Packaging Trends

Latest Packaging Innovations in Q1 2023

9 mins

It’s the start of a new year, one which is sure to be full of exciting packaging innovations and developments.

The most important innovations in the packaging industry today are unsurprisingly those that centre around sustainability. A recent global survey showed that 75% of organisations have made clear sustainable packaging commitments. Similarly, consumers value sustainably sourced and manufactured products, and this has led to 2.7 times faster growth for sustainable products compared to traditional goods.

Within this article, we will look over some of the latest packaging innovations for:

  • Food & Drink Packaging
  • Technology Packaging
  • Flexible Packaging

  • Sustainable Packaging
  • Ecommerce Packaging
  • Luxury Packaging

Flexible Packaging innovations

Flexible packaging is most often used by industries such as food and drink, home, as well as pharmaceutical and medical. Flexible packaging is used to protect all the life-enhancing and life-saving products we use daily, so there is little surprise as to why it’s in demand.

The need for consumption convenience is another reason why the popularity of flexible packaging is rising. Consumers prefer flexible packaging as it is easy to store, easy to open, and can process the ability to reseal.

Although 2023 has only just begun, already new flexible packaging examples are making their way onto the market. For example, AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre, has manufactured a plastic film from used coffee grounds to be used in flexible packaging applications in the pursuit of converting urban biowaste at scale. To produce the film, AIMPLAS acquired PHA from restaurant coffee grounds sourced and recycled by bio-bean. This PHA was then formulated and extruded into flexible material. Pretty neat right?

Another development in the Flexible Packaging Market comes in the form of new recyclable mono-polymer packs made for the pet treat brand ‘Lovimals’. Flexible packaging business Eco Flexibles created a digitally printed EcoFlow pouch with a PE zipper with the intention to reduce Lovimals overall production waste.

This brings us to our next section about food and drink packaging innovations.

Food & Drink packaging innovations

When developing packaging for food and drink products, packaging innovators need to juggle a wide range of contradictory and competing demands as they focus on developing new approaches to food and drink packaging.

As we know sustainability concerns have put packaging under the spotlight, so the challenge is always to create packaging that not only meets sustainability requirements but also meets the best standards expected to protect the products inside.

With that being said, we will look over some of the latest packaging innovations for the food and drink industry.

Seaweed is a packaging innovation that seems to be growing in popularity. For example, Notpla has launched a new range of grease and water-resistant packaging formats with a plastic-free barrier made from seaweed for the takeaway industry. The solutions can either be recycled or home composted at end-of-life. One of Notpla’s partners – the popular Just Eat – is supplying the seaweed-coated packaging for restaurants to buy on their web shops in the UK, Austria, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Ireland. Notpla has also reported that the new range biodegrades in nature in 4-6 weeks without the need for industrial composting or special conditions!

Another interesting development is that Xampla – who claims to be the leading company in the world with plant protein materials - has an ambitious strategy involving protein-based packaging materials replacing chemically modified materials as the public and governments continue to look for plastic alternatives. The company’s job is to formulate and develop resins, that when converted into plastics, will deliver the performance customers need. It is currently in the early stages of technology, working with companies and brands in various sectors. But Xampla is seeking to replace synthetic polymers such as Polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH, PVA, or PVAI) with protein-based material, as when it washes away it is designed to break down fully. Xampla believe that the only real solution to plastic pollution is material that does not pollute, so we will watch this space!

Some more food and drink packaging innovations include:

  • Diplom-Is’s Royal Brand will no longer feature in carbon black containers and will instead have a new non-carbon container detectable by the Near Infra-Red (NIR) scanners used for waste sorting processes. This is said to save significant amounts of virgin plastic material.
  • Stepac and Ultramid CCycled: Keeping sustainability and a circular economy at the forefront, BASF SE and Israeli fresh produce packaging provider StePac have launched new contact-sensitive pack formats. The German multinational chemical company is suppling StePac with its Ultramid CCycled chemically recycled polyamide 6. The aim of this new packaging is to significantly reduce food waste, which is an important task considering that global food waste is responsible for approximately 8-10% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Using the Stepac packaging will help to replace fossil raw materials and is an important step towards circularity.
packaging innovation

Sustainable packaging innovations

One sector which has had a lot of noise over the past year when it comes to sustainability is the switching to paper-based packaging alternatives. A NielsenIQ survey found that 53% of consumers want companies to reduce the amount of plastic in packaging and 46% want them to use sustainable packaging materials. Therefore, pretty much all upcoming packaging innovations are keeping sustainability at the forefront.

With over 11 million metric tons of plastic finding its way into oceans annually, it is said that another way to address the problem is by upcycling ocean-bound plastic. Tide Ocean SA, a Swiss company, has recently pioneered tide ocean material – a method of collecting and compounding 100% ocean-bound plastic waste into a viable, premium packaging material that is safe and durable. Each batch of the Tide Ocean Material has its unique material passport that is accessible through a QR code making the journey fully traceable from the end product back to where they are collected. Interesting right?

There are more sustainable packaging innovations where that came from too. Within this section, we will look over some of the latest sustainable packaging innovations that help meet the ever-growing demand:

  • UPM Raflatac RecyClass: The PE and PP materials used to make the new RecyClass labels are recognised to be recycling compatible with coloured HDPE and PP packages. It means that the PE and PP labels can be recycled either in PP or HDPE coloured recycling streams. The recognition for the PP recycling stream compatibility is said to be the first of its kind in the world.
  • Reckitt Paper-based packaging: Consumer goods company Reckitt is launching paper-based packaging for Finish that will reduce plastic by 75% in its stand-up pouch. Once fully rolled out, this packaging innovation will help to eliminate more than 2,000 tonnes of plastic every year, equivalent to 50 million 1-litre bottles.
  • Home compostable tea bags: Waitrose has claimed it is the first UK supermarket to cell certified own brand home compostable tea bags. This will allow customers to place tea bags directly into a home compost bin or heap. The packaging on the tea bag tags has also been amended to reduce ink coverage, ensuring that the tea bags break down more effectively.

Technology packaging innovations

Although developments in this area are slower, we do look forward to the developments in digital tech such as VR, AR, and digital print. There have already been some technological developments that have been referred to as ‘game-changing’. For example, one interesting development is that coding and marking specialist Macsa ID UK has launched a ‘game-changing’ SPA 2 series of modular laser coders for the packaging industry.

The series provides marking on a range of packaging materials such as wood, thermal labels, board, glass, ceramics, metals, rubber, and plastics. Due to its modular design, Macsa’s flexible SPA 2 lasers can be integrated with production lines or applications and adapted easily to meet the changing needs of the user.

Another exciting development conducted by Tennessee-based International Paper who have introduced OHMEGA Conductive Ink + Touchcode, a revolutionary technology that enhances brand protection in the packaging industry. This innovative solution features a physical card integrated into the corrugated packaging, containing a code that unlocks a unique experience designed by the brand. The eco-friendly ink is powered by electricity from the human body and unlocks a special interaction on customers touchscreen devices.

Also, did you see the Christmas on-pack promotion from Coca-Cola? The promotion featured the NaviLens app to help blind and partially sighted consumers. NaviLens works similar to a QR code but can be detected in a fraction of the time and up to three metres away. Technology such as NaviLens is a real game changer and allows blind and partially sighted people to independently access key information on packaging. It just goes to show how technology on packaging can really help to connect with all consumers.

Speaking of connecting, the Spanish juice brand, Don Simon, has recently linked with Elopak and Appetite Creative to launch a new 100% sustainable connected packaging. The new packs incorporate a web app based connected experience accessed via QR codes. According to Appetite Creative, the Don Simon connected experience offers a range of interactive games lined to sustainability. The games include creating packaging from sustainable materials, creating products from plants and carton recycling. That’s one way to engage consumers in sustainability in a fun and unique way!

Luxury packaging innovations

In the luxury packaging market there has always been a debate over whether sustainability means a compromise on aesthetics. However, as this latest packaging design shows, it doesn’t. A new Rogge-Cereser Champagne box has been created from Japers Cropper’s Rydal Packaging Collection range of paper. The Rydal collection is made using a blend of recovered fibre and fresh fibre from sustainable forestry sources, making it 100% natural.

Similarly, the new John Lewis confectionery range ‘Holdsworth Chocolates’ includes a selection of 100% recyclable rigid boxes, sleeves, and treat bags printed in a six-colour design and foil blocked on gold. According to the Managing Director at Holdsworth Chocolates, sustainable packaging and investing in high-quality sustainable packaging that reflects their values is a collective goal. Well, looks to us that the goal is being well achieved!

Packaging Innovations from Swiftpak

At Swiftpak, we understand that innovation is vital for the success of a business and are so excited to be part of bringing new innovations to market! If you found any of these innovations interesting or want to know how your packaging could be more cutting-edge.

Contact us today to find out more about our current innovative packaging solutions.