The global market for sustainable packaging is projected to reach $142.42 billion by 2015, according to a report from Global Industry Analysts (GIA). Growth drivers include increased awareness about environmental hazards related to disposal and recycling of packaging wastes, government initiatives to minimize greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and stringent regulations.
Unlike other segments of the packaging industry, sustainable packaging showed impressive growth from 2008 to 2009, and has been immune to the economic downturn, according to the report. GIA says sustainability has helped companies cut costs and reduce packaging waste by using recycled and reusable materials.
Similarly, a recent report from Pike Research indicates that the sustainable packaging market is growing much faster than the overall packaging industry, and is expected to double in size from $88 million in 2009 to $170 billion in 2014.
The GIA report, “Sustainable (Green) Packaging: A Global Strategic Business Report,” finds that Europe and the U.S. represent the largest regions for sustainable packaging, together accounting for more than 70 percent of the global market.
However, Asia-Pacific is poised to grow the fastest in terms of green packaging, increasing at an annual compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 10 percent from 2007 to 2015. Market growth drivers for the region include increased awareness about environmental concerns, government initiatives, growing economies, and huge population.
Another key finding shows that as sustainable packaging becomes a mainstream global trend, several companies are adopting green packaging as a marketing tool. Manufacturers also are under pressure to use environment-friendly materials, and adopt methods that require low-energy consumption and reduce adverse environmental impact of packaging, says GIA.
In terms of market segmentation, the recycled material accounts for the largest packaging category, contributing nearly 90 percent to the total demand in the United States.
However, biodegradables represent the fastest growing segment in the packaging industry, according to the report. Biodegradable materials are easily decomposed by microorganisms, and reduce packaging waste, while the materials preserve food products and sustain freshness, says GIA.
Among biodegradables, bioplastics are garnering increased demand in the green packaging market.
The study finds that markets using sustainable packaging include cosmetics and personal care, food and beverage, food service and shipping markets, and healthcare. As an example, the study cites more than 600 new beauty products with a green label were introduced in Europe alone during the past two years, driven by consumer preference for eco-friendly plastic packaging materials.
Several food companies also have announced plans to switch to compostable biopolymer packaging, says GIA.
According to EL Insights, 27 percent of products at major U.S. retailers are estimated to have sustainable packaging in 2010, and by 2015, this figure is projected to reach 37 percent.
Laggard markets for sustainable packaging materials include the medical sector. GIA says regulatory concerns, poor recycling infrastructure, and limited consumer demand are a few factors that are limiting the switch to sustainable packaging in the medical device and pharmaceutical industries.
Key players in the global sustainable packaging market include Associated Packaging Technologies, Amcor, Ball Corp., Bemis Company, Biopack Environmental Solutions, Constar International Inc., Crown Holdings, Earthcycle Packaging, EnviroPAK, E. I. Du Pont de Nemours, Georgia-Pacific, Graphic Packaging Holding, Huhtamäki Oyj, Innovia Films, MeadWestvaco, NatureWorks, Owens-Illinois, Pactiv, Plantic Technologies, Plastipak Packaging, Printpack, Rexam, Saint-Gobain, Sealed Air, Silgan Holdings.
In other packaging news, five sustainable packaging distributors have launched a green packaging supplier directory for the B2B market. The directory, available at the newly launched Green Packaging Group Website, features a detailed product guide, green packaging blog and in-depth analysis on packaging products and applications.
The online directory was developed by Salazar Packaging, along with Distant Village Packaging, Nashville Wraps, Eco-Bag Products, and Globe Guard Products.
Salazar says through these five packaging companies buyers can find packaging products that are f”ully vetted and authentically sustainable.” Packaging categories include bags, baskets and containers, boxes, filler and cushioning, films and wraps, stationery, mailers and envelopes.
The group welcomes inquiries from sustainable packaging firms that are interested in becoming members and featuring their products on the site.