The Economy and Sustainable Packaging
For a consumer, packaging is just something that protects their product. An expensive perfume or food from the nearest restaurant, all of it needs to be packed appropriately. For the packers, however, it’s not that easy. At the heart of a sustainability vision, is the conviction that a socially responsible self-interest can also be mobilised because of long-term adjustments that must be adopted toward pollution prevention. And that’s where sustainable packaging comes into the picture. Packaging at its very basic facilitates the movement of product from the point of origin to its point of consumption and bears a strong influence on all other industries either directly or indirectly.
Despite technological breakthroughs, the increasing length of global supply chains for products has also led to the increase in the use of packaging layers concomitantly. Sustainable packaging is packaging that is safe and simple to recycle, secure for individuals and the environment, and made out of recyclable materials. It uses materials and manufacturing practices with minimal environmental impact. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental consequences of packaging. Businesses are under pressure from consumers and governments to use eco-friendly packaging for their products.
According to Data Bridge Market Research, the Middle East and Africa eco-friendly packaging market is expected to gain market growth in the forecast period of 2022 to 2029. Data Bridge Market Research analyses that the market is growing at a CAGR of 3.4% in the forecast period of 2022 to 2029 and is expected to reach USD 10,064.23 million by 2029.
Should one look at the rising trend, it is clear that the Middle East is well ahead of its game in Sustainable Packaging. But this also means that they face challenges and opportunities. Which weighs heavier is completely on the manufacturers and packers. The key issue is generally linked to the environment and society, with implications for supply chain costs. With the growing popularity of concepts such as circular economy and sustainability, the role and relationship of packaging and its relationship with sustainability and supply chain management in a circular economy need further explanation.
The rising technology must also cater to the growing demand. Take Tetra Pak for example, which has its recycling facilities in the Middle East and Africa regions with a capacity to process 87,000 tonnes of used beverage cartons per year, and is looking to increase the capacity to meet the growing demands here. At a recent conference, Tomotaka Brink Fushimi, Global Director - Ambient Solutions, confirmed this and also stated that along with other carton suppliers in the region, the company has made investments to set up new recycling facilities, with its latest facility to open was in Saudi Arabia. “In 2020, we had 16 recyclers in the whole region and by 2023, we expect the number to be more than double, with 35 recyclers in operation. We have resources in place. We have a roadmap. Now to increase recycling rates, we are investing in recycling capabilities. We need to work on recycling infrastructure as well. We can have the recycling facility, but we need to get the material there,” affirmed the Global Director.
And this is where one needs to turn focus on the lesser liked plastic variant for a better comparative analysis. According to Future Market Insights (FMI), the plastic liners market is expected to total US$ 7.2 Bn in 2032, expanding at a 4.8% CAGR during the forecast period (2022-2032). Plastic liners are flexible packaging solutions that are commonly used for transporting bulk products from one destination to other. The plastic liners are used for protecting the bulk products from the external natural elements. This also helps in keeping the product contamination-free. Why do so many still turn their attention to plastic even though it is not the safest option? The answer lies in the fact that it is cost-effective and easy to install and remove. But the truth of the matter is that according to Method Recycling, the classic plastic liner is the most commonly used bin liner, made from petroleum or natural gas, both non-renewable resources and can take anywhere from fifteen to a thousand years to degrade. According to BMR, Around 200 billion pounds of new plastic material is thermoformed, foamed, laminated and extruded into millions of packages and products. Consequently, the reuse, recovery and the recycling of plastics are extremely important.
This effectively translates to the fact that we need to costs around sustainable packaging to ensure that it remains at the top of everyone’s choice and preference. Take Okeanos for instance, whose motto is, goal is to ultimately match nature’s Calcium Carbonate content efficiency of an eggshell: 97% . This could fundamentally change packaging for good because it depends on a process called biomimicry.
There is an urgent need to fundamentally refurbish the current situation to create a new macro system, based on the free play of the market which means that there would be a need for deregulation and privatisation measures. This further means that an associational infrastructure must be created which will revamp existing social and economic conditions by redefining the working relationship between government and different economic stakeholders.
The new market system will need to create the adjustments that make sustainable packaging a mandate. The regulatory role of the state, the instruments employed and the relationships between regulatory agencies and their target groups will need to be adapted to the requirements of sustainable packaging in a given market economy. The role of both public and private actors are prerequisites for the transition to an effective working market order, one that amplifies the role of sustainable packaging. Corporate strategies, regular SWOT Analysis, a thorough chronicling of the progression of key events associated with the company, its major products, key competitors, and the growing need for sustainability will all play a key role in the foreseeable future. As per a recent report by Roland Berger, all key FMCG producers surveyed are aiming for 100% recyclability of their packaging portfolio by 2025.
According to Market Research, organic packaged food continues to gain in popularity in the United Arab Emirates, as the number of health-conscious consumers increases. In particular, demand is being driven by younger consumers who are interested in health and wellness trends and are exposed to these via social media platforms and online blogs. The number of local organic farms has also increased to address the rising demand for organic products. Should this trend continue the need for plastics will slowly but steadily diminish.
The economy is largely built on the idea of consumer awareness. According to Databridge, “Increasing public awareness about environmental concerns and pollution caused due to conventional packaging such as plastic has resulted in higher demand for eco-friendly packaging, which is largely expected to boost growth in the Middle East and Africa eco-friendly packaging market. The major restraint can be the lack of awareness regarding the benefits of eco-friendly packaging products. Considerable innovations in packaging products are expected to provide opportunities in the market. High cost and poor infrastructure for recycling processes may challenge the Middle East and Africa eco-friendly packaging market.” A team of young Omani researchers are converting fish scales into biodegradable plastic. “In the lab, the scales will be separated from fish waste by a solvent floating method. Then, they would be subjected to a process to convert them into bio-plastic raw material.”
Not too long ago, the Middle East and Africa eco-friendly packaging market was recently divided by the use of sustainable packaging, into recycled content packaging, reusable packaging, and degradable packaging. In 2022, it was noted that the reusable packaging segment would dominate the market because of their nature of being used again and again without any loss in their properties. Enviroserve for example claims to be the world’s largest integrated e-waste recycler featuring state-of-the-art technology for all types of electrical and electronic items with a capacity to process up to 40,000 tonnes of e-waste each year. With the help of Enviroserve, the UAE is mitigating its carbon footprint by initial segregation, shredding, crushing, and full material separation with the help of the latest technologies, including AI.
In terms of material type, the Middle East and Africa eco-friendly packaging market was segmented into paper & paper board, plastic, metal, glass, starch-based materials, and others. In 2022, the paper & paper board segment is expected to dominate the Middle East and Africa eco-friendly packaging market, as it is 100% naturally degradable property to the packaging solutions with low impact on the environment.
Based on product type, the sustainable packaging market was segregated into bags, pouches & sachets, boxes, etc. It was forecast that this year, boxes will dominate the Middle East and Africa eco-friendly packaging market has given the durability, resilience, efficiency, and good strength.
When it came to technique, the Middle East and Africa sustainable packaging markets were compared concerning active packaging, molded packaging, alternate fiber packaging, and others. Alternate fiber packaging has been forecasted as a major dominant proving an environmentally-friendly alternative to paper. Should this analysis be right, a much-needed alternative to polystyrene which is harmful to both environmental and human health will be in place.
Furthermore, when it came to primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging in the Middle East and Africa it was stated that the primary packaging segment will play a critical role over the other two in the region given the fact that it allows materials to be preserved without altering the environment.
All in all the role of Sustainable Packaging in an aggressively growing multifarious market looks good. The MENA region is all set to change the sustainability landscape and sustainability packaging will be a pillar of its growth.