03.11.2016

The growing popularity of flexible packaging

Flexible packaging continues to overtake other forms of packaging as both consumers and brand owners often prefer it.

Food packaging is designed to preserve and store contents while keeping products fresher, longer. Flexible packaging does even more, as it is great at achieving packaging goals and more eco-friendly than other forms of packaging because it takes less energy to produce — lowering CO2 emissions and their effect on the environment. Flexible packaging is also less expensive to produce than alternative packaging materials.

The major drawback of flexible packaging is that it is considered difficult to recycle. Despite the low cost of flexible packaging, some manufacturers are resisting switching over as their current packaging machinery is in place and expensive to replace.

What is driving the popularity of flexible packaging?
Every week, new products are transitioned to flexible packaging, so what is behind this growing trend? The biggest driving force is consumer and retail demand. Consumers want the plastic pouches and bags because they like the way the flexible packaging looks, and the packaging is easy to open, transports well, takes up less storage space. Retailers also like the appearance of flexible packaging, and the fact that it takes up less shelf space — allowing stores be more creative with their merchandise displays.

Thanks to an increase in natural gas production, the making of polyethylene (PE) is now cheap in the United States. Low-density PE is the primary raw material used in manufacturing flexible packaging, lowering production costs by up to 40 percent compared to rigid plastic packaging. Since PE is strong and lightweight, transportation costs are also lower.

PE is also a less wasteful material than other plastics used in rigid plastic packaging. This creates a business case for using PE — especially with the criticism of environmentalists concerning plastic being difficult to recycle. For example, by using an additive in PE, it biodegrades in only 18 months in places where there is a high count of microbes such as a landfill. When completely broken down, all that is left is carbon and water. Another advantage is that flexible packaging usually has a barrier material (foil) that doesn't allow damaging UV rays from the sun reach the package contents. This type of packaging also excels at protecting packaged materials from dampness, contamination, grease and oxygen that might oxidize the material in the packaging. 


Related News