Market Demands Ecological Packaging

At the Corrugated Cardboard Forum 2019 on Wednesday, the contributions of packaging and displays made from corrugated cardboard in offline retail were discussed. The corrugated cardboard industry is in the ascendant, carried by the pressure asserted by consumers.

Currently, packaging companies perceive a historical chance for the packaging material corrugated cardboard because mounting pressure is put on its main competing packaging material plastic in the political and societal discussion. “But corrugated cardboard does not sell itself. Despite all ecological advantages, corrugated cardboard is no fast-selling item“, said the chair of VDW Dr. Steffen P. Würth at the opening of the forum event in Nuremberg.

Dr. Kai Hudetz, managing director of the Institut für Handelsforschung  (Institute for Trade Research, IFH Cologne), introduced the findings of the study „Handel ist Wandel – welche Rolle spielen Verpackungen im Handel von morgen?“ (“Trade is Change – Which Role Does Packaging Play in Tomorrow’s Market”?) to the 350 visitors. “Consumers want a reduction of plastic packaging in favor of cardboard – and the market is already reacting with a demand for ecological alternatives”.

“Digitalization and the rapidly growing online retail sector are currently turning conventional retail on its head“, said Hudetz. Commercial enterprises are especially looking for ecological packaging concepts, because the topic of sustainability dominates consumers’ stances on consumption. At the same time, there is no visible saturation in online retail. Sustainability has always been an issue, but lately its relevance has entered the limelight. “93 percent of respondents state that sustainability is important to them personally, regarding convenience this applies to 69 percent and regarding the shopping experience it applies to at least still 45 percent”, said Hudetz.

In answer to the question, which packaging traits will gain in importance in the future, nine out of ten interviewees expect, most notably, a higher relevance of recyclability, plastic waste avoidance  and usage of more eco-friendly materials. Convenience aspects like additional information, re-use and easy opening are only classified as increasingly important by every second respondent.

“Protecting the environment has not just reached politics but also the consumers’ everyday life”, according to Hudetz. However, he also points to the discrepancy between ecological awareness and eco-friendly action by the consumers. Behavioral changes at the expense of convenience become prevalent only slowly.