The packaging industry is under siege for making a primarily single-use product that contributes an outsized amount of plastic waste, in particular. As a result, many consumer packaged goods brands have made ambitious packaging commitments for 2025, several targeting an overall reduction in plastics usage. Keeping ahead of these pledges, especially where regulations apply, companies are rethinking the types of materials they use in their packaging altogether (e.g., paper, glass, aluminum). Demand for more sustainable packaging, boosted by regulations restricting single-use plastics, has revitalized interest in pulp and paper (P&P) packaging. However, performance deficiencies, lack of circularity, and worries around material availability and deforestation hold back P&P’s current potential to replace plastic. Novel coatings and additive solutions present a key development that can provide desired functionalities and performance; until then, despite high interest, P&P will suffer slow adoption. The space represents an opportunity for different stakeholders across the value chain to work together to address the remaining needs. However, consumer packaged goods companies and retailers are in strong positions as the end users in the value chain to set guidelines and promote collaboration.
This report specifically investigates the potential for P&P packaging. We break down the key factors driving interest in P&P packaging, comment on the historical challenges of P&P packaging to replace plastic, and highlight key innovation areas and promising emerging technologies within these areas.
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