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U.S. demand for green packaging to reach $41.7 billion in 2014

Fastest gains are expected for degradable packaging and plastic recycled-content packaging, reveals new study from Freedonia.
FILED IN:  Sustainability  > Strategy

Demand for green packaging—defined here as packaging that comprises recycled content, or reusable or degradable packaging—is projected to increase 3.9% yearly to $41.7 billion in 2014, consuming 58 billion lb of material. That’s according to “Green Packaging,” a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc. The study adds that growth will outpace overall packaging demand but will remain relatively moderate due to the maturity of many products and the large existing presence of recycled-content packaging in paperboard and metal packaging. The fastest gains are anticipated for degradable packaging and plastic recycled-content packaging.

Degradable packaging is forecast to expand 13.6% annually to $685 million in 2014, driven by price competitiveness with conventional resins, capacity expansions, and rising demand for environmentally friendly manufactured goods. Advances will also be based on enhanced performance properties resulting from blending and other modifications, initiatives by brand owners to improve the environmental footprint of their packaging, and legislative bans on polystyrene foam foodservice disposables in some parts of the country.  Preventing faster advances will be the maturity of some product types (e.g., ring carriers, loosefill), the lack of consumer composting networks in most areas of the U.S., and competition from emerging green packaging materials such as non-biodegradable bioplastics.

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Recycled-content packaging constitutes the vast majority of green packaging, and demand is forecast to increase 3.6% annually to $37.3 billion in 2014. Gains will be supported by increased collection activity and processing capacity, coupled with greater use of recycled-content packaging by firms seeking to demonstrate environmental responsibility and differentiate their products. Robust growth is anticipated for plastic recycled-content packaging based on more concerted collection efforts and expanded processing capacity, especially for food contact-approved resin grades.

Reusable packaging demand is expected to post above-average growth through 2014, improving from the 2004-2009 pace based on a rebound in manufacturing activity from a weak base in 2009. Demand for reusable plastic containers and intermediate bulk containers will benefit from an upswing in manufacturing activity and inroads into lower-capacity packaging types such as drums, pails, and shipping sacks.


The 400-page “Green Packaging” study is available for $5,100 from The Freedonia Group.

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