Listed below are the key technology trends impacting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance, as identified by GlobalData.

Online shopping and delivery services have dominated the shopping landscape over the last year as a result of Covid-19 restrictions. As a result, the packaging sector is under significant scrutiny not only for the safety and hygiene credentials, but also for their sustainability benefits as consumers seek environmentally responsible solutions that do not interfere with their shopping habits.

Internet of Things (IoT)

Packaging companies use IoT in their factories to operate with far greater efficiency and flexibility, and to constantly monitor energy and water consumption. A 2018 analysis of more than 640 IoT deployments, undertaken by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in collaboration with IoT Analytics, showed that 84% of existing IoT deployments address, or have the power to advance, the United Nations (UN) 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Artificial intelligence (AI)

Companies are using AI in several ways to address ESG challenges within the packaging sector. For example, companies can deploy AI to analyse data from production machines and cooling and heating systems to identify areas to improve their efficiency.

Additionally, AI-powered robots use computer vision (CV) and machine learning (ML) to differentiate and sort materials based on their characteristics to ensure they can re-enter the supply chain.

ESG: Advanced materials

As progress in advanced materials continues amid a growing focus on recyclable materials, increased taxation, and rising bans on single-use plastics, materials such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) will be less favourable options for packaging.

Advanced materials that are suitable for packaging are becoming more sustainable and affordable. More manufacturers are also implementing recycled materials to lower their impact on the environment and their degradation properties. Some companies are also targeting bio-based packaging (derived from biomass) or biodegradable packaging.

This is an edited extract from the ESG – Top Trends by Sector – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.