Consumers and the EU are fed up. Packaging needs a diet.

Overpackaging is becoming a no-go. A recent study by Mondi on consumer behavior underlines this once again. Three out of four respondents reject oversized packaging. And EU regulators are also addressing the issue. The pressure on brand owners and manufacturers is growing steadily. Reducing packaging costs in a way that is appropriate for the cycle without reducing functionality, convenience and product protection is a key issue and a guarantee of success for every new development or optimization.


A recent Europe-wide study on online consumer behavior commissioned by the packaging manufacturer Mondi shows how highly sustainable packaging is rated by online shoppers. 75 percent of respondents reject too much packaging. The tolerance level is declining. Slim packaging is the current ideal.

Frustration with the amount of packaging produced joins the issue of recyclability in the dominant complex of sustainability. The study also shows that finetuning the sustainability aspects can pay off for the industry. After all, 57 percent of respondents are willing to spend more on environmentally friendly packaging.

Companies should recognize the signs of the times and consistently use them for their own benefit. After all, it is not only the disfavor of consumers that poses a threat. EU regulators are also pushing the issue. Leading brands and retailers have already recognized the explosive nature of the issue. There is no way around slim packaging.

Activities of the European Commission

The EU regulators are currently reviewing a revision of the basic requirements for packaging. In this context, the issue of reducing (over)packaging (and thus reducing packaging waste) has also come into focus. Specifically, the concept of overpackaging is defined and bottom-up approaches are taken to achieve reduction targets.

  • Approach number one chooses the packaging weight route and is based on the best-in-class criterion.
  • Approach number two targets the relationship between product and packaging, based on either weight and/or volume.

The two approaches look at different aspects of overpackaging in different product groups and are thus quite complementary.

Brands and retailers are already responding (and organizing)

Driven by consumers and legislation, leading brands and retailers have already firmly anchored the topic in their agendas. The explosive nature of the topic has led, among other things, to the establishment of precompetitive design rules within the framework of the Consumer Goods Forum* (CGF).

The first two “Golden Design Rules” for the design of plastic packaging have already been established. They aim at

  • the increase in value of PET bottle recycling and
  • the omission of problematic packaging components, such as PVC.

In addition, the company is currently working on optimizing the volume and reducing the amount of packaging.

No-go and growth booster

It is clear that the increasing pressure from consumers, regulators and market leaders is making it a must to check, rethink and optimize existing packaging.

At the same time, however, the topic opens up rewarding paths to more differentiation and growth. The study shows, as does the behavior of the regulators, that while over-packaging is penalized, lean packaging is given added value (also in terms of price).

There is also another not inconsiderable advantage: The revision and optimization of the current packaging portfolio also pays off in terms of achieving the sustainability targets set by the company. Those who can offer lean and recyclable packaging score big regardless of segment or industry.


* The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) is a global industry network. It consists of CEOs and senior managers from more than 400 companies from retail, industry and service providers in over 70 countries.

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