Consumers have been on the lookout for the most sustainable food containers possible.

The Freedonia Group recently discovered that the food packaging industry is focusing more on sustainability due to consumers becoming more conscious of environmental degradation.

"Consumer interest in sustainability is increasing," says Adam Springer, manager of product sustainability at Ahold Delhaize USA, citing internal research that shows 43% of consumers feel sustainability is now extremely important. Originally the number was pre-pandemic.

The Hartman Group also indicated 67% of consumers say they avoid products packaged in Styrofoam or other packages that they can't reuse, recycle, or compost, and 83% of consumers say they're concerned about how much single-use plastic society currently uses.

"We believe retailers play an important role in helping customers shift their habits and take simple actions to be more sustainable by providing means for customers to recycle content," says Adam Springer.

Ahold Delhaize USA, the parent company for grocery brands like Food Lion and Giant Food, believes the public requires greater education regarding sustainable packaging. 

"Sustainable packaging is a complex topic," says Springer. "There's more consumer education needed in this area to drive sustainable outcomes."

Columbia University says that, in the U.S., 66% of paper, 27% of Glass, and 8% of plastic are recycled. Glass and metal can be reused indefinitely, paper can be used five to seven times, and most plastic can be recycled once or twice.

For the food packaging industry's sustainability efforts to be effective, Freedonia suggests placing bio-based environmental labels on packages to inform consumers about which packages are truly environmentally friendly.

Ahold Delhaize suggests companies set goals regarding sustainable packaging to drive accountability. 

"We believe there's a tremendous opportunity for sustainable packaging that is essential, maintains or improves product quality and/or shelf life, and can be recycled in practice and at scale, contributing to a circular economy," Adam Springer.