Consumers Choosing Drinks with Greener Packaging

ALPHARETTA, GA — Recyclable and recycled content are the most important environmental attributes consumers look for in beverage packaging, and many have changed what types of packaging they buy based on environmental impacts, says a new survey.

The survey, a collaboration of Concept Catalysts and iModerate Research Technologies, was based on 521 interviews and 40 chat sessions with consumers from across the U.S. to gather information on what influences their packaged beverage purchases.

The most important environmental issue named was recycling, cited by 45 percent, followed by 20 percent who are most concerned about waste going to landfills.

About 33 percent said the most important attribute of environmentally-friendly packaging is a high recycling rate. Twenty-three percent chose high recycled content, and 20 percent said use of renewable resources.

Environmental concerns have led to all types of consumer buying changes, but different understandings of the environmental impacts of packaging led to conflicting answers.

About 60 percent said they are buying less plastic bottles than a year ago for environmental reasons. But fewer than 30 percent also said they are buying less cans and glass for environmental reasons. On the other hand, more than 30 percent each said they are buy more cans and glass than a year ago for environmental reasons. About 15 percent said they are buying more plastic for environmental reasons.

While glass and aluminum cans are endlessly recyclable back into themselves, plastic is not. However, glass also weighs more than plastic, leading to higher transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.

When asked what packaging is best for the environment, most chose glass, followed by cans and plastic. But, when asked which is most sustainable, plastic took second place.

The survey found that 46 percent of respondents said they don't know what sustainability means or they interpreted it wrong, thinking it referred to the durability, strength, breakability or degradability of packaging.

Packaging - CC license by Flickr user bensonkua