Would you like sustainability with that?

The future of reusable packaging in quick service restaurants

In the UK and US, over 13 million tons of plastic packaging inundate the consumer market each year. Evolving regulations are propelling a shift towards reuse and refill systems. Over 80 percent of consumers believe in our shared responsibility to reduce single-use plastics.

In response, the quick serve restaurant (QSR) sector is pursuing new inventive approaches to accelerate sustainability – with reuse and refill initiatives now at a crucial tipping point.

To understand what motivates consumers to adopt and champion reuse and refill, we delved into the psyche of 4,000 consumers across the UK and US who shop from 28 leading quick service brands. Our survey explored consumer intent, challenges, motivations, and needs around refill and reuse packaging. And we have turned this insight into possible future concepts to inspire, provoke, and stimulate innovation.

acknowledge the collective responsibility in reducing single-use plastics (82% UK/77% US)
believe reusable packaging is the future (64% UK/56% US)

Starting the reuse revolution

Reuse and refill packaging is approaching a tipping point, but what will shift the balance to consumer adoption?

1. Close the say-do gap

Even though 60 percent of consumers recognise reusable packaging as the future, return rates for existing programmes are low. Brands need to address barriers identified in our survey to fill the gap.

2. One size doesn’t fit all

We must consider how generational and income differences play a role in adoption of reuse solutions. A range of reward types and loyalty options can enable brands to cater to different generational motivations.

3. Make it a must-have

More than half of consumers surveyed express their willingness to try reusable packaging as it gains mainstream popularity. If reusable packaging is perceived as desirable and valuable, it will drive consumer uptake.

4. Challenge the status quo

Education is essential for consumer buy-in and adoption. It wasn’t long ago the idea of bringing your own reusable bag seemed far-fetched. A combination of education and behaviour nudges are needed to help reuse habits stick.

How we can help

We partner with some of the world’s leading brands to tackle their most complex sustainability challenges, bringing multidisciplinary expertise across human insights, design, engineering, science, and manufacturing.

Talk to us about:

  • Circular systems design
  • Sustainable packaging strategies
  • Experience and behavioural design strategies
  • Brand, product, and service innovation and invention
  • Packaging design and development using alternative materials

Explore more

Contact the team

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