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Plastic Packaging Industry Trend Forecast: 2022

Versa Pak plastic sheeting made from polyethylene for 2022 distribution.


2022 is quickly approaching, which means it’s time to reflect and think ahead for what’s next. Although 2021 was a volatile year, definite patterns emerged for the plastic packaging industry.

As you plan ahead for the future, keep these key industry trends in mind.

Plastics and Sustainability
Global consumers – and governments – continue to demand greater accountability at all levels of plastic production. They want to know what their plastics are made from, what impact that will have on the environment, how they can be recycled and more. Commercial consumers are also interested in these areas.

Now is the time to emphasize your company’s commitment to sustainability (whether downstream or upstream) with programs like reclaiming scrap and the usage of bio-based plastics. You may also want to educate yourself further on the future of the plastics industry with reports like “The New Plastics Economy.”

According to Andrew Reynolds, director at AMI consulting, “The current supply situation may focus our attention, but issues around maturity and sustainability are also the critical factors we must consider when developing future strategies.”

Customer and Consumer Preferences

The pandemic has also produced a shift in consumers’ lifestyles and preferences. According to research from AMI Consulting, these six areas comprised the biggest trends and touchpoints for consumers in 2021:

  • Digitization and e-commerce
  • Convenience
  • Authenticity and trust
  • Environment and sustainability
  • Healthy living
  • Value for money

For items like e-commerce, convenience and sustainability, it’s easy to see how plastics and packaging can play a role. Consumers are increasingly interested in plastic packaging that is easy to use, safe, and can be recycled.

Retail Margins, Labor and Supply Chains

Interwoven with the shift to at-home living and e-commerce is the drive for businesses to make their supply chains more efficient and cut costs where possible. With some industries being hit hard by the pandemic, companies are taking closer looks at all aspects of their business and finding efficiencies.

Supply chain issues have been rampant in 2021, and they may not be going away anytime soon. Coupled with ongoing labor shortages, it’s become harder to get products from point A to point B, and more crucial that you have visibility into your supply chain.

Packaging and plastics are important pieces in the supply chain puzzle. Reinforce your value to customers concerned about their supply chain costs.

Digitalization of Packaging

The Internet of Things is arriving, and it includes packaging. The digitalization of packaging can include things like upgraded tracking labels or increased reporting at each level of the packaging process.

This ties in neatly with the idea of increased e-commerce sales and more efficient supply chains. While this exact topic may not directly impact your business at this time, let customers know that you can innovate with their needs and are ahead of packaging trends.

Other Forces Shaping the Plastics Industry

Consumer Safety Concerns

More and more consumers are questioning what their packaging is made of and how it could affect their health.

A Smithers article reports, “As the use of plastic films has become more common, concerns have arisen about their ability to allow the exchange of gases and vapors that can compromise the quality and safety of packaged products, and this is being addressed by the introduction of safe, novel barrier films and coatings.”

Virgin Feedstock & Petroleum Costs

Tied into the supply chain and sustainability trends is the volatility of resin’s virgin feedstock material costs – namely, petroleum. As oil prices change, so do resin costs.

While the industry is still a long way from what The New Plastics Economy calls “decoupled plastics from fossil feedstocks,” know that it continues to be a factor that affects costs far upstream of the consumer.

Stay in the Know About the Plastics Industry

Read more trends, insights and tips from the packaging experts at Versa Pak in our distributor news resource section.

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