PP+S Blog
18 Apr 2017

Sustainable Packaging Trends That Were Tracked in 2016

More and more companies are implementing sustainable packaging into their businesses. Here are some of the trends that were being watched in 2016 and may still be watched this year:

  1. Shrinking Carbon Footprints
    • A number of influential companies doubled down on their commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions
    • Reductions in carbon footprints tended to be accompanied by reduction in other environmental indicators, leading to the focussed efforts by the packaging industry to reduce carbon footprints

  2. 100% Bio-based Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
    • Realisation of 100% bio-based PlantBottle hinges on successful developments of a route towards bio-based terepthalic acid (bio-TPA) or its equivalent
    • World’s first 100% bio-based PlantBottle announced in June 2015 by Coca-Cola and Virent at a demonstration scale

  3. Downstream Supply Chain Players Measuring Upstream Suppliers
    • Procurement guidelines becoming more sophisticated due to added sustainability metrics
    • Companies are requesting more audits, measurements and a broader understanding of supply chain performance
    • Although most of the activity has been done just for the sake of doing it, it will not be long before meaningful business decisions are made based on environmental preferability of upstream operations

  4. Novel Bioplastics
    • Technology developers expected to improve the mechanical, thermal, and barrier properties of bioplastics in 2016
    • In the past, problems concerning the mentioned properties were the bane of bioplastics and served as roadblocks in adopting products that require heat-based sterilization or pre-serving heat
    • With continued innovation, some companies have been able to launch bio-based packaging that meet these requirements
    • Tokyo-based manufacturer, Toray, introduced new lidding films (LumiLid) that include greater than 50% renewable feedstocks content and can withstand temperatures of up to 200oC
    • More of such higher performance sustainable packaging material was expected to be introduced in 2016

  5. Waste Reduction
    • 2015 catchphrase was ‘zero waste’ sustainable packaging
    • Waste reduction will continue to be a sustainable packaging in 2016 and beyond
    • Companies will always want recyclable packaging as it is good for the business
    • Consumers understand recyclable packaging
    • Recyclable packaging keeps the industry in the good graces of regulatory agencies.
    • However, not a lot of corporate sustainability goals are focussed on increasing recycling compared to decreasing carbon footprints
    • Industry conversation may pivot from recyclability to a different mechanism of waste reduction
    • But since waste reduction often leads to cost reduction, recyclability will not fade from the spotlight anytime soon

  6. Edible Packaging
    • An effort to reduce plastic and paper waste.
    • Implementation of edible packaging was faced with many challenges even though it was interesting and headline-worthy
    • Logistical challenges, i.e. risk of packaging material being broken up
    • Marketing challenges, i.e. consumers view edible packaging as unhygienic
    • Although mass commercialisation of edible packaging is still distant, such a novel concept was believed to continue attracting media attention in 2016

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