The poll of 1,011 adults found that women are 14 percent more likely than men to select environmentally-friendly packaging over more convenient alternatives. But overall, people are fairly evenly split between conscience and convenience, according to the study, World IP Today: Convenience vs. Conscience – Food Packaging in the 21st Century.
The report said the packaging industry is increasingly offering both conscience and convenience at once.
But it said a lack of eco-label standardization has left ambiguity as to which packages are truly “green”. With new standards forthcoming from the Federal Trade Commission, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and European Organization for Packaging and the Environment (Europen), the issue is likely to receive more attention in coming months, the report said.
An American version of European, Ameripen, launched last month.
Recent innovations in green packaging cited by the report include Kenco’s Eco refill packs, which use 97 percent less packaging; and Quizno’s forthcoming sugarcane pulp salad bowls. Meanwhile, an entrepreneur has invented a biodegradable paper milk bottle that can be made of recycled materials, the report said.
The report drew from a database of more than 14,000 packaging inventions for food and beverages, patented between 2004 and 2009, and found that the number of packaging patents explicit about their environmental friendliness has been rising faster than packaging patents in general (see chart).
It is virtually impossible to identify which packaging patents are “green”, the report noted. The authors created a category of green inventions by counting patents that mentioned biodegradability, recycling, barrier films and modified atmosphere. “But this method arbitrarily excludes thousands of patents that reduce the waste in the food chain,” the report said.
They added that green trademarking, as identified by terms like “eco-“, “enviro-“ or “clean”, is also on an upward trend.