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Survey Finds Consumer Confusion Over Environmentally-Friendly Packaging Options Compared to Plastic

Survey Finds Consumer Confusion Over Environmentally-Friendly Packaging Options Compared to Plastic circular economy, food and drink packaging, food and drink sustainable packaging, Food packaging, Recyclability Food and Beverage Business

A recent survey conducted by Sapio Research on behalf of Celebration Packaging examines consumer understanding of bans on single-use plastic packaging, available alternative materials, and expectations regarding reusables in the food and drink packaging industry.

According to Celebration Managing Director Nick Burton, previous survey findings show that more than 50% of consumers expect food-to-go outlets to provide cutlery. Despite this, 51% of consumers rarely or never use reusable cutlery for eating on the go, indicating a continued need for single-use cutlery, although plastic bans are in effect.

In addition to consumer expectations and usage patterns, the survey delves into consumer awareness of alternative materials, concerns around sustainability, and end of life options.

Material Choices

The survey reveals that when compared to plastic, 42% of UK consumers prefer wood as their most desired type of cutlery due to its recyclability (42%) and sturdiness (43%). Only 17% of respondents are aware of moulded fibre cutlery, also known as bagasse, as a viable alternative. While respondents recognize the eco-friendly nature of bagasse, with its use of natural fibers, concerns of its feel, strength, and texture were raised, leading to a preference for bamboo and metal cutlery as reusable options.

Celebration Managing Director Nick Burton states that consumers have yet to fully discover the benefits of bagasse cutlery alternatives. Celebrating over 16 years of their EnviroWare® brand, the company aims to provide more sustainable packaging solutions using different materials that can be reused or recycled.

Considering the Environment

Regarding the environmental impact of different materials, the survey highlights that 75% of consumers perceive plastic cutlery as the worst for the environment. However, opinions vary on the best material, with 27% favoring metal, 25% wood, and 23% paper. Nick Burton emphasizes the significance of consumers understanding not only the environmental impact but also the sustainability sourcing of materials. He advises consumers to look for the FSC® logo when choosing wood, paper, or bamboo products to ensure they are certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council.

End of Life

The survey reveals a varied understanding of how to dispose of different cutlery types. While nearly two-thirds (63%) of consumers know that plastic cutlery should be recycled, over a quarter (27%) are uncertain how to dispose of moulded fibre cutlery. Notably, understanding regarding recyclability and compostability of materials differs across age groups, with older individuals being more likely to prefer recyclable materials.

Celebration Packaging provides a wide range of options, including EnviroWare® packaging made from compostable and recyclable materials. With their consultative approach and extensive industry experience, the company can assist food and drink outlets in selecting the most suitable and sustainable packaging solutions for their businesses.

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