In the just completed wave of shopper research on environmentally friendly packaging conducted by Perception Research Services (PRS), fewer shoppers agreed that consumers should be responsible for recycling packaging than in 2009 (38% vs. 42%), with Midwest shoppers showing the least inclination (only 30%).

And while more shoppers expect environmentally friendly packaging to cost more (36% vs. 15% in 2008), fewer report a willingness to pay for it (51% vs. 57% in 2008). A majority (59%) say that environmentally friendly packaging should be at no additional cost to the consumer.

Ironically, while few indicate they would like to choose more environmentally friendly packaging (28%), nearly half (48%) think manufacturers should produce more of it; and fully one-third (35%) think government should mandate stricter environmental standards for packaging.

Half of the shoppers polled have noticed companies making claims about environmentally friendly packaging. And of those, half have noticed more of these claims in the past six months. Very few attribute these actions to such self-serving interests as selling more product or increasing profits, while few think companies overstate the environmental benefits of their packaging.

“It’s becoming clear that while consumers may voice concern for the environment, most appear unwilling–at the moment – to make any major sacrifices to make a difference,” says Jonathan Asher, senior VP of PRS. “They’d rather rely on manufacturers to provide products and packaging that they can feel good about, without changing their behavior, giving up performance, or paying more.”

The three waves of this research were conducted in 2008, 2009, and 2010, across the U.S., among more than 1,000 primary household grocery shoppers aged 18-64 per wave.