Like many other industries, the packaging industry has suffered through the current recession. Sustainable packaging, however, has showed impressive growth from 2008 to 2009, and has been immune to the economic downturn. Sustainability has helped companies cut costs and reduce packaging waste by using recycled and reusable materials. Europe and the U.S. represent the largest regions for sustainable packaging, together accounting for more than 70 percent of the global market.

Sustainable packaging is projected to reach $142.42 billion globally by 2015, according to a report from Global Industry Analysts (GIA). Drivers for growth include increased awareness about environmental hazards related to disposal and recycling of packaging wastes, government initiatives to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, and stringent regulations.

As eco-friendly packaging becomes mainstream, many companies are implementing green packaging as a marketing tool. Manufacturers also are under pressure to use environment-friendly materials, and adopt methods that require low-energy consumption and reduce environmental impact of packaging.

In terms of market segmentation, recycled material accounts for the largest packaging category, contributing nearly 90 percent to the total demand in the United States. However, biodegradables represent the fastest growing segment in the packaging industry. Biodegradable materials are easily decomposed by microorganisms, and reduce packaging waste, while the materials preserve food products and sustain freshness. Among biodegradables, bioplastics are garnering the greatest attention in the green packaging market. As questions loom about the limitations of bioplastics, the demand continues to swell, presenting an opportunistic market as bioplastics evolve.

Markets using sustainable packaging include cosmetics and personal care, food and beverage, food service and shipping markets, and healthcare. As an example, the study cites more than 600 new beauty products with a green label were introduced in Europe alone during the past two years, driven by consumer preference for eco-friendly plastic packaging materials.

27 percent of products at major U.S. retailers are estimated to have sustainable packaging in 2010, and by 2015, this figure is projected to reach 37 percent.

To be continued…..

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