Global packaging sector facing five major trends

20th November 2023

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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As far as the global packaging industry is concerned, there are currently five top trends, outgoing World Packaging Organisation (WPO) president Pierre Pienaar highlighted, at a press briefing in Cape Town on Monday. (The WPO is a global non-profit organisation, with 62 member countries, based in Vienna, Austria; it aims to facilitate the development of better packaging.)

The first trend was sustainability, which Pienaar (a South African-born Australian) described as an “important portfolio” for the WPO. Second was smart packaging; he reported that there was a lot of potential in this area of packaging science.

The third trend was on-demand packaging, that is, production of smaller batches of customized labelling, for small and medium enterprises. This, he observed, had taken off during the Covid pandemic and had grown strongly ever since.

The fourth trend was the application of artificial intelligence to the packaging industry. And fifth was nanotechnology. This was driving a lot of change, and a lot more change would come, because of the ability of this technology to manipulate molecular structures.

Another area needing focus, he affirmed, was the need to reduce the amount of energy required to produce packaging. “We are at a crossroads,” he said; decisions taken now on the materials to be used for packaging would have a huge impact on the future.

Pienaar also summarized his objectives as WPO president over the past six years. Number one had been to reduce packaging waste. He commended South Africa for adopting (by legislation) the policy of extended producer responsibility (EPR), doing so ahead of Australia. EPR required the producers and importers of plastic packaging to take responsibility for helping implement the recycling of their products. He noted that the European Union led the world with regard to EPR and that those countries which had adopted EPR should encourage other jurisdictions to follow suit.

He further highlighted that there was a strong correlation between packaging waste and food waste. Inappropriate packaging increased food waste. Reducing packaging waste reduced food waste.

Another objective had been to promote recycling, especially in places where it had not yet been adopted. Recycling, and better and more efficient packaging – these objectives required that people be better educated. Thus, education regarding packaging had been another objective. Finally, he had sought to increase global awareness of the WPO.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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