As the Coronavirus pandemic continues, many industries around the world are having to navigate themselves through unknown territory.
One sector facing unprecedented demands is the packaging industry, which has been a key player in providing people with their essentials. The need for food, medicine and other vital products have been at an all-time high, which has left the packaging world under strain.
There has been an increase in demand for certain packaging types and others have faced drastic decline.
E-commerce shipments are expected to grow even further, as understandably many people rely on online retailers for their needs, which requires more packaging for shipping.
However, one of the most significant and devastating changes is the impact it’s had on sustainable packaging. Concerns surrounding the hygiene of packaging has consequently put the climate crisis on the back-burner for many companies, with one-use packaging now being the safest option. This has had a drastic impact on the environmental efforts that companies were starting to put into place this year.
Going into the future, packaging design needs to change to keep up with the ever-evolving trends and demands. To achieve this, three main requirements need to be considered in the future of packaging: Sustainability, hygiene and e-commerce.
Although sustainability has taken a backseat throughout this pandemic, it remains one of the most important factors to consider in the future of packaging. Switching to eco-friendly alternatives, such as replacing single-use packaging and replacing plastic materials has become a big trend with companies this year, but it’s no longer at the forefront of their minds.
We’ve been forced to become intensely aware of the germs we’re coming into contact with, through the surfaces and objects that we touch. Consequently, this has people avoiding unwrapped products and opting for the security of plastic-wrapped goods instead.
Many companies have also stopped accepting customers’ reusable packaging in fear of contamination. Paired with the huge increase in takeaway services, we’re experiencing more packaging waste than ever before.
There’s no denying that single-use plastic has been a vital part of the fight against Covid-19, especially for frontline health workers. However, if we’re not careful now, we could end up facing an even bigger environmental crisis in the future.
Companies will have to rethink their strategy when it comes to the materials and the designs they use so that packaging is suitable to meet hygiene standards but also takes into consideration the environmental crisis we are facing.
Consumers’ awareness of their health and safety has dramatically increased and these concerns will probably stay with us for years to come. As a result of this, hygiene is now the top priority for manufacturers when it comes to designing their packaging.
Given the raised concerns surrounding this issue, there is likely to be a long-term impact on packaging design, especially with products that require people to engage directly with the packaging, such as food and beverages.
One way that packaging can be customised in an attempt to make it more hygienic for consumers, is to use a material substrate that is proved to cause a shorter coronavirus survival rate. Studies have shown that plastic can harbour the virus for up to three days, but the survival rate can be shorter on certain metals and cardboard.
Consumers have been advised only to handle products that they’re going to buy, especially loose items such as food. However, according to the Government, “The risk of imported food and packaging from affected countries being contaminated with coronavirus is very unlikely. This is because the law requires the exporter to follow the right controls during the packing and shipping process to ensure good hygiene is met.”
The economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus, but despite this, the number of people shopping online has rapidly increased, with sales rising by 52% compared to last year.
This has resulted in a demand for delivered goods and packaging that’s designed for e-commerce. Although designs for e-commerce packaging don’t necessarily have to change, they do need to be updated to keep up with the growing intensity of online retailing.
Packaging must adapt to withstand increased transportation, boost hygiene to prevent contamination and have a more appealing appearance.
With the current health crisis, it’s particularly important to focus on the contamination aspect, to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 and any other viruses. To try and achieve this, vacuum and protective packaging can aid food preservation, and provide a barrier to protect products from contamination during transport.
It’s evident that packaging needs to change amidst the coronavirus outbreak and certain aspects are more critical to target than others. The pressure on the packaging industry will only increase and it’s time to prepare for the future, uncertain as it may be.
Although we’ve come a long way since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s still undetermined how long we will have to share our home with this dangerous virus. Manufacturers and companies must begin to make these changes, to ensure that demands can be met, environmental efforts get back on track and transmission through packaging is minimised.
If you’re looking to make a change, we can help! Our products at Tyler Packaging offer the latest technical advances in packaging materials, design and visual impact.
We’ve also developed a range of Sustainable Packaging including 100% Recyclable, Renewable Bio-Based and Compostable pouches that are also plastic-free, which can be designed to suit any company’s needs while providing suitable protection for the products inside, helping companies choose the best packaging for them.
With the focus recently being taken off sustainability, businesses must find a way to design packaging that protects people AND the environment.
Together, we can make a change.