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Millennials Up Pressure on Brands for Sustainable Packaging

Image credit: Stora Enso

Millennials have higher expectations for sustainable product packaging than their older counterparts, according to a new study by Finnish packaging solutions company Stora Enso.

Millennials, defined as those born between 1980 and 2000, are the focus of the Stora Enso Packaging divisions’ fourth Viewpoint report, which looks at their preferences and decisions when it comes to product packaging. Since this age group will comprise almost half of the European workforce (and therefore dominant consumers) by 2025, it is a key target for retailers and a prime category for brands to win over.

According to the report, 59 percent of Millennials believe that it’s important for packaging to be sustainable throughout the supply chain, including disposal. The report suggests that retailers who produce sustainable packaging can increase their sales by 2-4 percent, and provide an improved earnings rate (EBIT) of 1-2.5 percent. In this outlook, sustainability is both an ethical and economic positive for brands.

"Millennials expect products to be sustainable throughout the packaging value chain, to a higher degree compared to previous generations. In this new Millennial Viewpoint we provide the rationale to how retailers and brand owners can increase their sales and margins by using sustainable fiber-based packaging solutions to win the Millennials," says Björn Thunström, VP of Marketing and Customer Loyalty at Stora Enso.

The report is to be presented this week at the Global Packaging Summit in Barcelona by Stora Enso Head Jannu Alalauri.

As well as analysing the importance of sustainable packaging, the report also details the preferences of which materials Millennials consider most sustainable. Fiber-based packaging came out on top as the most sustainable material, compared to plastics, glass and metal.

Just last month, a survey conducted by business research firm Opinion Research Corporation International (ORC) revealed that 35 percent of Americans were willing to pay more for an eco-friendly packaged gift during the holiday season, with 44 percent of those in the Millennials category.

This proof of growing consumer demand for sustainable packaging follows on from a report from last year that predicted a combination of consumer demand, government legislation and technology advances will boost the sustainable packaging market to US$244 billion by 2018. 


Hannah Ritchie is a graduate in Environmental Geoscience from the University of Edinburgh. She is now working towards an MSc in Carbon Management, with an interest developing a fair and equal model for working towards a sustainable future across the… [Read more about Hannah Ritchie]


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