The rise of paperfication

Plastic packaging has witnessed a staggering increase from 2 million to 380 million metric tonnes in just 65 years. Now, brands are embracing the transition away from plastic packaging to eco-friendly paper alternatives. Discover how paper packaging not only helps the planet but above that, enhances product perception, and understand how adopting paper packaging can set your brand apart from the crowd.

When we consider the increase that plastic packaging has undergone from 2 million metric tonnes in 1950 to a massive 380 million tonnes in 2015 according to the Centre for Environmental Law. It seems that as far as plastic reduction in packaging goes – we are going full circle – we used to use far more paper, tin and glass as core packaging for everyday items. Products like milk were commonly delivered in electric vehicles with reusable (rinse and return) bottles clearly far more sustainable than where we find ourselves now with plastic milk bottles the most complex of all plastic bottles to reuse and recycle. Quite rightly consumer demands are moving towards favouring brands investing and providing paper alternatives over a broad range of categories. Paper makes consumers lives easier – its fully compostable and in most cases a quicker way to be more environmentally conscious.

After 47 years of Pot noodle being in its iconic plastic pot last week it announced that it will be trialling a new recycled paper version across 500,000 packs. If successful, the move will save 4,000 tonnes of plastic waste annually. This new packaging format which has taken three years to formulate due to the brand wanting to protect the equity of its shape, size and experience will be launching exclusively this week.

This move caught our eye, we really are going full circle with brands now rejecting plastic and looking to our faithful friend paper, who is easier to compost and recycle? We wanted to explore this idea of packaging paperfication, its rise across sector, the category cues that paper can offer and most importantly do customers even want it?

Consumer demand for paper:

In a recent survey by Two sides Europe (a not for profit) over 10,000 consumers in 16 countries were surveyed on their preferred choice of packaging substrate – the result showed that 76% chose paper as their preferred choice citing it as easiest to compost or recycle. The survey also cited that the consumer perceptions of a brands packaging choice affects their buying decisions and their loyalty to one brand over another.

The reality is that the more packaging that moves to paper – the more plastic is out of landfill. So even if consumers make small changes to a few of their everyday products they will have had an opportunity to help the planet.

Paperfication cues

Paper has a tangible feel to it in his natural colour and texture that can help to raise quality and perception cues for brands in a range of different categories. In confectionery it has an interesting visual impact – giving a perception of quality in amongst the more artificial look and feels that you find in this space. Interestingly, Mars have announced last week that they will be launching paper wrappers following a trial in Australia and New Zealand.

We are seeing the rise of paper in health and beauty, and household categories synonymous with plastic with much innovation happening for packaging that is trickier to recycle such as and toothpaste – altering the brands fundamental look and feel creating interesting opportunities for brand owners to own the paper transition in their category.

Fully biodegradable products and packaging

This patent pending product from Rehab are paper inspired shampoo sheets that turn into a lather and dissolve in your hand with a paper outer that dissolves in the shower – no bulky plastic bottles here. This highly nourishing shampoo which is made from a combination of oils known to feed your hair is plastic, sulphate, paraben free (and vegan, cruelty free) promises to revolutionise how we wash our hair. This kind of innovation where paper solves problems, saves time, reduces waste and creates a new innovative customer experience has to be where brands will go next for a range of consumer needs.

Is paper always practical?

The simple answer is no. If a product doesn’t have the attributes to be successfully packaged in paper (it might be too oily for instance) then there are significant challenges from brand owners from a cost perspective.

So paper is a crucial substrate to consider for your next packaging project – not only can it help you standout, help your customers understand your focus on sustainability but globally your customers want you to consider it.

It could mean the difference between them picking your competitor over you. Get in touch today about your packaging challenge or brief – we have won over 150 awards for our transformational work are experts in creating advantage for FMCG brands.

To view our experience in the FMCG sector click here.