Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Time to pack it up: sustainable packaging trends 2020

It’s fast becoming recognised that sustainable packaging equates to sustainable profits.

Becky Mead

By PLAY MR Managing Director Becky Mead.

When Stevie Nicks sang “Well I’ve been ‘fraid of changing” on the Fleetwood Mac song Landslide, she might as well have been referring to those brands still engaged in the widespread plastics market.

Yet with sustainability now permanently a front-of-mind topic and consumer demand growing for better alternatives, it’s time for brands and manufacturers to take notice.

In our sustainable packaging trends report, we explore the global sustainable packaging market, offering our predictions, critical trends to watch and some quick tips for achieving sustainable success. If you’re eager to give the green light to more sustainable packaging, here we give a summary of the trends, or you can read the full report.

The new norm for big brands

Of course, transitioning from a culture of fast consumption to one of mindful consumerism takes time. But with the sustainable packaging market predicted to grow at a CAGR of 5.7% between 2019 and 2024, it pays to pay attention to your packaging. Besides, with new innovative players, advances in technology and growing consumer demand, there are huge growth and investment opportunities in the sustainable packaging market. And many big brands are already stepping up.

Diageo has pledged to increase its products’ recycled content to 45% by 2020. Nestlé has promised to make 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. Coca-Cola is working to recycle bottles and cans equivalent to 75% of what has been introduced into developed markets. Exciting stuff!

Key trends

The popularity and growth of sustainable packaging is being driven by key trends including:

Edible zero-waste packaging. As futuristic as it sounds, creating ecofriendly packaging opens up the possibility of making packaging edible too, and this means zero waste. Food wrappers for sandwiches, snacks and ice-cream bars are now being made from natural, consumable materials such as potato, rice paper, wax-coated sugar and seaweed. Soy-based inks can be found on labels, too. Take a cue from LOLIWARE which produces edible cups made from colourful seaweed to support the plastic-free oceans movement by reducing demand for single-use cups.

Minimalist packaging. Shoppers and retailers are beginning to wake up to excessive packaging in the e-commerce industry, which is leading to more environmentally conscious production from manufacturers and distributors. This shift in mentality is contributing to a growing movement towards minimalism, both in the packaging world and more generally. Consumers are looking for simple, no-fuss or frills packaging and that goes for everything from the label to the physical container. “By cutting back on over-boxing, or items being sent in multiple boxes, Amazon has eliminated more than 500 million boxes and 244,000 tons of packaging materials.” Forbes

Recyclable and reusable packaging. It seems obvious, but consumers have been demanding recyclable packaging options for years now. Until recently, it has been difficult for manufacturers to deliver the technology and necessary quality, particularly for safety-conscious food brands. However, the world is catching up. Today, innovations in printing inks and adhesives are helping manufacturers make their production processes and packaging more eco-friendly. Take a cue from Target which redesigned some of its delivery box sizes with fun and quirky designs that encourage shoppers to reuse the boxes by turning them into dog houses, race cars or other playful items.

How to deliver the perfect package to your consumers

The world is slowly coming to the realisation that despite short-term increases in costs, a commitment to greener packaging can be a way to build more sustainable profits. So, we’ve put together a guideline of critical opportunities for Australian brands and manufacturers to explore to help you stay ahead of the game.

To discover these hot tips, and to read our sustainable packaging report in full, visit PLAY MR.


About Becky Mead

Becky Mead is PLAY MR’s Managing Director and a living example of its values: a can-do attitude, thoughtful, and committed to PLAY MR’s (and its clients’) continuous improvement. With 15 years of research experience, Becky has helped local and global brands grow while uncovering answers to their most pressing questions. Contact Becky and the team at for a (virtual!) tour of PLAY MR’s state-of-the-art facilities, chat all things research, or just to say g’day.

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