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Brief Published: 2 Mar 2016

Packaging Innovations 2016: Top Takeaways

Sonoco's clear plastic can

This year’s Packaging Innovations trade show in Birmingham (February 24-25) shared the latest in packaging design and insider expertise, highlighting key emerging themes for 2016 and beyond. Recycling, the rise of the pouch pack and transparent packaging were key concerns.


  • Kevin Vyse, senior packaging technologist at British department store Marks & Spencer, said: “1.8 million middle-class consumers will cause a 47% increase in packaging by 2025,” highlighting the importance of creating packaging that generates little waste. He suggested brands use polymer-based materials (a type of plastic), which are easier to recycle. In addition, he revealed that Marks & Spencer will “make all plastic packaging from just one type of plastic over the next five years, so the whole piece can be easily recycled”, and urged other brands to adopt similar strategies.

    Finnish food and beverage packaging company Huhtamaki showcased a new egg box made from 50% grass fibres and 50% recyclable, compostable and biodegradable cardboard. Similarly, Nordic packaging company Enkev has created Cocoform – egg box and dry food packaging made from natural fibres that are also biodegradable, recyclable and compostable.

    Aiming for a sustainable alternative to the plastic tubes used for personal care products such as moisturisers (which cannot be recycled), Dutch manufacturer Multitubes has created a polyethylene version made from sugar cane. This solution is 100% recyclable and produces less carbon dioxide than traditional plastic tubes during the production process.

Pouch Packs

  • During his talk on globalisation in the packaging industry, UK-based packaging consultant Neil Farmer commented on the growth of the stand-up pouch pack. “This market is worth 37 billion units globally, with new emerging sectors including pet food, household products, personal care and alcoholic beverages,” he said.

    Farmer also highlighted the benefits of reclosable or refillable packaging for increased shelf life and sustainability. Noteworthy examples include US-based packaging manufacturer Plastipak’s plastic beer bottle with a metal crown closure that is lightweight and uses less energy in the recycling process than glass, and Australian whisky brand The Famous Grouse’s new lightweight glass bottle.

Transparent Packaging

  • Packaging designs with large transparent sections that allow the consumer to view the contents proliferated across the show. International packaging firm Schur Star Systems showcased its range of zip-lock transparent packs designed to hold fruit or vegetables and look like a glass mason jar. “The packaging makes me want to touch, feel and smell the product, and that’s what I want to be able to do as a consumer,” said sales director Martin Boysen.
  • During his talk, Farmer also mentioned South Carolina-based packaging company Sonoco’s transparent tin can. The premium can, called TruVue, allows consumers to see what’s inside, promoting trust and provenance – currently key consumer priorities. 

For more on recent packaging designs, see our coverage of last year's Packaging Innovation Show. For more on innovative packaging solutions see our Industry Trend Packaging Futures 2016-17