The changes were seen in physical products, services, people, organizations, places, and ideas. Gaia shifted herself in self-healing mode with ozone layer recovery, wildlife seen venturing in human habitats, rivers auto cleaning as industries stop production thus putting a stop to polluting the environment.
The perception and ideas of people have seen a huge shift in this COVID pandemic. People have become more concerned about the environment and sustainability. Many have tried studying these consumer sentiments. McKinsey did a study in ten countries across the globe to better understand the influence of changing consumer sentiments and behavior towards sustainable packaging.
The THREE findings:
Responses from over 10,000 consumers who took part in the survey covered three main findings.
And I quote from McKinsey report (link above)
- As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers now place significantly more value on food safety and hygiene.
- Consumers see sustainability as being increasingly important as we emerge from COVID-19: Marine litter is top of mind in Europe and Japan, while pollution is more of a concern in other Asian countries and the Americas.
- Consumers around the world disagree on what packaging type is most sustainable; however, they do agree on what are the least sustainable options.
COVID has made people more aware of sustainability, and the situations in day-to-day life in a normal COVID day gave customers exposure and information to things around them and things they were using.
The maximum exposure in this trying time was towards avoiding contamination of the things they were trying to buy for their loved ones. This put lot of focus on packaging and its effect. People had a lot of time and information to understand the packaging sectors’ environmental footprints.
The rising public awareness sparked responses from legislators around the world.
Among the first to catch up on this trend were FMCG and retail companies promising swift action and made bold commitments to improve the recycling potential of their packaging. This has impacted the upstream players in the packaging industry: they were expected to meet commitments.
The New Normal
“The next new normal for customers is food safety and hygiene, whereby packaging suppliers will have to rethink materials and design requirements. The vast majority of customers are ready to pay more for sustainable packaging.”
This point can be seen from one of the survey points. When Customers were asked about their perceptions of packaging sustainability compared with preCOVID-19 times, only 4 to 11 percent of consumers globally said they are now less concerned.
It was observed that consumers in developing countries are more concerned about sustainability in India (87%), Indonesia (80%), and Brazil (65%). In all countries surveyed by McKinsey, the majority of respondents claim to be willing to pay more for sustainable packaging across end-use areas. China (86%), Indonesia(75%), United States (68%) Brazil (66%), Germany, Italy, India and United Kingdom (around 56 to 59%), Japan and France (48%). Better labeling on the packaging (explaining the sustainability attributes) and increased availability would encourage 23 to 61% of surveyed consumers to buy more green packaging.
Who seems ready?
Keeping this in mind when we did a scan of the present offering in the plastic domain in India ( plastic as it is perceived as nonsustainable by many) we came across two players one US and one German. But 100% recycled plastic made from post-consumer and post-industrial waste was only available with Storopack. Their patented product AIRplus shows promise and seems to be aligned to post COVID-19 customer expectations. They seem to be online in their defined sustainability goal of reaching 50% of internally produced protective packaging from recycled or renewable raw materials by 2025.
In our series of writings, we will try and explore the preparedness of these upstream packaging companies in line with McKinsey’s findings. Join us as we ride this new awareness post COVID and explore different business