INCPEN Blog


How packaging solves global challenges


What do you think these problems have in common?

  • Unpredictable harvests and scarcity of food
  • Obesity
  • Aging population in Europe
  • Multi-channel delivery and shopping

Answer: they can all be made better by packaging. 

The world today faces a complex mixture of challenges.  Consider how packaging can help overcome them.

CHALLENGES

SOLUTIONS

Increasing global trade;

multi-channel delivery systems

 

Tailoring packaging to suit traditional distribution to retail outlets, home delivery, click-and-collect and where necessary be capable of re-packing for returns

Food (and other product) waste in the supply chain & home

 

Packaging prevents product waste by protecting products on their journey from production to consumption; it also enables food to be kept fresher for longer at home with re-sealable packs, dispensing systems.

Over 50% of the world’s population lives in an urban environment (70% in Europe); emerging economies change eating habits

People in urban environments do not have enough space to be self-sufficient; they have to rely on food and other products being produced elsewhere and transported to them.  Packaging enables products to survive distribution and handling.

Unpredictable harvests (drought, flooding); scarcity of food, water, energy, some raw materials 

By preventing product waste, packaging also prevents the waste of all the resources (water, energy, materials) invested in growing and producing them. Some packaging enables food to be stored for long periods in perfect condition so it can then be used when scarce.

Fewer people living together

Need for smaller portion sizes to avoid food waste.  Packaging delivers a wider range of appropriately-sized portions. 

More on-the-go eating

Packaging needs to be single-serve and capable of enabling eating on-the-go.

Demand for fewer artificial additives

Removing preservatives from foods shortens their storage life so need to be compensated for by additional packaging that provides better protection.

Obesity

Packaging delivers perfect portion sizes; some show calorie content on the front of pack. >

Ageing population in Europe and North America

Packaging has to be easy to open, easy to re-seal (where appropriate) and carry legible instructions and information.

Unfortunately that’s not how policymakers see it.   Along with a lot of other people, they take packaging’s contribution to society for granted, equate packaging with waste and typically exaggerate its environmental impact.

Packaging actually plays a significant role in a circular economy by maintaining the value in a product for as long as necessary and helping prevent product waste.  It will get even better if innovation is encouraged. 

But there is a major barrier. Some policymakers think they need to tax, restrict or even ban types of packaging. The downside is this just makes it harder to tackle the big challenges. 

Policymakers need to encourage innovation by giving manufacturers and retailers a free hand to decide which pack is right for the job – whatever material it is and whether it is recyclable, compostable or not.

That will enable packaging to perform its key role of preventing product waste and will help overcome the global challenges.


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