Plastic packaging

Plastic revolutionised the packaging sector by extending the shelf life of fresh food, enabling essential health applications, contributing to lighter and safer shipping, and reducing emissions.

Its success as a packaging material comes from a combination of flexibility, strength, lightness, stability, impermeability and ease of sterilisation, among others. And as technology drives advances in innovation, plastic packaging is becoming more circular.

Food conservation and preservation

Plastic packaging is essential in the food supply chain as it reduces food waste and ensures product quality. From protecting fresh produce to preserving its taste and nutritional value, its versatility is unmatched. Lightweight bottles for drinks, trays for fruit, vegetables, and meats, and tubs for dairy spreads and ice creams are all good examples.

In parallel, the rise of reusable containers signals a dynamic industry responding to sustainability demands. In many instances, reusing and refilling product applications are effective ways of saving resources and improving the environmental footprint of our lifestyles.

See how recycled yoghurt pots have been developed

Safe and hygienic plastics for healthcare

Plastic packaging protects against contaminants such as germs along the supply chain from manufacture, distribution, and storage to use in a healthcare environment. Tamper-proof closures provide additional protection and security and maintain the safety and integrity of sterile goods.

Convenient and innovative

People want packaging with clear identification and labelling, which is easy to open and use. Plastic packaging is evolving to solve that issue. Soon, innovations like printable RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips on packaging will be able to provide important information on the quality and status of products or how to recycle.

Another approach called HolyGrail uses digital watermarks on packaging that contain details specific to that product. Imperceptible to the naked eye, the watermarks are picked up by a high-resolution camera during the sorting process. Based on the packaging attributes, e.g. food or non-food, or material used, it is sorted more effectively, and higher recycling rates can be achieved.

Lightweight packaging for better logistics

Specially designed plastic packaging for transport plays a vital role in helping to move products through the supply chain efficiently. From protective wrappings to reusable boxes, packaging helps to secure the goods during transportation so they arrive safely and undamaged.

The increasing adoption of light weighting – where the amount of materials used in packaging is reduced – means lighter loads and fewer lorries are needed to ship the same number of products. This approach helps reduce fuel for transportation, decrease emissions, and lower shipping costs.

Packaging waste

Recycled content targets for contact-sensitive plastic packaging will require a significant contribution from chemical recycling, which is a key building block of the circular economy.

VIRGINIA JANSSENS – Managing Director of Plastics Europe

Global Plastics Treaty

plastic waste in the ocean