Sustainable packaging shift

Sustainable packaging

Responding to consumer sustainability sentiment

In November 2022, the REDcycle post-consumer soft plastics recycling program was suspended. With 8000 tonnes of plastic bags discovered in warehouses nationwide, there was – and continues to be – consumer demand for a solution. 

With the collapse of REDcycle, what does this tell us about consumer sustainability sentiment? And how can retailers and brands respond in this current climate?

Recycling in Australia

According to the Australasian Recycling Label Consumer Insights Report 2021, 78% of consumers believe that recycling is helpful for the environment. But their willingness to recycle is at odds with their confusion around the process. For some consumers, there is confusion around recycling, with 63% wanting more information about what can and can’t be recycled. 

At the same time, the Federal government has joined other nations in the High Ambition Coalition and pledged to recycle all plastics in Australia by 2040. Currently, only 16% of all plastics are recycled.

The suspension of the REDcycle program is just one example of how consumers want to take action on recycling. They know it is a simple step to reduce their environmental impact and are willing to do so.

Demand for sustainable brands

Research from the US revealed that in the five years to 2018, 50% of the growth in consumer packaged goods could be attributed to sustainable products. Consumers actively seek sustainable brands and may even be willing to pay more. The adoption of single-use plastic alternatives is just one example of this.

Whether it’s recycled packaging, sustainably sourced ingredients, carbon neutral operations or other environmental measures, consumers are conscious of the brands behind the products. These sustainable brands see stellar success thanks to their ability to connect with consumer values.

Since the beginning, Ethique has been on a mission to reduce the amount of plastic waste in landfills. The regenerative brand has saved 20 million+ plastic bottles since 2012. With compostable packaging and fairly traded ingredients, Ethique is also proudly climate-positive.

Iconic Australian chocolate brand Loving Earth shares a similar regenerative story. They source their ingredients by working directly – and fairly – with indigenous organic growers. Loving Earth also takes a sustainable approach to packaging, using recycled, recyclable and home-compostable materials where possible.

Next steps for retailers and brands

Consumers don’t expect perfection. What they do expect is transparency. 

At Unique, we employ a future-forward mentality. We make small efforts for big change, such as powering our warehouses with renewable solar energy and using recyclable materials wherever possible. 

As a retailer, consider the brands on your shelves. Do they appeal to the sustainably-minded consumer? What sustainability or recycling initiatives can you implement to show your values to your customers? You don’t need to start with a grand sustainability plan, but starting somewhere offers consumers a commitment.

Can you review your packaging or ingredients as a brand to align with what consumers seek? For your current initiatives, how are you communicating these to consumers? Consumers align with brands and products that match their values, so don’t keep yours a secret.

Rethink sustainable packaging

Update your shelves with quality products using innovative, future-friendly packaging. Order online or via our sales team at 1800 787 904. Alternatively, register for a wholesale account here

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