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.


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.