The COVID-19 pandemic is causing widespread concern and economic hardship for consumers, businesses, and communities across the globe. Amongst many, packaging industry too is facing unique challenges caused by the crisis. The primary role of packaging is to protect and deliver safely to consumers’ and this has never been truer than during this pandemic time. There are both advantages and disadvantages in the packaging sector due to the COVID-19. The biggest benefit is that the demand for packaging industry has increased during this pandemic period. However, the major hindrance for this industry is the shutdown, as the employees are asked to stay at home during the pandemic. At the same time, people are mostly stocking up only essential goods for survival during the pandemic which has created increase in demand for certain types of packaging but reduced the demand for some other types. For example, demands on grocery items and at-home entertainments is increasing, while demands on out-of-home entertainments, consumer electronics, skincare & makeup, apparel, footwear, etc. are declining. A recent survey in USA showed that during the pandemic time, the impact of COVID-19 on the packaging industry is mixed and the impact on packaging players will depend on their portfolios and exposures to different regions, end uses for packaging, and substrates. Packaging sectors in the last 10 years are mostly focusing on the changing customer and consumer preferences. But during COVID-19, this trend is shifting and for the next 10 years the industry needs to additionally focus more on sustainability, e-commerce, FMCG and on digitization of packaging.
Sustainable and environment-friendly solution is a key in today’s packaging industry. This is a big challenge. In the packaging industry, by material, plastic has the highest demand as it is much safer, more affordable, and long-lasting. Plastic also helps in stopping the spread of the diseases and helps keep the products packed in it from reacting, getting spoiled and rotting. However, people’s sentiment towards environment-friendly packaging solutions is increasing. Therefore, research and innovation are essential for the packaging industry to ensure maintaining the safety, hygiene, and integrity of goods, which come to the fore during the current crisis and in the future. Taking into consideration that synthetic plastics are not biodegradable, the use of biobased and/or biodegradable plastic is gaining importance. However, the performance of these materials is often less than conventional ones. Their property can be enhanced using various nanofillers. Research in the field of nanocomposites materials is thus gaining attention.
The regional dialogue to promote concept and uptake of sustainable lifestyles, one main action to foster SCP, was successfully organized to enhance understanding on potential roles that both producers and consumers of various stakeholders can contribute to sustainability. The dialogue brought out knowledge, innovation and enabling condition to participants to understand the important linkages between packaging and sustainability, impacts of packaging to the planet and challenges to identify alternatives to more sustainable packaging. In addition, the dialogue phased in COVID 19 into the discussion and how packaging can adapt to support the new normal. Finally, packaging is of universal attention and has potential to reduce environmental impacts if the sustainable packaging concept is well-communicated and technology and know-how are well transferred.