Rigid Plastic Packaging in Western Europe

April 2021

Rigid plastic is one of the most important packaging types across Western Europe. It has benefited from a boost in sales due to the increased time spent at home, the closure of the on-trade space and lockdown phases in 2020 as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. PET bottles is expected to continue leading rigid plastic, as eco-packaging such as recycled PET is set to further expand as consumers and brands seek to embrace more environmentally-friendly practices.

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Key Findings

Coronavirus (COVID-19) impact on rigid plastic in Western Europe

In 2020, the rigid plastic retail market benefited from a relative COVID-19 boost thanks to a transfer of consumption occasions from the on-trade into the retailing space and the need for further hygiene at home. 2021 is set to decline as a counter effect of this channel shift, indeed with the expected reopening of the horeca space by mid-2021, consumers going back to the office, increased social drinking occasions in restaurants and bars, on-trade sales are expected to resume. Beyond 2022, the rigid plastic space is expected to continue to post positive growth as more eco-friendly offerings such as recycled PET are set to become an industry norm, particularly in soft drinks where on-the-go consumption is expected to come back.

HPDE declines in Western Europe, due to changing consumers’ diets and the rise of PET bottles in dairy packaging

HPDE in dairy recorded a major decline across several markets in the region, including France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. It is particularly the case in yoghurt and sour milk products, which recorded declining sales as Spanish consumers retained a negative perception of dairy products in general. In France, HDPE suffered from consumers’ changing lifestyles and diets favouring less dairy and the rise of PET milk bottles. This is set to continue over the forecast period.

Smaller size bands, put on hold during COVID-19, set to come back over the forecast period

Smaller size bands across beverages, food and beauty and personal care were synonymous with the on-the-go trend and convenience trend prior to COVID-19. Yet, this slowed in 2020 as a result of lockdowns and increased time spent at home with family/multi-serve sizes in focus. From 2021 onwards, as consumers slowly return to offices, universities and spend more time away from home, it is expected that smaller formats will make a come back in order to accommodate the need for on-the-go occasions.



Key findings

Regional Overview

Rigid plastic sees slow growth in Western Europe
Changing diets in France drive HDPE bottles down
2021 retail volume sales to decline due to a slowdown in channel shift
HPDE bottles lose ground to PET bottles in dairy products
Germany and France lead the Western European landscape
Turkey records the biggest historic absolute growth in rigid plastic
HDPE bottles declines while PET bottles increases in Western Europe
HDPE bottles records strong decline across most countries

Top Applications

Healthy market for PET bottles: water, carbonates and juice increase
TWPC: small packaging drives growth in cheese in Spain and Germany
HDPE bottles: sustained growth in the UK due to rise of discounters
Plastic trays: chilled ready meals for children drive growth in the UK
Sauces’ growth and performance in the UK boosts peel-off plastic
Plastic screw closures lead in Western Europe
Concentrated home care formulation leads to fewer pack purchases
On-the-go consumption drives beverages growth in 301-500ml size band
Rise of deposit return schemes across Western Europe

Forecast Projections

Beverages: france to post the largest forecast absolute growth
Beverages: bottled water slowdown in Germany and expansion in Italy
Food: france to record the largest forecast absolute decline in the region
Food: seafood and processed meat to slow down in Sweden
Beauty and personal care (BPC): germany to remain the first market
BPC: small formats to be launched in Spain to prompt trial purchases
Home care: Germany, France and Turkey to record largest growth
Home care: smaller pack sizes to rise in the UK

Country Snapshots

UK: Market context
UK: Competitive and retail landscape
Germany: Market context
Germany: Competitive and retail landscape
Italy: Market context
Italy: Competitive and retail landscape
France: Market context
France: Competitive and retail landscape
Spain: Market context
Spain: Competitive and retail landscape
Turkey: Market context
Turkey: Competitive and retail landscape
Netherlands: Market context
Netherlands: Competitive and retail landscape
Switzerland: Market context
Switzerland: Competitive and retail landscape
Sweden: Market context
Sweden: Competitive and retail landscape


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