COVID-19 has led to numerous changes around the world, some of which are likely to cease once the pandemic is under control while others are likely to stay around for a long time. You are likely already familiar with some of the changes the COVID-19 outbreak has made to the product packaging industry, but which ones are going to last? And which ones will just be passing fads? Experts believe that the following changes will continue to affect product packaging long after the pandemic is controlled.
A Balance Between Packaging Value and Sustainability
Before the pandemic, one of the primary consumer demands of consumers was sustainable packaging with a circular life cycle. Now, people once again see the high value of packaging, mainly as a protective venue. People feel more secure when product packaging has an additional layer on it or is single-use as this reduces the risk of contamination.
This means that product packaging has focused more on value, usefulness, and safety in the short term than sustainability. As the pandemic continues, people are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of these changes. This will lead to a more careful balance in packaging. Instead of simply banning certain materials damaging to the environment, there will be a push towards innovation as a way to keep safety and sustainability as key components of product packaging.
Changes to Packaging Recycling
The product packaging used for e-commerce tends to be different from that used for sales in physical stores, with the former designed to absorb more movement and vibration. Unfortunately, much of the packaging for e-commerce and deliveries is not easy to recycle, and as such, it is not recyclable in many areas. At the same time, people will not want companies to switch to other materials that could increase the risk of germ transmission.
This will lead to shifting ideas of recyclability and recycling in packaging. This area has numerous opportunities for innovation, from developing new materials that can be recycled and maintain safety to creating better methods of recycling existing materials. Sorting and reprocessing will also be rethought.
Reusability on the Industrial Level
Due to the concerns associated with transmitting viruses and germs, people are becoming more hesitant about reusable packaging on the consumer level. This has already led to changes such as coffee shops not allowing reusable mugs and states temporarily unbanning plastic bags. The reluctance to have reusable materials on the consumer level will likely continue.
To overcome that reduction, industrial facilities are starting to look into increasing their reuse. It is easier to ensure proper sanitation and cleanliness in an industrial facility than it is to ensure the same level in the homes of thousands of consumers. These programs are still in their infancy, but we can expect them to grow as creativity regarding industrial-level reusable packaging is encouraged.
Rise in Automation
Automation was already on the rise before the current crisis as a way to cut costs and boost efficiency. The current situation further encourages automation due to concerns regarding social distancing. That automation applies to package manufacturing, packaging the products, and collecting, sorting, and recycling the disposed packaging after purchase.