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What opportunities does the shift from plastic to paper present for the global paper and packaging industry?
Source:Printing&Packaging Industry News | Author:John | Published time: 2022-07-30 | 52 Views | Share:
Perhaps you've seen the difference in product containers on store shelves? Or noticed that your most recent online purchase was wrapped in recyclable paper packaging? The shift from plastic to sustainable materials is taking over the market, and all this is affecting the development of paper mills.

Perhaps you've seen the difference in product containers on store shelves? Or noticed that your most recent online purchase was wrapped in recyclable paper packaging? The shift from plastic to sustainable materials is taking over the market, and all this is affecting the development of paper mills. As companies and brands move away from plastic packaging, more and more factories are adapting their production lines to the more profitable market for renewable materials, but what impact will this have on the paper industry?

 


The transformation of infrastructure


If you've read anything about the paper industry lately, you know that the market has been volatile for the past few years. Paper mills have had a tough time: profits are low, prices are rising and demand is fluctuating. Now sustainability, which has been discussed for years, is once again sweeping the market. As the global warming crisis draws attention to the environment, consumers are increasingly aware of how the products they buy can affect the world in which they live. Companies around the world have followed suit to satisfy consumers.


Paper mills are also watching about this issue. Many companies have taken steps to go green and shift their plastic packaging production to more sustainable packaging. Transforming these machines requires a lot of investment, time and innovative technology. When using these new materials, manufacturers must take care to develop the right packaging solution, provide recyclable replacement options, provide a lower carbon footprint, and create packaging with sufficient barrier properties.

 


Change the packaging


The rise of renewable packaging is attracting increased demand for paper and other alternative materials. More and more companies are turning to greener alternatives to replace plastic, using recyclable materials for their products, even products that were previously sold in plastic form. Today, plastics are being replaced by renewable materials such as paper, corrugated, cardboard and compostable materials. But why has the market changed? It's simple: sustainable packaging is a booming market.


Sustainable packaging is expected to grow from $247 billion in 2019 to $348 billion by 2026. This coincides with the problems currently plaguing the pulp industry, particularly rising prices and depleted stocks of raw materials. Despite the demand, supply was "so tight" that customers could not get raw materials. As demand for renewable materials increases, pulp and paper mills are adapting their machines to use packaging as a way to compensate. If we want to know where these changes will lead, we should look at what is happening in Europe, because European markets tend to influence the direction of markets in various other regions.

 


Green initiatives in Europe 


The world has been moving towards more sustainable options for years. Europe has been a leader in these practices. Topics such as climate change and the serious impacts of global warming are prompting consumers to pay more attention to the everyday items they buy, use and dispose of. This increased awareness is pushing companies to take more environmentally friendly initiatives through renewable, recyclable and sustainable materials. It also means saying goodbye to plastic.

Have you ever stopped to think about how much plastic consumes your daily life? Purchased products are used and discarded only after one use. Today, they can be used for almost everything, for example: water bottles, shopping bags, knives, food containers, drink cups, straws, packaging materials. However, the pandemic has led to an unprecedented surge in the production of single-use plastics, especially with the boom in e-commerce and B2C packaging.


To help curb the continued growth of environmentally harmful materials, the European Union (EU) adopted a ban on specific single-use plastics in July 2021. They defined these products as "made in whole or in part of plastic and not conceived, designed or marketed for multiple uses of the same product." The ban targets products that have alternatives, are more affordable and environmentally friendly.


With these more sustainable materials, Europe has become a market leader with a specific type of packaging -- aseptic packaging. It is also an expanding market that is expected to grow to $81 billion by 2027. But what exactly makes this packaging trend so unique? Aseptic packaging uses a special manufacturing process where products are individually sterilized before being combined and sealed in a sterilized environment. And because it's environmentally friendly, sterile packaging is making its way onto more store shelves. It is commonly used in beverages as well as food and medicines, which is why the sterilization process is so important, helping to extend shelf life by safely preserving the product using fewer additives.


Several layers of material compound together to provide the protection required for aseptic standards. This includes the following materials: paper, polyethylene, aluminum, film, etc. These material alternatives have significantly reduced the need for plastic packaging. As these sustainable options become more integrated into the European market, influence is spreading to the United States. So what changes have we made to adapt to this market change?