February 6, 2020

Sustainable Packaging in 2020


Key topics & trends to watch for in the packaging industry

Sustainable packaging in 2020 – The packaging world progresses forward each year, with companies implementing changes to their packaging supply and announcing new sustainability campaigns. All over the world companies strive to reduce carbon emissions, replace outdated packaging materials, such as EPS, and improve the recyclability and reusability of their packaging. As we begin the year, we wanted to take a look at emerging packaging trends and point out some exciting sustainably-driven innovations coming this year.

Corrugated packaging recycling

Increase in demand for corrugated packaging

2020 should see innovative leaps forward in corrugated packaging. The combination of a burgeoning e-commerce industry and a growing emphasis on recyclability fuels research and development into producing and recycling corrugated packaging. Further, demand for corrugated packaging aims to expand as more and more companies abandon single-use plastics in the face of both popular demand and sustainable legislation.


The recyclability of product packaging

At the forefront of the conversation is advancing the recyclability and overall sustainability of packaging. At this point, the majority of companies around the world have launched environmental campaigns that emphasize improving the recycling rate of their product packaging. Coca-Cola’s popular brand SmartWater announced in 2019 that they will be moving forward with bottles made from 100% recycled plastic material (rPET).

The first step to improve recyclability is to replace old and outdated materials, like polystyrene (EPS) foam. Companies like IKEA have already gotten a jump on the competition, switching to innovative alternatives and capturing the attention of an environmentally-minded consumer public. IKEA is experimenting with Ecovative Design’s concept of 100% biodegradable packaging made from mushroom-based material.


Going a step further with reusable packaging

Reusability is an even bigger trigger word for companies looking to adapt to a more sustainable future. Closed-loop ecosystems, where all materials are recovered and reused, represent the ultimate goal for both companies and environmentalists alike.

Closed loop ecosystem

With packaging waste becoming such a concern due to the rise of e-commerce, companies strive to achieve circular economies, with zero waste emitted from their packaging. Closed-loop systems are still theoretical for most companies, but 2020 should witness significant innovation in the realm of cyclical packaging supply chains.


Sustainable packaging in 2020: The BIG Carbon Debate

One of the major areas of emphasis is the reduction in carbon emissions within the packaging industry. Carbon emissions pose a serious threat to our planet and naturally belong as a key discussion among packaging leaders.

The BIG Carbon Debate will be an integral feature of the Packaging Innovations 2020 conference this year, with executives analyzing what steps need to be taken in order to improve sustainability and keep up with government pledges for net-zero carbon output.


Material reduction through optimization

While net-zero carbon output is a difficult thing to achieve, companies can reduce their environmental footprint by reducing the amount of material used and the overall volumetric size of their packages. Bulky and over-sized packages result in much less efficient shipping processes and translate to considerable increases in emissions output. The focus should turn to design optimization, which holds the potential to improve product protection and significantly decrease carbon emissions.

EPE USA has forged ahead with packaging innovation, designing future-proof solutions with the least possible environmental impact. We replace unsustainable polystyrene with 100% curbside recyclable materials, immediately reducing our environmental footprint through material usage. Additionally, our designs are capable of achieving closed-loop packaging ecosystems.

Sustainable packaging in 2020

Our proprietary packaging designs create optimized solutions that feature improved product protection and significantly reduce material usage. This not only allows for higher freight efficiencies and lower material costs, but it also cuts out waste and reduces carbon emissions considerably.


Sustainable Packaging in 2020

The packaging industry continues to push forward with sustainable innovations, updating materials, designs, and processes to a changing world. EPE is ready, positioned for the future with our optimized designs and sustainable, innovative solutions.


On the horizon: Is there a future with edible packaging?

The world has flipped on plastic and stimulated outside-of-the-box experimentation with different materials and new ways of thinking. With laws banning plastic straws, bags, and polystyrene food containers all over the world – startups have emerged with out-of-the-box ideas and technologies, including edible packaging solutions.

One edible packaging alternative has arisen recently out of the University of Nottingham. It uses natural plant carbohydrates and proteins, like flour, starch, and sugars, to create an edible and biodegradable alternative to plastic film. The research team hopes their bio-film can replace plastic bags and ultimately make the jump to general packaging for construction, delivery, and magazines.

Sustainable packaging in 2020

Plastic water bottles are a huge threat to the environment and one of the largest sources of plastic pollution worldwide. To combat this, the startup Ooho designed an edible orb of water using Notpla, “a material made from seaweed and plants that disappear, naturally.” And while Ooho’s water blobs bring up a variety of flaws – they represent the type of out-of-the-box thinking and innovative alternatives to plastic that we expect to see emerging in 2020.


Talk to one of our packaging experts today about our innovative and future-ready packaging solutions and how they can solve your packaging challenges.