We consumers face different packaging materials and solutions daily. Europeans consume on average nearly three times their body weight in packaging per annum. Packaging steers our consumption decisions, consciously or subconsciously, and makes our lives more convenient. Packaging is a central element of nearly all businesses: bundling services into sales packages, protecting consumer goods, transporting items to other markets.

We asked three of our experts at Vision Hunters what they perceive as the most exciting developments in the field of packaging at the moment. 

Sartorial solutions

Iris Ollila, Project Manager: “I have been following with curiosity myriad new solutions emerging in different geographies and industries over the past years.

Instead of a strong one-size-fits-all trend, I see the field of packaging becoming ever more diverse what comes to materials, shapes, sizes and weights.

Solutions will vary depending on factors like availability of local raw materials, ways of doing business, logistic networks, population density and consumer preferences. Tailored solutions are often demanded for the products found inside, so why not match that with the packaging. Simultaneously, the role of packaging in marketing and brand communication will continue to grow, which supports the desire of differentiation. This will also lead to novel forms of collaboration between different actors, including producers, converters, brand-owners, academia and raw material suppliers, and be observed in the form of cross-industrial acquisitions.”

Right-sizing of packaging performance

Samuel Leppänen, Consultant: “Right-sizing of the packaging can of course mean many things: minimizing the empty space in packaging, light-weighting of the packaging material, reducing secondary or tertiary packaging etc., but the trend that is most exiting to me is right-sizing of the packaging performance. This is especially interesting considering paper packaging. To reconsider what is really the performance level required of the packaging.

Instead of using materials such as plastic or aluminium to provide excessive qualities to packaging, can paper do the same thing while delivering just enough performance?

Are we simply using specific types of packaging in certain applications because we’ve always done so? One good example of this development is Nestlé Smarties packaging. Smarties didn’t have strict requirements on being kept fresh in the first place, yet 250 million plastic packs were used annually. These were replaced with fully paper-based and recyclable alternatives worldwide, thus reducing over 400 metric tons of plastic just in this one specific product.”

Paradigm shift of technologies

Evgen Multia, Project Manager: ”The transition from fossil-based materials towards bio-based materials is ongoing. Especially applications that are in contact with food require new solutions that are recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable. Also, I find it interesting to see how the industry will solve new challenges arising from EU’s Directive on single-use plastics.

There are plenty of bio-based opportunities to explore.  Novel cellulosic films that look and perform like plastic are especially exciting.

For example, what will be the bio-based barrier solutions for packaging of challenging products such as soups, dairy products, coffee, and chocolate. In addition, the use of lignin in packaging barriers is an interesting development, as we have such abundant resources of it.  Using lignin and lignin-based sizing formulations to improve resistance of paper to water penetration is something I follow with great interest.”

Related content:  Plastics in the ecosystem (article on Forest and bio-based industries – a part of the solution in mitigating the global environmental crisis)

On our experts:
 Iris Ollilla, Project Manager, is an environmental economist by training.  Iris has conducted multiple strategic assignments, focusing on market, portfolio, and financial analysis.

Samuel Leppänen, Consultant.  Samuel has recently completed his master’s thesis on “Requirements for Sustainable Packaging in the Forest Products  Value Chain”

Evgen Multia, Project Manager, is one of our chemistry experts with over 7 years of experience in research and development in the field of analytical chemistry, biochemicals, biomacromolecules and nanoparticles.

Vision Hunters provides strategic advisory services for the forest and bio-based industries, and energy sectors. We assist leadership teams in making the smartest strategic choices to improve the outcome of their company in the future. We are highly experienced and result-oriented and have advised many of the leading companies in our industry.