Tetra Pak survey finds almost 90% consumers in Brazil, China, France, Germany, U.S. sorting food, beverage containers for recycling, up from 70% in 2007; over 50% refuse packaging from stores on environmental grounds in 2011 from less than 30% in 2005

LAUSANNE, Switzerland , September 14, 2011 (press release) – Consumers around the world are increasingly taking steps to safeguard the environment, with recycling and environmentally-conscious shopping commonplace in households, according to a new Tetra Pak survey.

Tetra Pak’s “Environmental Research 2011” report shows a steady rise in five types of environmental behaviour by consumers in five major countries -- Brazil, China, France, Germany and the United States – tracked from 2005-2011. The behaviours included setting aside food and beverage containers for recycling and avoiding products for environmental reasons.

The report highlights a steep rise in consumers researching green issues with almost 70% saying they had done so in the previous 12 months, compared to less than 40% in 2005. The number of consumers refusing to accept packaging from stores on environmental grounds surged from less than 30% in 2005 to well above 50% in 2011.

Sorting and setting aside food and beverage containers for recycling was the most common green activity, rising from less than 70% among consumers queried in 2007 to almost 90% in 2011. Tetra Pak has conducted the survey every two years since 2005. Four out of five behaviours have been tracked since 2005. The fifth behaviour, consumer recycling, was first measured in 2007.

Tetra Pak’s 2011 report, which polled over 6,600 consumers and more than 200 industry influencers in 10 countries, also highlights that recyclable packaging boosts consumers’ preference for food and beverage products. The 2011 countries surveyed were the United States, China, Japan, India, Brazil, Russia, Turkey, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Some 88% of consumers in the 10 countries expressed a preference or strong preference for products in recyclable packaging. Some 77% said they bought certain products and not others because the packaging was better for the environment.

“We’ve seen a step change in environmentally-conscious consumer behaviour around the world since 2005. A majority of the consumers polled now take action to safeguard the environment and this is reflected in the products they buy and the packaging they choose,” said Tetra Pak President and CEO Dennis Jönsson.

“Packaging with a strong environmental profile is clearly a must-have, not a nice-to-have for consumers,” said Jönsson.

With environmental impact a major influence on consumers and the products they prefer, the survey also highlights the value placed by food manufacturers, retailers and the packaging industry on environmentally-friendly packaging. Some 83% of the food manufacturers and retailers surveyed indicated that they considered environmental impact when choosing beverage packaging solutions.

As interest in environmental action increases, consumers are ensuring they are more informed about environmental issues. Some 60 percent of consumers surveyed said they understand complex environmental terms like “carbon footprint.”

Consumers, the survey shows, are looking for products which provide them with information about a product’s environmental footprint. About half of the consumers queried said that lack of information about the environmental profile of a product was an issue in their purchasing behaviour and that they find on-pack logos helpful in understanding the environmental impact of beverage packages.

Said Jönsson: “These findings underscore the need for food manufacturers, retailers and packaging companies to develop greener products and to enable consumers to make informed and active green choices.”

The survey of consumers and industry influencers also shows that consumers want to make greener choices without compromising on cost and quality.

Convenience was the number one consumer consideration when picking the type of packaging they preferred for milk and juice. They considered the environmental impact of packaging and the ability to recycle the packaging as the fourth most important consideration out of 11 criteria, behind convenience, product features and product size.

The vast majority of consumers surveyed, some 78%, said they would be willing or extremely willing to buy “green” packaged food and beverage products if they were the same price as traditional ones. In addition, some 74% of consumers said they would be willing or extremely willing to buy “green” products if their quality was the same as those of traditional ones.

Some 28% of consumers said they would buy products with packaging less harmful to the environment even if it cost more.

The survey was conducted on behalf of Tetra Pak by Euromonitor International from December 2010 to January 2011. Tetra Pak uses the insights from its surveys to help shape its strategy, innovation and product development.

Tetra Pak has stepped up its efforts to reduce its environmental footprint while meeting rising demand for safe, sustainable, affordable and convenient packaging. It has pledged to cap its carbon emissions across the value chain at 2010 levels by 2020 and aims to double the global recycling rate of used beverage cartons by the end of the decade.

The survey also showed that cartons were considered the best environmental packaging in most countries. Cartons were viewed as least harmful to the environment by 62% of consumers polled, followed by 52% for glass, 32% for cans and 18% for plastic.

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