Why aren’t Brits using more glass packaging?

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Britons love food and drink in glass, but we lack the Europeans’ passion.  New consumer research sees UK lag behind Europe in active support for the world’s most recyclable packaging material.

A new survey has revealed that European consumers prefer glass for food and drinks over other packaging materials such as plastics, metal and cartons. However, while almost three quarters (74%) of European consumers recommend glass packaging as the ideal food and drinks material, British consumers, although supportive of glass, were a little more reserved (56%), with the UK coming last in an overall league table of results¹.


The research, carried out by InSites Consulting asked more than 8,000 consumers across 17 European countries about their preferences for different packaging in terms of environmental friendliness, recyclability, waste and pollution impact and safety for health. Glass came out top in every category.

The poll also highlighted differences between the top three ‘drivers of choice’ in each country. The UK decided that glass  preserves the taste best (38%); food and drink stays fresh longer (30%) and 29% of consumers cited that their favourite brands were in glass packaging – confirming that when it comes to giving a product that extra special look and feel, many food and drink manufacturers still turn to glass.

Another interesting finding highlighted the mismatch between consumers’ preference to have certain products packaged in glass and actual availability. 39% of European consumers (21% UK) want mineral water packed in glass, presumably to keep the purity and minerals intact for longer. 40% (26% UK) want their juices in glass and 39% (26% UK) prefer their milk in glass bottles. Dave Dalton, who runs UK trade body British Glass comments: “We know from the many events we attend that people do feel quite passionately about glass. However, it is perhaps the famous British reserve that stops many from speaking up more. We would urge consumers to let their feelings be known to those making the decisions at supermarkets and brands so that glass remains a choice on the store shelves in the future”.


When it comes to cost, the results show that overall there is a substantial proportion of European consumers who would be willing to pay extra for glass containers, although Britons were more reluctant on this point. However, while there is perhaps a perception in the UK that glass is already more expensive than other materials, the reality is that glass is most often cheaper per product weight. British Glass points out that in the UK, buying the same weight mustard, honey or ketchup can cost up to 40% more in plastic than in glass.

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