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Growing Consumer Demand for Sustainable Packaging and How to Meet It

by Janet Freund  |   May 11, 2022

Consumer demand for sustainable products, including the packaging of those products, is heating up. Study after study shows that more consumers are trying to “shop green” and sustainable packaging plays a big role in their purchasing behavior. On top of that, states are beginning to pass legislation that affects manufacturers in regards to their sustainability impact and truth in labeling.

Our customers have been increasingly asking us for sustainable packaging options, most specifically post-consumer recycled (PCR) glass bottles. Knowing that there is demand, we wanted to share some of the latest studies, reports, and laws regarding sustainability and packaging, as well as packaging product options.



There have been several studies conducted in the past two years about consumer sentiment regarding sustainability and eco-friendly products, as well as whether that sentiment results in changes in purchasing behavior. (See our article on 4 Hot Trends in Beauty Packaging.)

Here are some of the studies, and study highlights, that we thought were most interesting.

  • Bazaarvoice conducted a study and found that:
    • Over 76% of the global shoppers surveyed said they agree or strongly agree that they feel more inclined to use products made from recycled and sustainable materials.
    • 78% said it’s somewhat important or very important to them that the brands/products they use are either green, eco-friendly, and/or sustainable materials.
  • Trivium Packaging’s 2022 Global Buying Green Report highlights:
    • 86% of those aged 45 and under said they were willing to pay more for sustainable packaging.
    • 68% have chosen a product in the last six months based on its sustainability credentials, demonstrating consumers are translating awareness into purchase action.
    • 74% of respondents expressed an interest in buying products in refillable packaging. Consumers want products in recyclable packaging, but they also recognize the value of extending the life of packaging through reuse.
  • Compose[d]’s Sustainability & Consumerism Report, looked at consumer behaviors and preferences across multiple generations (Baby Boomers to Gen Z) and learned that 94% of adult consumers said that they consider it important to live a more sustainable lifestyle. The report authors extrapolate that packaging is the most immediate area of visibility for most consumers and it would be wise for brands to focus on making it more sustainable by implementing PCR (Post Consumer Recycled) packaging in place of plastics, or opting for more recyclable alternatives such as glass or metal, biodegradable materials like paper, 100% bio-based materials or refillables.
  • McKinsey study on Sustainability in Packaging shares that:
    • Consumers are willing to pay more for green, but they would also buy additional sustainably packaged products if more of them were available and they were better labeled.
    • Going forward, consumers are almost equally interested in recyclable and recycled plastic packaging, as they are in fiber-based plastic substitutes like bamboo, natural fiber cloth, or even wood.

GoldStarKey takeaways from all of these studies are that consumers want more green options and will reward brands that offer that. Have you started incorporating more sustainable materials into your products and packaging?



Several U.S. companies made pledges to meet specific sustainability goals by 2025. Some states, however, are concerned that companies are moving too slowly and may not meet the deadline, so they are taking matters into their own hands.


Expanding Producer Responsibility

Waste and recycling are significant problems in the U.S. in terms of the efficacy and cost. To address the issues, legislation is starting to be enacted that pushes some of the financial burden onto manufacturers. According to this article on 6 Sustainable Packaging Trends to watch in 2022 from, Oregon and Maine recently passed laws requiring manufacturers to help fund the collection and processing of plastics and packaging.

Maine and Oregon take different approaches, but both laws require companies that sell packaged goods in their states to join a producer responsibility organization (PRO), pay membership fees, and report the quantity and types of packaged products they sell. Oregon’s law additionally requires the 25 largest producers to periodically evaluate and disclose the lifecycle environmental impacts of a fraction of their portfolio. Maine’s law goes into effect in mid-2024; Oregon’s follows in mid-2025.

California, New York, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut may move next in 2022.

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Truth in Labeling for Recycled Materials

In the same article from, California passed a groundbreaking Truth in Labeling for Recyclable Materials law last year. The law requires manufacturers to provide information to the public to evaluate whether a product or packaging is recyclable in the state of California.

Heidi Sanborn, founding director of the National Stewardship Action Council and chair of California’s Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling said a lot of the mess we see with recycling stems from consumers being misled. She said, "We are buying products because we are being fooled by the labels to think that they are recyclable, biodegradable…because there is no federal standard that has any sort of enforcement."

This bill prohibits the use of the word “recyclable” on unrecyclable products. Specifically, the bill prohibits the use of the chasing-arrows symbol or other misleading statements that a material is recyclable, unless the product or packaging meets the criteria for statewide recyclability.

Similar legislation is being introduced in New Jersey and industry experts expect New York to follow suit.

Passed in December of 2021, producers in California have two years to fix their labels in accordance with the new law, and what it defines as recyclable.



Now that you know there are both pull (consumer demand) and push (state legislation) forces urging brands in beauty, wellness, and beverages towards more sustainability in their packaging, how can Carow Packaging help?


AdobeStock_246470475_LRGet Educated

We have been in the packaging business for over 30 years and we love sharing our expertise with our customers. So, one of the ways we offer value to our customers is by educating them on packaging regulations, trends, and opportunities for a competitive advantage.

Here are some of the articles we have written on sustainability to help you make the right choices for your primary product packaging.

What is PCR Glass and Why You Should Be Using It – A breakdown of what PCR glass is, how it’s made, and why it’s perfect for dropper bottles.

Glass Recycling 101: Making the Best Choice for Your Packaging Needs – This is a great primer on the benefits of glass in packaging for specific product and their properties. The impact of color on glass recycling and how to decipher glass recycling codes.

Glass vs. Plastic Dropper Pipettes – Glass beats plastic when it comes to environmental impact, but safety and application should also play into your decision of packaging material. We identified the pros and cons of glass vs. plastic dropper pipettes to help you decide which is best for your product.


PCR Bottles Group (3)Switch to More Sustainable Packaging Materials

To meet this trend, we’re proud to say that select dropper bottles offered in the Carow Packaging line of products contain 50-70% PCR glass, near the highest percentage in the industry. That recycled content level is something you can state on your product labels!

Carow is happy to send samples of our PCR glass bottles. Please call one of our Account Specialists at 815-455-4600 to tell us what size bottle you would need.

Janet Freund

Author: Janet Freund

Marketing Manager



Let’s talk about your market and your unique packaging needs.