A new study by Pike Research anticipates the use of sustainable packaging throughout the world to grow 11 percent by 2014, which would mean that almost a third of all packaging would be environmentally friendly.
Pike claims that packaging is a $429 billion industry, and manufacturers are moving towards energy reduction and the use of more recyclable material. The research finds that plastic will be the fastest-growing sector of sustainable packaging, and plastic currently accounts for about 35 percent of all packaging material.
The current leader in sustainable packaging is metal, such as aluminum and steel. It’s estimated that by 2014 metal packaging will be more than 63 percent eco-friendly.
The definition of “sustainable packaging” is usually up for interpretation. The Virginia-based Sustainable Packaging Coalition considers sustainable packaging to be a lifecycle determination, from how it’s sourced to the energy used in manufacturing and finally what it can be reprocessed into after disposal.
In the U.S., 32 percent of the waste we produce is a form of packaging. This packaging also represents more than 10 percent of the cost for grocery products.
A majority of our packaging falls under the umbrella of what the recycling industry calls “The Big Five“: aluminum, glass, paper, plastic and steel. These are also the most commonly accepted products in curbside recycling programs.
All five of these materials can be recycled into new packaging, so often times consumers purchase recycled content without even knowing it.