The industry is preparing for a sustainable future and looks to paper packaging as an enabler.

Hello friends,
 
Industry conference season is in full swing, providing us with valuable opportunities to reconnect with customers and industry partners. One of these conferences, PACK EXPO 2023, recently returned to its biennial home at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For several days, it became the place to connect with all members of the packaging value chain.

With so many industry professionals in one place, it was a great opportunity to learn more about industry trends, goals, and product developments. I’m always amazed to see the breadth of the packaging industry all together in one place, from suppliers of consumables like paper, film, inks, coatings, and plates to a healthy contingent from the equipment side who can provide the functionality to print, cut, glue, fold, move, stack, and wrap an endless array of products and packages.
 
Sustainability was a key theme at PACK EXPO this year, returning to prominence after taking a back seat in recent years behind the pressing topics of COVID and a disrupted product supply chain. Most exhibits had a nod towards sustainability, some in the form of lowering environmental impact from operations, while others were focused on more sustainable products and the circularity of packaging.

While I’m personally interested in sustainability more broadly, I have a particular professional interest in the latter of these topics and the transition to paper-based packaging as a broader industry trend. I had the chance to talk with several industry contacts throughout the conference and piece together some insight into the ongoing market evolution. Below are my key takeaways:

Paper as substrate of choice: Due to its wide recyclability and renewable raw materials, many brand owners are looking to make the move towards paper from other substrates or constructions. Some brand owners are more aggressive than others, but many desire to head in this direction.

Everyone is preparing the groundwork: To enable the conversion to more sustainable packaging, everyone is investing time and resources to ensure they are effectively prepared. No one wants to be left behind. It’s like the industry is preparing for a major storm and want to have options when it hits. 

2025 could be a major year of inflection: Either bound by their own corporate targets, or by consumer pressures, there is a strong indication that 2025 will be a major year for sustainable packaging implementation. This is expected to drive more urgency as time goes on. 

Sustainability is on everyone’s mind: Every step in the value chain is approaching sustainability in its own way and addressing the things in their control: emissions, sourcing, waste, package end of life. 

Waiting for consumers: The public are the key decision makers on which substrate, approach, or concept will be adopted in the market. There is a general feeling that consumers know they want to live more sustainably, but they haven’t yet been willing to pay for it or change their lifestyles. 

BASF has been developing a robust range of products over the last few years with eventual conversion to paper packaging in mind. Our toolkit of solutions is an enabler for the industry to move towards the realization of a more sustainable future of packaging; whether it’s our Joncryl HPB which enables the formulation of barriers to MVTR, grease, or liquid, functional products like our Joncryl HSL line that enables sealability, or the Joncryl DFC’s that supports direct food contact.
 
I’m excited to work closely with our industry partners as we prepare to support the growing need for sustainable packaging in the coming years.
 
See you around. 
-Simon

Read more print and packaging insights from our Head of Global Marketing, Resins for Paper, Simon Foster.  

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