Plastic holds leading position in global packaging demand, accounting for almost two thirds of retail sales, with versatility and efficiency key to its success. Plastic is, however, under increasing pressure as a source of waste. To establish plastic as a sustainable packaging choice for brands, retailers, consumers and regulators, greater pursuit of circularity is paramount, and is a strong area of innovation. Embedding renewable design and investing in recycling and reuse are core priorities.
This report comes in PPT.
Plastic packaging shows resilience in the face of crises and a changing retail landscape; valued for its pandemic-hygienic safety as retail grocery purchases peaked. Hybrid lifestyles means demand for packaged goods remains high while cost-of-living pressures see more time and meals at home. Plastic’s versatility across category and pack size secures its leading position.
Consumer concern about climate change and the environment is widespread and growing. Reducing plastic use and choosing sustainable packaging are top action points for consumers. Concern is reflected in regulation, in plastic waste import bans, taxes and targets aiming to improve plastic collection, recycling, recyclability and reuse to curb its presence as waste.
Consumers regard plastic as the least eco-friendly material, but they understand and trust the concept of recyclability, far above green labels like organic or fair-trade. This is an area where brands and packagers can better communicate and educate on plastic’s eco credentials on-pack.
Designing for a circular economy is being embedded in brand and packager pledges, with widespread innovation, from removing surplus and difficult-to-recycle plastics to advancing renewable designs and reuse models. Apart from PET and HDPE, plastic, while efficient in its lightweight nature, lags in recycling. Collaboration to improve collection can fuel reuse.
Across the consumer packaging value chain, pledges to increase recyclability, recycling and reuse, and to lower carbon footprint are common, and essential to ensure plastic is perceived as more than single-use. Recycling is a top sustainability and climate investment priority for businesses and demand for recyclate is high. Action to close the loop on plastic is a must.
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