Every trend in the packaging industry remains under the heavy influence of the circular economy. In the European Union, packaging trends change due to political pressure and consumer perception. The matter of fact is that even China is closing its doors to packaging wastes. Many environmental groups are teaming up to discourage the production of plastic packaging materials to help control ocean pollution.
With the balance of the packaging industry tilting towards sustainability, it became inevitable for companies to focus on distancing away from any packaging practices proven to harm the environment.
That said, we will now discuss top sustainable packaging trends.
Designing for recycling
More recycling is a significant development. Before you can use recyclable packaging, you have to make sure that you do not end up harming your economy while saving the environment. To make packaging recycling a truly beneficial process for your business, you have to fulfill a list of requirements, including cleanliness, separability, labeling, and coloration. Manufacturing and use of these materials require the consumption of more materials and energy. However, it still gets half of the job done since the remaining recycling procedure involves the use of machinery. Designing for recycling is undoubtedly a future-proof initiative.
Designing for reuse
If you focus on the current consumer mindset, you will know that reuse may prove more difficult to envision compared to recycling. A significant part of this strategy required manufacturing companies to move away from the current way of handling packages. They may also need to use more robust packaging materials that can withstand sterilization or washing. There is also the need to establish a well-designed infrastructure to collect, clean, refill, and return packaging to customers.
A prominent example is the Loop Initiative that remains one of the ideal packaging models for cosmetics and personal care brands. Food and retail industries are also using this model to use and reuse packaging materials.
Replacing plastics with bioplastics
The trend of the use of bioplastics in place of fossil-based plastics is on the rise. While people usually equate bioplastics with biodegradable and compostable packaging materials, they may not be either of those. Bioplastic is an interesting alternative to plastic due to its smaller carbon footprints, but using it will increase acidification, water footprint, and other environmental impacts. It is worth remembering that using bioplastic can alleviate the problem but not solve it. Whales and other marine life will still be at the risk of choking after ingesting bioplastic.
The supply issue is also a significant problem when it comes to replacing fossil-based plastics with bioplastics. To replace plastics completely with bioplastics, you have to increase the agricultural production of sugarcane and other feedstock. With agricultural production already hitting the limits with the available lands, deforestation remains the only option to enhance this production. That would impact the environment even more severely.
Replacing plastics with paper
Although paper seems a more viable alternative to plastic in the packaging industry, available data suggest that shifting to paper packaging will require the use of more paper mass to secure every package. That may result in the paper having an even more significant impact on the environment compared to plastics. It will also result in deforestation, which means the earth's atmosphere may become more hostile.
The best way to keep your packaging sustainable is to plan and strategize based on available data from the packaging industry. You will have to know the impact of every material on the environment. You can also discuss these details with your packaging vendor to get the best suggestion.