Pledging to Cut Virgin Plastics, Packaging End Users Look to Paper, Bioplastic, & Molded Fiber

Cleveland OH, July 20, 2022 – Reducing use of virgin plastics is a key goal of packaging sustainability efforts, and leading US packaging suppliers including Amcor and Berry Global are showing dedication to these trends by participating in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation New Plastics Economy Global Commitment and similar pledges.

While some companies are exploring ways to fulfill such pledges by making plastic more eco-friendly – such as by improving recyclability or increasing use of recycled content – others are looking to shift away from conventional plastics altogether, changes that benefit materials that are perceived as more sustainable, including paper, bioplastics, and molded fiber.

Though often higher cost and lower performance than plastics, these materials are increasingly the focus of product development efforts. A number of promising introductions have occurred in recent years, including Sonoco Products’ Natrellis molded sugarcane, PABOCO’s paper bottles, and Danimer Scientific’s Nodax PHA bioplastic resin for use in packaging.

Metal & Glass Also Benefit from Interest in Reusable Packaging

Reusable packaging programs are of increasing interest as a means to meet corporate source-reduction goals and provide consumers with further sustainable packaging options. Most reusable packaging is made from metal, glass, or other durable materials that do not quickly degrade under use and cleaning. Though generally higher in cost and heavier in weight (which makes shipping less energy efficient), metal and glass packaging are highly recyclable and reusable, boosting their environmental profile when they exit circulation in reusable packaging programs.

Want to Learn More?

Sustainability in Packaging is focused on identifying key trends in sustainability in the packaging industry, including:

  • shifts in material mix toward more sustainable alternatives to virgin plastics (e.g., paper, bioplastics, molded fiber, recycled materials, reusable packaging)
  • packaging producer and end user sustainability efforts and target goals
  • product innovation in compostable, biodegradable, recyclable, and lightweight packaging
  • expansion of packaging reuse programs
  • supply and demand for recycled content
  • regulatory changes affecting demand for sustainable packaging

Sustainability trends are analyzed by leading packaging material (plastic, paper and paperboard, metal, glass, molded fiber) and in terms of packaging producer and end user sustainability goals. Additionally, profiles of select packaging products, markets, and materials are highlighted. Consumer survey data related to packaging sustainability collected by The Freedonia Group are also presented.