our clients to answer.

Without doubt now more than ever, sustainability is an important factor for consumers- a recent study we conducted in the US & UK, found that for more than 85% of consumers, sustainability is important to them, however sustainability was still ranked behind price, brand and quality as a key purchasing driver.

In the same Eolas study, 28% of consumers said it was unacceptable for a brand to sacrifice quality for sustainability. This high percentage highlights the need to ensure all new packaging performs consistently well, that consumers’ view on changes made to packaging is fully understood and that marketing teams are on point with clear effective messaging.

For example, in a recent study tracking personal care items, Eolas found that more than 80% of respondents would prefer brands to be more vocal about how easy their products are to recycle.

People want to know more and they want to contribute to a more ecologically balanced world. If you stopped somebody on the street and asked them if sustainability is important to them and they will of course say yes. But place a damaged sustainable product that they ordered online, at their doorstep and their opinion might begin to change. Sure consumer wants to help the world, but are they going to sacrifice product quality in doing so?

The consumer expects the manufacturer to produce sustainable products to benefit the environment while being robust enough to deal with the rigours of transit as they are moved  from production to onshelf or via E-Comm channel.  A task easier said than done – currently for every ten products on the shelf, one will be defective. The defect rate is even higher for products ordered online (1 in every 3). Therefore, based on the low availability of high quality recyclable plastics , the defective rate will possibly grow as more sustainable packaging is used in manufacturing processes-  A potential quality problem, manufacturers shouldn’t ignore.

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