Packaging that is recyclable, reusable, and biodegradable are by far the most important attributes consumers are looking for, according to a report from Ball.
The report from the aluminum packaging company surveyed 1,600 people from six countries regarding their views on household and personal care packaging. Recyclability of packaging is the key factor with 85% of respondents saying it is important or very important, and the same number – with nearly half calling it very important – listing the importance of packaging being infinitely recyclable.
Being biodegradable followed by 42% of consumers saying it was important, and 35% saying it was extremely important. Plastic was dinged by users, with 63% considering the material bad for the environment.
Overall, 55% of respondents say they prefer household and personal care packaging that is substantially recyclable, and 40% prefer packaging that does not have a negative impact on the environment. A majority also completely or somewhat agree that they would prefer sustainable packaging to be readily available, that they would always choose such packaging if available, and that they would pay more for the materials.
The survey looked at aluminum, glass, plastic, and cardboard household packaging. Cardboard was considered the most environmentally friendly by consumers, with 26% feeling that way.
Glass and aluminum are the most recyclable packaging materials. Glass is 100% recyclable according to the glass packaging institute and can be recycled endlessly without losing quality. Ball says aluminum is essentially a permanent material and that 75% of all aluminum produced is still in use.
Survey respondents were positive about the reusability of glass but were concerned about its durability. Many said that made the material impractical, and even unsafe, for household and personal care goods.
Aluminum packaging is most common in beverage and food containers but is growing in other areas like personal care product packaging. While the material is highly recyclable, the EPA says beverage cans are recycled at about a 50% rate in the United States, and other packaging falls to 35%.
The demand for sustainable packaging is becoming a factor across industries, especially driven by recycled materials. A report by Research Drive earlier in 2022 estimates the green packaging market is estimated to be valued at nearly $452 billion by 2028. Reusable and refillable packaging is also becoming a trend, with that market estimated to be worth $53.5 billion by 2027.
The personal care product industry has also increased its focus on sustainable packaging, especially to tackle single-use and hard-to-recycle plastics. Clariant, Siegwerk, Borealis, and Beiersdorf partnered to create packaging that can be recycled and reused more than once, and 100 brands teamed with rePurpose Global to reduce plastic waste.
The Ball survey received responses from consumers in the US, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Mexico, and Brazil. Consumers in Mexico and Brazil were the most likely to consider recyclability, environmental impact, and using less plastic as important attributes of packaging. Other packaging factors considered by users included whether it is safe to use and preserves the products.