Concern over plastic use is reflected in consumer attitudes on food packaging
56% of the respondents in the United States feel that the food brands have the main responsibility for reducing plastic waste in food packaging
According to an international consumer survey commissioned by global chemicals company Kemira, over half of the 4,000 respondents in the United States, China, Germany and Finland said they would be willing to pay more for renewable food packaging. Most respondents were also hoping to reduce the use of plastic in their lives. The international survey, conducted in April 2019 by a third-party research partner, investigated consumers’ views on food packaging materials, food shopping and food waste.
According to the survey, when it comes to the features of food packaging, the key consumer priorities across all markets relate to the hygiene and leak-proof properties of the container, but packaging material itself is also considered important. Especially in the United States, the size of the food package and ease of use are also viewed important. 46% of the US citizens, 85% of the Chinese, 55% of the Germans, and 44% of the Finns respond positively to statement “I’m willing to pay more for renewable packaging in food (such as carton or other bio-based materials)”.
Many of the respondents are recycling their packaging: in the United States and China about 40% said they always recycle cartons and cardboard; around 80% of the Finnish and German respondents said the same. In all other countries apart from the USA (52%), plastic is much less frequently recycled.
“Food packaging plays an often-overlooked role in the total environmental footprint of food items, affecting both product shelf life and waste recyclability. For example, with appropriate packaging food stays fresh longer, safely. We are actively following food packaging trends, as we are part of the value-chain for fiber-based packaging solutions,” says Lee Sampson, Director of Product Lines at Kemira.
The global discussion on plastic is also reflected in the survey, as most respondents indicated they were trying to reduce the amount of plastics in their lives. In the United States 58%, in Germany 83%, in Finland 67% and in China, a staggering 93% of respondents agreed with this view. On the other hand, the future of plastic packaging divides opinions: 35% of the US citizens say they would feel negatively about increased plastics use in food packaging, while the corresponding number within the Chinese is 38%, Germans 51% and Finns 76%.
“It was interesting to see that 56% of the US respondents feel that the food brands have the main responsibility for reducing plastic waste associated with food packaging. This is something that the food brands are actively addressing, and one alternative is to use renewable and recyclable fiber-based packaging materials. However, it’s a complex matter as brands are often global but regulations are local. We hope to see the big, global challenges taken into consideration in local legislation, and expect some predictability into the regulatory future. Sustainable and renewable solutions require consistent, long-term joint effort,” continues Sampson.