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55 Sustainable Packaging Statistics, Trends, Market And Facts (2024)

Today, 50% of consumers are willing to pay a higher price for products that come in sustainable packaging, according to a McKinsey report.

The trend of sustainable packaging is now a stand-alone market with the highest growth prospects of the packaging industry.

To understand this fast-evolving market, we gathered myriad of relevant sustainable packaging statistics, trends and market data from the industry authorities.

In this statistic roundup, you’ll learn about:

To learn more about sustainable living, read our articles here.

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Infographic - Sustainable Packaging 2023
Infographic – Sustainable Packaging 2023

Sustainable Packaging Statistics (Editors Pick)

  • Plastic packaging makes up almost 40% of all the plastic waste in the world.
  • 40% of plastic packaging produced is used once before being thrown away.
  • Reusing only 10 to 20 % of plastic packaging could reduce ocean plastic waste by 50%

  • The Global Sustainable Packaging Market was valued at USD 271.86 billion in 2023.
  • The global sustainable plastic packaging market is expected to reach 127.5 billion U.S. dollars by 2026. Bioplastics alone should account for $34 billion.
  • By 2025, the global market for corrugated (paper and cardboard) packaging is projected to reach a value of $205 billion.
  • 50% of consumers are willing to pay a higher price for products that come in sustainable packaging.
  • 43% of consumers consider the environmental impact as an extremely important factor when making purchasing decisions regarding packaging.
  • Less than 30% of global organizations are adequately prepared to meet regional requirements, let alone their internal aspirations regarding sustainable packaging.

  • Packaging waste management is subject to the highest number of regulatory measures globally, with a total of 91 measures in place.
  • As of 2023, six U.S. states have active EPR or similar packaging laws: California, Colorado, Maine, Oregon, New Jersey, and Washington

1. The Problem With Non Sustainable Packaging – Key Figures

  • In 2022, a United Nations report revealed that plastic packaging makes up almost 40% of all the plastic waste in the world.

  • Just 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling globally.

  • 40% of plastic packaging produced is used once before being thrown away.

  • Reusing only 10 to 20 % of plastic packaging could reduce ocean plastic waste by 50%. 

Sources: The World Economic Forum, the United Nations Environment Program, Nature.com, Science.org, Unep, McKinsey

2. The Demand for Sustainable Packaging – Industry Size & Growth

Global Sustainable Packaging

  • The Global Sustainable Packaging Market was valued at USD 271.86 billion in 2023.

  • The Global Sustainable Packaging Market is expected to reach USD 393.39 billion by 2028.

  • The Global Sustainable Packaging Market is expected to grow at a rate of 7.67% from 2023 until 2028.
Global Sustainable Plastic Packaging

Global Sustainable Plastic Packaging

Bioplastics are set to shape the sustainable packaging market as more companies adopt these technologies.

  • The global sustainable plastic packaging market was estimated at 90 billion U.S. dollars in 2021. 

  • The market value of the global sustainable plastic packaging market is expected to reach 127.5 billion U.S. dollars by 2026.

  • The global bioplastics production capacities were estimated at 2.2 million tonnes in 2022 and should reach 6.3 million tonnes in 2027. 
Global Sustainable Plastic Packaging
Production capacity of bioplastics worldwide from 2021 to 2027, by type(in 1,000 metric tons) – Statista

Global Sustainable Corrugated Packaging

Corrugated packaging is easy to produce, strong, and sustainable. It comes from a renewable resource, making it a perfect sustainable packaging material.

  • In 2020, the world’s paper and cardboard factories produced an estimated 400-million-plus metric tons of product. And should reach 1.6 billion by 2032.
  • By 2025, the global market for corrugated packaging is projected to reach a value of $205 billion.

Sources: Statista, New York Times, Mordor Intelligence

3. Sustainable Packaging – Consumers & Companies Behavior

The aftermath of the pandemic has reshaped consumer attitudes toward sustainable packaging in the United States. Consumer priorities continue to center around price, quality, and convenience, while environmental impact is gaining traction, particularly among Gen Z, millennials, and urban residents.

Consumers Perception

  • 43% of consumers consider the environmental impact as an extremely or very important factor when making purchasing decisions regarding packaging. 54% actively look for recycling and sustainability information on packaging.
  • 50% of consumers are willing to pay a higher price for products that come in sustainable packaging. And this sentiment is even more pronounced among younger consumers, with 86% of those aged 18 to 44 expressing this willingness.
  • Consumers tend to show a preference for compostable and plant-based packaging options.
  • 74% expressed interest in buying products in refillable packaging.
  • 57% are less likely to buy products in packaging they consider harmful to the environment.
  • Among environmentally conscious consumers, the issue of ocean litter has emerged as the primary environmental concern, spanning across all generations, regions, and neighborhoods.

Companies

  • In a recent global survey of packaging purchasers across industries, approximately 75 % of organizations have made clear sustainable-packaging commitments.
  • Less than 30 % of organizations are adequately prepared to meet regional requirements, let alone their internal aspirations regarding sustainable packaging.
  • Additionally, less than 30 % of organizations have established clear metrics related to recyclability, sustainability, or the use of recycled content in their packaging materials.

Sources: McKinsey, New York Times, Simon Kucher

4. Sustainable Packaging Global Policies

  • During the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly in March 2022, all 193 UN Member States agree to create a binding legal agreement to stop plastic pollution by 2024.
  • Packaging waste management is subject to the highest number of regulatory measures globally, with a total of 91 measures in place.
  • The European Commission has established a goal to reduce packaging waste by 15 % per capita in each member state by 2040, in comparison to the levels recorded in 2018.
  • In Asia, Thailand has recently announced a national ban on single-use plastic bags in major stores.
  • Out of the 30 countries surveyed by McKinsey on packaging, 24 had regulations pertaining to the reduction or restriction of shipping materials.
  • Twenty-two countries have implemented rules regarding industrial waste collection, sorting, and extended producer responsibility (E.P.R.) regulations, which incentivize companies to prioritize recyclable shipping methods.
  • In the United States, numerous states are providing significant tax incentives to companies that prioritize the use of appropriately sized corrugated packaging.
  • In the USA, the Plastic Pollution Prevention and Packaging Producer Responsibility Act aims to reduce the production of single-use plastic packaging. It also aims to transfer recycling costs to the plastic producers.
  • As of 2023, six U.S. states have active EPR or similar packaging laws: California, Colorado, Maine, Oregon, New Jersey, and Washington

Sources: McKinsey, New York Times, Simon Kucher, European Commission, CalRecycle, Unep

The packaging industry is undergoing a profound transformation driven by emerging trends and innovations. As we move forward, several key trends are shaping the future of packaging.

Circular Economy

In response to political pressure, consumer perceptions, and the need for resource self-reliance, the packaging industry is embracing the circular economy. This trend revolves around the principles of “reduce, reuse, recycle,” as evidenced by EU regulations aimed at increasing recycling rates and reducing single-use plastics.

Similar developments are taking place in the U.S., where legislation like California’s Plastic Pollution Prevention Act enforces producer responsibility for recycling. Brands are striving to meet recycling quotas while navigating the challenge of expanding recycling infrastructure to match the increasing volume of waste.

Recyclable & Reusable Design

Sustainable packaging designs are now centered on recyclability and reusability, aligning with consumer preferences for environmentally friendly choices. However, the road to successful recycling isn’t just about design; it’s also about ensuring recycling systems can handle the volume.

Reusable packaging is also gaining traction, allowing brands to replace single-use plastic with more durable and appealing options. The challenge lies in creating robust packaging that withstands washing and sterilization, while also building the necessary infrastructure to facilitate collection, washing, and refilling.

Alternative Materials Innovation

As brands seek alternatives to fossil-fuel-based plastics, bio-based and compostable materials are gaining popularity. These materials, sourced from renewable resources like wood, and sugarcane, offer similar properties to traditional plastics but with reduced environmental impact.

But the supply of such materials faces challenges, as increasing agricultural production might lead to land competition and deforestation. Brands are investing in research and development to find innovative ways to utilize superfluous biomass waste without further straining resources.

Smart Waste Reduction

Packaging waste reduction techniques are becoming smarter, incorporating solutions like linerless labels, lightweighting, downsizing, and double-sided labels. These strategies aim to minimize material usage while maintaining packaging integrity and functionality.

By incorporating technologies like QR and NFC tags, brands are turning waste reduction into an opportunity for customer engagement.

Recycled Content Integration

Brands are embracing the use of recycled materials to reduce their environmental footprint and support a circular economy. Ocean Bound Plastics (OBP), PET labels made from recycled content, and FSC-certified materials are just a few examples. These materials help divert waste from landfills and reduce the demand for new resources.

Integrating recycled content poses challenges related to material compatibility, availability, and consumer education about the benefits of using recycled materials.

sustainable packaging technology
Avery Dennison Technology – shortlisted for Global Environmental and Sustainability Award 2019

End-of-Life Focus

Designing packaging for successful end-of-life scenarios is essential for effective recycling. Matching materials, adhesives, and facestocks to ensure compatibility during the recycling process prevents contamination and increases recycling rates. Initiatives like Avery Dennison’s CleanFlake™ technology separate labels from PET containers, enhancing the recyclability of packaging materials.

Brands are also collaborating with label partners to develop custom solutions that promote circularity and maximize recycling options.

FAQ

How large is the Sustainable Packaging market?

The Global Sustainable Packaging Market was valued at USD 271.86 billion in 2023.

The Global Sustainable Packaging Market is expected to reach USD 393.39 billion by 2028.

How many consumers want Sustainable Packaging?

43 % of consumers consider the environmental impact as an extremely or very important factor when making purchasing decisions regarding packaging.

54% actively look for recycling and sustainability information on packaging.

Does Sustainable Packaging increase sales?

50% of consumers are willing to pay a higher price for products that come in sustainable packaging.

What are the key trends in Sustainable Packaging?

Here’s a list of the latest sustainable packaging trends:

– Bio-based and Compostable Packaging
– Reusability and Returnable Packaging
– Alternative Materials to Plastic
– End-of-Life Considerations
– Incorporating Recycled Content
– Smarter Waste Reduction Techniques

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