Quebecers’ relationship with packaging: Importance attached to environmental criteria for consumer product purchasing

Montréal, November 24, 2015 – As part of the 2015 edition of the Responsible Consumption Barometer Survey in Quebec, Éco Entreprises Québec (ÉEQ) is pleased to release the findings of a survey conducted by the Observatoire de la Consommation Responsable designed to better understand the myths and realities that affect Quebecers’ relationship with packaging in the food and household product sectors.

“As 70% of all packaging put on Quebec’s market comes from the food industry, we thought it would be useful to explore that area first,” said Virginie Bussières, Director of Communications and Public Affairs at ÉEQ. “In fact, the food sector is where consumers are most aware of eco-responsible packaging. Over 57% of respondents attach the most importance to eco-responsible packaging in that sector, ahead of fast-food services, medications and household maintenance products.”

When choosing packaged products, over half (53.3%) of Quebecers have no difficulty distinguishing between products that are over-packaged and those with necessary packaging. For example, plastic wrap around English cucumbers is useful because it preserves freshness for up to 14 days, therefore limiting food waste.  

“The food industry uses packaging for many reasons,” explains Geneviève Dionne, Ecodesign Advisor at ÉEQ. “It is of course used to protect and preserve products from impact and ensure their transportation. We sometimes forget that packaging also extends the life of perishable foods, ensures food safety and helps avoid waste.”

Myth #1: All secondary packaging is useless
For 68.3% of consumers, secondary packaging is automatically a synonym of over-packaging. That is a misconception. Secondary packaging can fulfill a variety of functions, including grouping products for batch sales. Examples include milk bags and the plastic film around six or eight boxes of facial tissues. Unlike over-packaging that is often used solely for marketing purposes, these two types of secondary packaging both protect and group items to facilitate handling.

Myth #2: When it comes to cleaning products, ecological criteria are not important
To no one’s surprise, Quebec consumers mainly choose household products based on price and performance. But environmental considerations are not far behind! The absence of phosphates or ingredients that are harmful to the environment and human health are more important than brand and appearance. Features that limit product waste are also appreciated, including a dosing mechanism or a graduated cap, and detergent sold in capsule form.

These findings are part of a survey carried out by the Observatoire ESG UQAM de la Consommation Responsable in September 2015. Preliminary results including the first indicator of Quebecers’ knowledge of eco-responsible packaging were released last October as part of Quebec Waste Reduction Week. 

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 municipalities in order to finance curbside recycling services in Quebec. ÉEQ also encourages innovation and sharing of 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, and, on the other, with municipalities to increase recycling and the economic value of recovered materials. ÉEQ is a private non-profit organization created by companies that put containers, packaging and printed matter on Quebec’s market. The organization was accredited by RECYC-QUÉBEC in 2005 in accordance with the Environment Quality Act.

A chart (English version online soon) was produced to illustrate the results of the survey conducted by the Observatoire de la consommation responsable.

For more information:
Camille Lemay
Éco Entreprises Québec

514-987-1491, ext. 261