LEATHERHEAD, Surrey, UK and AKRON, Ohio, USA – December 8, 2020 – Improved recycling, recovery, and conversion into post-consumer resin (PCR) are the leading challenges for the rigid and flexible plastic packaging industry through the 2020s a new Smithers report finds.
Analyzing the current state-of-the-art and future routes to market, Smithers’ latest study – Ten-Year Forecast of Disruptive Technologies for Recycled Plastic Packaging to 2030 – ranks the top 25 technologies that will redefine the industry over the next decade.
Report author Terry Cooper, says: “Across the 2010s packaging innovation has significantly outpaced the evolution of recycling capabilities, technologies, and recycling infrastructure. That has to change. With new official targets, brand owner commitments, and post-Covid green economy stimulus packages, recycling technologies will be essential if plastic packaging is not to be sidelined in the future.
“Our survey shows no single technology can deliver this on its own. A combination of technologies will be required. True success will come only from engagement with stakeholders from across the supply and use chain; combined with a critical understanding of what the technologies can do at each stage.”
Based on an exclusive survey of 30 technical experts and opinion formers it identifies the following leading technical challenges:
- Commercializing economical chemical recycling processes that convert mixed plastic waste into polymer monomers to supplement existing mechanical recycling
- For post-industrial and post-consumer streams in mechanical recycling, developing and implementing more efficient and ubiquitous collection, marking, and sorting methods
- Governments introducing ‘producer pays’ regulations for plastic waste; including the use of more consistent rules for prioritizing specific designs and materials
- The establishment of universal lifecycle analysis (LCA) methodologies to accurately compare the environmental impact of different recycled formats
- Improving label stocks and adhesives to make these fully compatible with existing mechanical recycling
- Optimizing mechanical recycling to deliver cheaper, more consistent PCR supplies
- Adopting automated mechanical to sort and process flexible plastic films, multilayer constructions, and pouches
- Innovating to replace multi-material flexible designs with monolayer structures to cut costs and improve recyclability
- Business transformation in the petrochemical sector, with firms creating new business lines focused on waste plastics and prioritizing this over raw material extraction.
Each of the 25 trends and technologies identified by Smithers is profiled in depth in Ten-Year Forecast of Disruptive Technologies for Recycled Plastic Packaging to 2030.
This includes an objective analysis of its likelihood of implementation, market and environmental impact, and leading technology suppliers. Full context on the evolving market space is given, drawing on Smithers’ expert insight into the regulatory landscape for the packaging, plastics, and material recovery industries.
What methodology is used?
A Delphi-type study was used for this report comprising three iterative rounds of survey, assessment, and feedback. This process started off with extensive literature and patent research, data collection, and discussions with 44 industry experts to produce an extended initial list containing 65 items in 9 general categories of potentially disruptive technologies, advances, factors, developments, changes, and trends which could impact the plastic packaging recycling and recovery and plastic waste management industries over the next ten years.
This essential business guide to the future of the plastic packaging industry is available to purchase now priced at $6,500 (€5,250, £4,750). Orders placed before 31 December 2020 will receive a 10% discount.