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DS Smith study highlights European sustainable packaging demand

Almost one-third of European shoppers say they have stopped purchasing brands that don’t use sustainable packaging.

DS Smith, a packaging producer based in London, has released a new study that shows a surge in demand for fully recyclable and more sustainable packaging options for e-commerce. The company says consumers “are increasingly putting their purchasing power behind eco-friendly products, meaning brands that fail to embrace sustainable packaging risk being left out at the checkout.”

According to the study, 66 percent of Europeans claim to have shopped online more often since the initial COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020, and 82 percent of those same respondents plan to shop online at the same level or more this year. DS Smith says it has noticed demand “skyrocket” for sustainable e-commerce packaging over the past year, with European growth of 35 percent in apparel, 35 percent in home and office electronics and 51 percent in food and groceries.

DS Smith says “brands must recognize changing consumer demands as they respond to this opportunity.” According to the company’s study, almost one-third of European shoppers say they have stopped buying particular brands altogether because their packaging was not sustainable. While nearly half of Europeans (roughly 46 percent) reported that they want to use more cardboard or paper-based packaging rather than plastic-based packaging, 58 percent reported that they want to use less packaging overall.

“With such a dramatic change in the way we shop, it’s absolutely vital that our new online shopping habits are supported in a way that protects the environment,” says Stefano Rossi, CEO of DS Smith Packaging. “It’s clear that both businesses and consumers are becoming increasingly focused on sustainable alternatives. Our expert team of designers are creating new e-commerce solutions for products such as clothing, electronics, beauty and personal care every day, which provides both environmental and commercial advantages for businesses.”

Overall, DS Smith says using recyclable paper-based packaging can help bands increase market share. The company adds that it has unveiled three new ranges of sustainable e-commerce packaging within clothing, electronics and wine and beer. The sustainable e-commerce packaging ranges are designed to answer specific product needs while enhancing the consumer experience and supporting efficient product delivery. The solutions include paper-based edge protectors to keep electronics safe while replacing plastic foam, as well as tamper-evident packaging with a smart feature to ensure it has not been opened during delivery. DS Smith also offers returnable expanding cardboard envelopes that replace padded mailers or plastic wrappers for clothing.

The company says its Circular Design Principles help it to design for recyclability, design out waste and pollution and create packaging suited to a circular economy. The company set environmental targets to manufacture fully recyclable or reusable packaging by 2023 and take 250,000 trucks off the road by 2025.