Alternative containers and sustainability: the perception of Italian consumers

A research project conducted at the Department of Industrial Engineering of the University of Salerno involved a sample of one thousand Italian consumers regarding the propensity to purchase wine in containers other than glass bottles. The results of the research were published in the October 2020 issue of the Journal of Cleaner Production in the article: Carmen Ferrara, Veronica Zigarelli, Giovanni De Feo, Attitudes of a sample of consumers towards more sustainable wine packaging alternatives, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 271, 2020 (here below is the abstract).

The survey suggests that there is still a marked scepticism among Italian consumers towards wine packaged in alternative containers. 91% of respondents to the survey proposed by the Salerno researchers seem to be unwilling to buy wine in containers other than in glass bottles, mainly due to the fact that they consider alternative containers unsuitable for packaging wine. Once informed of the fact that, for most wines, packaging in alternative containers does not alter the quality of the product and again that these packaging methods are particularly sustainable, 62% of respondents subsequently stated that they are willing to re-evaluate the purchase of wine in containers other than glass. The research also points out that the latter percentage of consumers willing to change is composed in particular of consumers who said that they drink less than a glass of wine a day, and therefore of a portion of consumers who, according to the Salerno researchers, would be less influenced by characteristics of the wine such as the producer, the country of origin and the information on the label, and also by characteristics of the glass bottle, such as weight, shape and colour. This preliminary study has therefore identified and characterised a “less traditional” portion of wine consumers and consequently more open to change.

The research follows in the wake of other studies conducted by Giovanni De Feo and Carmen Ferrara who, applying the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology to the wine packaging sector, investigate the sustainability of alternative packaging for wine such as aseptic cartons (briks), bag-in-boxes, reusable glass bottles and multi-layer PET bottles.