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The outlook for packaging

Published 19/02/2013 by Catharina Ottestam

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how the packaging industry will evolve in the future. What will catch on? Is the bio-based society just around the corner, or will it be some time yet before we see new packaging made entirely from bio-based raw materials on the shop shelves? How will everything that’s currently happening in the world around us come into play?

Of course, it’s fun to ponder and speculate. This is a fascinating topic to discuss over a relaxed dinner – why not give it a try? I have, and I can assure you that everyone has an opinion on packaging! It’s a necessary evil, it’s hard to open, people either love or hate screw-top wine bottles… 

For me, it’s not just a case of hypothesising about the future. It’s all about how we at Innventia will adopt our strategies. What should we focus on? Which aspects do we need to consider when developing new materials and packaging solutions? Is it enough for them to be a bit cheaper and a bit better? And if so, better in what way?

To progress with these ideas and be in a better position to face the future, analyses are needed. That’s exactly why we worked on Packaging 2020, a report that describes driving forces for the future, people’s perceptions of packaging in different parts of the world, and how all this can affect the balances of power and development paths for the entire packaging industry. There’s a great deal that we’ve known for a long time. For example, the world’s population is ageing and the global middle class is growing in size. The question is how these issues will influence packaging in the future. More people can afford more things. Does that mean more products to be packaged? Our planet’s resources are becoming increasingly depleted. Can we afford more consumption? And as more people grow older, what will their needs be? Packaging that’s easier to use, or perhaps more solutions for single-person households? How will we identify a raw materials base for the packaging of the future? Recycling will become more and more important, and no material can be allowed to be used only once. How does this affect productivity? Who will wield power in the future? The brand owners? The retailers? Or perhaps the recyclers?

And what happens if fossil-based materials are widely banned around the world? Are we ready for something new?

There are many questions, and I’m not the only one thinking about them. This is a complex industry, and one that faces many challenges. That’s why it’s even more important to keep abreast of what’s happening and analyse it. If we’re ready to develop what will be needed in the future, that lays the foundation for a good plan of action!

Catharina Ottestam

Catharina Ottestam is head of business area Packaging Solutions at Innventia.