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Packaging Compass

Packaging Compass


Packaging Compass: Evaluating Trends in the Packaging Design Industry Over the Next Decade and Implications for the Future of a Circular Packaging System

Quantifying the Value of Packaging as a Strategy to Prevent Food Waste in America

When we follow packaging across the supply chain, a common refrain we hear from the recycling community is that the rapid rate of innovation by the packaging community hinders their ability to match recovery technology, resulting in a disconnect between the packaging placed on the market and what can be  recovered to create a circular packaging system. Having foresight into the future of packaging, they have argued, would help better align recovery strategies.

While the packaging community seeks circularity, they note that packaging must be designed for more than just recycling or composting. Design must also consider how best to protect from product damage or spoilage, health and  safety, and consumer use as it moves across multiple distribution systems. Additionally, any changes made to a package itself must also be coordinated with product filling systems, distribution channel needs and consumer demographics. Any changes to packaging materials or packaging formats can impact all these variables. Finding the right balance between designing for use and designing for circularity will require collaboration at both the design and recovery phases by both packaging designers and the recycling/ composting community.

This paper seeks to start that dialogue. Through a broad survey of consumer packaged goods companies, the insights profiled within this report help to identify key trends in packaging design for consumer-packaged goods (CPGs). The study sought to understand what materials are expected to increase or decrease and what packaging formats may rise or fall over the next decade. We then went further by analyzing the impact of these changes on the packaging recovery system in terms of investments into the system and the public policy environment that supports waste management practices.

We hope the insights drawn here can help inform the future of a circular packaging economy—at a minimumthat they encourage a dialogue between stakeholders in the packaging and recovery communities on the future we want.


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