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The packaging industry is worth approximately $900 billion per year, and it’s fair to say that, as with so much of life, it has been transformed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
By: Adi Gaskell, Contributor
The packaging industry is worth approximately $900 billion per year, and it’s fair to say that, as with so much of life, it has been transformed by the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s difficult to say at this stage quite how life will look when we emerge from the pandemic, but a number of major trends have been affected, or exacerbated at least, which are likely to have a profound impact on the packaging industry over the next few years.
These trends are likely to force the industry to move beyond purely thinking about cost, performance, and convenience, and to ensure that packaging is hygienic, sustainable, and supportive of e-commerce deliveries. These megatrends have, like so much in life in 2020, been exacerbated by the pandemic, and can largely be encapsulated by:
Packaging already plays a number of key roles, including underpinning the buying decision with the look and feel of the packaging; ensuring that the product is easy and cost effective to deliver; and providing consumers with much sought after convenience. With the aforementioned trends in mind, packaging design will undoubtedly need to have a strong sustainability narrative built into its core. This is likely to include the elimination of any unnecessary packaging, whilst also working to ensure that as much recycled content is used as possible. We’re also more likely to see companies take into account the circular economy and take ownership of their packaging from cradle to grave.
The hygiene and safety demands of consumers have been driven by ongoing concerns among customers that they may be able to catch Covid-19 from packaging, and especially from food packaging. Indeed, so pronounced was this fear that a large percentage of household disinfectant purchases were made to clear products they had recently bought. During the pandemic, this has precipitated a rise in single-use packaging, but given the ongoing sustainability concerns, this is unlikely to endure, so the packaging industry needs to find ways to be hygienic and sustainable. There have already been numerous studies into the kind of surfaces most conducive to harboring the virus, while the demand for disposable packaging will require a rethink around how such a model can be made sustainable.
Last, but not least, the rise in e-commerce will require a rethink in the packaging used for products, especially if they have historically been made for bricks and mortar channels. Packaging specifically designed for e-commerce has a number of advantages, including its durability, ease of packing throughout the logistics process, and the improvement it brings to the customer experience.
As with so many of the trends we’re seeing over the past few months, these are not so much new trends, as trends that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, such that they are now taking on even greater importance.
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