Nearly half of all marketing companies (42%), retailers (40%) and design/new product development agencies (47%) interviewed for a recent survey are ill-informed about environmental matters surrounding aerosols.

However, the aerosol wins hands down in the “convenience” and “effectiveness” stakes with 79% of marketers and manufacturers spontaneously mentioning these particular benefits over competitive forms of dispensing packaging.

These were two of the key findings by the British Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association (BAMA) which commissioned an external agency, Adsearch, to question marketing professionals who influence the choice of packaging for consumer goods. The aim of the survey was to establish their current perceptions of aerosols, what the aerosol industry is doing right, what it is doing wrong and how it can improve.

When the respondents were asked how they rated the future of aerosols in the packaging of goods in general, marketers, manufacturers and retailers were quite optimistic with over half of the respondents giving an above average score. Flexibility, convenience and new product development are the key reasons for the optimism within the sector.

Specifiers are looking for new shapes, materials and actuators and more up-to-date information all round about aerosol NPD.

However, 40% of all respondents spontaneously mention associations with CFCs and damage to the ozone layer when considering aerosols as a packaging format.

Furthermore, 51% rated “not recyclable” as a perceived potential disadvantage.

In fact, BAMA says both of these perceived disadvantages are myths. The aerosol industry voluntarily removed CFCs – apart from in some asthma inhalers and these are in the process of being reformulated – from aerosol production 14 years ago and over half of 400 local authorities across the UK now accept empty aerosols for recycling.

In addition, around a quarter of local authorities said that they would like to recycle aerosol cans and were considering the possibilities.

The survey discovered that the good news for the aerosol industry is that it is perceived as having several benefits over other forms of packaging: pumps and triggers, roll-ons and sticks, bottles and jars and wipes. The respondents cited ‘ease of use’ (91%), ‘efficient performance’ (85%), ‘stops product getting on fingers’ (64%) and ease of specification (56%) as the key strengths.

“The benefit of aerosols (relative to other formats) is in the range of products they can contain, and their versatility in terms of product range. You can dispense things from aerosols that cannot be used otherwise,” said one designer.

Sue Rogers, director of BAMA commented: “The results of the research have been educational, not least of all because it highlights where we should next target our communications. The fact that aerosols are so well regarded for their delivery, convenience and efficiency is very good news – we must now concentrate on dispelling some of the myths which could be stopping aerosols being specified.”