Sustainability in Packaging

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Packaging

The impact of public and private sustainability efforts continues to grow in the US packaging industry. Driven by rising concern about the environmental effects of packaging production, use, and disposal, these efforts are driving a shift in product mix toward packaging that can help packaging producers and end users meet such targets as:

  • source reduction (i.e., reducing packaging material volume)
  • improved recycling rates, especially for plastics
  • increased use of materials that are biodegradable and/or compostable
  • increased use of recycled content in packaging
  • expansion of reusable packaging programs

However, packaging sustainability is not straightforward, and cost and performance will continue to be top priorities of packaging customers.

Pandemic Accelerates Expansion of Private Sustainability Targets While Public Efforts Slow

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a backdrop for expansion of private sector sustainability targets, even as the pandemic has caused public sector efforts to slow somewhat. These efforts have been most pronounced in the food, beverage, and consumer markets, with major packaging firms as well as end users – including Nestlé, Keurig Dr Pepper, PepsiCo, and L’Oréal – announcing aggressive new goals for packaging sustainability and introducing packaging solutions to meet established ones. Sustainability efforts have also grown in the e-commerce market. For instance, in 2021, major shipping concerns in Europe launched reusable e-commerce packaging solutions that could translate to the US market.

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

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.

The Challenge in Finding the Best Packaging Solution

There is no one perfect packaging solution that meets all end user needs. Instead, the most packaging end users seek packaging with the combination of performance, cost, and sustainability that suits them best:

  • Cost is often the top consideration for packaging end users due to their need to sustain a product-to-packaging cost ratio that is reasonable for the consumer demographics they are targeting. For instance, bargain brands typically opt for low-cost packaging materials to keep their products affordable, while luxury brands may employ higher value packaging because the added shelf appeal can justify the product’s higher price point.
  • Performance is another key consideration for end users, particularly in markets where packaging must meet regulatory requirements to ensure product quality and safety. Foods, beverages, pharmaceuticals, and myriad other products such as pesticides, chemicals, and lubricants are all subject to such regulations. For instance, packaging regulations for the food and pharmaceutical markets are enforced by the FDA.
  • Material composition of packaging is also increasingly influenced by both corporate and government environmental policy – most notably plastic bans and restrictions; these laws are key drivers of packaging innovation, promoting supplier efforts to develop new products that support end user compliance with updated policies.

Additionally, packaging choice is increasingly influenced by efforts to:

  • reduce packaging size and eliminate excess packaging (e.g., right-sizing e-commerce packaging) to improve distributional efficiencies
  • honor sustainability pledges to reduce material consumption
  • address rising consumer demand for frustration-free packaging and (in the food market) smaller portion sizes

Consumer preferences are extremely important in retail packaging, as the appearance/shelf appeal of packaging can affect consumer perceptions of products and thus purchasing decisions. Packaging sustainability can have a similar effect, with rising consumer concerns about packaging waste, climate change, and other environmental issues driving increased demand for packaging that is recyclable, compostable, biodegradable, or sourced from recycled materials.

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  1. Sustainability in Packaging

    $3,500.00

    1. 1 Executive Summary

      $323.00

      1. Figure 1-1. Sustainable Packaging Market

    2. 2 COVID-19 Pandemic

      $369.00

      1. 2.1 Overview

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      2. 2.2 Impact on the Economy

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        1. Table | Macroeconomic Indicators, 2019 - 2023

        2. Figure 2-1. Real GDP by Economic Sector, 2020 - 2023

      3. 2.3 Impact on the Packaging Industry

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      4. 2.4 Impact on Sustainability Efforts

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    3. 3 Packaging Introduction

      $612.00

      1. 3.1 Study Scope & Packaging Definition

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      2. 3.2 Packaging Markets

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        1. 3.2.1 Sales Outlook

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          1. Figure 3-1. Packaging Demand, 2010 - 2025

        2. 3.2.2 Food Packaging

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        3. 3.2.3 Beverage Packaging

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        4. 3.2.4 Pharmaceutical Packaging

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        5. 3.2.5 Foodservice Disposables

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        6. 3.2.6 Other Markets

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      3. 3.3 Key Packaging Product Trends

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        1. 3.3.1 Corrugated & Paperboard Boxes

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          1. Figure 3-2. Corrugated & Paperboard Box Demand, 2011 - 2026

        2. 3.3.2 Rigid Containers

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        3. 3.3.3 Flexible Packaging

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      4. 3.4 Materials Competition

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        1. 3.4.1 Key Materials & Market Trends

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        2. 3.4.2 Shipment Outlook

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          1. Figure 3-3. Packaging Shipments, 2010 - 2025

          2. Table | Key Advantages & Disadvantages by Packaging Material Type

        3. 3.4.3 Paper Packaging

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        4. 3.4.4 Plastic Packaging

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        5. 3.4.5 Metal Packaging

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        6. 3.4.6 Glass & Other Packaging

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    4. 4 What Drives Packaging Choice?

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      1. 4.1 The Challenge in Finding the Best Packaging Solution

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      2. 4.2 Pricing Trends & Packaging Cost

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        1. Figure 4-1. Packaging Pricing Growth by Product, 2012 - 2021

        2. Figure 4-2. Comparison of Prices for Competitive Packaging Products

      3. 4.3 Performance

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        1. Table | Key Performance Characteristics by Packaging Material Type

      4. 4.4 Changing Package Size Preferences

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      5. 4.5 Shelf Appeal

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      6. 4.6 Regulations

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        1. 4.6.1 Plastic Bag & Container Bans

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        2. 4.6.2 PFAS in Food Packaging

          $323.00

        3. 4.6.3 Container Deposit Laws

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        4. 4.6.4 Recycled Plastic Content Regulations

          $323.00

        5. 4.6.5 Extended Producer Responsibility

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    5. 5 Consumer Attitudes & Packaging Preferences

      $2,577.00

      1. 5.1 Recycling Participation Rated by Material

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        1. Figure 5-1. Consumer Recycling Frequency by Type of Packaging, 2021

      2. 5.2 Composting of Packaging

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        1. Table | Consumer Frequency of Composting Packaging by Gender, Age Group, Urban vs. Rural Setting, &Annual Household Income Bracket, 2021

      3. 5.3 Willingness to Pay for Expanded Curbside Recycling & Composting Services

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        1. Table | Willingness to Pay for Expanded Curbside Recycling & Composting Services by Gender, Age Group, Urban vs. Rural Setting, &Annual Household Income Bracket, 2021

      4. 5.4 Who Should Pay For Waste Services

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        1. Table | Consumer Opinion on Who Should Pay for Waste Services by Gender, Age Group, Urban vs. Rural Setting, &Annual Household Income Bracket, 2021

      5. 5.5 Packaging Materials Ranked by Perceived Eco-Friendliness

        $417.00

        1. Figure 5-2. Consumer Perception of the Eco-Friendliness of Packaging Materials, 2021

        2. Table | Consumer Perspectives on the Eco-Friendliness of Packaging Using Conventional Petroleum-Based Plastics by Gender, Age Group, Urban vs. Rural Setting, &Annual Household Income Bracket, 2021

        3. Table | Consumer Perspectives on the Eco-Friendliness of Packaging Using Plant-Based Bioplastics by Gender, Age Group, Urban vs. Rural Setting, &Annual Household Income Bracket, 2021

      6. 5.6 Sustainable Packaging Features Particularly Sought by Consumers

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        1. Figure 5-3. Features Consumers Especially Look for When Considering “Sustainable” or “Eco-Friendly” Packaging, 2021

        2. Table | Features Consumers Especially Look for When Considering “Sustainable” or “Eco-Friendly” Packaging by Gender, Age Group, Urban vs. Rural Setting, &Annual Household Income Bracket, 2021

      7. 5.7 Attitudes About Recycling & Biodegradability

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        1. Table | Consumer Attitudes About Recycled Plastics & Biodegradability by Gender, Age Group, Urban vs. Rural Setting, &Annual Household Income Bracket, 2021

      8. 5.8 Attitudes About Recycling

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        1. Table | Consumer Attitudes About Recycling by Gender, Age Group, Urban vs. Rural Setting, &Annual Household Income Bracket, 2021

      9. 5.9 Attitudes About Recyclable Packaging & Recycled Content in Packaging

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        1. Table | Consumer Attitudes About Recyclable & Recycled Content in Packaging by Gender, Age Group, Urban vs. Rural Setting, &Annual Household Income Bracket, 2021

      10. 5.10 Curbside Recycling Services: Consumer Access

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        1. Table | Access To Curbside Recycling at Home by Product to Recycle, Gender, Age Group, Urban vs. Rural Setting, &Annual Household Income Bracket, 2021

        2. Table | Access To Curbside Composting Services at Home by Type, Gender, Age Group, Rural vs. Urban Setting, &Annual Household Income Bracket, 2021

      11. 5.11 Drop-Off Recycling Services: Consumer Usage

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        1. Table | Usage of Drop-Off Recycling Services

        2. Table | Usage of Drop-Off Composting Services

    6. 6 What Is Sustainability?

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      1. 6.1 Introduction

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      2. 6.2 Total Environmental Footprint

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      3. 6.3 Key Goals

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        1. 6.3.1 Resource/Waste Reduction

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        2. 6.3.2 Energy Efficiency

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        3. 6.3.3 Pollution & Waste Prevention

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        4. 6.3.4 Food Waste Reduction

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      4. 6.4 Areas of Focus

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        1. 6.4.1 Recycling

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        2. 6.4.2 Recycled Content Usage

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        3. 6.4.3 Biodegradability

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        4. 6.4.4 Compostability

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        5. 6.4.5 Renewable Resources

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        6. 6.4.6 Reusability

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      5. 6.5 Packaging Material Sustainability Comparison

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        1. 6.5.1 Competitive Factors

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          1. Table | Rating Packaging Materials by Sustainability Metric

        2. 6.5.2 Material Recycling Rate Comparison

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          1. Figure 6-1. Packaging Recycling Rates by Material, 2010 - 2018

    7. 7 Market Spotlight: Food Packaging

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      1. 7.1 Market Scope

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        1. Figure 7-1. Food Packaging: Product Examples

      2. 7.2 Demand Forecast

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        1. Table | Food Packaging Demand by Packaging Format, 2010 - 2025

        2. Figure 7-2. Food Packaging Demand, 2010 - 2025

      3. 7.3 Materials Comparison

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        1. Table | Food Packaging Demand by Material, 2010 - 2025

        2. Figure 7-3. Food Packaging Demand Growth by Material, 2010 - 2025

      4. 7.4 New Sustainable Packaging Developments

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      5. 7.5 Suppliers & Sustainability Goals

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    8. 8 Material Spotlight: Molded Fiber

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      1. 8.1 Product Description

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        1. Figure 8-1. Molded Fiber Packaging: Product Examples

      2. 8.2 Demand Forecast

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        1. Table | Molded Fiber Packaging Demand by Type & Market, 2016 - 2026

        2. Figure 8-2. Molded Fiber Packaging Demand by Type, 2016 - 2026

      3. 8.3 Suppliers

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    9. 9 Product Spotlight: Bowls

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      1. 9.1 Product Description

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        1. Figure 9-1. Food Packaging Bowls: Product Examples

      2. 9.2 Demand Forecast

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        1. Table | Food Packaging Bowl Demand by Application, 2010 - 2025

        2. Figure 9-2. Food Packaging Bowl Demand, 2010 - 2025

      3. 9.3 Materials Comparison

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        1. Table | Food Packaging Bowl Demand by Material, 2010 - 2025

        2. Figure 9-3. Food Packaging Bowl Demand Growth by Material, 2010 - 2025

      4. 9.4 New Sustainable Product Development

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      5. 9.5 Suppliers & Sustainability Initiatives

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    10. 10 End User Strategies & Goals

      $756.00

      1. 10.1 Packaging End Users Up the Ante on Sustainability Targets

        $323.00

      2. 10.2 The Walmart Effect

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      3. 10.3 Recycled Plastic Content Targets

        $536.00

        1. Table | Selected Consumer Packaged Goods Producers: Recycled Content Goals

      4. 10.4 Shifting Away from Plastic to Paper- & Plant-Based Packaging

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      5. 10.5 Prominent Labels Can Convey Subtler Sustainability Attributes

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      6. 10.6 Expansion of Reusable Packaging Programs

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    11. 11 Plastic Packaging Sustainability

      $1,192.00

      1. 11.1 Leading Packaging Products

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        1. Figure 11-1. Plastic Packaging: Product Examples

      2. 11.2 Key Sustainability Metrics

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        1. 11.2.1 Plastics Recycling Rate

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          1. Figure 11-2. Plastic Packaging Recycling Rate, 2010 - 2018

        2. 11.2.2 Recycled Content Usage

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          1. Table | Selected Plastic Packaging Suppliers: Recycled Content Goals

          2. Table | Plastic Packaging Waste Collected for Recycling by Product & Resin, 2017 - 2020

        3. 11.2.3 Labeling & Bale Standards

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        4. 11.2.4 Captive Recycling Operations

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        5. 11.2.5 Source Reduction Efforts

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        6. 11.2.6 Biodegradable Plastics

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        7. 11.2.7 Compostable Plastics

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        8. 11.2.8 Biobased Plastics

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      3. 11.3 Packaging Producer Strategies & Goals

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        1. 11.3.1 Leading Plastic Packaging Producers

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        2. 11.3.2 Amcor

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        3. 11.3.3 Berry Global

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        4. 11.3.4 Sealed Air

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      4. 11.4 Consumer Trends in Plastic Packaging Recycling

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        1. 11.4.1 Plastic Container Recycling

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          1. Table | Consumer Frequency of Plastic Container Recycling by Gender, Age Group, Urban vs. Rural Setting, &Annual Household Income Bracket, 2021

        2. 11.4.2 Plastic Film & Bag Recycling

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          1. Table | Consumer Frequency of Plastic Film & Bag Recycling by Gender, Age Group, Urban vs. Rural Setting, &Annual Household Income Bracket, 2021

      5. 11.5 New Product Development Efforts

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    12. 12 Paper & Paperboard Packaging

      $634.00

      1. 12.1 Leading Packaging Products

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        1. Figure 12-1. Paper & Paperboard Packaging: Product Examples

      2. 12.2 Key Sustainability Metrics

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        1. 12.2.1 Paper Recycling Rate

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          1. Figure 12-2. Paper & Paperboard Packaging Recycling Rate by Product, 2010 - 2018

        2. 12.2.2 Recycled Content Usage

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        3. 12.2.3 Source Reduction Efforts

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        4. 12.2.4 Biodegradable & Compostable Products

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      3. 12.3 Packaging Producer Strategies & Goals

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      4. 12.4 Consumer Trends in Paper Packaging Recycling

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        1. 12.4.1 Paper Recycling

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          1. Table | Consumer Frequency of Paper Recycling by Gender, Age Group, Urban vs. Rural Setting, &Annual Household Income Bracket, 2021

        2. 12.4.2 Paperboard & Corrugated Recycling

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          1. Table | Consumer Frequency of Paperboard & Corrugated Recycling by Gender, Age Group, Urban vs. Rural Setting, &Annual Household Income Bracket, 2021

      5. 12.5 New Product Development Efforts

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    13. 13 Metal Packaging

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      1. 13.1 Leading Packaging Products

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        1. Figure 13-1. Metal Packaging: Product Examples

      2. 13.2 Key Sustainability Metrics

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        1. 13.2.1 Metal Recycling Rate

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          1. Figure 13-2. Metal Packaging Recycling Rate by Type, 2010 - 2018

        2. 13.2.2 Recycled Content Usage

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        3. 13.2.3 Source Reduction Efforts

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      3. 13.3 Packaging Producer Strategies & Goals

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      4. 13.4 New Product Development Efforts

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    14. 14 Glass Packaging

      $348.00

      1. 14.1 Leading Packaging Products

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        1. Figure 14-1. Glass Packaging: Product Examples

      2. 14.2 Key Sustainability Metrics

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        1. 14.2.1 Glass Recycling Rate

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          1. Figure 14-2. Glass Packaging Recycling Rate by Product, 2010 - 2018

        2. 14.2.2 Recycled Content Usage

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        3. 14.2.3 Source Reduction Efforts

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      3. 14.3 Packaging Producer Strategies & Goals

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      4. 14.4 Consumer Trends in Glass Container Recycling

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        1. Table | Consumer Frequency of Glass Container Recycling by Gender, Age Group, Urban vs. Rural Setting, &Annual Household Income Bracket, 2021

      5. 14.5 New Product Development Efforts

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    15. 15 Molded Fiber Packaging

      $325.00

      1. 15.1 Leading Packaging Products

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        1. Figure 15-1. Molded Fiber Packaging: Product Examples

      2. 15.2 Materials Overview

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        1. 15.2.1 Molded Pulp

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        2. 15.2.2 Molded Sugarcane

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        3. 15.2.3 Other Molded Fiber

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      3. 15.3 Key Sustainability Metrics

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        1. 15.3.1 Molded Fiber Recycling

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        2. 15.3.2 Recycled Content Usage

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        3. 15.3.3 Source Reduction Efforts

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        4. 15.3.4 Biodegradable & Compostable Products

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        5. 15.3.5 Wood Pulp vs. Agricultural Waste

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      4. 15.4 Packaging Producer Strategies & Goals

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      5. 15.5 New Product Development Efforts

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    16. 16 List of Industry Participants

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      1. Table | Selected Industry Participants

    17. 17 Appendix

      $2,199.00

      1. 17.1 Report Details

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        1. Table | Industry Codes Related to Food Packaging

      2. 17.2 Definitions

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      3. 17.3 Abbreviations

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        1. Table | Abbreviations & Acronyms Used in Study

      4. 17.4 Freedonia Methodology

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      5. 17.5 Study-Specific Methodology

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      6. 17.6 Sources

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      7. 17.7 Associations & Agencies

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      8. 17.8 Related Studies & Reports

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      9. 17.9 Macroeconomic Assumptions

        $994.00

        1. 17.9.1 Economic Environment

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          1. Table | Macroeconomic Indicators, 2010 - 2025

        2. 17.9.2 Demographic Trends

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          1. Table | Population & Households, 2010 - 2025

        3. 17.9.3 Consumer Spending

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          1. Table | Personal Consumption Expenditures & Retail Sales, 2010 - 2025

        4. 17.9.4 Retail Sales

          $604.00

          1. Table | Nondurable Goods Retail Sales, 2010 - 2025

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