Over nine in ten retailers say that climate change concerns are affecting the packages they’re choosing to put on their shelves.
The findings come from Tetra Pak, which polled major retailers in the UK and Ireland on their attitudes and factors driving packaging choices.
97% of respondents believe their customers are taking action to reduce their environmental impact and this change has forced the retailers to consider how they package their items, with 97% saying it is now a primary consideration when choosing a supplier.
Tetra Pak’s research also sheds light on the driving factors behind retailers’ packaging priorities and decision-making. The most common concern for retailers is having a package that comes from low carbon sources, with 45% citing this as a primary consideration. This is closely followed by whether packaging comes from renewable sources (41%) and contains less plastic (38%).
Although 77% of respondents agreed they could be doing more to offer products with packaging that has a low environmental impact, Tetra Pak’s results suggest progress will continue to be made. Almost half of the respondents plan to stock products with sustainable packaging in the next two years and 43% in the next 12 months.
However, the survey also highlights a lack of understanding on the part of retailers as to what constitutes ‘low carbon’ packaging. For example, 40% of retailers erroneously believe that aluminium is the material with the lowest environmental impact, when in reality, the metal’s carbon footprint is greater than that of many plant-based alternatives.
Stuart Lendrum, head of packaging at Iceland Foods said: ‘It should be easier to drive change with the whole industry and supply chain actively addressing the issues’, but cautions that, ‘the research also highlights the complex interdependence of the issues and knowledge gaps throughout and there is much work to be done.’
Johan Rabe, managing director of Tetra Pak North Europe, added: ‘Our research shows that awareness of environmentally responsible packaging has increased significantly amongst retailers. However, there is clearly more to be done in practical terms to lower our carbon use and facilitate a global shift towards a circular economy.’
Last month, Green Alliance published a report that included interviews with representatives from five of the UK’s major supermarkets and five of the main consumer food and drink companies in order to understand the full picture of the transition away from plastic.
The report revealed that decisions to ditch plastic are often made without considering the full environmental impact of the substitute material.