Pringles and Lucozade are the latest brands to come under the spotlight for their packaging design as the Recycling Association deemed them the “villains” of the recycling world.

The combination of materials used in Pringles’ and Lucozade packaging is what makes them a challenge to recycle. And while calls were made to make improvements in design, Prince Charles launched a €2m prize to help create packaging that keeps plastic out of the ocean.

There’s no doubt that brands are under increasing pressure to create greener, more sustainable packaging, but do shoppers really care, does it influence their buying decisions and will it make your tills ring?

Developing a more sustainable packaging design isn’t just to court a niche group of eco-minded shoppers. Consumers favour brands that reflect their own values and increasingly they look to companies to be more community and ethically minded. Buying decisions aren’t just based on price or quality, people are more ethically aware, they feel the need to contribute to society and look to brands to help them achieve this.

Our own research showed that 18% of shoppers want to see stores develop a more community spirit than consumerist feel. Similarly, The Ebiquity Global CSR Study showed that 91% of global consumers expect companies to do more than make a profit and operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues.

The same study also showed that 84% seek out responsible products whenever possible and this is supported by a plethora of research that points to shoppers taking the environmental impact of products and packaging into consideration as part of their decision making process.

Dotcom Distribution found that 61% of shoppers have taken green packaging into account when deciding where to shop, 55% have considered an online retailer’s overall carbon footprint and 64% have considered the sustainability of supply chain practices when deciding between brands.

Unilever recently reported that up to a third of consumers consider the environmental and social impact before choosing their favoured brands.

Ethical practices are positively impacting the bottom line too. Unilever’s sustainable brands have grown 30% faster than the rest of its business and it heralded that brands can miss out on £820bn by not pushing sustainability.

This sentiment was echoed by Stora Enso, which reported sustainable packaging can help achieve an increase in net sales of up to 4%.

One factor that’s influencing the growing importance of sustainable products and services is generational.

Millennials make up around a quarter of the UK population. Expected to spend $65 billion on consumer-packaged goods over the next decade, they are currently one of the most important generations for retailers. This generation more than any before it is recognised for their commitment to the environment and sustainability.

Visibly sustainable” was named by Forbes as one of the six most important packaged goods trends brands should embrace to win the hearts of millennials.

The emerging, younger Gen Z, born roughly 1996 and 2010, are eco-minded too. Neilsen reported that three out of four millennials and 72% of Gen Z are willing to pay extra for sustainable goods.

Demands from the younger generations alone are transforming how companies design their packaging. The Tetra Pak Millennials report said:

“Millennials globally are choosing eco-friendly products and are willing to pay for them. They actively seek out information about a product’s sustainability credentials and expect brands to help them consume smarter, with less packaging, less waste and more recycling. “

Shoppers will demand change and they will vote with their feet. Adopting greener practices such as redesigning your packaging appeals to today’s market. But, it can also give you that all-important USP – the reason that shoppers fill their baskets with your brand.

If it’s time for a change in your packaging design or you want to know more about your shoppers get in touch.