Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor

March 22, 2016

2 Min Read
‘Compostable’ packaging claim doesn’t wow most brand owners

Today’s top environmental marketing claim on packages isn’t “Compostable” despite considerable efforts by packaging material suppliers in developing new products in this area.

When confronted with 10 possible environmental marketing claims, respondents to the 2015 Packaging Digest Sustainable Packaging Study chose “Recyclable” as the leading declaration their customers deem most important (see chart below). For the packaging suppliers taking our survey, customers would be brand owners. And for brand owner respondents, customers would be retailers or, more likely, consumers. Time and time again, when consumers are asked what they can do to be sustainable, the vast majority of them say “Recycle.”

An interesting anomaly stands out, however, when we look at results of total respondents versus just brand owners. Consumer packaged goods manufacturers and marketers might contest the fact that packaging suppliers are overly confident about “Biodegradable” and “Compostable” claims.

But, as mentioned earlier, we’ve seen quite a lot of activity with compostable packaging materials in the last two years. And in early Feb. 2016, Packaging Digest reported on a new compostable pouch from brand owner Alter Ego for its Heritage Quinoa.

Plus Dell is still interested in using bamboo for cushioning its computer products partly because bamboo is compostable. As Oliver Campbell, director of worldwide procurement and packaging engineering at Dell, recently told us, when it comes to sustainable packaging and your business, he says “it’s generally better to have more options to provide more agility.”

Regarding the viability of compostable packaging…Perhaps the backyard versus commercial compost environment plus the lack of infrastructure for compostable collections on top of the education lag for consumers is relegating compostable packaging to niche markets such as foodservice where food contamination becomes a moot point. We’ll see how this plays out.

This is just a snapshot of all the rich data and insights from the 2015 Packaging Digest Sustainable Packaging Study. Download the full 36-page report with its 24 charts here.



Learn about the latest developments in sustainable packaging at EastPack 2016, June 14-16, in New York City.


About the Author(s)

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Executive Editor, Packaging Digest

Lisa McTigue Pierce is Executive Editor of Packaging Digest. She’s been a packaging media journalist since 1982 and tracks emerging trends, new technologies, and best practices across a spectrum of markets for the publication’s global community. Reach her at [email protected] or 630-272-1774.

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