In Packaging, PDA Stories, News & Events


Sustainability as a consumer concern is no longer a new concept. It’s also well known to companies that they need to be vocal about their sustainability stance and demonstrate their commitment by providing solutions that are environmentally friendly. In 2020 this trend will continue to explode. Here’s the industry’s top predictions for how sustainability will transform packaging in 2020.

100% Recycled Materials

In 2020 we can expect more and more brands to come to market with packaging that is made from 100% recycled materials:

It is without question that the demand for recyclable materials in packaging and materials that are actually recycled will grow and become higher than ever in 2020. Natural materials may soon replace common plastics and help brands strengthen their environmentally-friendly credentials.

We can take a used coffee cup or use virgin fibre from renewable sources and transform it into beautiful packaging that really challenges plastic. With this innovation, brands such as those in the drinks industry have the capability to marry the need for responsible packaging with the desire for a premium experience.

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Education surrounding recycling

While the materials we use will be a big part of sustainability, there will also be heightened conversations and more education for how consumers can be more responsible with their own recycling habits:

There are good ideas coming out of these tough conversations on how to improve recycling rates, increase use of post-consumer resins (PCR) and address current recycling infrastructure challenges.

For example, the cities that created educational programs for their communities about what can be recycled and what can’t be recycled have decreased contamination found in the stream. Also, MRF’s are adding new equipment with sorting robotics to reduce contamination. The word is still out if plastic bans are effective motivators and are producing desired results.

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New advancements in materials

In 2019 we saw a ton of new materials that are being used for packaging products. In 2020 we can expect to see even more advancements and changes in the materials used to package our favorite products:

Accordingly, many companies have announced packaging changes as part of their overall drive toward responsibility, and are working with or pursuing new materials and forms, including packaging made from renewable materials or recyclable materials. Today’s x-ray systems are versatile enough to inspect a variety of package types, including flexible and rigid packaging and the many formats that fall under those categories. Advanced inspection covers another facet of responsible food and beverage production and packaging: food safety and quality that can be traced and verified. X-ray systems driven by powerful software allow manufacturers to provide more information about the products and trace back packages to the point of inspection, with important production information and images. “It’s not mandatory yet to have item-level traceability for food and beverage products, but with the increased complexity and demands on the supply chain, manufacturers are looking for solutions to meet these needs,” says King. 

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Consolidation of Ideas

In the past decade, the whole world seems to have jumped on board for sustainability. In 2020 we can expect to see more cohesion with regard to how these initiatives are carried out:

Regarding sustainability, we can predict that there will be some consolidations of ideas which will hopefully end up in guidance. Instead of having a kind of wild approach where everyone does his little thing here and there, with a proper target definition related to a given direction, the whole industry will go in the same direction and really make a difference. It will probably be painful for some, as a given target may imply a complete change; for instance if a material is due to be replaced, it means finding alternatives; it means re-test, re-qualify, eventually accept compromises in performance, and this will be all the way from design to recycle. Many of the known standards are going to be challenged, and new ones will probably come up, implying new activities to be accepted along the whole value chain. Being conservative in these times will end up being very risky in long term, much more than taking the risk to be innovative. 

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