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Sustainable Packaging

Sustainable Packaging

What is it and why does it matter?

Reducing waste at all stages of the food value chain, including packaging waste, such as cardboard and plastic and choosing more sustainable packaging materials.

Sustainable packaging is a hugely critical and popular consumer topic. With sustainability a difficult topic to communicate on-pack, the packaging itself acts as a vital proxy for the consumer in understanding the sustainability credentials of a brand and/or a product. It is becoming a must have in certain markets, especially in the prepared consumer food space. Brands should consider what materials could be used to keep the product hygienic, but that can be easily broken down or recycled.


Of buyers say it’s important for suppliers to use sustainable packaging or reduce packaging waste


Of consumers say they have made some effort to buy products with less packaging in last 12 months 


Edible Transparent Film

In 2021, a group of scientists from Russia and India developed an edible transparent film made from seaweed biopolymer sodium alginate, which can dissolve in water within 24 hours

Insights from 

Agenda Setters ​

While seen as a prominent issue for consumers and retailers, it is viewed by expert stakeholders as an issue that can be managed and is more mature, and is not as critical as GHG emissions​.

Amongst sustainability leads it is a highly referenced topic … but very much understood that this is driven by consumers and regulations. Evidence of retailers pushing harder onto producers and through the supply chain.

The key themes are: ​

  • Aggressive targets being set … % recycled, recyclable & reusable​
  • Focus moving to alternative systems and innovative sustainable packaging materials​
  • Increasing focus not just on the consumer-visible aspects but back in the supply chain i.e., transport packaging


Buyers currently see packaging as an important topic, but it ranks #1 in terms of topics that they think will become more important in the next 3 years. More scrutiny will come from buyers to review what suppliers are doing around packaging in the coming years, with more ambitious targets to be set. 

We’re seeing retailers take a good deal of action around this topic, e.g., Aldi in Ireland plan to reduce plastic packaging on their own products by half by 2025. 


For consumers this is a top of mind, relatable, tangible and important indicator of a product’s sustainability credentials. Reducing the use of packaging ranks as a top sustainability behavioural change made in the last year. It is also a big influence on purchase. While this is influential in all markets, it is more likely to drive a premium in Europe than in the US and UAE. ​

It has particular resonance in the PCF sector, and also for alcohol. In other categories it is still important, and we know that sustainable packaging can draw the eye across categories. There will be a continued drive toward more sustainable packaging driven by consumers and customers alike, across all sectors, so it is critical for all producers to ensure that these credentials are strong.

Agenda Setters - 

our key focus for the last year and a half is our own packaging, obviously, because of the huge debate around plastic and plastic pollution
Insights & Implications
Insights & Implications

Review the headline insights from the Global Food Sustainability Outlook research.

Review the Insights & Implications