A culture of sustainable packaging – using yogurt as an example

Author: Clara Asumadu - Design Strategist at EPAM Continuum

Sustainability is a popular buzzword in business circles but putting it into action isn’t that simple. Take something like yogurt – a snack we all love and eat in abundance. But what exactly matters to yogurt consumers when you mention sustainability? This was the subject of ethnographic interviews and an anonymous survey of our global EPAM community. The question: what specifically matters to you when shopping for packaged foods?

Yogurt is a great healthy snack…but it’s messy to dispose of

The study found that while 79% of interviewees want their yogurt packaging to be low to zero waste they also don’t want to get their hands dirty, so to speak. They are very open to alternatives to single-use plastic tubs – which have to be rinsed out for recycling or make your trash wet and smelly.

So which alternatives would they consider? 20% of people were open to eating their packaging and many would be keen to compost, repurpose or refill containers at a store (a circular service).

Demystify recycling

When it comes to recycling, we found that it helps to be very explicit in your instructions. People are happy to go through the effort of recycling but they don’t always know if a product needs to be deconstructed, if it’s biodegradable or compostable. 46% of people want a clear and simple way to recycle their yogurt packaging, so guidance along the way would be immensely valuable.

Sustainability goes far beyond packaging

Our research also found that people view sustainability as a system that extends far beyond the package. Some respondents were interested in the environmental impact of production and disposal. Others wanted to know if the cows are treated humanely, or if ingredients are sourced locally.

This brought the conclusion that we need to be more transparent about food processes from farm to shelf – perhaps by implementing tools that monitor and report a company’s environmental impact.

To get more insights into this study, get the full results here.

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