Carton campaign aims to boost eco awareness

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sustainability

A new campaign aims to help inform and raise consumer awareness on sustainable energy, on the benefits of carton drinks packaging and on the importance of pack recycling, claims Tetra Pak, and retailer, Carrefour, who are collaborating on the scheme

The initiative is prompted by EU Sustainable Energy week (February 9-13), according to both companies.

Carrefour said the packaging related eco tips will be carried on a limited edition of its own brand milk and orange juice products, in the group's outlets in France, Belgium, Spain and Italy up until mid-February.

Erika Mink, environment director Europe for Tetra Pak said: “Through the information and messages it can carry, packaging can be influential in helping guide consumer behaviour.”

She added that the joint action with Carrefour aims to give a practical example of packaging’s role in raising consumer awareness on ways to tackle climate change like saving energy and using renewable resources.

Mink told that the message on the packs informs consumers that choosing a carton helps reduce CO2, and also states that the packaging was made in a factory purchasing green energy, with the paper used coming from well-managed forests; in addition, the communication requests shoppers to recycle the carton in order to further reduce climate impact.

"By undertaking this joint campaign with Carrefour, we hope to encourage consumers to consider some of the small, but practical steps they can take to reduce their carbon footprint," ​she added.

Eco overload

Food and beverage manufacturers are increasingly adopting more sustainable practices and seeking to communicate these to consumers.

But are well-meaning consumers confused by the many different green and ethical logos in use?

Logos currently used on food labels include organic symbols, the Fairtrade mark, sustainable sourcing stamps, carbon footprint indicators… and many other schemes developed by industry players to demonstrate better practices.

Speakers at a CIAA Congress in Brussels in November were split about how valuable the proliferation of labels is to people actually choosing products. Even though many of the logos are supported by a strict set or standards or code, the consumer may not be totally aware of what they stand for.

Christine Cros, head of the eco-design and sustainable consumption department at the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) said: “Today there are too many labels. Consumers don’t understand what logos mean. Some are bad and some are good.”

But Annemieke Wijn, a board member of Rainforest Alliance, which allows forms adhering to its criteria on conserving biodiversity and ensuring sustainable livelihoods to use its frog-shaped seal, does not agree.

She said: “The issue of multiple labels is not such an issue for consumers, only those who write about them.”

Highly specific labels should be available for consumers who are very aware and want to support the underlying principals, in her view. “If they want the details they should have them.”

But for consumers with a general desire to buy more ethical products but less focus on specifics, she “doesn’t care”​ which of the sustainability schemes they pick.

The action gap

Recent figures from TNS indicate that although 75 per cent of consumers said they would buy greener goods even if they were more expensive, in the last month only 17 per cent actually had.

This shows there is a considerable gap between what people say and what they do.

Amongst the reasons for lack of action given by Laura Degallaix of the European Consumers Organisation (BEUC) was that they cannot easily find green products – and they can even be misled by industry claims and greenwash.

Other reasons cited were lack of trust in government and industry; not knowing whether their action will make a difference; not knowing what action to take; and the costs of acting.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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