In 2012, plastic packaging manufacturers will continue their struggles to hold onto sections of the market that they had won long ago from glass, aluminum, and paper, writes Tony Deligio in PlasticsToday. Deligio points out:
Plastic in many applications will no longer be able to stand on its own; only by emphasizing lightweighting, renewable content, recycled content, or spoilage impact, will plastics be able to continue to grow market share in packaging.
He sets forth five predictions for the industry in the coming year.
First, the time has come to “reexamine goods from the case, carton and pallet level” of packaging,” which may affect primary packaging too, Deligio writes. That is because manufacturers can’t further reduce the weight of beverage bottles. “Any less material in today’s water bottle, for instance, and the transformation from rigid to flexible package is complete,” Deligio writes.
Second, the battles over plastic bag and bottles bans and taxes will blaze on. Bag bans seems “to be the one piece of legislation that city councils, state houses, and national governments the world over can pass” in tough economic times, Deligio notes. However, bottle bans are beginning, and have been proposed in places such as the Grand Canyon for 2012, he adds.
Third, bioplastic use will gain ground in 2012 because bottling industry giants are onboard. Coca-Cola and Pepsi have already announced that they are developing 100% bio-based polyethylene terepthalate (PET) bottles for their sodas.
Fourth, manufacturers — including the beverage giants — will add more recycled content to packaging for a few reasons. Consumers like to see the words “recycled content” on packages, and advances in sorting, shredding and cleaning technologies, and increased collection will provide more recycled material.
Fifth, expect more anti-litter campaigns from industry groups, suppliers, and manufacturers. They all want to improve their public perception and “drive home the fact that plastic packaging is not a throwaway material,” Deligio notes.
Rachel Petkewich is a freelance science writer and editor. She has worked as a research scientist in the chemical industry and spent eight years as a staff writer and editor at various science journals and magazines, including Chemical & Engineering News.