Research reveals sustainability is transforming businesses’ approach to packaging

  • One-third of companies say sustainability is driving all R&D and new product development
  • Companies are investing most heavily in using recycled materials in their products and packaging
  • 68% of businesses view materials used in packaging as the most challenging area for sustainability
  • 37% of consumers rate packaging design as important when making a purchasing decision

A new survey by paper-based packaging leader Smurfit Kappa has revealed sustainability is transforming the innovation agenda as businesses rethink their products and packaging solutions in an effort to tackle environmental waste. The Sustainability and Profitability Survey, which was conducted among 200 senior business executives in the UK, showed that sustainability is driving all R&D and new product development in more than a third of companies.

The research also showed how businesses are focusing on packaging specifically as a key innovation opportunity with seven in 10 businesses citing materials in packaging as their biggest sustainability challenge, followed by collection and recycling (59%) and the materials used to manufacture products (56%). Furthermore, almost nine in 10 businesses have included used or recycled material in products / packaging as part of their sustainability strategies.

Commenting on the research findings, Arco Berkenbosch, Smurfit Kappa VP of Innovation & Development, said: “This research highlights that businesses are now having to address sustainability in a challenging economic environment and consumers will continue to drive the sustainability agenda.

“There are plenty of easy wins for suppliers to tackle in the global packaging industry without driving up significant costs, starting with reducing the amount of empty packaging in the eCommerce channel and the use of plastic when transporting goods in the supply chain. We have found that there is growing demand for the products in our Better Planet Packaging portfolio which are sustainable alternatives for single-use plastic. 

“As the shift to sustainable packaging intensifies, it is critical businesses continue to invest in innovative solutions in order to respond to consumer demand, improve brand perception and deliver successful sustainability strategies,” added Mr Berkenbosch. 

The survey, which also examined consumers’ views on sustainability and how they are adapting to create a more sustainable future, found that 37% rate packaging design as important when making a purchasing decision. Further signalling consumers’ awareness of brands’ packaging, the research showed more than half of customers have purchased a product specifically because it had reusable or biodegradable packaging in the past six months.

The Sustainability and Profitability Survey showed eight in 10 businesses view sustainability as a long-term investment rather than a cost with consumers continuing to drive organisations’ attitudes towards sustainable practices.

Further reading of the survey results is available in the Sustainability Reshapes the Business Landscape for Good report which is available to download here.

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