15th Apr 2020
According to BrandWatch, conversations around plastic across social media increased by almost 300% from 2017 to 2018. This ‘plastic paranoia’ is one of the key factors that our research identified when looking at where the risks lie in widening the Green Gap.
For example, government initiatives and the policies we’ve seen to date are geared towards a circular economy dominated by end of life options and types of packaging material.
Our research supports this showing that 61% of businesses believe ‘end of life options’ will be the most important factor influencing packaging strategies in the next decade. This marks a considerable change from current levels of 43%.
While this is a positive shift – and demonstrates that businesses are taking responsibility for where their packaging ends up – a more holistic ‘lifecycle’ view of packaging is what’s required to create a truly sustainable approach to packaging strategies over the next decade.
The reality is that the infrastructure is not yet in place across the UK for consumers to efficiently recycle all of the plastic packaging that’s part of their daily lives.
Take it back to the beginning
The real opportunity for companies to improve sustainability in the packaging lifecycle lies at the beginning – starting at the R&D and design stage, rather than an unbalanced focus on where it’s going to end up.
The right material for the right application
Our research also highlighted that most companies (34%) want to see advances in packaging materials in the next decade happening in ‘compostable and biodegradable materials’. An eagerness for these types of materials is being driven by the demonisation of plastic, however it could end up doing more harm than good.
When considering their packaging strategies companies must not use material as a starting point. Hype and excitement around buzz terms like ‘biodegradable’ can mean the wrong choices are made.
Educate and communicate
Confusing anti-plastic messaging is having a detrimental effect, both on the end customer and the companies trying to respond to their demands. It’s pressuring companies into making decisions without all of the facts. Government should be aiming to provide companies and consumers with more informative and balanced messaging. It’s simply not helpful to say one material alone is bad for the environment.
Companies need to address the consumer confusion on plastic and leverage this opportunity to educate about the ‘good’ plastics that preserve products, offer convenience and can be recycled, versus ‘bad’ plastics that add little to the consumer experience.
For more insight on how you can overcome plastic paranoia and better educate customers on your packaging considerations, download your free copy of our Future of Packaging report here.