In survey of over 1,000 UK consumers, 55% demand that retailers stay focused on using recycled packaging materials and ensuring that their packaging can itself be reused or recycled; 20% would boycott retailers whose packaging was not sustainable

Sample article from our Consumer Wellness

October 19, 2023 (press release) –

New research published today by Macfarlane Packaging highlights that packaging sustainability remains the key priority for consumers, with 55% demanding that retailers stay focused on using recycled packaging materials and ensuring that their packaging can itself be reused or recycled.

Furthermore, 20% of consumers indicated that they would boycott retailers whose packaging was not sustainable.

Macfarlane Packaging’s eighth annual Unboxing Survey of UK consumers asked participants to share their experiences of unpacking their online shopping deliveries. The survey was completed by over 1,000 consumers over the summer who reviewed their own deliveries from a wide range of sectors, including fashion, electronics, food & drink, home & garden and health & beauty.

In challenging times for consumers and retailers, with inflation and the cost-of-living crisis impacting disposable income, e-commerce revenue dipped in the first half of 2023 (Source: IMRG). However, the Unboxing Survey reveals that online retailers have nonetheless made significant improvements to the sustainability of their packaging during these challenging times.

Results also highlighted that retailers have further reduced excessive packaging by 66% compared to when the research by Macfarlane Packaging began eight years ago.

Highlights of the survey include:

  • Sustainability – with 55% of consumer wanting retailers to keep sustainable packaging as a top priority, 81% reported that the packaging they received was easy to recycle with 20% of consumers indicating that they would not continue to buy from a retailer unless the packaging was sustainable.
  • Overpacking – retailers are continuing to reduce overpacking with only 14% of consumers reporting that there was too much packaging, an impressive drop of 66% from 2016.
  • Online retail – 66% of respondents are spending more time shopping online, with 23% saying that they expect to spend even more time shopping online in the future.
  • Branding – branding on packaging has increased significantly since the unboxing survey was first conducted – from 39% in 2016 to 57% in 2023.
  • Damages – parcels that arrived damaged have dropped year-on-year to 6% which is a 40% drop since the first consumer survey in 2016.
  • Delivery – 95% of consumers choose home delivery over click and collect or lockers when purchasing online.

Commenting on the survey results, Laurel Granville, Marketing Director of Macfarlane Packaging, said: “We know that packaging plays a major role in consumers’ online shopping experience. It is the first tangible touchpoint for consumers and is clearly a decision maker for many consumers when choosing a brand. The results of our 2023 survey highlight important areas for online retailers to focus on, with sustainability the key priority for consumers.

“It is clear that retailers need to continually adapt and innovate their packaging to meet customers’ expectations in a sustainable way which is exactly where Macfarlane’s experience can help online retailers.”

The annual survey was carried out in July and August 2023. The results, featuring feedback from 1,042 respondents, are designed to provide retailers with valuable information about consumer opinion so they can make informed decisions about their packaging and the experience of customers.


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Jason Irving
Jason Irving
- SVP Enterprise Solutions -

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