90% of FMCG packaging experts say shift from plastic is too slow

The FMCG industry must accelerate its move to alternative packaging, according to new data which says 87% of FMCG packaging experts believe the switch needs to happen faster.

The Aquapak report surveyed 100 UK packaging experts within FMCG brands and found that 92% plan to stop using plastic in their consumer packaging completely, switching to either paper and paperboard or new polymers, bioplastics and multi-materials.

But this isn’t happening fast enough. More than a quarter (27%) said they expected the shift to happen by 2027, 35% by 2028 and 28% by 2029.

Around a third (30%) said the shift to alternative packaging materials within their business was happening too slowly, while 58% described the pace as moderate. Only just over one in ten (11%) said it was fast, with nearly nine in ten saying the pace needed to step up.

The main barriers cited were the higher cost of alternative packaging (53%), the availability of alternative materials (50%) and ensuring the functionality and product protection remains the same (46%).

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To help speed up the transition 70% of respondents said that more ambitious recycling targets were key, while 62% wanted to see increased investment in new materials and 54% wanted greater collaboration to accelerate research and development.

Half of those surveyed said an industry-wide commitment to move away from conventional plastic was required.

Aquapak chief technical officer Dr John Williams said: “Our study shows that the FMCG sector is highly cognisant of the need to move away from conventional plastics to more environmentally-friendly materials which offer better end-of-life outcomes, be it improved recyclability or biodegradation to make life easier for their customers and other stakeholders.”

However, he also said the sector needed to be bolder in its commitment to new packaging materials.

“While 37% say they are more focused on switching to innovative, environmentally friendly materials, a quarter are developing existing materials and 38% are placing equal importance on both.”

“Is this really embracing innovation and change or sitting on the fence until regulation forces the industry’s hand? New materials already exist and can facilitate the move from plastic to solutions which are functional, provide the product protection needed but do not harm the environment when they come to the end of their useful life.”

The report was launched at the Rethinking Materials Innovation and Investment Summit in London.

Materials and packagingNewsReports and data

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