Sustainability will replace cost as one of the packaging industry’s major challenges within 10 years, according to a study conducted by Packaging World and DuPont.
In the 2012 Survey of Future Packaging Trends, 59 percent of respondents said cost is the top factor driving the industry today. The study, which surveyed 500 industry professionals, indicated cost would fall 28 percent in terms of importance, below factors like sustainability at 51 percent and food safety and security at 37 percent, in the next 10 years in both Europe and North America.
Respondents also said food safety concerns due to climate change and agricultural issues would impact the packaging industry 10 years from now.
Consumers will put a greater value on recyclability and the perceived “greenness” of packaging in 10 years, the survey found. The public will also increasingly demand proof of sustainability claims, such as lifecycle analysis data.
Some 82 percent of respondents said regulations will have a greater influence on packaging design in 10 years; and 65 percent agreed that plastics will continue to replaced glass and metals. Some 65 percent of respondents also said flexible packaging will continue to replace rigid structures.
For industry professionals evaluating sustainable packaging now, 75 percent indicated cost matters most, but falls to the third most important criterion (41 percent) overall in 10 years. In 10 years, lifecycle analysis (52 percent) and recyclability of the package (46 percent) will be the two most important criteria overall when evaluating sustainable packaging, respondents said.
In related news, Deloitte released a paper “Thinking Outside the Box: Throw Away Your Current Approach to Packaging,” which explores how companies can improve product stewardship, achieve waste-reduction goals, and save money through packaging. The report examines challenges of achieving improvements in packaging and discusses some examples of innovative new packaging value chains.
The report also suggests in order to effectively implement sustainable packaging changes, companies should consider following certain practices, starting with life cycle assessment of the environmental impact of the current packaging. They should follow this by adjusting ongoing supply chain planning, and should balance multiple design criteria to ensure that sustainable packaging meets transportation, retailer and customer needs.