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Why Flexible Packaging is Trending
The flexible packaging industry is one of the fastest-growing packaging sectors. In 2012, flexible packaging was the second largest packaging sector in the United States after corrugated cardboard. According to the Flexible Packaging Association, Flexible packaging has garnered 19% of the $145 billion U.S. packaging market, as seen in the figure to the right.
Flexible packaging consumption has been increasing for over a decade. This phenomenon is due to a multitude of benefits flexible packaging has to offer. In this article, we will discuss three key benefits: consumer satisfaction, resource reduction, and cost savings.
In September of 2015, the Flexible Packaging Association completed a consumer survey on retail packaging with 2,120 respondents aged 18 and over. The three highest packaging attributes rated by consumers were: easy to store, easy to open, and easy to reseal. Flexible packaging satisfies all these desires because of its high level of customization. Easy-tear tops, resealable zippers, and many more accessories can be added to pouches and bags. Along with these features, flexible packaging is also lightweight, making it easy for consumers to take on-the-go.
From a marketing perspective, flexible packaging allows for better brand presentation as well. Unlike rigid packages, designs can be directly printed on flexible packages, making the entire package the canvas and allowing for more eye-catching graphics to be added. The shape of the packaging can also be customized more easily than rigid containers.
Another reason why flexible packaging has been a fast growing sector is because of its low environmental impact. According to the Flexible Packaging Association, to hold 60 lbs of juice, you would need to use a container made from 50 lbs of glass (jars), 6 lbs of PET (rigid), 3 lbs of aluminum (cans), or 1.5 lbs of plastic (flexible pouches).
An increase in material has environmental consequences due to energy, water, and waste. For example, a single serving of juice in a flexible pouch emits 4,652 kg-CO2 equivalent whereas a PET bottle emits 7,319 kg-CO2 equivalent, which equates to 57% more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. An aluminum can uses 658% more water than a flexible juice pouch and glass bottles contribute 1,213% more landfill waste than the flexible packaging. For additional information on how flexible packaging is more sustainable than other packaging options, see article: “The Environmental Upsides to Flexible Packaging.”
Flexible packaging costs less to produce and transport than other types of packaging. Through a study done by the FPA, 57% of the brand owners surveyed that switched to pouches and bags lowered their production costs and 49% lowered supply chain and shipping costs. To illustrate, 1 truckload of flat, flexible pouches equals 26 truckloads of glass jar containers. This reduces both transportation costs and carbon emissions, thus saving the environment while saving you money.