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On Earth Day, legislation and businesses must listen to the sustainability needs of consumers

Winfried Muehling, marketing and communications director, Pro Carton, explains.


Today (April 22), on Earth Day, we will join the global movement in support of environmental protection. The world’s population is projected to rise from eight billion today to 10 billion by 2050, underscoring the urgency of addressing the impact of human activities on the environment (according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development). Despite ongoing concerns about global conflict and the economy, environmental issues remain prominent on the consumer agenda.


Our latest European consumer packaging perceptions study (Rethinking Packaging – Consumer Study, 2024) revealed that 68% of consumers identified climate change as their primary concern, with Italy ranking the highest at 77%. European respondents also predominantly claimed that a sustainable lifestyle has become ‘more important’ or ‘very much more important’ over the last two years (62%).


There is growing confidence in recycling practices, with just under half (49%) of those surveyed stating they were now recycling more than they were a year ago. The survey also revealed that 82% of consumers are confident they can recognise the difference between recyclable and non recyclable packaging, indicating active participation, increased knowledge, and awareness.


Nearly 80% of all plastic waste ever created by humans is still in the environment (Recycle Now) and has a long lasting impact on habitats and our environment. Recycling packaging waste – both fibre based and plastics – close to the point of consumption is of the utmost importance, and reusing packaging will complement this. It will not fit for all occasions, but where it does, we would do well to support.


Rigid PET bottles are a shining example of demonstrating high collection and recycling rates. It can work, if we manage to show the consumer a credible reward for his/her sorting and recycling efforts. 


We wish for PPWR to become the guiding light for the industry. Finally, any legislation needs to keep consumer requirements in mind. Consumers today prefer single used carton packaging to a reusable packaging system. Any regulation against consumer needs will take longer to be implemented. So, we wish for a PPWR which is transparent and easy to understand. The rewards for all of us will be tremendous. 


Earth Day serves as a poignant reminder of the significance of naturally recyclable materials, as we push society closer toward our collective goal of a sustainable circular economy. We are proud of our role alongside consumers in contributing to a healthy ecosystem. We are responsible in pushing the boundaries, from our side, towards additional and continuous emission reduction.


Earth Day 2024 – We can do it!



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