Eco-friendly packaging ready for take-off

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Environment, Sustainable packaging

Green packaging is making the transition from niche to
mainstream as manufacturers come under pressure to go green.

Reflecting the development of the green trend, the organizers set aside an entire hall to bio-based packaging at last month's Interpack trade show in Dusseldorf, Germany. Looking to the future, many commentators expect sustainable packaging to take up even more floor space. Speaking at Interpack, Andy Sweetman, market development manager of Innovia films, said in a few years we could see a similar trade show devoted solely to bio-based packaging. Looking specifically at the beauty market, Mintel analyst Nica Lewis told CosmeticsDesign.com: "Environmentally friendly packaging is the next big area for development." Rapid expansion​ Green packaging has already made an impact on the industry and is currently one of the fastest growing ethical trends. Over 600 beauty products have been launched with eco-friendly packaging claims since March 2006 in Europe alone, according to figures drawn from Mintel's Global New Products Database. Many companies in the market for sustainable packaging are undergoing rapid expansion to keep up with growing demand. For example, bio-based cosmetics packager Cereplast reported a 134 percent increase in gross sales to $913,152 for the first three months of the year. "The demand for our bio-plastics continues to grow rapidly as demonstrated by our triple-digit revenue growth in the first quarter of this year,"​ said Cereplast's CEO Frederic Scheer. "Our compostable resins and hybrid resins continue to generate a tremendous amount of interest in the marketplace, fueled by both continually mounting environmental awareness and rising fossil fuel prices."Remaining challenges​ Environmentally friendly packaging has significant potential but a number of challenges stand in the way of future growth. No complete eco-friendly solution currently exists. Instead manufacturers have to choose between recycled, recyclable and biodegradable materials or even less packaging. Neither of these options fully satisfies the demand for economical, eco-friendly, functional and secure packaging. For instance, biodegradable materials are expensive and not ideally suited to many applications. Even reducing packaging weight is not the easy and cheap solution it appears because of the restrictions it imposes on the ability of beauty manufacturers to communicate and deliver convenience.

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