NielsenIQ’s Homescan survey in February showed that 53% of shoppers are looking for packaging that is “easy to recycle” and 26% want products with minimal or no packaging. With most drinks products coming in easily recyclable glass bottles or cans, the sector has potentially got a head start on some other FMCG categories, but there are new initiatives coming along to bring about further improvement. 

The Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) in Scotland aims to have 17,000 return points across the country to provide an accessible pack reuse solution when it starts in August 2023. Scotland currently recycles just half of all single-use containers. 

DRS will help tackle climate change, increase the efficiency and effectiveness of recycling, prevent litter and provide economic and other community-wide benefits. It potentially also provides one of the single biggest opportunities for manufacturers to communicate their work on sustainability to shoppers. 

In 2021, the UK government set up a £10 million fund to help the country’s distilleries go green by switching to low-carbon fuels. The first phase – aiming to cut carbon emissions and support new green jobs – awarded 17 successful distilleries between £44,000 and £75,000 to help them boost decarbonisation research and development, with schemes including the use of hydrogen and biofuel boilers and geothermal energy in their production processes. The funding will help prevent pollution to the equivalent of taking 200,000 cars off the road. 

There is an opportunity for manufacturers who benefit from Green Distilleries funding to communicate this on their packaging. With consumers reassessing their values since the start of the pandemic, and increased emphasis on the wellbeing of the planet, those manufacturers who can take advantage of communicating their involvement could end up being category winners. 

The messaging could be similar to those with B Corp accreditation, which formally distinguishes green mission-driven companies from their competitors by signifying their adherence to the highest verified social and environmental performance levels, legal accountability and transparency. Rather than evaluating a particular product or purchase, a Green Distilleries or B Corp message on packaging gives customers a 360° view of a producer’s impact and commitment to sustainability. 

Search trend data shows that people are becoming more engaged with and aware of sustainability generally, and B Corp ideals in particular. Green messaging on packs could be a powerful game-changer in their purchasing habits.