Food Packaging Industry: Extended Lifeline to Sustainable Goals through Mono-Material

Innovative packaging solutions are becoming highly popular among food manufacturers and brand owners as efforts to meet the 2025 sustainable packaging targets intensify. Packaging accounts for ~30% of a company’s total carbon footprint, and recycling multi-layered packaging is either impossible or time-consuming. As a result, non-recyclable packaging is usually separated, either burned to generate energy (in cement mills) or downcycled, resulting in other low-quality items.

A Shift Towards Mono-Material Packaging:

A mono-material is a product made of a single substance or fiber that is easy to recycle at an affordable and fast rate. Polypropylene (PP) and Polyethylene (PE) are two mono-materials that are most commonly used in the packaging industry because they combine the typical benefits of plastic (individual design & low weight) with a relatively high degree of recyclability. Yogurt pots and potato chip bags are two prominent examples or applications of mono-material packaging. The global demand for mono-material plastic packaging film is expected to reach ~25 million tonnes (~$70 billion) in 2025, growing at a ~4% annual rate.

Strengthening Future Presence:

APAC has the greatest potential for mono-material development in the flexible packaging market, which is expected to grow by more than 4% over the next five years. R&D is now focusing on developing mono-material solutions to replace 20–30% of a company’s total production that still uses multi-material packaging.

However, transitioning to mono-materials presents several challenges for packaging manufacturers, particularly in terms of versatility. Printability, processability, yield, heat-sealability, transparency, and food contact compliance are just a few of the major challenges that the R&D sector is currently facing. Regarding recyclability and barrier qualities, we require more solutions centered on the use of mono-materials in food packaging.

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