December 16, 2019

3 prominent trends that show the future of packaging


Predicting the future of the packaging world and how the landscape of the industry is changing 

These 3 prominent trends show the future of packaging, presenting a snapshot of where the industry is headed and how companies should adapt to stay competitive in the market. The packaging industry continues to evolve with the emergence of e-commerce, changes in legislation, and surging support for environmental initiatives.


1. E-commerce packaging

The rapid growth of Amazon gives a clear indication of the explosion of the e-commerce market.  The U.S. e-commerce industry experienced 14.2% growth in 2018, topping out at $517.36 billion. More and more consumers gain access to the Internet every year, expanding the online shopping marketplace and accelerating its development.

All of that growth equates to a dramatic increase in the market for e-commerce packaging. Mordor Intelligence estimates that e-commerce packaging will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.59% between 2019 and 2024. Companies ship out more packages than ever before year after year, with 87 billion parcels sent out to customers in 2018 as compared to 43 billion in 2014, according to Statista.


Unique challenges with e-commerce packaging

The challenges associated with e-commerce packaging differentiate it from traditional retail packaging methodologies. E-commerce shipping adds significant rigors that product packaging must protect against, with many more touchpoints per package. $32 billion worth of e-commerce products were returned due to damage during shipping during the 2017 holiday season alone.

Vendors are then faced with costs 17 times more than the original cost to ship, compounded as a result of the complexity of the return transit process. Thus, as the packaging world shifts its attention to e-commerce, companies must focus on designing packaging solutions capable of handling additional rigors – because the costs of shipping damage are even greater for businesses. 


2. Consumer Experience

Online shopping brings consumers closer to the packaging world than ever before, which elevates the importance of a customer’s packaging experience. Social media influencers generate millions of impressions by unboxing a package, which raises a product’s packaging to the same level as the product itself. 

Further, consumers are more conscious about a brand’s stance on the environment than ever before, with special attention to the responsible disposal of all packaging materials. Amazon has placed a tremendous amount of attention on solving customer’s needs through its Frustration-Free Packaging program, which serves to illustrate the gravity of the situation. Amazon is now charging its vendors who are not in compliance with their FFP Standards $1.99 per package, in efforts to protect consumers’ experience. 


3. Sustainability

Sustainability represents a significant trend within the packaging world and companies are scrambling to improve the environmental footprint of their supply chains. The green movement steamrolled over plastic bags in recent years. State and local governments have turned their attention to packaging legislation, enacting bans on plastic bags and EPS packaging products. 

Environmental advocacy groups have successfully influenced corporate initiatives to replace polystyrene packaging and switch to more eco-friendly materials. The sustainability movement has placed a huge impetus onto companies to reduce waste from their packaging designs by replacing non-recyclable materials and overhaul their current methods for more eco-friendly strategies. 

3 prominent trends show the future of packaging


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The battle cry of the sustainability movement represents key strategies for companies to improve the environmental impact of their packaging. The vast majority of companies are already taking the first step to replace unsustainable materials and ensure that all of their products are protected by 100% recyclable packaging designs. Target, for example, is taking it a step further, joining the How2Recycle program and printing recycling directions onto their packaging to assist consumers in responsibly disposing of their product packaging. 

It is crucial for companies to also emphasize the elimination of waste by reducing the amount of material used in their packaging designs. Our world is filling up with plastic and paper debris and despite recycling improvements, companies must take steps to cut back on the sheer amount of material in order to keep up with changing sustainability standards.

Reusable packaging is the new gold standard within the industry for maximum sustainability. Corporate leaders across all industries are experimenting with closed-loop packaging systems and investing in reusable or biodegradable materials in efforts to achieve zero waste supply chains. The trend towards sustainable packaging is unmistakable, giving rise to eco-friendly technological innovations and major environmental campaigns changing the landscape of the packaging world. 


Finding sustainable solutions 

These 3 prominent trends show the future of packaging and present a very different market than traditional packaging can accommodate. EPE USA re-imagines traditional packaging and designs innovative packaging solutions that significantly improve sustainability and e-commerce protective performance. 

We engineer optimized packaging designs that reduce overall material usage to eliminate waste and improve freight efficiencies. Our designs replace unsustainable materials, like polystyrene, with cushioning materials that allow for multiple impacts and are proven to boost reusability and provide opportunities for closed-loop packaging ecosystems


EPE Sustainable Packaging


At EPE we focus on designing custom packaging solutions, optimized for a specific product and its transit process. This allows for less shipping damage and significantly more efficient and effective SIOC packaging designs. We ensure our designs provide better e-commerce product protection with the lowest possible environmental impact. 

Talk to one of our packaging professionals today about future-proofing your packaging. 


EPE is ISTA-certified and a member of the Amazon Packaging Support and Supplier Network (APASS).

Illustration by Raj Verma
Photo from Babson Thought & Action