A Message from our Chief Commercial Officer and SVP, Marketing, Design & Engineering

Your packaging represents your brand’s identity, and it must also deliver on the product, packaging features, and functionalities that consumers care about most. Achieving this begins with research—and understanding the consumer and market insights that help brands consider what inspires, motivates, and drives (different) people to make buying decisions.

Welcome to TricorBraun Beat. In this issue, we’ll examine one big trend that can help you develop—from concept to commercialization—your perfect package. This issue looks at the growing demand for sustainable packaging coming from various sectors. We will identify the stakeholders driving this trend, the implications for your business, the demographic nuances, and the packaging implications you must consider to maintain and grow your market share. We appreciate and care about your business—and we’re here to help you with packaging that delights consumers and drives brand loyalty for long-term sales success.


 The Big Picture


Sustainable packaging is no longer nice to have—it’s a business imperative. Legislators are mandating it. Retailers are enforcing sustainable packaging requirements and rewarding brands that reduce their carbon footprint. And consumers are rewarding companies that prioritize social and environmental responsibility with their brand loyalty. Packaging waste has been a major contributor to municipal landfills—and legislators, retailers, and consumers alike expect brands and packaging manufacturers to mitigate the problem by developing and offering more sustainable packaging solutions.



"9 in 10 consumers believe it's important for businesses to act in a socially and environmentally responsible way." 

- Glow Social Responsibility Score

  • Legislators, notably in the US, Canada, the UK, and the EU, are setting standards for post-consumer recycled (PCR) content, banning single-use plastics, and taking further steps to require brands to adopt more sustainable packaging. There’s currently a confusing patchwork of legislation on the books and in the works that will increasingly govern what brands can and cannot do across the globe. For example, California, Maine, New Jersey, and Washington currently mandate that packaging contains minimum amounts of  PCR content—and the amount varies by state as do the start dates for enforcement. Other US state laws include extended producer responsibility measures, which are aimed as shifting the cost for managing packaging waste from taxpayers and municipalities to producers. 

    Canada, meanwhile, is moving to ban single-use plastics. The UK has a £210.82 (~$258) per ton tax on plastic packaging manufactured or imported into the country containing less than 30% recycled plastic—and a new law coming into effect mid-year will require companies to purchase carbon credits to offset their plastic use. In the EU, a bill has been introduced that addresses everything from package design to shipping, compostability, reuse, recycling, and compliance—and would impact everything from coffee pods to shipping containers. What starts in the EU and the UK often comes to North America and elsewhere—so it’s important to keep an eye on their sustainability initiatives

  • Retailers are requiring their own brands and those they carry to rethink their packaging. At Walmart, 58% of its global private brand packaging was recyclable, reusable, or industrial compostable in 2021—and the company has pledged to get to 100% by 2025. Walmart and other major retailers are also seeking guidance from organizations such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation / US Plastics Pact in setting sustainability goals for their private label brands. For example, Aldi, Target, and Walmart are signatories, pledging to rethink how they design, use, and reuse plastics—including offering more shelf space to recyclable, composable, and reusable packaging formats. And it’s not just for their private label brands—name brands are encouraged and rewarded for being more sustainable as well. Target, for example, elevates national and emerging brands that are “sustainable, emerging, and innovative.”
  • Consumers are demanding that brands care about the planet and people as much as they do. Notably, Glow’s Social Responsibility Score found that 60 percent of consumers say a company’s purpose and values play an important role in their purchasing decisions. And they mean it. One in four consumers say they’ve changed brands based on perceptions of a brand’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance, and that number is expected to increase as the availability of sustainable product offerings grows over time. Moreover, a recent McKinsey study found that products making ESG-related claims averaged 28% cumulative growth over the past five-year period. 

Sustainable packaging is rapidly becoming a brand imperative. The good news is that brands can pull several sustainable packaging levers, depending on what you’re trying to do. These include material selection (e.g. paper, plastic, PCR, bio-resins, biodegradables additives) circularity (e.g., designing for recyclability, refill/reuse) and optimization both of your package and via manufacturing and operational efficiencies. 

Why else should you invest in sustainable packaging? Potential cost savings. From reducing gram weight to putting more product on a pallet, CPG companies are finding that designing for sustainability can be a win not just for the planet but also for their bottom lines. 

Demographics of Sustainability 


When it comes to sustainable packaging, demographics matter in understanding how different generations factor brand responsibility into their buying decisions. Understanding the life stage and income status of your consumer base can help guide sustainable packaging decisions to make your product and brand resonate in today’s market.

  • Gen Z prioritizes brand responsibility. They are the most racially- and ethnically-diverse generation, and they’ve grown up living with the consequences of climate change—and want action to protect the environment. A Vericast2022 survey found that they prioritize social and environmental responsibility more than other generations. While they are typically the least brand loyal generation, they demand sustainability and will pay for sustainable products.
  • Millennials also prioritize responsible brands. Along with Gen Z, millennials value responsibility and are willing to pay for products made with reusable, refillable, and otherwise sustainable packaging. High-income millennials are also the least price conscious generation in today’s marketplace—and they will pay a premium for brands that deliver on their ESG commitments. 
  • Gen X are loyal—once you earn their trust. They are the largest consumer of household goods. They are also the most skeptical generation, so it’s important to make sure all your sustainability claims are credible. Gen X typically have higher incomes, and they will be loyal to sustainable brands (and products) that showcase and deliver on their ESG value.
  • Baby Boomers lag on sustainability—but they’re catching up. While Baby Boomers are the generation least likely to prioritize sustainable offerings, they outspend every other generation and exhibit strong brand loyalty to trusted household names. And they’re hearing a lot about protecting the planet from their Millennial and Gen Z grandkids, so they’re gradually becoming more environmentally conscious. To persuade them to purchase from you, it’s important not only to have sustainable offerings but also to highlight your brand responsibility with strong on-pack messaging. 



There are three key packaging levers—materials, circularity, and optimization—that represent your path to sustainable packaging. 

  • Materials—There are a wide range of options available, and each has different benefits and things to consider. For example, paper is inexpensive and 100% recyclable, but typically needs to be paired with a barrier layer. PET, HDPE, and PP PCR resins can work well for bottles and closures, but supplies are limited and there are color and odor considerations. And while glass and aluminum are 100% recyclable, each requires some planning ahead to secure supply. 
  • Circularity—Refillable and reusable packaging offers an opportunity to reduce total material use and drive brand loyalty. You can also design for recyclability. Monomaterial, for example, is optimal for single-stream recycling; all-plastic components can often be recycled in mixed-material streams. And tethered closures (a forthcoming requirement in Europe) help to ensure that caps are recycled alongside bottles.
  • Optimization—Optimizing the size and shape of your package can not only eliminate unnecessary plastic (or another material) but also improve your shipping footprint. A square package, for example, allows for optimized shipping and stands out on the shelf. Stacking and nesting can reduce the need for secondary packaging and increase the number of packages per load—reducing truckloads in the process.


At TricorBraun, everything we do starts and ends with our customers. We provide you with solutions for your most challenging problems to help your business grow. We can help you identify stock solutions that address consumer aesthetic and functional needs, and we can also create custom packaging to reduce your carbon footprint while protecting your product and showcasing your brand sustainability story. 

  • We partner with our customers to turn product and brand requirements into sustainable packaging that drives consumer loyalty and brand growth.
  • We leverage our global reach to bring innovative solutions to our customers. Our expansive  network across five continents lets us identify a wide selection of sustainable packaging materials and products. And, because we are vendor-agnostic, we can make truly objective recommendations on the best options for your specific needs.
  • We have a business dedicated to flexible solutions, including compostable bags and refillable options.
  • We identify local manufacturers to help customers and contract fillers minimize transportation costs. 
  • We leverage our Design & Engineering team to develop custom designs that maximize your sustainable footprint and differentiate your package on the shelf.
  • We deploy our graphic design team to ensure that our customers’ on-pack sustainable messaging is impactful and on brand. 
  • We always ensure that our packaging solutions address your most important sustainability goal: a sound, high-performing package that protects and preserves your product.

Learn More

  • Juice PLUS+—Rethinking the bottle to reduce gram weight and save over 1,000,000 pounds of resin.
  • Project Clean—Creating an innovative design to achieve one brand’s sustainability goals. 
  • Seaweed Bath Company—Designing a sustainability story that reels in customers.
  • WHOOSH!—How one company redesigned its packaging with the environment in mind and grew its sales.

The TricorBraun Beat is the companion newsletter to The TricorBraun Pulse. Our newsletters are designed to keep our customers abreast of industry shifts and consumer trends—and the opportunities these shifts create for packaging—in order to help you navigate the challenges and seize on opportunities to grow your business. Gleaning insights and behaviors from these trends helps us identify and deliver packaging solutions that protect and preserve your product, resonate with consumers, and boost sales. From supply chain and operational challenges to economic and market opportunities, we are here to help you understand what’s happening and how we can work together to win.  

For more, contact your TricorBraun packaging consultant or marketing@tricorbraun.com.


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