Steady growth forecast for ‘mature’ US green packaging market

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Recycled content Renewable energy Better Recycling

The maturity of many products means that growth in US demand for green packaging will be a relatively modest 3.9 per cent per year until 2014, according to a new industry report.

The green packing sector – consisting of recycled content, reusable and degradable materials – will be worth US$41.7bn annually and consume 58bn pounds (26.4bn kg) in fours years, the US-based Freedonia Group has forecast.

While its growth will outstrip that of normal packaging it will be steady rather than spectacular as there is already a large presence of recycled content in paperboard and metal packaging.

Fastest gains will be seen in degradable packaging, which started from a very low base, and plastic recycled packing, predicted the industry analysts.

Wide parameters

In its report, the group said the parameters for green packaging are so wide that “virtually all companies offer packaging that can be considered green”.

These parameters include the use of renewable, recyclable or recycled content materials; the elimination of potentially toxic materials; the use of renewable energy sources; and the use of production processes that optimize material, energy and water use.

It can also involve source reduction which improves space efficiency, resulting in less energy consumed in production and shipping, and also lowers costs.

Degradable packaging

Strongest growth will be seen in degradable packaging – forecast to climb 13.6 per cent annually through the review period from $362m in 2009 to $685m by 2014. The robust growth will be fuelled by price competitiveness with conventional resins, expansion in capacities and rising demand for eco-friendly outputs. Performance enhancements, such as blending improvements, will also help boost growth, while barriers are likely to be a lack of recycling infrastructure in the US and competition from non-biodegradable Bioplastics, said the study authors.

This segment is characterised by niche firms as well as conventional packaging producers that add to their portfolio by offering some degradable products.

Recycled content – still dominant

Packaging with recycled content will continue to account for almost 80 per cent of green packaging by value at $33.2bn annually and 27 per cent of total packaging – a yearly increase of 3.6per cent.

Increased collection and processing capacity combined with its greater use as firms seek to demonstrate their green credentials will all drive growth, said the research.

While such materials as the corrugated, aluminium and steel can segments are feature prominently in the recycled sector, recycled plastic content is set to grow fastest during the period thanks to expanded collection and processing activities and the increased availability of food contact grades.

The significant levels of PET exported from the US and competition for materials from non-packaging sectors will challenge growth> Recycled content glass is also predicted to grow above average thanks to greater industry efforts and better collection systems, said Freedonia.

Recycled content paper will increase in line with overall recycled content growth. Metal recycled content will lag slightly due to the maturity of this segment.

Reusable packaging

Demand for reusable packaging is expected to grow at almost 5 per cent annually to reach $3.7bn by 2014. An upswing in manufacturing activity is forecast to be especially beneficial to reusable plastic and intermediate bulk containers.

Initiatives by leading packaged goods producers, such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Unilever, will increase pressure on packaging suppliers to continue to improve the green qualities of their products.

Green Packaging is available from The Freedonia Institute priced US$5,100

Related topics Processing & Packaging