On August 1, 1981, teenagers were captivated when Tom Freston launched MTV. Freston talked about his idea, saying, “Innovation is taking two things that exist and putting them together in a new way.” And that’s exactly what he did with music and video, giving his audience a new way to see their favorite bands perform—in the comfort of their living room.
When it comes to the packaging industry, innovation, and the trends that arise, they may not seem as monumental to the average consumer as MTV was to the music world. However, they are creative, exciting, and can have just as much of an impact on the packaging industry.
For 2023, there are a lot of trends on the horizon, and some seem more viable than others. There are a few that I find more compelling, and it will be interesting to see which of the others rise to the top and are adopted by retailers and others in the industry.
Internet of Packaging:
The Internet of Packaging (IoP) might seem to be an odd phrase, but it’s all about bringing the latest technology to the packaging industry. These technologies address marketing, tracking, optimization, and processes and make products traceable and capable of engaging consumers.
In a world where everyone is connected through their phone, tablet, and computer, brands constantly look for new ways to connect with consumers. Smart labels use QR codes, which we’ve talked about before. They are a quick, contactless, and eco-friendly way to download everything from a menu to directions, a website, landing pages for products, instructions, or warranty registration materials for a product. The list of potential applications is virtually limitless.
Companies can also use RFID tags on them. RFID, or radio frequency identification, are tags with a circuit and antenna that transmit data to an RFID reader. They are used in various applications, including supply chain management, inventory management, tracking assets, ID badges, counterfeit protection, and controlling access to restricted areas.
Traditional packing peanuts do a great job protecting items during shipping, but the fact they cannot be recycled and are not biodegradable, taking hundreds of years for the polystyrene to break down in landfills, makes them unpopular with businesses and consumers.
The newly developed biodegradable peanuts are made with starch, primarily from corn, water, and herbal extracts. They don’t require any complicated process for recycling as they dissolve in water.
Plant-based plastics are biodegradable and recyclable polymers that use plants such as maize and straw. They are also called bioplastics, drawing attention to their sustainability and eco-friendly properties, something consumers are increasingly demanding.
According to Grandviewresearch.com, The global green packaging market was valued at around $274.1 billion in 2020. The green packaging market includes bioplastics, recyclable paper & plastics, plant-based biomaterial, organic fabrics, and refurbished products.
Grass cardboard is gaining popularity in the packaging industry, just as bamboo, hemp, and eucalyptus are used more often on the consumer side for papers and fabrics. Processed grass fibers are used to replace the wood pulp in traditional cardboard boxes, saving countless trees annually as the grasses can be harvested three times per year.
In the same way traditional cardboard is recyclable, grass cardboard is 100% recyclable and compostable, providing an excellent alternative to plastic packaging. The manufacturing process has additional benefits of saving water and energy over traditional processes and is also chemical-free.
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