Industry News | August 26, 2020
U.S. Packaging Preferences 2020
In March 2020, a study of 2,000 U.S. consumers was commissioned by Two Sides and conducted online by independent research firm Toluna. The survey sought to explore and understand consumer preferences, perceptions and attitudes toward packaging.
Message from Phil Riebel, president of Two Sides North America Inc.
“Packaging is receiving more attention than ever as society tries to achieve a more circular economy. Consumers are becoming more aware of available packaging choices for the items they buy, which in turn is influencing packaging decisions by businesses – particularly in the retail sector. The culture of 'make, use, dispose' is gradually changing.
“We conducted this research to better understand consumer perceptions when it comes to packaging. Results show that paper-based packaging is the preferred choice of consumers for its environmental attributes, such as recyclability and compostability, as well as many practical factors, such as ease of storage. Glass is preferred for factors such as reusability and product protection. Plastic did not rank highest for any attribute.
“The survey also found that consumers throughout the United States are willing to change their behavior in order to shop more sustainably. Many are willing to spend more on products that are packaged in sustainable materials and more than a third would avoid retailers who are not taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint.
“These changing shopper habits emphasize the need for retailers to more effectively promote their environmental efforts, as well as a broader need to increase awareness of environmental labels and certifications.
We hope you find this report informative and useful.”
- Paper and cardboard packaging rank highest with consumers for many sustainability attributes including home compostability (69%), better for the environment (66%) and easier to recycle (51%).
- Glass packaging is the preferred choice for attributes including reusability (36%), and better protection of products (29%).
- 57% of consumers are actively taking steps to reduce their use of plastic packaging.
- 36% of consumers would avoid retailers that are not actively trying to reduce their use of non-recyclable plastic packaging.
- 44% of Americans believe non-recyclable packaging should be discouraged through taxation.
- 57% of consumers prefer products ordered online to be delivered in paper packaging rather than plastic packaging.
- 70% of consumers prefer products ordered online to be delivered in fitting packaging, i.e., not too big for the size of the product inside.
- Paper/cardboard packaging is considered to be the most recycled material, with 41% of consumers believing the U.S. recycling rate to be over 50%. In fact, the recycling rates are 73% for paper packaging and 88% for cardboard packaging.
- 20% of consumers believe glass packaging has a recycling rate in excess of 50%. The actual recycling rate of glass packaging is 34%.*
- 24% of consumers believe metal packaging has a recycling rate in excess of 50%. In fact, steel packaging has a recycling rate of 73% and aluminum packaging, 49%.*
- Plastic is considered by consumers to be the least recycled packaging material, although 30% overestimate the recycling rate of plastic, believing it to be over 50%. In fact, plastic packaging has a recycling rate of 13%* in the United States.
- 54% of American consumers are aware of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI® ) label; 45% are aware of the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) label, and 42% are aware of the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification™(PEFC™) label. U.S. consumers consider SFI® slightly more important than FSC® and PEFC™.
- The Mobius Loop (recyclable) is the most recognized label in the United States, with 90% aware of it. It is also rated the most important label by consumers.
The Shopping Bag
- Consumers ranked paper bags highest for environmental attributes such as recyclability (57%), compostability (53%) and made with recycled content (46%).
- Cotton/canvas bags were ranked highest on physical characteristics such as premium feel (65%), durability (62%) and attractiveness (62%).
Download the full report.