Consumer Packaging Preferences

Results of a recent Australian survey by Toluna reveal that paper-based packaging is favoured for being better for the environment, as consumers become increasingly conscious of their packaging choices.

A survey of Australian consumers, conducted by industry campaign Two Sides and independent research company Toluna, sought to understand consumer preferences, perceptions, and attitudes towards packaging.

Respondents were asked to choose their preferred packaging material (paper/cardboard, glass, metal, and plastic) based on 15 environmental, practical, and visual attributes. Among the 10 attributes paper/cardboard packaging is preferred for, 69% of consumers choose it for being better for the environment, 50% because it is easier to recycle and 72% prefer paper/cardboard because it is home compostable.

Consumer attitudes towards plastic packaging are clear, with 59% of respondents stating that they are actively taking steps to reduce their use of plastic packaging. Plastic packaging is also accurately perceived to be the least recycled material, with 72% of consumers believing it to have a recycling rate of less than 40%.

Paper/cardboard packaging is considered to be the most recycled material, with 45% believing the Australian recycling rate to be over 60%. With an actual recycling rate of 87%, one of the leading rates in the world, there is still a significant number of consumers who underestimate paper/cardboard packaging’s high recycling rate.

Glass is considered the second most recycled packaging material, followed by metal. With actual recycling rates of 54% and 90% respectively, the recyclability of these packaging materials is also widely misunderstood by consumers.

The survey found that consumers throughout Australia are willing to change their behaviour to shop more sustainably. 43% are willing to spend more on products if packaged in sustainable materials and 43% would consider avoiding a retailer if they believe that retailer is not doing enough to reduce its use of non-recyclable packaging. 55% would purchase more from retailers who are removing plastic from their packaging.

Jonathan Tame, Managing Director of Two Sides UK states, “Consumers are becoming more aware of the packaging choices for the items they buy, which in turn is applying pressure on businesses – particularly in retail. The culture of ‘make, use, dispose’ is slowly changing.”

When it comes to online shopping, 66% of consumers prefer products to be delivered in a fitting packaging e.g. that is not too big for the size of the actual product and 51% prefer these products to be delivered in paper packaging.

55% think that non-recyclable packaging should be discouraged through taxation. 42% think that brands, retailers and supermarkets could be doing more to introduce more sustainable packaging and 53% think that brands, retailers and supermarkets are doing enough to inform people of their commitments and changes in relation to sustainability.

The wide-reaching survey also found that 70% of people agree it is important to use paper products from sustainably managed forests e.g. forests that conform to strict environmental standards. In Australia, over 90% of our forests are certified as being sustainably managed. This is in comparison with the global average of 12%.

Overall, the survey found that Australians are conscious of their packaging use and believe that paper/cardboard packaging is the most effective and sustainable, which they are correct in believing.

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