Poll: Overwhelming majority of Europeans are troubled by the rise in paper and cardboard packaging, and three quarters think governments should be responsible for reducing it.
Packaging and especially disposable paper packaging is on the rise, and Europeans of all ages are worried about the trend. More than seven out of ten people surveyed in Germany, France, Sweden, Italy and Finland are ‘troubled by the rise in paper and cardboard packaging’, a new YouGov poll published today1 finds.
The multi-country poll shows that three quarters of Europeans think governments should be responsible for reducing paper and cardboard packaging and resulting waste.
Industry lobbyists are, however, working to water down or entirely remove new EU measures2 that could help to address the problem. These measures are currently being reviewed by the European Parliament.
The rise in paper packaging has been dramatic; in 2020, more than 10kg extra paper packaging waste was produced in the EU per person, than in 20123.
Six in ten (58%) Europeans are troubled by the impact rising paper-based packaging has on forests, with older voters most concerned. A third of voters highlighted the frustration of having to deal with growing amounts of paper packaging waste.
Hannah Mowat, campaigner at Fern, said “This poll shows that European consumers are way ahead of their politicians when it comes to paper packaging waste. They are troubled by the rise in paper-based packaging, and the impact it has on forests, but feel unable to make a change. It is time for the EU to protect consumers from the abusive packaging industry practices and move to a truly circular economy, one that promotes local jobs and protects the climate and biodiversity.”
Draft legislation in Brussels would produce minimum targets for waste reduction in EU countries, and require greater investment in distribution and collection systems for reusable packaging. But there are signs that the Regulation, which was already insufficient, could be watered down in ways that will make the paper packaging waste problem even worse.
Last week, Fern and the Environmental Paper Network released a report showing the human and environmental cost of the paper-based packaging sector, including case-studies from Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Chile and Indonesia.
Sergio Baffoni, campaigner at the Environmental Paper Network, said “European consumers are fed up with excessive packaging, and are waking up to the fact that paper isn’t automatically ‘green’. Producing more disposable paper packaging deepens the environmental crisis, but real solutions are there for anyone who cares to look. Cutting out packaging altogether where we can, and regulating for large-scale, integrated reuse systems where we can’t, would be a very good start.”
Notes to the Editor:
This is a YouGov poll commissioned by Fern to understand public attitudes towards paper packaging and paper packaging waste in France, Germany, Italy, Finland and Sweden.
Complete poll results are available here.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was just over 6,000, with around 2,000 in Germany and 1,000 in other countries.
Fieldwork was undertaken between 11 and 17 April 2023. The survey was carried out online.
The figures have been weighted and unless otherwise stated are representative of all adults in France, Germany, Italy, Finland and Sweden (aged 18+).
The European Parliament and the Council of the EU are currently considering a European Commission proposal for a new Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), which would replace an existing Directive. For NGO perspectives on the draft PPWR as it relates to paper packaging, see this position paper.
Based on Eurostat data. This overall figure masks considerable national variation. Full dataset available here: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/databrowser/view/ENV_WASPAC__custom_5155352/bookmark/table?lang=en&bookmarkId=43b83ab4-2406-49bd-ab89-8a929fca7c56
About the NGOs:
Founded in 1995, Fern is an organisation based in the heart of the EU, dedicated to protecting forests and the rights of people who depend on them. We make decisions by consensus and build campaigns together with social and environmental organisations and movements across the world. We identify the threats facing the world’s forests, and work with affected peoples, social and environmental organisations and policy makers to devise and deliver solutions where the EU can make a difference.
EPN International is an organising hub for members of the Network who are anywhere in the world outside of North America and China. The Environmental Paper Network (EPN) is a world-wide network of over 150 civil society organisations working together towards the Global Paper Vision. This Vision expresses our common goal to create transformational change in the pulp and paper industry and wider society, so that paper production and use contributes to a clean, healthy, just and sustainable future for life on earth.