Survey reveals Asian consumers’ concerns on packaging sustainability


On March 8, 2021, consultancy McKinsey & Company published an article on a survey they conducted to better understand consumers’ attitudes towards packaging and concerns around sustainability in emerging markets across ten Asian countries including China, India, and Indonesia.

The authors observed that the highest levels of concern for packaging sustainability issues as well as willingness to pay more for “green” packaging exist in consumers in China, India, and Indonesia. McKinsey points out that this demonstrates a relatively high consumer awareness and need for action by brands and packaging manufacturers. However, the authors also found that the consumers’ top concerns in these countries focus more on water and air pollution and less on waste production, which ranks higher as a priority in other surveyed countries.

The survey also found that most consumers across the different countries agree on which they perceive as the least sustainable packaging materials, but they show country-specific views on what may be the most sustainable alternatives for different product categories, ranging from recyclable or compostable plastic films in China and Indonesia to more fiber-based and glass packaging in India. Overall, McKinsey reports that the surveyed consumers generally rank recyclable rigid plastics, glass, and metal more poorly.

The authors suggest as a start that companies reach for actions that can be taken without high impact on operating costs or capital expenditure such as decreasing complexity, reducing unnecessary packaging, a light redesign to improve recyclability as well as exchanging multi- with mono-layer materials. Following the successful implementation of these suggestions, it recommends that system-level changes requiring in-depth value-chain collaboration can be considered.

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Food Packaging Forum, 11 March 2021