The packaging industry is living a moment of transformation driven by research in technology and new values related to eco-friendly packaging. It is for this reason that upcoming innovations in packaging for the next few years are many and varied, ranging from safety and optimization improvement, to sustainable packaging and creative packaging in the food industry.
Eco-friendly packaging is here to stay
The packaging industry is at a crossroads since, both at a government level and, especially, at a consumer level, it is being demanded to offer sustainable packaging alternatives. For this reason, research and innovations in packaging are mostly being targeted toward finding eco-friendly solutions.
Reducing the use of plastic is becoming a priority, as is reducing the carbon footprint, which can be significantly affected by the choice of one type of package over another.
In line with this, innovations in packaging toward sustainability are driven by 3 basic guidelines:
- Use of innovative materials
This is an advancement that is mostly being driven by the food industry, since it is directly related to the end customer. New eco-friendly materials are emerging, such as bioplastics based on plants as a raw material instead of petroleum, which are applied in the substitution of films, cardboard and plastic bottles, among others.
Currently, work is being done to avoid these innovative packaging supplies to be based directly on crop plants, which could increase the price of food and complicate the situation in developing countries. Crops in marginal lands – among other options – are interesting alternatives.
- Distribution optimization
Even though, until now, this indicator has been cast aside in favor of other trends and innovations in packaging, designing a sustainable logistics cycle that is successful in bringing the product to the user in good condition for consumption will be key during the upcoming years.
This is particularly necessary for perishable goods (food and pharmaceuticals, mostly), since calculations show that food that is not consumed causes significant carbon dioxide emissions. In this regard, smart labels will play a major role, since they can advise users regarding the state of the food to be consumed, preventing food that is still good from being thrown away and increasing the safety to end consumers.
This said, improving transportation logistics through data analytics and Big Data will also be of great importance. Implementing this new science in shipping logistics will allow for improved processes in regard to shipping times, distribution routes and the reduction of damage during transportation. This information will also yield more information for the development of eco-friendly packaging.
- Improving the final use of the product
As a result of the demand for sustainable packaging by end consumers, the industry is paying close attention to innovations that will allow for the recycling of materials used in the manufacturing of said packaging. This trend is also closely linked to new government regulations, since the number of countries that are trying to minimize the production of waste is on the rise, focusing on toxic waste such as the ink on cardboards and plastics.
Innovations in packaging related to this field are aimed at ensuring that recycling is not only feasible at a material level, but also economically feasible.
Innovations in packaging to improve safety
An increasingly complex transportation landscape will lead companies to take proactive measures to minimize risks during transportation. Impacts, drops, vibrations or any other contingencies endanger the goods, and must be foreseen so that product packaging is able to offer an optimal protection to the product that it contains.
Innovations in packaging revolve around two aspects:
- Emergence of new standards and requirements.
Packages can be successfully optimized by complying with the standards established by organizations such as ISTA and ASTM. The emergence of new standards establishes the guidelines to be followed both during design and in relation to packaging supplies.
One such example are the ISTA Amazon requirements for a Frustration-Free product packaging. This new range of requirements applies to all companies using Amazon’s distribution system, and forces them to optimize their packaging-product system. It is in line with this new set of standards that Amazon Lab was developed – a set of simulation machines that can be used to perform the ISTA 6-Amazon.com-SIOC and ISTA 6-Amazon.com-OB protocols.
Directive 94/62/CE on packages and package waste is something to keep in mind in Europe, as well as the modified circular economy Directives to take effect before June of 2020.
- Packaging machine design for increasingly precise simulations.
As part of the innovations in packaging that will lead the way during upcoming years in the industry, transport simulation machines will gain precision and comprehensiveness, in addition to becoming easier to operate.
Two of the latest packaging machines designed and patented by Safe Load are in line with the above:
1. Pitch&Roll Module. It can simulate roll and pitch movements when installed on any vertical vibration tester. As a result, it brings real transport conditions one step closer to laboratories.
2. InnSlide Boomerang Tester. The smallest machine in the world for the performance of horizontal stability tests. Designed to comply with the EUMOS 40509 and US FMCSA cargo securement requirements.
Packaging design for the food industry
The food industry will be facing multiple challenges in the next few years that, like with many other businesses, stem from overpopulation and the climate crisis. As a result, packaging design will need to be in line with efforts undertaken by the industry to improve their processes and better serve the end consumer and the planet.
Some of the most important innovations in packaging that will drive this sector during the next few years include:
- Packages that change their temperature.
This is among the most interesting innovations in packaging: the ability of a package to heat or chill a product, activated by the end consumer.
On one hand, this has led to the emergence of self-chilling cans: cans that are capable of cooling themselves using a liquid CO2 system activated by the user. The consumer simply needs to invert the package and twist the base of the can. After waiting for about 75 to 90 seconds, the content can get up to 30 degrees colder, in a package that is also 100% recyclable.
This solution has been implemented by The Joseph Company of the United States, which is already opening more branches in its country of origin and encouraging other companies to develop their own chilling creative packaging.
This new development can also work in the opposite way: a package that, when activated by the user, can heat up without the need to use a microwave or other means. In this case, the package simply requires users to fill the system with cold water and, after waiting for 15 minutes, food like pasta, rice or soup are hot and ready to eat.
- Smart packaging to improve consumer safety.
Innovations in packaging to improve user safety in relation to perishable products will also be implemented by the food industry.
The best example is badge technology: when applied to product labels, it can detect a product’s level of CO2, indicating whether the food product inside is still fresh or no longer suitable for consumption. Furthermore, this label also warns the consumer about the number of days that it has remained in cold storage through changes in its color.
- Changes in materials.
Packaging design in the food industry is also starting to apply recyclable materials, such as mineralized resin or Bees Wrap, a sustainable and reusable alternative to aluminum foil or the film that is commonly used to wrap food products.
Do you want to learn more about the latest innovations in packaging and how to successfully apply them?
At Safe Load Testing Technologies we have a track record of more than two decades in the business of packaging optimization, and we work to help organizations develop safer packages as per the latest standards and trends. Get in touch with us so that we can study your case.