We’re seeing a dramatic shift in the disposable paper product category. In our Eco Pulse™ 2013 survey, 30 percent of respondents said they avoid buying disposable products like plates, cups and paper towels.
The industry has reacted to the threat of declining usage with a limited number of green product rollouts. Of the 76 new paper products (plates, cups, napkins, towels) released over the past two years, only 25 percent have a green claim (biodegradable, environmentally friendly, recycled, reusable).
In fact, the industry isn’t acting quickly enough. While convenience is a strong driver in this product category, purchase avoidance is an increasing and lasting trend.
Most Americans currently think cutting down trees is bad. They need more information about sustainable forestry and more sustainable features to make them feel better about buying disposable paper products – and fast.
It’s true that only a small percentage of buyers are willing to pay a price premium for green products in this category.
But unless the industry starts offering more products with green features to help assuage consumer guilt and a compelling story about responsible harvest practices to re-frame timber as a sustainable crop, consumers will leave this category for good.
Once they change their behaviors, it will most likely be impossible to get them back.