Ahead of the Recycling Curve

While many have become familiar with the mantra ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’, the reality is that just 9% of the world’s plastic waste is actually being recycled, according to a 2018 research from the United Nations, and next-generation technologies are only small pieces of the greater equation that will address and solve the waste and recycling crisis. Brands, manufacturers, packaging industry bodies, governments, and environmental non-profits need to work in harmony to improve recycling rates. In such a context, Mintel experts say that it is important that packaging manufacturers and brands act ‘Ahead of the Recycling Curve’ by developing and commercialisng recyclable package innovations even if the capabilities to recycle them do not yet exist.

There is a dire need to explore technologies that are ‘technically’ recyclable now, and for the development of plastic alternatives - not just single-use plastics, but for all types of plastics and packaging. Time is of the essence; these technologies must be developed today, ahead of their ability to be recycled, rather than the other way around”, said Mintel Global Packaging Director David Luttenberger.

In-store Refill

Simultaneously, the rapid growth of independent packaging-free stores is driving retailers across the industry to consider how to create simple, branded, and engaging refill opportunities in-store. In-store Refill is this year’s second main global packaging trend, according to Mintel.

Regardless of the material used, the next iteration of the circular economy is clearly focused on reusability, alongside recyclability. With single-use now a toxic phrase for many consumers, refillable packaging is becoming more and more commonly known and used,” added David Luttenberger.

However, without the possibility to use packaging to communicate with consumers, branding can become challenging. “Brands should look to offer memorable experiences through refill in order to create brand engagement, with those bringing some theatre to the refill moment most likely to succeed,” explains Luttenberger.

Packaging Reset

In the years ahead, consumers will usher in an era of conscious, rather than conspicuous consumption and will reward companies that take action on sustainability issues in a responsible way, aggressively rewarding brands that help them understand what is actually better, rather than what is ‘less bad’. “Successful brands, package manufacturers, and retailers will be those that develop, commercialise, and put to use environmentally responsible packaging based on science and facts rather than social media fiction and fear,” concludes the market research firm.