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What do Brits think of plastic packaging sustainability?What do Brits think of plastic packaging sustainability?

Lisa McTigue Pierce

August 13, 2018

3 Min Read
What do Brits think of plastic packaging sustainability?

Consumers in the United Kingdom struggle with sustainability issues around plastic packaging, and they expect product manufacturers and retailers to do something to help. Here are their three suggestions, according to exclusive research from Watch Me Think.

First, a little explanation about the research. Watch Me Think asked a small but diverse group of British consumers (nine people participated in the study) to give their opinions about plastic packaging. Highlights of the results of this U.K. study on plastic packaging, along with the consumer videos, were presented in a Watch Me Think webinar on Aug. 9, 2018. If you are interested in viewing the webinar “Plastic Packaging & Palm Oil” on-demand, reach out to the company’s client counsellor Jack Galilee. The packaging research was presented in the first half of the event.

The research revealed:

• Consumers are concerned and shocked by how much plastic packaging they use. “Consumers realize how much they rely on plastic and acknowledge the big change in lifestyle that is required to reduce it,” says Watch Me Think qualitative researcher Camila Sevalho Corcao, who presented the highlights during the webinar.

• Consumers blame product manufacturers and retailers for the problem. “It not my fault that manufacturers choose to produce things in plastic that cannot be recycled,” says one women who participated in the study.

• Consumers are frustrated with how hard it is for them to do the right thing, mostly because they are not given better packaging options. Also, they are often confused about whether plastic packaging they do buy can be recycled or not—and end up just guessing most of the time.

• Consumers admit that they are doing what they can by going back to paper packaging when they can, by avoiding unnecessary plastic packaging and by looking for recyclable or biodegradable packaging. However, they think manufacturers should be the ones to fix the situation.

So what, exactly, should product packagers do differently?

1. Inform clearly so consumers don’t have to guess. Is it recyclable or not? If so, how and where should it be recycled? (This is why the How2Recycle label from the Sustainable Packaging Coalition is so powerful, in my opinion, because it does exactly that.)

2. Make the message and the task simple and easy to do.

3. Make it fun or rewarding. Positively motivate consumers to recycle with coupons, discounts, cash back or free products.

Watch Me Think has a unique style of doing consumer research, by asking consumers to take a video of themselves doing a specific task, like using or critiquing packaging. In 2014 and 2015, Packaging Digest partnered with Watch Me Think on a series of consumer videos on packaging topics, such as hard-to-open packaging, multipacks, over-packaging and more. To view these insightful articles, which are still relevant today, CLICK HERE.

We want your opinion, too

Packaging Digest is also exploring opinions about the sustainability of plastic packaging, but from the point of view of packaging professionals. We’d like to know what you think about some of today’s critical issues and invite you to take our annual Sustainable Packaging Study survey: CLICK HERE. Thank you.


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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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