Three trends shake up packaging sustainability
Sustainable Packaging Coalition conducted their yearly survey on packaging and sustainability. For 2015, the highly regarded research focused on the top three areas where packaging will see the biggest impact.
1. Circular Economy vs. Eco-Efficiency
2. Bio based materials
The struggle with sustainable strategies:
The circular economy was mentioned in an earlier edition of Packaging Digest, defined by Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a circular economy focuses on industrial economy that is restorative by intention by eliminating the use of toxic chemicals and relying on renewable energy. This is done through careful designed. The industry has focused on eco-efficiency philosophy that lessens the environmental footprint, but not necessarily in the long term. Those who are members of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition were familiar with Circular Economy while those who are not members were less likely. However, there was a large gap of in both groups who were not familiar with the new philosophy. In addition, those surveyed were not familiar with their company’s sustainable practices or which philosophy their company subscribes.
The Run on Bio-Based Packaging Material:
There has been much discussion on bio-based materials but is there current use and is bio-based material projected to grow within the packaging community? There has been activity and interested in the bio-based material market but in a recent survey, less than 31%of respondents are currently using bio-based materials. However, looking down the road 43% said they plan to use them. That would be an expected increase of about 27%. Those surveyed were asked why they use bio-based material. Some stated that the materials help minimize environmental impact. The materials added an active component to their marketing message. Lastly, consumer’s expect them.
Escalating e-commerce sales need better packaging:
Online and mobile sales are on the rise, which begs the questions, should e-commerce have better packaging options. It’s no surprise that products sold through e- m- commerce are over packaged. Packaging Digest conducted a survey about how their products are sold. Currently, 31% are sold via e-commerce but looking towards the future, that number is expected to rise to 44% are going to be sold through this channel. Will that put momentum to move packaging options forward? Should this type of market have packaging designed specifically for them? Out of 600 surveys, 62% said yes, there should be specific packaging designed for e-commerce. While 24% are on the fence, and 14% were a flat out ‘No.’ Are the product sold via e-commerce over packaged? Those working the industry responded that they did not think so while 47% stated that it was wasteful (the other 53% thought it was beneficial in securing the product).
Source: Packaging Digest, November/December 2014.