How are packaging materials evolving?

A survey carried out among the operators belonging to the community gathered around ALL4PACK Emballage Paris 2022 offers a snapshot of the sector’s environmental sensitivity.

ALL4PACK Emballage Paris, the international exhibition dedicated to sustainable packaging solutions and intralogistics scheduled in Paris from 21 to 24 November 2022, has promoted research within the community, made up of industries using packaging and suppliers.

The survey* takes stock of the vision of the sector with respect to the evolution of packaging materials, with the aim of supporting all the players in the field in the important challenges that packaging sustainability imposes between market evolutions, regulatory development and innovative solutions.

The issue of more environmentally friendly packaging

Everyone in the ALL4PACK Emballage Paris community is aware of the need for a green transition: 88% consider it to be a priority to use more environmentally friendly packaging.

The main reasons driving this transition are consumer expectations (69%), benefits in terms of brand image (56%) and changes in legislation (49%). Conversely, the obstacles expressed are, unsurprisingly, the cost of use of environmentally friendly materials (63%) followed further behind by the availability (43%) and the quality of materials (37%), obstacles more prevalent among user industries (43%) than among suppliers (27%).

Types of materials used

Diversity enhanced by the emergence of new materials: paper-cardboard (77%) and plastic (73%) remain the main materials used for packaging. Biomaterials are as yet little used (18%).

Nevertheless, when asked about the type of materials used in the coming two years, the ALL4PACK community appears to have a clear vision. The use of biomaterials should increase: 37% of respondents said that they wanted to start using biomaterials in the coming two years. Paper and cardboard should also rise significantly: 46% of decision-makers declare they wanted to use more of it.

A real decline in the use of plastic is expected to occur: 32% are intending to reduce their use of this resource, nonetheless, few plan to stop using it altogether (5%). The use of metal, glass and wood should remain relatively unchanged.

Packaging suppliers/user industries: the shared vision on the packaging sustainability

User industries are virtually unanimous on the importance of using more environmentally friendly packaging materials: 88% of them see this issue as a priority. More than 50% of packaging suppliers believe that it is a major priority to use more environmentally friendly materials. French suppliers appear to be leading the way on the subject (100% see this issue as either a priority among others or a major priority).

Explanations and motives. For user industries, consumer expectations (69%) are the primary reason leading to the use of more environmentally friendly materials, in particular in the food industry (83%). The benefits in terms of image (56%), regulatory changes (49%) and senior management wishes (35%) are the next most-cited reasons, in particular in large companies.

On the supply side, the same three reasons top the podium, but with different results: at 71%, consumer expectations are the leading reason to adopt more environmentally friendly packaging materials. Regulatory and legal changes arrive in second place (57%), followed by benefits in terms of image (55%).

Obstacles. For user industries, the main obstacles to using more environmentally friendly packaging materials is clearly cost (66%), in particular in France (71%). To a lesser extent, availability (43%) and quality of materials (43%) also appear problematic for many companies.

For suppliers, while the cost of materials is also the main obstacle to using more environmentally friendly packaging materials (57%), followed by the availability of materials (41%), the investment required to use these materials is the third most cited obstacle (29%), in particular for companies with 50 employees or more (40.5%).

Materials used. For user industries, biomaterials are currently relatively little-used (14.8%). Paper/cardboard (86%) and plastic (75.8%) remain the norm. Glass is today particularly used in the food industry (34.7%).

On the supply side, there is a still quite low number of producers of packaging made from biomaterials (22.9%), compared with suppliers of plastic packaging (69.9%) and paper/cardboard packaging (62.7%).

Materials of the future

In the next two years, many user industries expect to reduce the use of plastic (34%) but the material is still unlikely to disappear: 74% of them still expect to use it. The use of biomaterials should in parallel see a strong increase (39% expect to start using them), and that of papercardboard should also rise (48% expect to use more). With the exception of plastic, all packaging materials are on the increase in the food sector.

Among the survey respondents, a large number of packaging users expect to reduce their use of plastic (28%) but few will stop using it altogether (3.6%). The use of biomaterials should logically increase (56.6%,), just like the use of paper-cardboard should increase (66.3%) to meet the expectations of user industries. The supply of biomaterials should increase more in the food market, with 64% expecting to use this material in the coming two years (compared with 24% who use it currently).


* Survey conducted by ALL4PACK Emballage Paris between 11 April and 10 May 2022, among 211 decision makers belonging to the sectors of user industries (60%) and packaging suppliers (40%) across all categories, of all sizes and from different countries.

Find out more information about the companies mentioned in this article and published in the Buyers' Guide - PackBook by ItaliaImballaggio
COMEXPOSIUM (Exhibitions: All4pack)