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THOUGHT

Why Are Rigid Packaging Declining and Flexible Alternatives Rising?

June 24, 2024
By Ben Kaplan

The ever-evolving face of packaging exhibits the transformation in the way people engage with products. Their evolution accounts for newly rising technological abilities that expand the options for packagers and producers. Since products reflect customer demands and preferences, packaging follows suit to fit the right users in every possible manner. Package shape, size, and construction of the product-specific qualities evolve as a result of demand, innovation, and necessity. To help recognize how packages change over time, take milk container construction into consideration over the years and show how new materials and lifestyles influence packaging choices. Early delivery used to be made in glass, featuring route sales in which jugs or containers can be refilled.

As distribution networks evolved and optimized materials rose, milk was extensively used and seen packaged in coated cardboard cartons and forms as plastic jugs. Through each advance, manufacturers found ways to maintain product integrity while responding to the demand for customer-friendly packaging. Similarly, rigid product packaging has paved the way for alternative options, revolutionizing the balance in the current commercial packaging market.

UNDERSTANDING RIGID PRODUCT PACKAGING

Rigid packaging entails containers that keep their shape irrespective of the content within. Some of the examples are glass jars, hard plastic containers, and metal cans; conventionally, these materials have been favored for their longevity and their ability to safeguard products during shipping, storage, and handling. The inherent characteristics that once made rigid packaging the primary option are now adding to their decline.

Restrictions on Rigid Packaging

  1. High Production Expenses: Rigid product packaging materials such as metal and glass are expensive to manufacture. The process demands substantial energy and resources, leading to higher production costs. Additionally, the heavier weight of rigid materials enhances shipping costs.
  2.  Environmental Impact: The environmental footprint of rigid product packaging is significant. The production of glass and metal packaging entails the extraction of raw materials, which leads to environmental decline and pollution. The energy-intensive procedure contributes to higher carbon emissions. Recycling rates for materials such as glass and aluminum are high; the overall environmental impact remains solid.
  3.  Inflexibility: Rigid packaging lacks versatility; once created, containers cannot be reshaped or resized, restricting their adaptability to various products and market demands. This inflexibility can lead to inefficiencies and more waste, significantly when packaging products of varying sizes.
  4.  Storage & Shipping Challenges: The weight and bulkiness of rigid packaging pose major challenges in terms of shipping and storage. These containers take up space and consume more fuel to ship, leading to higher logistical expenses and better carbon emissions.

Understanding the Rise of Flexible Packaging

Flexible product packaging provides a striking contrast to the restrictions on rigid product packaging. This packaging type entails materials such as pouches, plastic films, and bags that can be easily resized and reshaped. The very growth of flexible packaging can be associated with myriad benefits:

  1. Affordability: Flexible packaging materials are inexpensive to manufacture than rigid packaging. The manufacturing procedure is less energy-intensive, and the light-in-weight nature of flexible materials lowers shipment costs. These savings can be passed on to customers, making products more affordable.
  2. Sustainability: Flexible packaging has a lower environmental influence than rigid packaging. The production procedure takes few resources and creates less waste. Additionally, advancements in material science have led to the development of biodegradable and recyclable flexible packaging options, improving their sustainability.
  3. Adaptability: One of the standout features of flexible packaging is its versatility. These materials can be tailored to fit right with products of various sizes and shapes, providing optimal protection and lowering the need for excessive packaging. This versatility enables cutting-edge designs and functionalities, such as resealable pouches and portion-controlled packaging.
  4. Better Shipment & Storage: The light-in-weight and space-efficient nature of flexible packaging eases storage and transportation. These materials consume less space in warehouses and on store shelves, lowering storage expenses and enhancing retail space. The low weight leads to lower fuel consumption during shipping, contributing to lower carbon emissions.
  5. Better Customer Convenience: Modern customers value convenience, and flexible packaging delivers on this term. Features such as resealable closures, easy-open seals, and single-serving portions cater to the on-the-go lifestyle. The transparency of some flexible materials enables customers to see the product before buying, improving the overall shopping experience.

CASE STUDIES AND INDUSTRY EXAMPLES  

Different industries have embraced flexible packaging, exhibiting its advantages and potential:

  1. Food & Beverage Industry: The food and beverage segment has been a major adopter of flexible packaging. Snacks food, ready-to-eat meals, and beverages are being packaged in films and pouches. For example, Capri Sun beverages use flexible pouches that are light-in-weight, easy to ship, and convenient for customers.
  2. Personal Care Items: The personal care industry has witnessed a major transformation in flexible packaging. Businesses like Dove and L’Oreal have introduced items in flexible pouches and tubes, which aren’t only easy to use but also lower plastic waste compared to conventional rigid bottles.
  3. Pharmaceuticals: Flexible product packaging is gaining popularity across the pharmaceutical industry due to its ability to offer tamper-evident solutions. Blister packs and flexible sachets are extensively used for medications, ensuring product safety and patient safety.

CHALLENGES AND FUTURE OUTLOOK

Despite its many advantages, flexible packaging is not without challenges. Concerns about plastic pollution and the recyclability of certain flexible materials persist. However, the industry is actively addressing these issues through innovation and sustainable practices. Biodegradable films, compostable materials, and improved recycling technologies are being developed to mitigate environmental concerns.

Looking ahead, the future of packaging lies in balancing functionality, sustainability, and consumer needs. The rise of flexible packaging is expected to continue as more companies invest in research and development to enhance material performance and eco-friendliness. Collaborative efforts between manufacturers, policymakers, and consumers will be crucial in driving the adoption of sustainable packaging solutions.

Conclusion

The decline of rigid packaging and the rise of flexible alternatives represent a significant shift in the packaging industry. Driven by cost efficiency, environmental considerations, and changing consumer preferences, flexible packaging offers a compelling solution to the limitations of traditional rigid materials. As the industry continues to innovate and address sustainability challenges, flexible packaging is poised to become the dominant choice for a wide range of products. Embracing this trend not only benefits businesses and consumers but also contributes to a more sustainable future.

In summary, the packaging landscape is evolving rapidly, and flexible packaging is at the forefront of this transformation. Its numerous advantages over rigid packaging make it an attractive option for manufacturers and consumers alike. By understanding and leveraging the benefits of flexible packaging, businesses can stay ahead of the curve and meet the demands of a dynamic market. The shift towards flexible packaging is not just a trend but a strategic move towards a more efficient, sustainable, and consumer-friendly packaging solution.

About Us

At Field Packaging Solutions, we specialize in providing innovative and sustainable packaging solutions tailored to meet the diverse needs of our clients. With a focus on quality, efficiency, and environmental responsibility, our team is dedicated to delivering flexible packaging that enhances product protection, reduces costs, and minimizes environmental impact. Leveraging cutting-edge technology and industry expertise, we offer a wide range of packaging options designed to improve storage, transportation, and consumer convenience. Partner with Field Packaging Solutions to experience unparalleled service and packaging solutions that drive success and sustainability for your business.

 

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