The Packaging Demand
The production of packaging is a huge global industry, generating over $900 billion in annual revenue worldwide.¹ Despite the economic hardships many of us have faced due to Covid-19, the packaging industry has boomed during the pandemic. In 2020, Amazon reported over $570 billion in increased market capitalisation. This shocking growth highlights how many of us are turning to online retail, benefiting the packaging industry greatly.
The Growth of Packaging
An article written by Kimber Divincenzo, stated that, “During the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, the packaging industry was considered to be an ‘essential’ industry, meaning that it wasn’t affected by lockdown and stay-at-home orders. By mid-2020, when hundreds of thousands of businesses were laying off employees or having them work reduced hours from home, the packaging industry continued to operate at between 83 percent and 95 percent capacity.”² Further predictions for this year look just as positive as the demand for packaging is ever-present due to our online buying habits.
However, while the packaging industry has been in constant demand, UK lockdowns have led to supply issues and material shortages. Packaging sales director, David Mason, said that, “The rules of supply and demand of course mean that with less material available and demand increasing, costs will also go up.”³
So, what does the rising cost and demand for packaging mean for sustainability? Mason continues, “it will likely force businesses to analyse their packaging and look for ways to improve it. Bulky, inefficient packaging will make way for streamlined designs that minimise material usage (and therefore cost). This has the potential for environmental benefits too.”
As businesses take on the challenge of creating new, efficient packaging in 2021 to lower production costs, zero-waste initiatives could see an encouraging rise, helping to drive down litter, pollution, and single-use plastics.
This is also good news for the consumer as a recent survey, conducted by Trivium Packaging, found that 74% of people said they would pay a higher amount for products that were contained within an environmentally safe and sustainable packaging. It also reported that nearly half of consumers shy away from harmful packaging.
With both packaging materials (such as plastic) increasing in price, and customers becoming more conscious of their packaging waste, many companies are now starting to use biodegradable, compostable or recycled materials in their packaging designs. This can be seen in companies like McDonalds (who have committed to use renewable and recyclable materials in all of its packaging by 2025), Calvin Klein (who have a zero-waste goal to achieve by 2030), and ASOS (who, in efforts to package more sustainably, have already prevented 583 tonnes of plastic from being wasted each year).
From our increased online buying habits and our push for businesses to make a positive environmental change, the production of packaging should see a sustainable shift worldwide in the years to come.
Paper-Based Packaging – The Sustainable Choice
As sustainability is high on the list for many companies, brands and retailers, they are now turning to paper/cardboard packaging for their products.
Paper-based packaging is inherently sustainable as European forests, from where the region’s paper mills source over 90% of their wood fibre, have been growing by an area equivalent to 1,500 football pitches every day. Along with the European paper and paper packaging recycling rate of 84%, paper-based packaging has all the right circular credentials for companies wanting to increase their sustainability.