Packaging & Speciality Papers

Consumers prefer paper-based packaging

Packaging type is becoming an increasingly important factor for consumers in choosing a product. A new European survey has shown that paper-based packaging is preferred – simply because it is better for the environment.

The goal of the survey conducted by the non-profit organisation Two Sides and the independent research firm Toluna was to understand the preferences, perceptions and attitudes of consumers with regard to packaging. In total, 5,900 European consumers were surveyed.

Taking into account 15 environmental, practical and visual attributes, they were asked to choose their preferred packaging material out of paper/cardboard, glass, metal and plastic. Paper/cardboard packaging came out well on top across a total of ten attributes. 63% of consumers chose it because it is better for the environment, 57% because it is easier to recycle and 72% because it is compostable at home. Glass packaging came in second place with 51% ahead of metal, as it offers better protection of products and is reusable (55%).


Recycling rate of paper still underrated

However, the feeling towards plastic packaging is quite clear in Europe. 70% of those surveyed indicated that they are actively reducing their use of plastic packaging. Plastic packaging is also regarded as the least recycled material. Overall, 63% of consumers believe that the recycling rate is below 40%. This corresponds quite closely to the actual value of 42%. This is in contrast with the high European recycling rate for paper/cardboard packaging of 85%. Unfortunately, not all consumers are aware of this high value. Only 30% of those surveyed thought that the recycling rate of paper/cardboard packaging is above 60%. This shows that there is considerable potential for long-term educational initiatives here.

Jonathan Tame, managing director of Two Sides, also sees it this way: ‘Our survey shows that consumers throughout Europe recognise the environmental qualities of paper-based packaging, but some areas are still not fully appreciated, in particular the high recycling rate of paper.’

The results of the survey show that consumers throughout Europe are prepared to change their behaviour and shop more consciously. This in turn is putting pressure on businesses and brands to act even more sustainably. ‘The culture of use and waste is slowly changing,’ Jonathan Tames adds. ‘Packaging is playing an increasingly important role in the purchase decisions for products.’

The complete survey results are available here: