The Tetra Pak Index 2019 was launched at this year’s Anuga, with a focus on the convergence of health and environment – a topic that the packaging giant’s research specialists believe will form 2020’s biggest talking point.
Strikingly, environmental issues top consumers’ list of global concerns by some margin, at 63%, according to the Index. What’s more, most consumers think the situation is only going to get worse, with 86% believing that the focus on environmental issues will grow in the coming five years. Two-thirds believe that we are heading for environmental disaster unless we change our daily habits quickly.
FoodBev editor Bryony Andrews spoke to Gisele Gurgel, global director business information and insights at Tetra Pak, and Lena Gilchrist, IPSOS regional client director, about the Tetra Pak Index and the wider packaging sustainability landscape.
What do you think is driving this consumer desire to ‘save the planet’ – why has it suddenly taken off?
Gisele Gurgel: I think social media is a key part of this, the promoting and sharing of knowledge and facts. Climate change is happening – you can’t argue with the facts. People are seeing its effects themselves, as our research shows.
Lena Gilchrist: We are seeing younger generations in particular engaging with conversations about climate change. They want to be seen as activists – its trendy.
How is Tetra Pak contributing to the wider conversation around packaging and sustainability?
Gisele Gurgel: Communication can be challenging, as there are different attitudes towards recycling across the world, and different countries are at different stages. We’ve got to be aware of this. Our role as an industry is to take this communication and address countries according to the stage they are at, through strategic partnerships, sponsoring schools, working with our customers.
Lena Gilchrist: There can be a feeling of helplessness that comes with awareness of environmental issues, a mental health issue. People feel like there is nothing they can do. This is something I think we can help with. Customers are looking for more environmentally sound food and beverages.
FB: Consumers see themselves as responsible – do you think their power is greater than that of legislators and big corporations?
Lena Gilchrist: Consumer behaviour is key to change. However some can’t afford to make the right choice – there is an appetite for change, but not necessarily the means to do so.
Gisele Gurgel: The responsibility lies with all. For example, its not just packaging, but processing that needs to change. Balancing food safety with improved reliability is key and is a Tetra Pak priority. It is a significant part of our R&D budget. It’s important to look ahead to the growth of e-commerce and new channels to market. These need to be set up correctly in the first instance to enable them to be sustainable as they grow.
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