Global packaging industry is dynamic, says new head of representative body

20th November 2023 By: Rebecca Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Incoming World Packaging Organisation (WPO) president Luciana Pellegrino has highlighted the dynamism of the global packaging industry. Speaking in Cape Town on Monday, she pointed out that it had recorded growth of some 4% in 2018. In 2021, its total income had exceeded $1-trillion for the first time. And, over the period from 2021 to 2026, it was expected to grow at 3.9% a year.

“Our industry never stops,” she affirmed. “It’s always evolving – it’s based on technology.”

Packaging served society, she noted. Packaging was used everywhere. It allowed other industries to grow and also serve society and better fulfil people’s needs.

Key objectives for the packaging sector in the coming years were, she cited, sustainability, circularity and saving food. Focus areas included the recycling of packaging materials and the use of re-usable packaging materials. More generally, there was also a focus on health, safety and quality of life, among other important issues. 

She also highlighted the success of her predecessor, South African-born Australian Pierre Pienaar. She described the increase in the WPO’s activities during his tenure as “remarkable”.

Pellegrino, a Brazilian, is the first woman to head the WPO. She encouraged other women to get involved in the sector. “This is an inclusive and diverse industry,” she assured.

“We can build one global voice for our global packaging industry,” she stated.

Regarding consumer attitudes to packaging, internationally, their number one priority was hygiene and food safety, reported WPO VP Soha Atallah. She pointed out that consumers could reject re-usable packaging, over hygiene fears. And re-usable packaging items could also impose significant environmental costs, because of the water and energy needed to wash and re-wash them.

The number two priority for consumers was the shelf life of the packaged product. The third priority was the ease of opening the packaging. In comparison to these issues, environmental concerns were less important.

She also reported that consumers tended to be confused or ill-informed about packaging and recycling. For example, 53% of consumers didn’t know that degradable and biodegradable were not the same thing.