Five packaging trends for food containers

Food packaging packaging trends are on the rise. Mainly as a result of regulatory developments and customer demand for sustainability and circularity.
The Royal Decree on Packaging and Packaging Waste, which has just been made public, drives a movement towards circularity and packaging sustainability.

This initiative was born with the intention of promoting the reduction and reuse of packaging, as well as recycling and the use of recycled materials in packaging.

This will be achieved through particular methods that affect:

  • Packers.
  • Distribution.
  • Manufacturers.
  • Packaging holders. 
  • Administrations.
  • Consumers.

Among other things, the weight of packaging waste produced will be reduced by 13% in 2025 and 15% in 2030 compared to 2010. Furthermore, by 2030, all packaging must be 100% recyclable and, if possible , reused.

Food Container Packaging Trends

Weight reduction of the material used

Reducing package weight has long been a priority for companies, both for economic and environmental reasons. Currently, packaging is being introduced that attempts to minimize the amount of material in proportion to the amount of product contained.

These are "bag inboxes", or cardboard boxes with a plastic bag that allows the product to be dosed. This style was common in the horeca sector, but is now making the transition to shelves.

Weight reduction

Packaging materials that encourage recycling

Various firms have introduced containers and packaging materials made entirely of monomaterials, relying on technologies such as lamination or biorientation in their transformation process. When looking for medium and high barriers, polyamide (PA) and EVOH appear to be viable options.
Several initiatives have even been launched with the aim of altering the quantities of EVOH and PA so that they are compatible with polyethylene (PE) recycling processes. Additionally, adhesives are used that promote the compatibility of various materials throughout the recycling process.

Alternative materials include paper and cardboard

Paper and cardboard have long been used in food packaging, but it was not until last year, with the possible implementation of the "non-reusable virgin plastic tax", that this issue was brought to attention. There are already alternatives to plastic laminates on paper on the market, most of them based on aqueous dispersions and with the aim of guaranteeing that these coatings do not affect the recyclability of the paper.

On the other hand, new advances are being marketed that mix a plastic substance with hard cardboard, facilitating the sealing of the container and providing it with gas barrier capabilities and resistance to humidity. These advancements allow the user to easily separate plastic and cardboard through a delamination process.

Implementation of chemical recycling in the food industry

The availability of regulated recycling technologies for PET and its integration as a food-safe material has resulted in its rapid incorporation into packaging materials, namely bottles and trays. Chemical recycling has just become a commercial option, with grades from Repsol aimed at the polyolefins market.


Biodegradable materials

Compostable material is slowly hitting store shelves, but at a slower pace than anticipated. The main uses are household objects (glasses, cutlery, plates, etc.), coffee capsules, bags for packaging fruits and vegetables and bags for storing organic waste, all of them destined for the brown container.
This year, more complicated uses have been seen on the European market, such as some potato chip bags, which are made of biodegradable materials.

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