According to Sifted, a leading logistics-data science platform, eco-conscious consumers are on the rise, and they want to buy from brands committed to being part of the climate change solution. As e-commerce continues to boom, this news bodes well for the corrugated packaging industry, whose products are made from renewable virgin or recycled fiber, are manufactured using mostly renewable carbon neutral energy, have an 89% recycle rate, and can be produced in an infinite variety of shapes and sizes to meet specific shipping needs.
In a recent survey of U.S. consumers conducted by Sifted, two-thirds of respondents said a brand’s eco-friendly shipping practices influenced a purchase decision. Only 21% of respondents say they never research a company’s eco-friendly practices before buying.
Frequent online shoppers are even more conscious of eco-friendly shipping practices. Eco-friendly practices are either “important” or “very important” to 72% of respondents who receive five or more packages per month, compared to 65% of those receiving one or two per month.
The bar is set even higher for name brands. Among respondents saying brand name is “very important” in purchase decisions, 51% frequently research a company’s eco-friendly practices before buying. In contrast, only 7% of the same group never investigate eco-friendly practices. In the past five years, 46% of brand loyalists have become “significantly more aware” and “care significantly more” about eco-friendly shipping practices. In addition, 91% believe packaging materials have a moderate or high impact on environmental sustainability.
81% of consumers believe companies use excessive packaging. Even less eco-conscious consumers think package sizes are getting out of hand. Of those that say eco-friendly practices are “not important” in their purchasing decisions, 56% still feel that most companies use excessive packaging. Even among participants that say they never research a company’s eco-friendly practices, 62% think it’s excessive.
The environmental impact of this isn’t lost on consumers, who overwhelmingly agree that packaging affects sustainability. 66% believe package size has a moderate to high impact on sustainability, and 74% believe packaging materials have a moderate to high impact.
The survey also found that 57% of consumers are willing to pay an extra 10% or more for eco-friendly shipping. 84% who place moderate or high important on shipping speed said they would be willing to wait an extra day for eco-friendly shipping while 66% said they would wait two extra days.
You can download the full Sifted survey report here.
The Book Manufacturers Institute (BMI) recently commissioned well-known pollster Frank Luntz to find out how parents view the effectiveness of various learning materials, including books, textbooks and workbooks. The most definitive conclusion was that virtually every parent wants physical materials as part of student learning. 85% of parents want physical books in some form, and 88% think they are important and essential learning tools.
In summarizing the study results, Luntz said, “With parents keenly aware of the shortcomings of online learning thanks to the pandemic, this finding is only surprising in its intensity and uniformity. Every demographic and geographic subgroup agrees: printed materials are essential to student learning.”
In the survey of 1,000 parents of K-12 school children across America, the results could not be more conclusive. Parents are deeply focused on what their children learn and, just as important, how they learn it: by a 69% to 31% margin, parents chose physical over online materials when given the option.
In every possible measurement, parents believe physical books will outperform online. From testing results to successful learning, from knowledge retention to focusing on the subject, parents simply believe the physical book is the superior teaching tool.
The survey showed that frustrations with online learning during COVID are real. More than 80% of parents from all backgrounds (including 74% of those who typically favor online materials) believe printed materials would have made their jobs helping their students learn from home easier.
“Parents are more engaged with their children’s education, and they want the help only physical books, textbooks and workbooks can provide,” Luntz said.
Parents cited distractions that students encounter with online materials, such as the ease of surfing the internet during instruction, as the No. 1 concern in moving away from physical printed materials. It’s why parents believe their kids will comprehend better using physical books and why over 70% of parents would prefer their kids hold a book rather than a tablet.
In addition to commissioning the national poll, BMI asked Dr. Naomi Baron, Professor Emerita of Linguistics at American University, to write a whitepaper that summarizes the scientific research around reading print versus digital and how each impacts learning. Dr. Baron explains, “An abundance of research now substantiates that yes, medium matters for learning. While both print and digital have roles to play, the evidence demonstrates the continuing importance of print for sustained, mindful reading, which is critical to the educational process.”
For complete survey results, visit the BMI website.
CHICAGO – June 9, 2021 – With physical stores closed during the pandemic, the boom in online shopping resulted in record numbers of packages arriving on consumers’ doorsteps. Along with all that merchandise came a growing awareness of the materials used to package and ship products, and the impact those materials have on the environment. A new survey commissioned by Two Sides North America and conducted by international research firm Toluna found that U.S. consumers believe paper-based packaging is better for the environment than other packaging materials.
Paper: The preferred and sustainable packaging choice
Survey respondents were asked to rank their preferred packaging material (paper/cardboard, plastic, glass and metal) based on 15 environmental, aesthetic and practical attributes. Overall, paper/cardboard packaging was preferred for 10 of the 15 attributes, with half of respondents saying paper/cardboard is better for the environment. Consumers also preferred paper/cardboard packaging on other environmental attributes, including being home compostable (65%) and easier to recycle (44%).
Glass packaging was preferred by consumers for four practical and aesthetic attributes, including being reusable (39%), having a preferred look and feel (39%), providing a better image for the brand (38%) and better protection (35%). 45% preferred metal packaging for being strong and robust. Plastic packaging was not preferred for any of the 15 attributes but was ranked second for six attributes. Only one in 10 respondents believe plastic packaging is better for the environment.
Consumers demand that brands and retailers do more
Brands and retailers play a crucial role in driving innovation and the use of recyclable packaging. In response to increasing consumer pressure to operate more sustainably, brands and retailers in many sectors, from wine, spirits and soft drinks to candy, cosmetics and apparel are shifting from plastic to paper packaging.
The survey found that 49% of consumers would buy more from brands and retailers who remove plastic from their packaging, and 39% would consider avoiding a retailer that is not actively trying to reduce their use of non-recyclable packaging.
“It’s important for consumers to understand that just because packaging is recyclable does not mean it actually gets recycled,” explains Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie. “Around 66% of all paper and paper-based packaging and nearly 89% of corrugated cardboard gets recycled into new products in the U.S. These high recycling rates and expected increases are due to the paper industry’s already completed and continuing investment in recycling infrastructure, which between 2019 and 2023 will exceed $4 billion. In comparison, the U.S. Environmental Protection reports that plastics, glass and metals are recycled at just 9%, 25% and 34%, respectively.”
Who should be responsible for reducing waste from single-use packaging?
As consumers, businesses and governments looks for ways to create a more sustainable, circular economy, waste from single-use packaging, particularly in marine environments, has come into sharp focus. When consumers were asked who has the greatest responsibility for reducing the use of non-recyclable, single-use packaging, more than a third (36%) said individuals have the primary responsibility, followed by 23% who believe it’s up to brands and retailers, 23% who believe it’s up to packaging manufacturers, and 18% who believe it’s the government’s responsibility.
“As the call for the circularity of product lifecycles grows louder, paper has always had a head start,” Rowzie says. “And the industry’s strong support and investment in recycling has transformed the circularity of paper packaging from vision to reality. At a time when there is growing alarm about the low recycled rates of other packaging materials, paper recycling is a striking exception.”
About Two Sides North America, Inc.
Two Sides North America (www.twosidesna.org) is an independent, non-profit organization that promotes the sustainability of print, paper and paper-based packaging, and dispels common environmental misconceptions about paper products. We are part of the Two Sides global network which operates across North America, South America, Europe, Australia and South Africa.
About the survey
The survey, Paper’s Place in a Post-pandemic World, queried a random sample of 1,000 adults aged 18 and older across the United States in January 2021.
Kathi Rowzie, President
Two Sides North America, Inc.
Download the press release here.
CHICAGO – April 22, 2021 – As U.S. consumers become increasingly aware of the environmental impacts of the products they use every day, there remains a wide gap between perception and reality when it comes to the sustainability of paper products. This according to a new survey commissioned by Two Sides North America and conducted by global research firm Toluna. The survey, “Paper’s Place in a Post-Pandemic World,” sought to explore and better understand consumer perceptions, behaviors and preferences related to the sustainability of paper products.
“More and more consumers are factoring environmental impacts into their purchasing decisions, but all too often those decisions are based on pop culture myths and sensational, headline-driven journalism rather than fact,” says Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie. “As attention turns to developing a more sustainable, circular economy, the paper and paper-based packaging industry has a great, fact-based environmental story to tell: Paper is one the few products that can already claim to have a truly circular life cycle.”
What’s happening to the size of U.S. forest area?
Paper use is often blamed for forest loss, and 60% of those surveyed believe U.S. forests are shrinking. The fact: U.S. forest area grew by 18 million acres between 1990 and 2020, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s 2020 Global Forest Resources Assessment. That’s an area equivalent to 1,200 NFL football fields every day. Contrary to the popular belief that manufacturing and using paper destroys forests, the demand for sustainably sourced paper and paper-based packaging creates a powerful financial incentive for landowners not only to manage and harvest their land responsibly, but also to keep it forested rather than converting it to non-forest uses, one of the real documented causes of forest loss.
What percentage of paper is recycled?
Paper recycling in the United States is a hands down environmental success story. But according to the survey, only 11% of consumers believe the U.S. recycling rate exceeds 60% and nearly a quarter believe it’s less that 20%. The fact: More than two-thirds of all paper and paper-based packaging in the U.S. is recycled, and more than 90% of corrugated cardboard boxes is recycled according to the American Forest and Paper Association. In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that paper is the most recycled material in the country, compared to plastics at 8.4%, glass at 26.6% and metals at 33.3%.
Is electronic communication more environmentally friendly than paper-based communication?
As the pandemic forced meetings, events and day-to-day business to online communication and consumers increasingly relied on the internet for news and information, 67% of those surveyed believe that electronic communication is more environmentally friendly than paper-based communication. While consumers enjoy the convenience and the ability to work from home that electronic communication affords, they overlook the environmental impact of digital communication.
The facts: The EPA reports that the pulp and paper industry accounts for only 1.2% of U.S. industrial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and only 0.5% of total U.S. GHG emissions – which shouldn’t be surprising since two-thirds of the energy used to power U.S. paper industry operations is generated using renewable, carbon neutral biomass. In contrast, the energy consumption required for digital technologies is increasing 9% each year, and the share of digital technology in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions could rise to 8% by 2025 according to The Shift Project, a carbon transition think tank. And compared to paper’s recycling success story, the United States generates approximately 7 million metric tons of e-waste annually, but only 15% of that waste is recycled, according to the 2020 Global E-waste Monitor.
“The life cycle of paper products is circular by nature,” Rowzie explains. “The raw material used to make it is perpetually regrown, the energy used to manufacture it is generated using mostly carbon-neutral biofuel, and the circle is completed as used paper is recycled into new products at a higher rate than any other material. Even so, our survey shows that misconceptions about the sustainability of paper products are commonplace. It’s just these types of misconceptions that Two Sides was created to correct. We believe consumers have the right to make purchasing choices based on data and hard facts, free from pop mythology and misinformation.”
For more facts about the environmental sustainability of paper and paper-based packaging, visit www.twosidesna.org.
About Two Sides North America, Inc.
Two Side North America is an independent, non-profit organization that promotes the sustainability of print, paper and paper-based packaging, and dispels common environmental misconceptions about paper products. We are part of the Two Sides global network which operates across North America, South America, Europe, Australia and South Africa.
Kathi Rowzie, President
Two Sides North America, Inc.
CHICAGO – March 30, 2021 – After starting Two Sides North America nearly a decade ago and building it into the highly successful organization it is today, Phil Riebel will retire as president of the organization effective April 1. Kathi Rowzie, who has been running the day-to-day operations of Two Sides since last March, will become president.
“Everyone who has worked with Phil over the years knows him as a trusted colleague and passionate advocate for the sustainability of print, paper and paper-based packaging,” said Jeff Hester, chairman of the Two Sides North America board of directors. “Our industry has benefitted enormously from his efforts to build Two Sides into an organization whose voice is recognized and respected across the paper value chain and among many of North America’s leading corporations. As Phil moves on from his Two Sides role to pursue other opportunities within the industry, I want to thank him on behalf of the board of directors for his dedicated service to our Two Sides members and our industry. Though Phil is stepping down, he will remain associated with Two Sides’ mission as a valuable advocate in our strategic efforts.”
“We also want to express our enthusiastic support for Kathi as she steps into her expanded role,” said Bill Rojack, vice chairman of the Two Sides board of directors. “She brings a unique combination of paper industry, sustainability and communications expertise that will help us continue to build on Two Sides’ success.”
Rowzie’s career spans more than 30 years in corporate and consulting roles with Fortune 500 companies, including extensive experience in the paper industry and with industry customers. A longtime advocate of Two Sides, her association goes back to the organization’s beginning, when as a consultant, she was instrumental in helping launch the Two Sides website, educational tools and marketing materials.
“Kathi continues to bring new ideas and fresh perspectives that will be critically important as increasing consumer, government and ENGO attention to the sustainability of print and paper products makes Two Sides’ work more important than ever,” Hester added. “The board looks forward to working with her as we seek to take Two Sides to the next level.”
Note: The phone number for Two Sides North America has changed to 937-999-7729. The email address will remain firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos of Riebel and Rowzie may be downloaded here.
New Packaging Facts Booklet Shares the Great Sustainability Story of Paper-based Packaging
The paper-based packaging industry has long been committed to continuous environmental performance improvement and to transparently conveying the environmental impacts of its operations and products. With growing consumer, business and political interest in packaging and its role in the transition to a more sustainable, circular economy, the opportunities to communicate the inherently sustainable benefits of paper-based packaging with straightforward, credible and relatable information are greater than ever before.
Paper Packaging – The Natural Choice provides 7 powerful reasons why paper-based packaging is the natural choice for brands, retailers and consumers, and offers a wide range of supporting facts from credible third-party sources. By fostering a better understanding of the industry’s environmental credentials, Two Sides seeks to ensure that paper products, through their myriad uses, remain an essential part of everyday life.
Two Sides members are permitted to co-brand Paper Packaging – The Natural Choice with their company logos to supplement their own sustainability communications. A print-ready version of the booklet along with co-branding instructions can be found in the General Resources folder on the Members Only website portal. For help accessing the Members Only portal, contact email@example.com.
Download Paper Packaging – The Natural Choice here.
The coronavirus pandemic’s demand-shock, brick-and-mortar store closures and stay-at-home orders have upended retail sales. As total spending declines, online spending is projected to surge by 18% in 2020, reflecting the impact of new buyers joining the online retail space as a result of the pandemic. With ecommerce expected to reach 14.5% of total retail sales this year – both an all-time high and the biggest ever share increase in a single year* – the findings of Two Sides’ recent U.S. Packaging Preferences Survey provide brand owners with valuable insights into consumers’ current thinking on packaging materials, online shopping and related behavior.
“Only time will tell the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there’s little doubt that it is already changing many aspects of modern life, including the way we shop for everything from groceries, beauty items and health-related products to electronics, sports equipment and pet supplies,” says Two Sides Vice President of Operations Kathi Rowzie.
“Shopping online will become the new normal for many consumers as companies enhance their supply chains, get more efficient at packaging and order fulfillment, and speed up delivery. It’s also clear that growing awareness of sustainable packaging choices is becoming a driving force in consumer purchasing decisions. As brand owners rethink their packaging strategies to align with current market realities and consumer preferences, paper-based packaging stands out as a natural choice.”
The Two Sides Packaging Preferences Survey 2020 was conducted by independent research firm Toluna. Download the full report here.
As U.S. consumers become increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their packaging choices, a majority believe paper-based packaging is better for the environment, according to the results of Two Sides North America’s 2020 U.S. Packaging Preferences Survey. The survey, which was conducted by independent consumer research company Toluna, sought to understand consumer preferences, perceptions and attitudes toward various types of packaging.
Respondents were asked to rank their preferred packaging materials (paper/cardboard, glass, metal and plastic) based on 15 environmental, practical and visual/tactile attributes. Overall, paper/cardboard packaging ranked highest on 11 of the 15 attributes, with 66% of respondents saying paper/cardboard packaging is better for the environment. Consumers also ranked paper/cardboard packaging highest on other environmental attributes, including being home compostable (69%) and easier to recycle (51%).
Glass packaging ranked highest among consumers on three practical and tactile/visual attributes, including being reusable (36%), having a preferred look and feel (32%) and providing better protection (29%). Nearly half of respondents (47%) ranked metal packaging highest for being strong and robust. Plastic packaging was not ranked highest for any of the 15 attributes but was ranked second highest for seven attributes.
“Interest in sustainable packaging continues to gain momentum as consumers become more aware of how various packaging materials impact the environment,” says Two Sides North America President Phil Riebel. “Our survey shows that U.S. consumers recognize paper-based packaging’s environmentally sustainable characteristics, but some areas remain misunderstood, particularly paper’s high recycling rate.”
The survey showed that paper/cardboard is correctly considered by consumers to be the most recycled packaging material, but only 24% think the U.S. recycling rate for paper/cardboard packaging exceeds 60%. In fact, 73% of all paper-based packaging in the United States is recycled, and 88% of cardboard is recycled, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Consumer attitudes toward plastic are clear, with 57% of survey respondents indicating they are actively taking steps to reduce their use of plastic packaging. While consumers believe plastic packaging is the second-most recycled after paper/cardboard packaging, most respondents significantly overestimate the plastic packaging recycling rate, believing it to be between two and more than five times greater than the actual rate of 13%.
Metal packaging is perceived to have the third highest recycling rate and glass packaging comes in fourth. With latest available figures showing actual recycling rates of 73% and 34%, respectively, the level of recycling for these packaging materials also is widely misjudged.
The survey also found that consumers across the United States are willing to change their behavior to shop more sustainably. Nearly 4 in 10 (38%) are willing to spend more on a product if it is packaged using sustainable materials, and more than a third (36%) said they would consider avoiding a retailer who is not taking steps to reduce their use of non-recyclable packaging.
“Awareness of sustainable packaging choices is becoming a driving force in consumer purchasing decisions, which in turn is influencing businesses to rethink their packaging strategies, particularly in the retail sector,” Riebel says. “The culture of make, use and dispose is gradually changing.”
The wide-ranging Packaging Preferences Survey also explored consumer perceptions of various U.S. retailers’ efforts to increase their use of environmentally friendly packaging, awareness of forest certification and environmental labels, and preferences in shopping bag materials.
To read the full report, please visit https://twosidesna.org/survey.
 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2017
 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2017