The packaging industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by healthy living, digitisation, convenience and growing importance of technologies such as bio-degradable packaging, connected 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: Plastic Recycling.
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, blow moulding with energy recovery, mechanical waste processing, and flexible receptacle type refuse containers 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 plastic recycling and microfibrillated cellulose production, which are now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the packaging industry
Plastic recycling is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability
Plastic recycling is the process of converting plastic waste into new products. The process is highly beneficial as it can reduce the dependence on landfill, conserve resources and protect the environment from plastic pollution along with greenhouse gas emissions.
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 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established packaging companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of plastic recycling.
Key players in plastic recycling – 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 plastic recycling
|Company||Total patents (2010 - 2021)||Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies|
|Krones||79||Unlock company profile|
|Procter & Gamble||32||Unlock company profile|
|Cvp Clean Value Plastics||21||Unlock company profile|
|Smart Planet Technologies||20||Unlock company profile|
|Avery Dennison||16||Unlock company profile|
|Hillenbrand||15||Unlock company profile|
|Amut||15||Unlock company profile|
|LINPAC Packaging||15||Unlock company profile|
|Furukawa Electric||14||Unlock company profile|
|Avient||14||Unlock company profile|
|saperatec||13||Unlock company profile|
|Formosa Plastics Group||12||Unlock company profile|
|TotalEnergies||12||Unlock company profile|
|Berry Global Group||11||Unlock company profile|
|Kao||10||Unlock company profile|
|Mohawk Industries||10||Unlock company profile|
|TuliportRL||10||Unlock company profile|
|Platinum Equity||9||Unlock company profile|
|Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique||9||Unlock company profile|
|Toray Industries||9||Unlock company profile|
|Nestle||9||Unlock company profile|
|Plastipak Holdings||8||Unlock company profile|
|PepsiCo||8||Unlock company profile|
|Air Liquide||8||Unlock company profile|
|Colgate-Palmolive||8||Unlock company profile|
|Safran||8||Unlock company profile|
|Coca-Cola Enterprises Great Britain||8||Unlock company profile|
|Sidel International||7||Unlock company profile|
|Mankiewicz Gebr||7||Unlock company profile|
|E Khashoggi Industries||7||Unlock company profile|
|Salzgitter||6||Unlock company profile|
|Eastman Chemical||6||Unlock company profile|
|Toyo Seikan Group Holdings||5||Unlock company profile|
|APK Aluminium und Kunststoffe||5||Unlock company profile|
|Epsilon BidCo||5||Unlock company profile|
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Krones is one of the leading patent filers in plastic recycling. Some other key patent filers in resealable packaging include Procter & Gamble, Cvp Clean Value Plastics, Smart Planet Technologies, and Avery Dennison. Recently, Procter & Gamble India announced that it has become “plastic waste neutral” during April 2021–March 2022. The company said it has processed more than 19,000MT of post-consumer plastic packaging waste from across the country.
Coca-Cola Enterprises Great Britain leads the pack in terms of application diversity. Colgate-Palmolive and E Khashoggi Industries stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, LINPAC Packaging held the top position, followed by Air Liquide and E Khashoggi Industries.
Recycling plastic will be of paramount importance in the coming years as companies and consumers alike make efforts to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a cleaner and greener environment.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the packaging industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Packaging.