Cardboard is the preferred packaging material across Europe

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Cardboard is the preferred packaging material across Europe

Whether it's bespoke food packaging or outer packaging for shipping, cardboard came out on top in ten out of fifteen categories in the European Packaging Preferences 2020 study recently. 

The study is a European survey of 5,900 consumers and was commissioned by Two Sides and carried out by independent research company Toluna in March 2020.

Jonathan Tame, Managing Director of Two Sides Europe said:

"Packaging is receiving more attention than ever in a bid to achieving a circular economy. Consumers are becoming more aware of the packaging choices for the items they buy, which in turn is applying pressure on businesses – particularly in retail. The culture of “make, use, dispose” is slowly changing.

The survey revealed that paper-based packaging is the preferred choice of consumers for its environmental attributes, such as recyclability and compostability, as well as many practical factors, such as being easier to store.

The survey also found that consumers throughout Europe are willing to change their behaviour in order to shop more sustainably. Many are willing to spend more on products if packaged in sustainable materials and nearly half would even avoid retailers seen not to being doing enough. These changing shopper habits emphasis the need for retailers to promote their environmental efforts more, as well as a general increase needed in awareness of environmental labels and certifications."

According to the study (which can be found in full here), paper/cardboard is the preferred material for the following 10 attributes:

  • Home compostable
  • Better for the environment
  • Lighter weight
  • Easier to recycle
  • Less expensive
  • Easier to open/close
  • Easier to store
  • More practical
  • Safer to use
  • Better product information

Nationally representative surveys were undertaken in Austria (500), Denmark (350), Finland (350), France (1,000), Germany (1,000), Italy (1,000), Norway (350), Sweden (350) and the UK (1,000).

Support for cardboard was particularly high with UK respondents. UK participants rated cardboard as the most environmentally friendly packaging material at a rate far higher than all other countries surveyed except Denmark which had similar views to the UK. UK respondents also found cardboard to be the least expensive packaging material, more so than all other European countries surveyed.

As a company that diverts cardboard packaging to reuse in the UK we certainly know the support in our country for sustainable packaging materials. We are also able to sell cardboard boxes and packaging at low cost because much of our stock is once-used. This means that UK businesses have better access to cheaper cardboard packaging because of the infrastructure we have built over decades spent connecting waste producers with packaging buyers.