Smithers Pira has released a report listing the trends that will influence flexible packaging over the next ten years. The report ‘Ten Year Forecast of Disruptive Technologies in Flexible Packaging to 2023’ explores technological, economic, consumer, sociological, environmental and regulatory changes. The report also lists the top 25 developments. The focus of the report is food and beverage packaging, but pharmaceutical and household chemical applications are also included
According to Chandra Leister, Marketing and Production Manager at Smithers Pira, the top five disruptive technologies in flexible packaging are forecast to be intelligent packaging, recyclability, packaging openability, biobased polymers and digital printing. The report claims there will be continuous development of new flexible packaging products for new markets and applications encroaching on traditional rigid packaging. High growth is expected in Europe and North America, as well as in the emerging markets of Asia and Central and South America.
The report states that smart packaging will be the key disruptive factor affecting the flexible packaging industry due to high cost, consumer resistance to items such as sachets in packaging and concerns about excessive packaging. Though, intelligent packaging is expected to decrease cost, increase emphasis on food safety, anti-counterfeiting, new regulations and brand owner/consumer demand. This will lead to radically new views on the function of packaging to include monitoring, tracking, warning, remediation, authentication, communication and brand protection.
The report states the second most disruptive technology is recyclability. Because of the small amount of material used in a flexible package, it produces much less waste than other formats. However, it is not currently feasible to mechanically recycle postconsumer flexible packaging because of its thin film structure, multi-layered composition and often contamination by food waste. This situation could create problems with the sustainability and recyclability goals of many major corporations or with the reduced or zero landfill policies of many governments. More easily recyclable materials and barrier structures, including monolayers, are expected to be introduced over the next 10 years, but this will not resolve the problem unless improved collection, sorting and recycling infrastructure is implemented.
Source: Smithers Pira