Survey: “eco-conscious” consumers prefer compostables to recycled plastic

Compostable packaging

A new survey of 1,000 consumers across the UK found that eco-conscious consumers are more likely to prefer compostable materials over recycled plastics.

Commissioned by compostable packaging company, TIPA, and undertaken by Insight, the research among UK consumers analysed concerns about traditional plastic packaging, awareness of the alternatives and preferences among those with the “most knowledgeable”.

Daphna Nissenbaum, CEO and Co-Founder of TIPA: “The insights from this research are clear. The more consumers know about compostable packaging, the more likely they are to prefer it to recycled materials.

“The most eco-conscious consumers understand that plastics can only ever be ‘downcycled’ and that flexible plastic packaging in particular is very difficult to recycle. These consumers are prepared to pay a small premium for compostables instead.”

The research identifies an eco-conscious cohort of 58% of UK consumers who say finding alternatives to traditional plastic packaging is “important”. Of those surveyed who say they prefer compostable packaging to recycled plastic, 69% are in that eco-conscious group.

This research demonstrates that brands who want to get ahead of consumer trends should act now.

Respondents who prefer compostable packaging are “significantly more willing” to pay a premium for alternative food packaging (73%), compared with those who favour recycled plastics (53%). 78% of respondents say it is now important for firms to provide an alternative to plastic packaging.

Meanwhile, consumers purchasing fresh produce are most likely to seek out alternatives to plastic packaging, with 32% saying they do so “all the time” while only 16% of those buying goods on the internet will do so.

Nissenbaum continued: “The e-commerce sector is furthest behind in making the switch with so much online shopping still relying on traditional plastics. This research demonstrates that brands who want to get ahead of consumer trends should act now.

“Crucially, the UK government should prepare for an increase in the use of compostable materials and ensure they can be collected by local authorities alongside food waste. The US has already welcomed compostable packaging collections in some states, and we need the UK to follow that lead.”

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