It’s rare today that any topic will not somehow address sustainable development, the promotion of natural resources or the protection of the environment. Ecological organisations and activities have tried to spread the message for several years and they seem to have finally found a listening ear in the business world, including the packaging industry.

The second in a series of four blog posts: Last August, Packaging World, in association with the company DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers, conducted a survey involving professionals from the packaging industry and other related sectors in order to learn about the current trends as well as those that could dominate the industry ten years from now. This blog series will highlight the key points of those results.

Even if the study was conducted on two different continents, the results were analysed and presented separately, thus facilitating the analysis of results from North America, IMS’s market.


Towards sustainable development

One of the survey questions asked respondents to identify the two most important factors to consider when evaluating the sustainability of a package. The results demonstrate that there will be significant changes in the industry in the next ten years.

If costs currently occupy first place, they could very well fall into second place in the next ten years. For the moment 73% of respondents chose costs as the number one factor concerning sustainability in packaging for the year 2012, versus an anticipated 48% for 2022. The reduction of package failures, which currently occupies second place with 41%, will fall drastically to fifth place and a slight 27%.

The most visible change will happen at the “green” solutions chapter. More companies will factor into their decision-making process various direct environmental factors, be it the lifecycle footprint of the package (from 24% in 2012 to 53% in 2022), the source of the ingredients of the raw materials (from 21% in 2012 to 37% in 2022) and the recyclability of the package (from 38% in 2012 to 41% in 2022).

As I mentioned in the first part of the results of this study, sustainable management will become essential and may even be favored over costs. The next step is then to ask the following question: will companies prioritise sustainable development at the expense of costs because they have a social conscience or simply because they are anticipating stronger regulation? Which hypothesis do you think is more accurate?

In the third part of this blog series, you’ll see that the results of the first two sections are reflected in the respondents’ answers concerning trends and key factors in packaging used today and ten years from now.