Rethinking Packaging From the Consumer’s Perspective

Despite growing consensus about scaling-up sustainable food packaging and promoting un-packaged food, consumer perspectives on these topics often remain on the sidelines. For example, how do contextual circumstances influence consumers’ attitudes about unpackaged food? What if consumers are guided by conventional packaging norms and prefer laminated paper over highly recyclable monoplastic packaging? What happens if despite sustainable packaging, consumers do not sort trash appropriately and, quite importantly, why do they lack the incentives to do that? The newly established Club for Sustainable Packaging Solutions (Club für Nachhaltige Verpackungslösungen) puts the focus on consumer behavioural change as key towards more sustainability.

The German “Club for Sustainable Packaging Solutions” focuses on the packaging/plastics workstream within the Consumer Insight Action Panel and has already identified behavioral barriers for closing the resource loop on packaging. Central to the club’s work is not clustering consumer behaviours as right or wrong, but rather pointing out the key factors that lead to specific behavioural patterns. In the words of Stephan Schaller, CSCP who moderates the club on packaging/plastics, “The club aims to better understand the underlying motivations and drivers behind certain consumer behaviours in order to think about interventions that may help to solve the problem. Designing and implementing circular packaging solutions is a collective responsibility of the whole value chain.”

The club consists of multiple stakeholders, including retailers like ALDI Nord/ALDI Süd, dm drogerie-markt and REWE Group, system gastronomy providers like McDonald‘s Germany, packaging companies, waste collectors and recyclers as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Due to its multi-stakeholder nature, the club hosts a great variety of perspectives and, most importantly, complementary competencies and experiences in order address consumer needs in comprehensive ways.

The club aims to generate sustainable packaging solutions developed collaboratively by the stakeholders and through enhanced engagement with consumers.

The Club for Sustainable Packaging Solutions is a nonprofit initiative led by the CSCP and funded by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt – DBU) and it is part of the Consumer Insight Action Panel, which includes other field-specific clubs. The results from the packaging/plastics club will be fed back directly to the EU level as policy recommendations. Outcomes, in the form of documents and (virtual) learning sessions, will support knowledge-sharing with other actors, in particular Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs).

For further questions, please contact Stephan Schaller

Photo by Sophia Marston on Unsplash