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Flexible Packaging for a sustainable world

Flexible Packaging for a sustainable world

In the last few years, sustainable products have become the top most priority for consumers. The staggering growth of consumer awareness about sustainability, and frequent dialogues on social responsibility have pushed brand owners to do away with traditional packaging methods. The global mood to reduce negative environmental effects of packaging married with technological innovations have driven brands to reduce material usage, use recyclable material in packaging, and develop the use of other sustainable materials. Flexible packaging was born out of the urgent need to address environmental issues and reduce waste, but at the same time carry out the functions of traditional packaging. According to the report “The Future of Flexible Packaging to 2022”, flexible packaging sales were valued at $219.5 billion in 2016, and were predicted to reach $282.6 billion by 2022. The figures do not come as a surprise given that today flexible packaging is widely preferred in consumer and electronic goods to cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.

Flexible packaging uses the best characteristics of film, paper & aluminium foil and allows its shape to be changed readily. Flexible packages are typically bags, pouches, liners, seals, sleeves, carded packaging and sample packets. However, the packaging industry is witnessing the use of flexible packaging in many innovative ways. Flexible packaging solutions range from single-use pouches, or even from zip locks to resealable closures. Here is why conscious brand owners prefer flexible packaging:

1. Use of fewer resources during production
Flexible packaging uses fewer materials in the first place, and hence the waste generated is also less. Even along the production cycle, the use of resources such as water, energy consumption, green-house emission is less. Furthermore, flexible package tends to be light weight and hence the energy used during transportation and the overall environmental pollution reduces drastically.

2. Zero compromise on performance
Flexible packaging has carefully tried addressing the disadvantages of traditional packaging without compromising on the performance. Flexible packaging maintains freshness, offers barrier protection and durability, great printability and is easy to use. Best of all, it can be used for merchandising myriads of applications ranging from food products to even kids toys.

3. Reduction in overall production cost
Use of fewer resources automatically cuts down production costs. Cost saves are seen across the production spectrum from material to transport. Furthermore, flexible packaging can also be constructed on the spot from roll materials, and therefore additional cost to transport readymade boxes does not exist.

4. High on shelf appeal
Shelf appeal of the packaging is incredibly important and has become a key component for successful marketing. No matter how great the packaging type is, if it doesn’t appeal the consumers, it will fail. Flexible packaging is high on aesthetic value and also offers visibility of contents, which allows brand owners and product designers to think out-of-the-box.

Despite the many advantages flexible packaging boasts of, there are a few challenges as well. Many times, recycled plastic is considered as raw material for flexible packaging. While the idea itself is fantastic, recycled plastic can carry odours that will eventually affect the product. Hence, more research and development is required in the field of flexible packaging to make it even more sustainable. Another big challenge in the use of flexible packaging is the education of consumers. Although it is true that consumers are increasingly demanding far more sustainable packaging solutions, it is hard to tell whether consumers can actually differentiate sustainable packaging from non-sustainable. Once the products are on the shelf, its ultimately the visual and shelf appeal and not the environmental benefits that make the product sell. Hence, a lot of work needs to be done to increase consumer awareness.

There is no doubt that flexible packaging is the most sought-after packaging type for brands these days. They are durable, offer great printability and aesthetics, and above all use less resources and reduce costs during production. Flexible packaging not only help brands make their stand clear regarding sustainability, but it also educates consumers to reuse and recycle wherever possible – and this is a huge step towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

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