Quebecers and eco-responsible packaging: The demand is there

The first on ecodesigned containers, packaging and printed matter highlights Quebecers' expectations witch regards to packaging

Montréal, October 23, 2014 – As part of The Responsible Consumption Barometer Study, Éco Entreprises Québec (ÉEQ), which is responsible for financially compensating municipalities for curbside recycling services in Quebec, in cooperation with The Responsible Consumption Observatory (RCO) surveyed Quebecers to determine their perception of ecodesigned containers, packaging and printed matter.

Today’s findings demonstrate that Quebec consumers want eco-responsible packaging, but not at any price. If it cost the same, almost three-quarters of Quebecers (72.9%) would choose eco-responsible packaging.

Steadfast myths

“Consumers attribute added value to products designed to take the item’s entire life cycle into account. However, almost half of them believe that the most environmentally impactful stage is the packaging item’s end-of-life. In reality, every step of the life cycle contributes to environmental impacts,” said Maryse Vermette, President and CEO of ÉEQ.

Consumers mistakenly believe that a packaging item’s end-of-life has the greatest environmental impact. Only 12.6% of consumers know that packaging accounts for less than 10% of environmental impacts generated by the product it protects. That fact demonstrates the usefulness of conducting a life cycle analysis of packaging/product pairs and communicating the information to consumers.

“This study confirms long-held myths about packaging items and their end-of-life,” Ms. Vermette added. “Survey findings will help companies better understand consumer perceptions and make informed decisions regarding their ecodesign initiatives.”

What consumers look for

Increasingly educated on the matter, consumers understand that eco-responsible packaging goes beyond recycled content. 

  • The eco-responsible packaging characteristics consumers look for include the recyclability of materials used and the integration of recycled content in packaging. That can be explained by the fact that materials recovery has become well-rooted in Quebecers’ daily habits. These considerations are recognized as levers for improving packaging environmental performance.

  • 7 out of 10 Quebecers know that packaging serves such important functions as protecting and transporting products. Almost half of respondents said that more efforts should be made to minimize packaging and reduce overpackaging.

  • More than 60% of Quebecers feel that environmental statements and labels are important in providing ecological or eco-responsible information about packaging.

  • Although consumers welcome such general statements as “more environmentally friendly,” almost half of respondents (45.9%) place their trust in environmental statements that contain numbers about weight and GHG emission reductions.

Eco-responsible packaging: Leverage for companies

The survey shows that consumers have a higher opinion of companies that use eco-responsible packaging. Such companies benefit from greater brand equity and trust in the quality of their products.

“Recycling has been the prevalent responsible consumption behaviour since 2010 when we started conducting The Responsible Consumption Barometer Study,” said Fabien Durif, Director of the RCO. “This year, we took an in-depth look at packaging. It is inspiring to see that consumers are much better informed and committed to responsible consumption and that they recognize companies’ efforts to improve performance.”

The study also highlights misconceptions held by Quebecers regarding who foots the bill for recovering recyclable materials. A good proportion (73.5%) of people believe the municipal taxes they pay finance the cost of materials recovery in Quebec. Fewer than one Quebecer in 10 knows that companies shoulder the significant costs of recycling. Indeed, companies finance 100% of curbside recycling net costs, paying over $130 million annually in compensation to municipalities for those services.

The survey was conducted by MBA Recherche from September 1 to 18, 2014, to collect the opinions of a representative panel of 34,000 Quebec consumers. The sample was weighted according to Statistics Canada data to reflect demographic trends.¬ As it consisted of a panel of voluntary participants, the margin of error calculation does not apply. A total of 1,029 persons responded to the electronic survey.

To view the graphic chart of survey highlights, click here:

About Éco Entreprises Québec

Éco Entreprises Québec (ÉEQ) is the organization that develops the Schedule of Contributions and collects company contributions, which are then redistributed to finance municipal curbside recycling services in Quebec. ÉEQ also encourages innovation and best practices in order to optimize the recyclable materials value chain. To do so, ÉEQ cooperates, on the one hand, with companies to reduce quantities of materials at the source and encourage the use of recyclable materials, as well as with municipalities and other stakeholders to increase recycling and the economic value of recovered materials. Created by companies that put containers, packaging and printed matter on Quebec’s market, ÉEQ is a private non-profit organization that was accredited by RECYC-QUÉBEC in 2005 under the Environment Quality Act.

About The Responsible Consumption Observatory (RCO)

Based at the Université du Québec’s École des sciences de gestion (ESG), the RCO is a university organization that focuses on transferring knowledge. The RCO’s fifteen researchers, directed by Prof. Fabien Durif, Ph.D., regularly conduct studies on responsible consumption in Quebec and throughout the world. The organization publishes the findings of an annual survey in order to better understand and document people’s habits and perceptions regarding responsible consumption. For the very first time this year, the survey included a section on packaging ecodesign to determine Quebecers’ habits, perceptions and wishes.


Virginie Bussières
Communications Director
Éco Entreprises Québec

Information and requests for interviews:

Jade Lavallée Labossière
Hill + Knowlton Strategies