A recent study revealed that the sustainable packaging market is set to reach $244 billion by the end of 2018. That’s not pocket change! The study also predicts that, in addition to being highly lucrative, the issue of sustainable packaging will continue to become an increasingly important – and challenging – one, destined to outweigh costs and other traditional concerns within the next five years.
Packaging in general, and food packaging in particular – has many different functions. Some of these – such as the need for packaging to protect its contents – are unchangeable. Others, such as packaging design, are fluid, changing all the time in response to consumer trends and preferences. When it comes to sustainability, however, experts agree that suppliers, manufacturers and brand owners are working in increasing partnership with governments to increase the sustainability of their packaging.
However, it is consumers who are, without doubt, the leading drivers behind the push for more sustainable packaging. They are inspiring trends such as the downsizing, or “lightweighting” of packaging, the increased use of recycled and/or renewable materials, and increased post-use recycling and waste recovery. Around the world, there is also a noticeable surge in awareness about such critical issues as food waste, and how high performance packaging can enable a longer shelf life, as well as the need for sustainable end-of-life options for plastic waste.
It is becoming such a hot topic that the leaders at the Sustainable Packaging Coalition are hosting a three-day event in April 2018 for hundreds of packaging and sustainability professionals. Major brands, such as Proctor & Gamble, Intel, Amazon, Nike and Mars, will make thought-provoking presentations on their own sustainability efforts.
Sustainable Packaging – Industry Weighs In
“As a producer of plastic packaging, both rigid and flexible, we’re working on the issue of plastics waste,” says David Clark, VP of Safety, Environment and Sustainability at Amcor. “Our goal is to help people understand that plastic is a great material that’s doing exactly the job it’s supposed to do, which is to efficiently get products through supply chains to where people need them, with minimal loss and waste. In addition, we need to make sure it gets recovered and recycled into something valuable.”
“Many of the sustainability initiatives in the food industry revolve around working to continually design better systems that address the issue of wasted food, and packaging is part of that,” says Gail Tavill, VP of R&D at Conagra Brands. “A good package helps you transport food from the farm to the manufacturer, from the manufacturer to the retailer and from the retailer to the end consumer. It reduces wasted resources on each leg, increasing efficiency in the supply chain. It also helps reduce waste at home. This isn’t an emerging trend; the focus on reducing food waste is a trend that has been building and is becoming a more mainstream goal. If we aren’t thoughtful about the materials we use, we will reduce our access to resources over time.”
It’s all thought provoking and exciting stuff, and it’s why we at Mapflex are so optimistic about the future of the food packaging industry. We embrace the challenges and the changes, and we look forward to moving with you, our food supply partners, into an ever more sustainable packaging world.