Packaging solutions provider ALPLA has released the results of its 2024 sustainability and convenience in packaging survey on generational consumer divides in sustainable packaging.

The survey reveals that younger shoppers will prioritise sustainability even if it means paying more, travelling farther or otherwise making extra efforts to choose products with eco-friendly packaging.

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This generational divide presents a lucrative opportunity for brands to adapt and meet the demands of this environmentally conscious generation.

Consumers and sustainable packaging: the numbers

Of the 1,000 adults surveyed in the US, 54% of young consumers (18-34 years old) said they choose products with sustainable packaging “always” or “often,” compared to just 33% of respondents 35 and older, and 25% of those 55 and older.

Just under half (48%) of young consumers said it was either “always” or “often” a “deal-breaker” if a product did not have sustainable packaging.

68% of young consumers have a “high” or “moderate” willingness to “change their habits or lifestyles,” such as travelling further or paying more, to choose products with eco-friendly packaging. This compares to 50% of respondents 35 and above, and 41% of those 55 and above.

A smaller percentage – 34% – of young consumers say they choose sustainable packaging even when it is less convenient, such as “harder to open” or “not resealable.” This compares to 23% of those 35 and older.

79% of young consumers are willing to pay more for eco-friendly packaging, with most willing to pay an extra 25% or more. By contrast, only 56% of consumers 35 and older and 41% of consumers 55 and older were willing to pay any premium for products with sustainable packaging.

53% of young consumers admitted their social circles played a significant role in their choices, saying that their eco-conscious shopping choices are “greatly” or “moderately” influenced by the choices of their friends and family, compared to only 29% of older generations.

ALPLA North America sustainability manager Billy Rice commented: “This growing demand for sustainable packaging presents a unique opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves.”