Flexible packaging is one of the fastest growing segments of the packaging industry. It combines the best qualities of plastic, film, paper and aluminium foil which provides a broad range of protective properties whilst using the least amount of material.
New packaging technologies are leading the way for greater recyclability—these include developments like compostable containers, barrier film packages that can be recycled, and food packaging materials that are bio-based, edible, and biodegradable.
Flexible packaging is at the forefront of packaging trends in product protection, packaging design and performance, consumer convenience, and sustainability which positively impacts the environment, consumers and businesses.
The production process of flexible packaging starts with less waste than rigid packaging, while also using up to 85 percent less energy and fewer natural resources. That means reduced landfill discards, carbon emissions and volatile organic compounds polluting the earth. With flexible packaging being lighter and taking up less space than rigid packaging, the transportation, shipping, and warehousing costs are also reduced—a benefit for companies and consumers.
The enhanced barrier properties of flexible packaging keep foods fresher for longer and contribute to a longer shelf-life, enhancing food security and reducing waste—the main advantage over rigid packaging. Other advantages include: low-cost sterilisation processes, better print capabilities for enhanced product appearance, no bottlenecking during the filling process, and more space on the surface area for promotion and product information. Flexible packaging is also more resilient than rigid packaging.
The stand-up pouches segment has a large market share in the flexible packaging market, according to Markets and Markets. The segment is estimated to account for the largest share in 2021, mainly because of growing consumption of food and beverages, as well as dairy products.
The Asian region plays a key role in the market for flexible packaging, and accounted for the largest share among all the regions in 2015. It is projected to grow at the highest rate from 2016 to 2021 in terms of value. This is mainly due to the increasing demand for flexible packaging in China and India, coupled with the growing food and beverage industry in these countries.
Flexible packaging is also reusable. Features such as zip locks, spouts, and resealable seals make usage more convenient. With consumers increasingly looking for more convenience, these features can provide manufacturers just what they need to better cater to consumers’ demands.