This Easter, it’s time for new beginnings

Winfried Mühling

Winfried Mühling, general manager, Pro Carton, explains why Easter Egg consumers face a tough choice this year

EASTER is a time for new beginnings; a pagan holiday that celebrates fertility and new life, characterised by beautifully decorated eggs.

The concept of new beginnings has a special meaning for Easter 2022, in particular. It has now been two years since the start of the pandemic and while we have got used to living with Covid, everyone is longing to move on to the new normal.

However, other events in recent weeks in the middle of Europe have shattered our trust and confidence in the world. Easter 2022 calls for new beginnings in many ways.

For consumers, the giving of chocolate eggs at Easter is commonplace and has been a tradition since the early 19th century. However, with growing awareness of the devastating amount of packaging waste generated each year, consumers face a tough choice that threatens to impact this favourite tradition.

These days, consumers are no longer simply influenced by the products they are purchasing but by the choice of packaging used, how sustainably it is produced and its end-of-life qualities.

Fortunately, most brands and retailers have taken this issue on board, and together with manufacturers and converters, have made huge advances in moving their packaging to the more environmentally friendly alternative, cartonboard.

This has been reinforced further by the stance of several of the major supermarket retailers, such as the Co-op and Aldi.

Both have taken a strong position on the issue of plastic packaging, removing it from product ranges and areas such as windows and inner linings whilst others such as Waitrose have decreed that they will halve single-use plastic on their own brand ranges.

This is showing a clear understanding of the sustainability advantages and opportunities that can arise from using cartonboard packaging and its compatibility with circular economy thinking.

Being a renewable bio-based packaging material, cartonboard is a natural driver for the circular economy, which has renewability at its heart.

However, its appeal to brands and retailers extends beyond its environmental benefits; it is also an extremely efficient packaging medium.

It helps reduce waste by protecting the product throughout its life cycle, from transportation to the consumer. It is also the ideal packaging substrate for marketing as it provides smooth surfaces for printing and allows for the application of a wide variety of textured finishes. This helps products to stand out at the point of sale.

Moreover, the balance of sourcing raw materials and ensuring ample recovered materials helps lessen the impact of cartonboard production. New fibres used for cartonboard production in Europe come from sustainably managed, local forests.

These wood fibres offer a renewable source for bio-based packaging material which provide a natural alternative to fossil-based products. So, whether it is for primary packaging with direct food contact or secondary packaging: cartons will always provide the ideal solution. Better for the consumer and for the environment.

Consumers choose cartons

Our own research has shown that consumers would prefer to purchase a product that is packaged in cartonboard, or cardboard as opposed to plastic, and would even be willing to pay more – almost three quarters (73%) of UK consumers claimed they would be happy to pay more for a product if the packaging had less of an environmental impact.

Cartonboard’s advantages are clear. It’s renewable, recyclable and biodegradable.

Studies have shown that the fibres used in cartonboard production can be recycled up to 25 times or more.

Paper-based packaging is already the most recycled in Europe, and with discussions surrounding the possibility of separating the collection of paper from other recyclable materials, this would guarantee a higher quality of secondary raw materials.

This is an issue being debated as part of the discussions on the circular economy by EU member states, which could provide more opportunities to establish a wider resource efficiency programme.

And this is one of the main aims of the circular economy that the cartonboard industry is putting into practice. Advances in its production techniques have led to the use of lighter weight materials, whilst still offering the same level of protection to the product inside.

Carton packaging still maintains its strength and robustness, protecting its contents from any damage, but at the same time, its lightweight properties can help to reduce transportation and raw material costs.

As a result, cartonboard provides brand owners, retailers and consumers with a sustainable solution.

A product based on renewable resources, that is sustainably produced, with minimum impact on the environment.

Each collected and recycled carton defines the beginning of a new package making it truly circular. The true sense of Easter.