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New report on flexible packaging

The new market study states that the innovation in and implementation of smart and active packaging over the next 10 years will be the key disruptive factor affecting the flexible packaging industry. So far, these technologies have been retarded by high cost, consumer resistance to items such as sachets in packaging, and concerns about excessive packaging. However, the deployment of intelligent packaging is expected to become much more frequent with decreasing cost, increasing emphasis on food safety, anti-counterfeiting, new regulations and brand owner/consumer demand. These technologies, particularly together with printed electronics and digital printing, will become more widespread in the years to 2023. This will lead to dramatically expanded perceptions of the function of packaging, beyond the traditional containment, preservation, protection and identification to include a wide range of monitoring, tracking, warning, remediation, authentication, communication and brand protection.

According to the report, the second most disruptive technology in flexible packaging is recyclability. Because of the small amount of material used in a flexible package, it generates much less waste than other formats. However, it is not currently feasible to mechanically recycle postconsumer flexible packaging because of its thin film structure, multi-layered composition and often contamination by food waste. This situation could create problems with the sustainability and recyclability goals of many major corporations or with the reduced or zero landfill policies of many governments. More easily recyclable materials and barrier structures, including monolayers, are expected to be introduced over the next 10 years, but this will not resolve the problem unless improved collection, sorting and recycling infrastructure is implemented.