Sustainable packaging has hit global ‘tipping point’

Awareness of the environmental toll of plastic pollution is accelerating the drive towards sustainable packaging worldwide, says a report.

According to Innova Market Insights’ ‘Top Ten Packaging Trends for 2019’, plastic packaging reached a “tipping point” in 2018.

The report says it’s the result of such measures as widespread bans on single-use plastics, China’s ‘National Sword’ policy (a crackdown on the illegal smuggling of foreign waste into the country) and a growing media focus on the damage plastic pollution inflicts on wildlife and seafood supplies.

Governing bodies and businesses are striving to realise a sustainable “circular economy” without waste and pollution, the report says. But, to succeed, there must be “an alliance between food manufacturers, packaging suppliers and waste-management agencies” in 2019.

Ethical packaging claims on the rise

Encouragingly, there are signs that just such an alliance is taking shape. Innova Market Insights reports strong average yearly growth in food and beverage launches with an ethical-packaging claim, by region (2014-2018). The leading regions are:

  1. Latin America (33 per cent)
  2. North America (19 per cent)
  3. Europe (10 per cent).

Paper-based and hybrid plastic alternatives are on the rise, too. In fact, Innova reports 40 per cent growth in new food launches with paper-based packaging (2018 verses 2014).

Convenience is king

However, convenience remains the key factor for packaging designers and consumers alike. According to Innova, the number of food and beverage launches with a recloseable or resealable closure has risen exponentially. The average yearly growth in the past three years (2016-2018) is 92 per cent, the report says.

But while the overall picture is positive, there’s still work to do. For instance, the report also discusses rising concerns over low recycling rates, particularly for plastics. This is one of the reasons ‘Recyclable by Design’ tops its list of packaging trends for the year ahead.

Innova Market Insights top five trends packaging trends

  1. Recyclable by Design

Clearer labelling. Standardised packaging. More recycled content. All help in encouraging higher levels of recycling.

  1. E-Commerce Ready

Packages that provide product protection and tamper evidence along the supply chain. Reducing the environmental impact of shipping materials in the e-commerce supply chain will be vital.

  1. Nature’s Appeal

A renewed interest in paper and paperboard packaging. Paper is not only naturally renewable, recyclable and compostable, but can also add product value in an increasingly eco-conscious society.

  1. More Convenient Convenience

Innovations in this area focus on ease of use and on-the-go consumption.

  1. Pack to the Future

In the interests of supply-chain transparency, IoT technologies such as QR codes and blockchain have come to the forefront.

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