Advancements in technology have convinced a growing list of big name FMCG brands to adopt cartonboard, writes Tony Hitchin
The coming year is shaping up to be one of the most challenging of our lives. We are, of course, living through unprecedented times, but if we look at the positives, communities are being brought together and in some ways the environment is benefiting – just take a look at some of the air pollution maps that have been published recently. Once we are through this difficult period, it’s important that brands continue the fantastic work they are doing, moving towards more sustainable packaging solutions.
Over the last few months, in a bid to enhance their environmental credentials, a number of FMCG brands have announced a move to cartonboard packaging, including Coca Cola, McDonalds and several retailers. In beverages, Heineken, Budweiser and Molson Coors are further examples, all replacing their plastic multipack rings and shrink wraps with renewable and recyclable cartonboard. The reason for this is that – thanks to advancements in technology – the material has become even more versatile, as well as being renewable, recyclable and biodegradable. And as things hopefully return to normal in the second half of 2020, we can expect consumers to be even more savvy with their purchases and conscious of the impact they are having on the world around them.
Thinking about the future
It’s important to keep bringing our message to the younger generation. Our TICCIT (Trees into Cartons, Cartons into Trees) programme teaches children about trees, sustainability and the environment, with the hope they choose sustainable packaging and recycle properly in the future. Usually, a key part of the scheme is that every child gets to plant a baby tree (in a biodegradable carton, of course) alongside their classmates. However, in order to continue our outreach, we have adapted the programme to become a teach-at-home activity. Interactive learning materials which incorporate messages about the circular economy can now be accessed by parents and carers, through resources available to download for free on our website.
Brands are seeing the benefits
Our research explains why the drive for more environmentally friendly packaging solutions should not be forgotten. Pro Carton’s European Consumer Perceptions study of 7,000 consumers across seven countries, revealed that if the same product was packed in two different forms of packaging – one in plastic and the other cartonboard – four in five would choose cartonboard. And 52 per cent of shoppers questioned said they had already switched brands or products because of concerns about the packaging used.
The benefits of cartonboard are undeniable – it is one of the most adaptable and convenient materials for packaging, plus it’s one of the most environmentally friendly.
85 per cent of paper and board is currently recycled in Europe (more than any other packaging material). It is an extremely important material as we drive towards a circular economy and it’s also sourced sustainably, from responsibly managed forests. More than 40 per cent of the European continent is covered with forest and, contrary to popular belief, this area is increasing not decreasing. In fact, it’s growing by the equivalent of more than 1,500 football pitches every day.
Brands and retailers are striving to make their products and packaging as sustainable as possible and cartonboard will continue to play a central role. Consumer will is undoubtedly there and as technology in cartonboard continues to progress, we believe it will be the packaging material of the new decade.
Tony Hitchin is General Manager of Pro Carton. He took on the role in January 2017. Pro Carton is the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers. Its main purpose is to promote the use of cartons and cartonboard as an economically and ecologically balanced packaging medium.