Flexible packaging, such as flexible plastic and aluminium/plastic sachets, has numerous advantages, from being lightweight to protecting and preserving products. However, growing environmental concerns and a spotlight on waste recovery rates are putting its role and impact under scrutiny.
According to Euromonitor International, flexible packaging accounted for 41% of total packaging globally in 2019, and 75% of this was made up of flexible plastic. The next two largest flexible packaging formats are flexible paper (6%) used primarily for gum and confectionery, and flexible aluminium/plastic (5%) for coffee packaging.
Food uses the most packaging of any industry, generating 2.2 trillion units in 2019, according to Euromonitor International. More than half of food products are packaged in flexible packaging globally. This type of packaging offers a valuable and sustainable role in guarding against food waste.
The use of flexible packaging continues to divide businesses because of its mixed sustainability profile. Flexible packaging preserves and protects product quality and is considered to cause less greenhouse gas emissions during transportation than more rigid packaging materials. However, certain materials, such as flexible plastic and aluminium/plastic, are hard to recycle. For that reason, flexible packaging is perceived as a major environmental polluter.
To read this article in its entirety, check out the Packaging: The global challenge of sustainability – digital magazine.
Trishna Shah is Euromonitor International’s industry expert on sustainability trends in FMCG industries. She leads the development of Euromonitor’s ethical marketing and sustainability trends content, with a special interest in the growing sustainable packaging movement.