UPM Specialty Papers has commissioned Sustainable Packaging in 2040 study revealing that a fifth of all food packaging could still be landfilled or incinerated in two decades from now unless packaging innovations accelerate.
According to UPM, today, food packaging is predominantly plastic, and recycling rates are relatively low. While, fiber-based packaging is widely recycled in non-food uses, the industry believes that by 2040 fiber-based packaging will approach circularity as technical development broadens its suitability for food packaging. Recycling rates for plastics are also projected to grow.
‘The packaging industry will focus research and development efforts to meet increasing consumer and regulatory demand for more recyclable and compostable packaging,’ said Maria Saloranta, vice president of strategy for UPM Specialty Papers. ‘As a result, we expect the share of fiber-based food packaging to grow, accelerated by breakthroughs in barrier properties and use of smart technologies that help relay information to consumers quickly and easily.’
In the report, more than 200 global packaging professionals from across the value chain contributed to the collective assessment of key trends projected to drive sustainability in the food packaging industry by 2040. The industry anticipates the global share of polymer-based packaging will fall by half over the next two decades in sustainable food packaging applications, while fiber-based materials are projected to contribute to over 40 percent of all materials in use for food packaging.
‘The survey shows the industry is anticipating a USD 20 billion-dollar shift from polymer-based to fiber-based packaging by 2040,’ added Ciaran Little, global vice president of business development at Smithers. ‘The use of polymer packaging will not be eliminated but will focus on robust applications in which high strength barrier requirements and reusability are critical.’
Download the report to learn what trends will dominate sustainable food packaging in 2040.