The packaging industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by reusability, recyclability, light weight, and convenience, and growing importance of technologies such as bio-degradable packaging, circular economy, and shrink wrapping. In the last three years alone, there have been over 427,000 patents filed and granted in the packaging industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in packaging: plastic recycling. Buy the report here.  

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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 stabilizing 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.

30+ 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 77,000 patents, there are 30+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, cellulose fiber 3D printing, biodegradable packaging films, and multilayer barrier films are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. RFID packaging, anti-counterfeiting bottle caps, and clamshell-type packaging are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are resealable medication vials and synthetic resin containers, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the packaging industry

Plastic recycling is a key innovation area in packaging

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 110+ 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 applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.   

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

Patent volumes related to plastic recycling

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Krones 170 Unlock Company Profile
saperatec 38 Unlock Company Profile
Procter & Gamble 36 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical 23 Unlock Company Profile
Mankiewicz Gebr 21 Unlock Company Profile
Formosa Plastics Group 21 Unlock Company Profile
Toyobo 20 Unlock Company Profile
Cvp Clean Value Plastics 20 Unlock Company Profile
Smart Planet Technologies 19 Unlock Company Profile
Furukawa Electric 18 Unlock Company Profile
Avient 17 Unlock Company Profile
S K C 17 Unlock Company Profile
Avery Dennison 16 Unlock Company Profile
LINPAC Packaging 15 Unlock Company Profile
Kao 15 Unlock Company Profile
Hillenbrand 14 Unlock Company Profile
Amut 14 Unlock Company Profile
TotalEnergies 13 Unlock Company Profile
Mohawk Industries 12 Unlock Company Profile
Toyo Seikan Group 12 Unlock Company Profile
Sidel International 11 Unlock Company Profile
E. Khashoggi Industries 11 Unlock Company Profile
Toray Industries 11 Unlock Company Profile
Air Liquide 10 Unlock Company Profile
Plastipak 10 Unlock Company Profile
Alpla Werke Alwin Lehner 9 Unlock Company Profile
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 9 Unlock Company Profile
Colgate-Palmolive 9 Unlock Company Profile
Ricoh 9 Unlock Company Profile
Theca-Cola 9 Unlock Company Profile
Nestle 9 Unlock Company Profile
Polystyvert 9 Unlock Company Profile
Tuliport 9 Unlock Company Profile
Safran 8 Unlock Company Profile
Eastman Chemical 8 Unlock Company Profile
PepsiCo 8 Unlock Company Profile
Berry Global Group 8 Unlock Company Profile
DIC 7 Unlock Company Profile
Kirkbi 7 Unlock Company Profile
Salzgitter 6 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Chemical Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Epsilon BidCo 6 Unlock Company Profile
Gaplast 6 Unlock Company Profile
AZEK 6 Unlock Company Profile
Covestro 5 Unlock Company Profile
Polyplex 5 Unlock Company Profile
Daio Paper 5 Unlock Company Profile
APK Aluminium und Kunststoffe 5 Unlock Company Profile
Truking Technology 5 Unlock Company Profile
Fuji Seal International 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Krones is the leading patent filer in plastic recycling. Some other key patent filers in resealable packaging include Saperatec, Procter & Gamble, Mitsubishi Gas Chemical, and Mankiewicz. 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 leads the pack in terms of application diversity. E. Khashoggi Industries, and Colgate-Palmolive stand in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, both Smart Planet Technologies and Saperatec hold the top position followed by Avient and Mankiewicz.

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.

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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.