The most common packaging materials have always been paper, plastic, metals, and glass – until now.
With the demand for new packaging solutions increasing, more complex methods and new materials for packaging are being developed by companies to try and meet expectations.
For example, sustainability is continuing to be a big concern. So much so that governments are now pushing for more sustainable solutions as demand for sustainability skyrockets following COP26 and the new plastic tax bill being introduced.
We are also seeing big movements in smart packaging, new materials entering the market, paper-based packaging alternatives as well as re-usable solutions.
In this article, we will be discussing the latest packaging innovations that are being released onto the market and what we can expect in the coming months.
Smart packaging is the future
- Smart wireless packaging
- Augmented Reality (AR)
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Smart Wireless Packaging
The future of smart packaging is already looking brighter in January 2022 and beyond. Just take a look at the new smart wireless technology consisting of a blinking light on Snickers packaging. That’s one way to grab someone’s attention!
This new battery less technology could influence more brands to start considering adding smart technology as part of their packaging to draw in customers.
Augmented Reality (AR)
That’s not all either, augmented reality is another packaging trend that is slowly climbing the ranks. A new prototype has been created that uses augmented reality (AR) to put an intelligent holographic assistant on packaging. The prototype can speak in the consumers choice of English or Spanish, and then provides information such as product ingredients and benefits, and even plays short commercials and music. The final result of this prototype will be an AR human concierge who will provide product information and allow consumers to converse, ask questions, and receive voice responses. Amazing right?
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Photo credit: Packaging Digest
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence is already starting to find its way into manufacturing. AI is helping manufacturers improve uptime, reduce downtime, and increase yield through machine learning such as robotics. AI can even offset climate change as AI and ML tools are being used to predict future energy consumption patterns in manufacturing. This mitigates soaring energy costs and helps offset climate change.
However, it is said that while AI takes up a lot of processing energy, the results in efficiency savings outweigh the expense in energy consumption as it can help businesses make more with less and cut down on waste with optimisation. A CEO of Pathmind said they train an optimisation model in 20 minutes to save a company in tens of millions of dollars of energy consumption a year. He says the advantages are huge and they are already happening, so watch this space.
RFID sensors are also increasingly making their way into the market. These are used to transmit information over very large distances. RFID sensors are expected to be particularly useful for the food industry as they are used to show the current state of the product. It will also be beneficial for farmers as the sensor warns if the produce has been exposed to bad weather conditions and therefore will not be consumable.
New packaging materials
The flexible packaging market is already growing and is expected to grow by $21.73mn during 2022-2026. This can already be seen in January 2022, and it has only just begun.
For starters, sustainable packaging start-up, Notpla, has secured £10M to industrialise sustainable packaging made of seaweed which will include products such as films, coatings and paper. According to Notpla, seaweed is an ideal feedstock because it’s abundant, grows quickly, does not compete with food, and does not require fertiliser or fresh water.
Notpla’s aim is to use seaweed to replace single-use plastic which is one of the main causes of environmental pollution.
Photo credit: Notpla
Heat Shrink Film
A certified highly transparent eco-friendly compostable heat shrink film has also been created by ECO365 Compostable. This shrink film goes back to nature as compost once composted within 60 to 180 days.
Food packaging innovations and sustainability
- Compostable laminate
- Corn protein
- Cellulose 'pomace'
- Wood foam packaging
Most companies are looking to cut down their environmental impact. In France, fruit and vegetables sold in plastic packaging is now banned from January 2022 onwards. However, in some businesses, plastic packaging is still favoured, so those brands may be needing to explore recyclable plastic solutions if they want to avoid any potential backlash from eco-conscious customers.
Plastic packaging waste is a big problem for the environment so therefore businesses are looking for ways to eliminate plastic packaging for food. Here are some new packaging materials entering the market:
Minton’s Good Food have introduced home compostable packaging to replace their non-recyclable plastic packaging. This duplex compostable laminate is said to break down within 26 weeks in a home composting environment so that it is beneficial for the environment as well as providing an eco-friendly product for eco-conscious consumers.
A biodegradable, bacteria killing food packaging made from corn protein and other naturally derived biopolymers has been developed by a team of scientists. This plant-based waterproof packaging made from corn protein called Zein is infused with natural anti-microbial oils that can extend shelf life of fresh fruit by up to three days more than traditional plastic containers.
When the packaging is exposed to an increase in humidity or enzymes from harmful bacteria, the fibres in the packaging release the natural anti-microbial compounds killing common dangerous bacteria that contaminates food. The material is said to have the potential to be used on a wide variety of fresh food products including ready-to-eat foods, raw meat, fruit, and vegetables!
Next to this, there are currently developments to use the by-product of as part of thermal insulation solutions. Even though, the solution is not yet on industrial scale, the developments are encouraging and driving the market in the right direction.
Wood Foam Packaging
Wood foam is another packaging material approaching the market and is developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research in Brunswick. The aim is for wood foam to be used as a sustainable replacement for cushioning and insulating products. This is because it consists of 100% renewable resources, is climate friendly, and recyclable. In just a few years, it is said the large-scale industrial manufacture of wood products made of wood foam should be established in the market.
Cellulose coating made from 'pomace'
No more plastic packaging for fruits and vegetables could soon become a reality for everyone and not just those in France! Empa researchers teamed up with retailer Lidl Switzerland to develop an alternative cellulose coating for fruit and vegetables made from ‘pomace’ – squeezed fruit and vegetable peels! This means it can reduce packaging and prevent food waste.
New Paper Packaging Materials
- Honeycomb packaging
- Insulated packaging made from recycled paper
- Paper-based bottle made from waste
While paper material in itself is not new, the growing need for flexible packaging materials is making the paper packaging materials market pick up pace. Paper packaging materials are witnessing huge demands in the pharmaceutical, food and drink, and cosmetic industries which is further driving the growth in the market.
This is because paper-based packaging is versatile and a cost-effective method that protects and preserves a wide range of products. With the industry being hit by supply chain issues and massive corrugate shortages over the past year, the demand has not been easy for the packaging industry to handle – which you can read all about in one of our latest articles.
Honeycomb Paper Packaging
With various new ecommerce platforms arising, guarantee of well-protected, safe delivery is a key trend currently. One packaging solution that is on the rise is Honeycomb paper packaging as it is highly resistant and an eco-friendly alternative to plastic packaging products like bubble wrap. Honeycomb paper packaging is particularly becoming popular for ecommerce companies as they utilise honeycomb packaging in order to minimise the chances of goods being damaged during transportation.
Insulated Recycled Paper Packaging
Additionally, Amazon has developed a new, more sustainable form of insulated food packaging that is not only made from recycled paper but is also easily recyclable. Unlike previous examples of insulated packaging, it requires no bubble bags or plastic liners and can be recycled curbside with other paper-based packaging materials.
Paper-based bottle made from waste
In 2022, Brewdog are launching a brand-new vodka made entirely from waste and packaged in a paper bottle. Similar to other beverage suppliers, Brewdog are making the switch to paper-based bottles which are natural and 100% biodegradable.
Ecommerce is predicted to continue growing throughout 2022 and so sustainability for consumers will be a top priority.
A recent study from fashion industry publication, Drapers, found that there has been a dramatic increase in UK consumers demanding sustainable packaging with 64% claiming they are more likely to buy from retailers that provide packaging that is better for the planet. 50% of consumers also said they were willing to pay more for sustainable packaging and delivery.
Additionally, when it comes to packaging materials, the survey showed 73% of UK consumers saying paper and cardboard packaging was important to them with 66% revealing it was important to them that packaging can be recycled and 33% rejected a purchase because of unsustainable packaging! The statistics show how consumer demand for sustainable packaging is only continuing to grow.
With the plastic tax increase in just a few months, combined with the current climate crisis and an increasing amount of customers wanting sustainable packaging, it’s only a matter of time before unsustainable packaging devalues a business’s products and damages their brand.
Some of the newest re-usable solutions that have come to market:
Photo credit: Happier Beauty
- A new toothpaste dispenser has been developed by Happier Beauty who are on a mission to tackle tonnes of plastic waste produced by regular toothpaste pumps and tubes. The aim is that it will eliminate the need for single-use plastic tubes and pumps.
- Reusable packaging for car parts is being created to reduce waste and increase efficiency. Previously clients were wrapping each car part using bubble wrap which was an insufficient and unsustainable solution, therefore a solution that utilised divider sets, layer pads, and an insert was made to hold each piece securely. It also reduced pack time from one hour to 10 minutes!
If your business is thinking about a re-usable solution, please contact us directly.
New packaging innovations from Swiftpak
At Swiftpak, we always work closely alongside our customers to maximise the potential within their packaging. With the help of our R&D team, we consistently bring new products to market. Are you needing help with your packaging? Contact us today and we will be happy to help you find a solution!