Sustainable packaging trends: keys to stand out in the FMCG sector

Anna Raventós

What is sustainable packaging?

The presentation of any product is key to impacting consumers and influencing their purchasing decision. To achieve this, a company’s brand manager must follow new trends to offer a product that meets the expectations of its target audience. Faced with the growing commitment of consumers to the environmental impact of the products they consume, brands must react to this demand, thus joining the new sustainable packaging trends and eco-design. But only some things work!

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It’s essential to present to the consumer a sustainable, attractive, and functional packaging type while conveying values in coherence with the product and the brand image. To do this, it’s essential to have tools such as the packaging test to validate the new proposal. Find out all the details!

Sustainable packaging is made from materials that seek to minimize its environmental impact, reducing the carbon footprint throughout the product’s life cycle, from production to disposal.

Specifically, for packaging to be considered environmentally friendly, it must have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Recyclable packaging
  • Made from recycled material
  • Biodegradable
  • Compostable
  • Reusable packaging


As we can see, there are many concepts related to sustainable packaging, so it’s important to know each of them to establish a correct brand strategy that achieves that added value, providing differentiation and relevance to our brand.

The most widespread concept of sustainable packaging is “made from recycled materials”, which is based on comprehensive recycling. In other words, 100% of the material is used and converted back into another package, thus promoting the circular economy. An economy that involves reducing, recycling, and reusing existing materials and products as often as possible, thus extending its life cycle. An example of this can be found in Nestlé, made with 100% food-grade recycled plastic that meets the FDA’s.

Sustainable packaging materials

In eco-friendly packaging, the most commonly used sustainable materials are:


One is considered the most sustainable and economical because of its easy reusability and low environmental impact. Although cardboard has a short life cycle, its ease of recycling makes it an excellent option. It should be noted that a cardboard box is more than 80% biodegradable.


A sustainable material since its recycling is integral, 100% of the material is used and converted back into another container. Therefore, its life cycle is infinite. It’s one of the most widely used in the consumer sector due to its properties for preserving food and cosmetics.

Bioplastic or vegetable plastics

A material that is gradually emerging as an alternative to traditional PET. It’s a sustainable material that comes from vegetables such as soybean, corn or potato starch. Its development is a consequence of the need to find a material with similar characteristics to plastic but from renewable sources and, therefore, less polluting. It’s a resistant, 100% biodegradable, and very versatile material. An example would be the biodegradable packaging Dulcesol, the brand of pastries, cakes and bread of the international food and distribution group Vicky Foods.

However, it must be taken into account that just because a material is recyclable, it doesn’t necessarily have to be sustainable, as it will depend on its carbon footprint, i.e. the difficulty and resources required for its recycling. Therefore, as part of the brands’ sustainability strategy and commitment, knowing whether the sustainable pack meets consumer expectations and is consistent with the product and brand values is essential.

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Sustainable packaging trends examples

Packaging is becoming more sustainable, opting for eco-friendly packs made from sustainable materials. Not only are more and more brands committed to the green movement, but companies must also adapt to European regulations on single-use plastics that will come into force in 2024.

Some of the FMCG brands that have anticipated this regulation include Unilever, which has committed to reducing the use of virgin plastic in its packaging by more than 100,000 tons by 2025. As of today, Dove has changed its plastic packaging for 100% recycled plastic packaging, thus committing to sustainable packaging in personal care. Or Kellogg’s, which has set a target to be met by the end of 2025: that 100% of its packaging should be reusable, recyclable or compostable, thus committing to the circular economy.

Another example to highlight would be Bacardi, with the recent launch of its 100% biodegradable liquor bottle, thus replacing 80 million plastic bottles (3,000 tons of plastic) that Bacardi currently produces with all its brands every year.

But beyond the trends focused on “recyclable” and “biodegradable”, some brands have opted for more innovative packaging. This is the case of Coca-Cola with the presentation of its new revolutionary prototype in soft drinks, the first paper bottle. This first prototype has a thin 100% recycled plastic coating. A major advantage of this packaging is that it would be very light, saving transport costs and thus CO2 emissions.

The U.S. brewery Saltwater Brewery has also developed a revolutionary biodegradable and edible packaging for bundling beer packs. In this way, it provides a direct response to an environmental problem: the rings on beer packs, which pose a significant threat to marine animals, are now food.

How to measure the impact of sustainable packaging on your brand image?

For both new product launches and product relaunches, it’s essential to measure the impact that your sustainable packaging will have on your brand image, thus ensuring that your sustainable packaging conveys the desired values. A measurable impact using a pack test, a quick and agile study that will allow you to know the consumer’s acceptance of your sustainable packaging, as well as his perception of what image attributes your new pack works with. A test where you can evaluate a single packaging proposal or different alternatives through a monadic test.

The key indicators to measure the impact of the pack are:

  • Overall assessment
  • Degree of relevance
  • Degree of differentiation
  • Value for money
  • Purchase intention
  • Brand image


In this way we’ll obtain consumer insights on the brand values that the new pack works with, whether these are in line with the desired image, and whether these values are important to the consumer. Results that will allow you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your sustainable packaging, as well as possible areas for optimization. Thus, responding to the expectations of your target audience and making your sustainable packaging products a success.

Through the Zinklar insights platform you can measure the impact of your packaging before launching it to evaluate the potential of your designs and predict your consumer’s purchase intent.

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