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2023 Trends for the PackTech Universe

PackTech Ventures - Newsletter #3 – January 2023

“Sustainability” is a word that has always been associated with “Environment Preservation”. However, the efforts of large companies in favor of the environment often seem ineffective, bordering on “Greenwashing” (that is, selling as “green” what is not), despite investments in communication. Today, we have reached the limit: either humanity acts or we will face the end of the world as we know it. There is no room for us to ignore the impact of our choices and attitudes.

Thus, the first trend for 2023 is that, finally, NATURE IS PRESENT IN THE BOARD ROOM: as pointed out by Plan A, a software company specialized in Sustainability and ESG reports, businesses need to understand how much they will be impacted by the destruction of Nature and by climate change; therefore, they should rethink their KPIs (performance indexes). More conversations about social-environmental impact as part of Business decision-making are expected.

Measuring impact is a challenge – but budgeting the necessary investment for the decarbonization of Businesses will be fundamental for achieving the zero emissions goal. Decarbonizing Businesses is the key to reducing socio-environmental impacts. Thus, the second trend for 2023 is DECARBONIZATION.

According to the Packaging Europe portal, the European Community approved in November 2022 the revision of the Packaging and Packaging Disposal Guidelines, and this impacts not only those who operate and sell inputs within the region but also those who export finished products to member countries. The first sector impacted by the ban on single-use plastic packaging, is Foodservice: cutlery, plates, cups, straws, and any other item used to package Food & Beverages cannot be made from disposable plastic. The use of items manufactured with Polypropylene (PP) has been the option, thanks to its durability, compatibility with food, and ease of cleaning. The other sector to be impacted from July of this year (when the Guidelines come into effect, imposing targets and deadlines) will be Consumer Goods: the sector continues to test solutions to achieve its previously signed commitments for 2025 and 2030; however, this regulatory framework, in addition to continued pressure from activists and shareholders, is imposing an acceleration in the implementation of environmentally sound packaging solutions. Therefore, the third trend for 2023 is REGULATORY RESTRICTIONS.

The packaging sector is not sitting idly by and continues to develop solutions to respond to climate challenges. Biomaterials – but not intended for food, such as algae and cellulose pulp – have been explored as alternative materials as waste from agriculture and food processing in the industry. We have observed the growing interest of Consumer Goods companies in adopting paper packaging. However, some challenges persist in the adoption of paper as a universal packaging solution: machinability, and the use of barriers that facilitate recyclability. Specifically, in the case of barriers, the substitution of polymer coatings for dispersions is something to be monitored. Scaling the use of ALTERNATIVE MATERIALS is the fourth trend for 2023.

At last, the consideration and accounting of social-environmental impacts certainly influence these four trends mentioned. However, the design of any package must always be centered on its consumer. Trash is a design error, and therefore, rethinking design from the perspective of circularity is essential to address trends. However, we cannot forget the interaction of consumers with this same design – and, thus, INCLUSION THROUGH ACCESSIBILITY AND INTERACTIVITY is the fifth trend for 2023. Aspects such as the use of colors, fonts and images need to be rethought for people who are p. ex. Color blind, dyslexic, have learning difficulties or visual impairments. In addition, the shape and type of opening of the packages must also be rethought for people with motor limitations, in order to promote their independence in the interaction and consumption of the product. Companies need to learn from these users how they have hacked their own solutions to deliver affordable packaging designs.

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