Packaging 2020: Smarter and Greener

THE PHILIPPINES’ manufacturing sector has enjoyed consistent growth in the past few years, especially for food, chemical products, and electronics, according to the 2019 macroeconomic industry figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority. Accompanying this growth thus is the emergence of new packaging technologies.

There is also the shifting global sentiment favoring sustainable packaging, with rising environmental and ethical awareness among consumers.

As the world ushers in a new decade, Philippine businesses now step up their packaging game. Stiff competition fuels them to apply technological advancements to remain relevant and be ahead of the curve.

Here are packaging trends to watch out for in 2020, most of which will be unveiled at ProPak Philippines 2020. Slated on Feb. 5 to 7, at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, ProPak Philippines is an international processing and packaging exhibition that connects leading local and international suppliers to local and regional businesses, stakeholders, and other industry players:

  • GOING REALLY GREEN. The move towards plastic reduction on the industrial level is gaining ground in the Philippines. Manufacturers now constantly seek ways to reduce carbon footprint and find  greener solutions for packaging.

According to Produce Blueprints in Sustainable Packaging Evolves with Consumer Demand, collaboration between stakeholders is the key to the implementation of sustainable packaging practices. “The packaging industry is rising to the challenge as collaboration between packaging companies, recyclers, and retailers is escalating to meet the increasing demand for sustainability from customers. The key question is no longer, ‘is it recycled?’ but ‘how is it recycled?’,  the article added.

Some prominent methods that have emerged include plant-based packaging, bioplastics, and repurposed carton and paper. Many brands have now turned to bamboo, even leaves.

Clean packaging and simplistic designs will continue to dominate the market with the minimalist aesthetic. Without the clutter of over-engineered packaging, minimalism focuses on the product itself and is tied closely to the sustainability movement with less packaging production costs.

 

  • SMART PACKAGING. Technology-enabled solutions are now embedded into the packaging for convenience, security, and pertinent product information.

“More and more technological advancements are being added to packaging. Baby boomers and Gen X have gracefully accepted interactive packaging, millennials and younger are expected to embrace it even more excitedly,” writes Gaurav Jain in his article Packaging Trends In 2020 For Food Beverages  for Entrepreneur India.

Among these are smart labels that change colors to indicate food freshness, temperature, and pH levels; RFID-based labels that track products in the manufacturing process, QR codes on labels that connect the consumer to the product’s webpage, and augmented reality packaging that enables smartphones to perform interactive and informative functions. Active packaging technology also interacts with the product by regulating conditions of the packed food product to extend shelf-life.

BARE BONES. This egg packaging packs a smaller portion of the products (four eggs instead of the usual dozen), utilizes recycled newspapers as main packaging, and a minimalist label with little ink used. Photo from Sufio.com URL: https://sufio.com/blog/10-eco-friendly-packaging-ideas/
  • RETORT POUCHES. Retort pouches have been around since 1978, but packaging scientists have recently explored its new applications. Retort pouches are highly durable, easier to manufacture and to transport, are low-cost and lightweight. They are easy to deploy during emergency or relief efforts and are seen to replace many food packaging, including canned and boxed food, and other non-food packing for detergents, industrial oils and chemicals.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through its Packaging Technology Division, used retort pouches for its Pack Of Hope in 2013, a disaster-relief program which saw the development of ready-to-eat (RTE) meals in specialized retort pouches that could last a year.

‘PACK OF HOPE.’ The DOST’s Pack of Hope arroz caldo. Retort pouches are hardy and flexible, cleaner, and are easier to manufacture than cans. Retort pouches with resealable packaging also enable the consumers to portion their consumption, store any excesses, and extend the life of the food.
  • EDIBLE PACKAGING. From developing biodegradable packaging, the past couple of years have also seen a more radical approach in eliminating wastes: packaging that you can eat.

According to biomaterial scientist Dr. Lizhe Wang and Dr. Joe P. Kerry of the University College Cork in Ireland, edible packaging is yet to see industrial mainstreaming. “Research into edible/biodegradable films is still in infancy while research on industrial application of edible/biodegradable films has received more attention in recent years,” wrote Wang and Kerry in their article Edible/Biodegradable Packaging For Food for Newfoodmagazine.com

Deborah Williams, in her article Edible Packaging: A Taste of the Future? lists five main technologies in edible packaging — edible straws with flavors, plant-based food films, edible eco-bags made of cassava root starch or other resins, drink pouches, edible cutlery made from baked rice flour, wheat, and sorghum, and seaweed-based drink pouches.

‘EDIBLE’ WATER BUBBLES. UK-based Notpla developed Ooho in 2013, seen as an edible replacement for water bottles. (Photo from www.notpla.com)
  • PORTIONED PACKAGING. The country’s so-called “sachet economy” has allowed people in CDE socio-economic classes to purchase basic goods. According to Philippine Institute of Packaging (PIP) president Stefano Paolo Buñag, other regions such as Europe are now opting for portion-sized packaging.

“This is a trend now in Europe because as their population ages, it becomes harder to store and cook food that’s meant for more than one person, so they’re actually going for smaller servings, containers, and sachets,” Buñag said.

If practiced on a wider scale and sustained responsibly, portion-sized packaging can reduce food wastage, which, globally is now at 1.3 billion tons and USD 680B.

More trends and technologies in packaging will be discussed at the upcoming ProPak Philippines where more than 12,000 international and local visitors and 450 exhibitors from 30 countries and regions are expected to attend. For more information about this event, visit www.propakphilippines.com

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