Global Packaging Industry Analysis: Plastic-free and Greener Packaging to Trend Upward

 Published Date: 2019-06-11   |   Views: 45   |  Packaging  

The global packaging industry has shown extensive growth in recent years, mainly due to the expansion of the e-commerce packaging sector. Industry analysts predict developments in manufacturing equipment, technological advancement, environmental concerns, and changing consumer preferences to strongly impact the global packaging industry. Growing millennial consumer base is anticipated to drive the demand for convenient, functional, aesthetic, premium, and luxury packaging. Vendors are foretold to increase the use of compostable materials, renewable raw materials, and bio-based materials to continue with their greener packaging initiative.

The rising trend of flexible packaging could be sustained by increasing number of packaging companies focusing on sustainability, practicality, convenience, and cost-effectiveness. Microwavable pouches, hang hole bags, peel-off lids, tear notches, and zipper reclosing systems are some of the popular flexible packaging products in use today. Cosmetics and pharmaceuticals are foreseen to create substantial demand for flexible packaging in the near future. However, flexible packaging could be dominant in the global food and beverage industry in terms of consumption.

Top 5 Future Trends of Global Packaging Industry

     Retro Packaging: According to packaging industry experts, the trend of vintage packaging will rise in the coming years. Packaging that tells a story, reflects culture and tradition, and revives good memories of the past will help to appeal to consumers, even in modern times

   Green Packaging: The future is expected to see more number of packaging companies using environment-friendly and sustainable packaging. Besides their green commitment, packaging companies could continue to focus on smaller packaging that help with a smaller carbon footprint

    Recycled Packaging: Packaging companies are predicted to use a 3-R model that concentrates on three key factors, viz. recycling, reusing, and reducing. Recycled packaging could be one of the means of participating in the global sustainability movement

   Private Labeling: Along with individual store brands, private labels are expected to help with local customer loyalty and in-house brand awareness. Recognizably unique labels are foreseen to increase the popularity of brands among consumers

    Digital Printing: This trend could be particularly observed in the e-commerce sector where products need to meet consumer expectations, be protected, and be professionally presented. Packaging companies can use digital printing for more customized and personalized packaging

According to the 2019 Flexible Packaging Assessment Report of PMMI – The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, companies using flexible packaging machinery want their equipment providers to continue to improve four key characteristics of their machinery, viz. automation, sustainability, speed of operation, and flexibility.

The report also shows three important factors expected to encourage investment in new equipment purchases in the global flexible packaging machinery market. 60% of the respondents said flexibility would motivate them to purchase new flexible packaging equipment, whereas ~20% and another ~20% said the factors of smaller footprint and easier to use/reduced waste would encourage them to make the purchases.

Increased Consumption of Frozen Meat to Drive Packaging Materials Market

The global packaging industry comprises important sectors such as labels and tags, packaging technology and processes, packaging equipment, food packaging, plastic packaging, and packaging materials. Demand for food packaging is anticipated to increase due to the need for safe and high-barrier packaging with stable and extended shelf-life for various types of food products. The growth of the global packaging equipment market could be attributed to vital applications in key end-use industries including cosmetics, healthcare, and food and beverage. Packaging machinery is used for product inspection and weighing, wrapping, heat sealing, bottling, container filling and cleaning, and other packaging operations.

High consumption of ready-to-eat meals, canned sea foods, and frozen meat products is foreseen to augment the demand in the global packaging materials market. Growing penetration of pouches in medical applications and rigid packaging canisters and containers in industrial applications is foretold to push the growth of the global plastic packaging market.

Vendors to Focus on Renewable Energy as a Priority

Australian packaging company, Amcor is a global leader that serves home and personal care, medical devices, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, and other industries. In April 2019, it launched a new high-barrier and recyclable flexible packaging product named AmLite Ultra Recyclable. According to its press release, the packaging can reduce a pack’s carbon footprint by approximately 64%. America’s Ball Corporation is said to be the largest manufacturer of recyclable metal food and beverage containers in the world. In April 2019, it announced that the company has entered into a couple of virtual power purchase agreements for 100% renewable energy in North America by 2021.

US metal can manufacturing company, Crown Holdings also signed a virtual power purchase agreement to use wind power in all of its US and Canadian beverage can manufacturing facilities, starting from 2020. The move is considered to be the company’s first step toward a long-term renewable energy initiative. Mondi, an Austria-based global leader in packaging and paper, announced a €30 million investment in its German innovative corrugated packaging plant in the Ansbach city. International Paper, a US-based leading producer of fiber-based packaging and pulp and paper products, is another prominent player of the global packaging industry.

Expansion of Robotics in Global Packaging Industry

Autonomous robots could be the future of the global packaging industry with AI-powered robots capable of being operated from a unified, single controls system, adapting to dynamic environments, and learning new tasks. Even SMEs are forecast to adopt smaller, intelligent, and flexible robots for human assistance and improvement of manufacturing processes. Expansion of robotics in the global packaging industry could increase with growing enhancements in robotic components, data analytics, and sensor technology.

As per the 2019 Robotics Innovation 2 Implementation Report of PMMI – The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, the use of robotics has continued to increase along the entire packaging manufacturing line in recent years. Secondary packaging and processing operations have exhibited the highest growth in the use of robotics. According to the report, 73% of transport packaging companies interviewed use robotics today, followed by 70% of secondary packaging companies and 53% of primary packaging companies. On the other hand, 27% of processing companies use robotics today.

Is Plastic-free Packaging Really Plastic-free?

The global packaging industry is currently struggling to clearly define plastic-free packaging. Some packaging companies are observed to include plant-based plastics in their plastic-free portfolio. Consumers are expected to demand more clarity regarding plastic-free packaging from packaging companies. They would want packaging companies to explain if their products are really plastic-free and what benefits does their plastic-free packaging offer. Packaging companies may also enter into emerging plastic-free category by using plastic materials that are acceptable according to today’s standards.

Environmental pollution, especially marine plastic pollution, has been a very serious global concern since years. Consumers, governments, and regulators have been demanding plastic alternatives for not just packaging but also other products. With that said, some people have been lethargic with the minimal or zero use of plastic and still ignorant about the negative effects of high plastic usage. Plastic-free packaging has influenced key trends such as alternative pack materials, package-free stores, and plastic-free aisles. Packaging companies are prophesied to offer applicable end-of-life pack solutions to address plastic pollution concerns.

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