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Compostable Packaging Considered Most Sustainable by Consumers

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of packaging, and compostable packaging is consistently the preferred choice.


A survey by McKinsey found that 43% of consumers in the United States cited environmental impact as extremely or very important for packaging, compared with 77% for hygiene and food safety, 67% for shelf life, and 61% for ease of use.

There is no single packaging material that is universally seen as the most sustainable. Different materials have different advantages and disadvantages in terms of their environmental impact, recyclability, and cost. For example, paper is often seen as a sustainable choice, but it can also have a high environmental impact if it is not produced sustainably.

According to the research, compostable packaging ranks as the most sustainable option among consumers. Participants were presented with a list of packaging material options. They were then asked to rank “How sustainable do you think these packaging types are?”. Consumers across different regions in the world consistently ranked compostable as “extremely” or “very strong” sustainability.


Source: McKinsey and Company report "Sustainability in packaging 2023: Inside the minds of global consumers"


This demonstrated the growing popularity of compostable packaging as a more sustainable alternative to traditional packaging materials. Compostable packaging, or biodegradable packaging as some prefer, is made from materials that can be broken down into organic matter by microorganisms. This means that it can be disposed of in compost bins, where it will eventually decompose and return to the soil.

There are a number of challenges to the widespread adoption of compostable packaging. One challenge is that compostable packaging is often more expensive than traditional packaging. Another challenge is that there is not yet a widespread infrastructure for composting.

Despite the challenges, there is growing momentum behind the adoption of compostable packaging. A growing number of companies are investing in the development and production of compostable packaging. Governments are also starting to introduce regulations that favor compostable packaging.


Retailers are playing a leading role in driving the adoption of sustainable packaging. They are setting ambitious goals for themselves and their suppliers, and they are working to educate consumers about the benefits of sustainable packaging. Many retailers are concerned about the increased cost of compostable packaging and whether consumers will be willing to pay the extra cost. However, the research does find that consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging.

Compostable packaging makes sense to consumers who are concerned about the amount of waste they are leaving behind. The fact that single-use plastic bags, used for only a few minutes, will hang around for hundreds of years polluting sea and soil, is depressing and one that consumers are keen to change. Compostable packaging breaks down and composts, leaving no micro-plastic or pollutants behind.

Compostable packaging provides the benefits of packaging, without pollution.


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