Sustainable packaging

Packaging trends that mark a more sustainable future

Consumers are increasingly critical about the packaging of the products and are taking every time more into account their presentation when making purchasing decisions. In the list of issues that have become basic, the Top 1 is the packaging is sustainable and, therefore, respectful with the environment or that the materials used are environmentally friendly. In fact, a study by Packaging Digest pointed out that those responsible for brands are increasingly aware of the importance of using recycled materials or changing the materials they use (such as plastic) with others that are less polluting.

The way in which the impact of new costumer concerns affects packaging and the presentation of products can be seen clearly when analyzing packaging trends for this year. Among the forecasts of the Mintel analysis, there are many mentions of sustainability, recycling or transparency in product presentation. You just have to read these five forecasts for 2018 to understand and see where the sustainable packaging is going.

1. Planet packaging

Consumers - and corporations' CEOs - will be increasingly aware of the impact that packaging has on the environment and will try to turn it into a tool that allows being more sustainable and efficient. This will not necessarily mean packaging disappears, but that it will be seen in a different way. Right now, the packaging is, in the eyes of the consumer, 'that element that must be thrown' to use the products. From now on, it will become another element for its use and conservation.

You just have to take a walk through the supermarket to understand much better what analysts mean: future packaging will resemble the presentation of bagged sausages, in which the packaging can be opened and then closed to keep them in good condition. Studies on the consumers’ perception of supermarket products already show that they prefer the type of packaging that allows things to stay fresh longer. Packaging thus ceases to be simply something that has to be discarded and becomes something more.

2. rEpackaging

This trend is closely linked to electronic commerce, as it is explained in the forecasts, for which packaging is fundamental in terms of brand building. Many times, products have to travel great distances and the packaging has to be resistant to avoid they arrive in poor conditions. Until now, packaging focused on the more cosmetic part of the ecommerce deliveries (that they are nice and presentable to give a good first impression) and on the ease of use (opening of the box does not cost much effort). From now on, they will also have to focus on other elements.

The ecommerce has fallen into the trap of what is called over-packaging, the excess of packaging. Who has not received a box much larger than the bought product, surrounded by layers and layers of protective paper? This is not only frustrating consumers in terms of utility, but also in terms of responsibility. The great challenge will be a high quality and sustainable packaging. Thus, for example, packaging is expected to become something that can be easily reused for actions such as the return of products.

3. Clean Label

The growing success of this concept is linked to how consumers have changed and what they are concerned about and interested in. Now, consumers want to be informed buyers and seek to know as much as possible about the things they buy. That is where clean labels come in. They not only give all the information possible to the consumer, but also do it in a way that is understandable and simple. It is not about giving an avalanche of data, but about giving what is necessary and key information. This will also increase transparency about the origin and impact of the things we consume.

4. The sea as the protagonist

During the last decades, plastic has been one of the most used materials in the packaging of all types of products. Whatever it was that you were buying, it was wrapped in plastic. This has ended up creating a terrible problem, since this massive use of plastic has generated large amounts of waste. Waste that, on the other hand, has ended up mainly in the sea. The ocean is full of plastic. In recent times, measures have been taken to reduce the use of this material (such as anti-bag laws), but the change will have to be more profound. And, for that reason, the plastic matter is one of the big protagonists in packaging.

Some of the trends that are being followed are, for example, those linked to its reuse. Small green brands but also some giant ones, such as H&S by Procter & Gamble have started to create their packaging using plastic recovered from the sea, as they recall in the analysis. Other brands are using recycled plastic for their packaging, such as Coca-Cola, that has promised that 50% of its bottles will be made of recycled plastic by 2020.

Trying to reduce the weight of the material in the packaging and increasing the commitment to recycling, as well as, a wider use of circular economy ideas, will become main goals this year.

5. Modify the direction in stores

And, finally, the packaging will also try to drive a change on circulation flows in stores, trying to make it more attractive and exciting with the way they present the products. Consumers have begun to change how they behave in stores, especially in supermarkets, by breaking with the traditional loops (we used to follow a certain pattern of movement in stores). Also, the known as 'fixed shot': instead of making weekly purchases at the supermarket, for example, going more frequently but buying only a few things. Packaging will have to draw the attention of these consumers, not only with a more contemporary design, but also, as warned in the report, with a unique and environmentally-friendly presentation, as it can be using recycled material.

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