The packaging industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by increasing the shelf life of the product, automation, and recyclability, and the growing importance of technologies, such as biodegradable packaging, Internet of Packaging, and active packaging. In the last three years alone, there have been over 310,000 patents filed and granted in the packaging industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environment Sustainability in Packaging: Biodegradable packaging.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity. 

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have. 

80+ innovations will shape the packaging industry 

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the packaging industry using innovation intensity models built on over 87,000 patents, there are 80+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry. 

Within the emerging innovation stage, mechanical waste processing, flexible receptacle type refuse containers, and blow moulding with energy recovery are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Sustainable packaging paper coating, MFC-coated packaging paper, and hydroponic culturing are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are starch biopolymer packaging and dismountable greenhouse coverings, which are now well established in the industry.  

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the packaging industry 

Biodegradable packaging is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Being produced using biopolymers, biodegradable packaging naturally disintegrates and decomposes. The biopolymers used in biodegradable packaging are molecules that are found in living organisms including proteins and cellulose. This ensures that the packaging can degrade quickly and is made from waste plant products. 

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established packaging companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of biodegradable packaging. 

Key players in biodegradable packaging – a disruptive innovation in the packaging industry   

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators. 

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’. 

Patent volumes related to biodegradable packaging

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Novamont 85 Unlock company profile
Polymateria 33 Unlock company profile
Tipa 20 Unlock company profile
Huhtamaki 16 Unlock company profile
CCL Industries 16 Unlock company profile
Corbion 15 Unlock company profile
SPC Sunflower Plastic Compound 12 Unlock company profile
Tongling Founder Plastics Technology 9 Unlock company profile
Toyo Seikan Group Holdings 6 Unlock company profile
SoluBlue 5 Unlock company profile
Biome Technologies 5 Unlock company profile
Biofiba 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Novamont is one of the leading patent filers in biodegradable packaging. Novamont and Colussi introduced a new product line named MISURA. The products under this product line have compostable packaging made of Mater-Bi, which helps in increasing the shelf life of products by forming a barrier against oxygen and humidity. 

Some other key patent filers in the biodegradable packaging space include Polymateria, Tipa and Huhtamaki

Huhtamaki recently launched ICON packaging, an innovative technology, which was initially used for ice cream containers and lids. This technology facilitates recycling in communities across the US that have a paper product recycling programme. 

In terms of application diversity, Tipa leads the pack, while CCL Industries and Novamont stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Tipa held the top position, followed by CCL Industries and Polymateria

With rising consumer awareness pertaining to environmental protection and the impact of packaging materials, biodegradable packaging will potentially become an important aspect in the packaging industry. 

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the packaging industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Packaging.

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.