Packages may not be able to speak yet. But if they were, they would tell the consumer when their contents have reached their sell-by date, where and at what temperature the packaged product has to be stored and the applications it is intended for. All the same, modern packages already come with all this information.Packages may not be able to speak yet. But if they were, they would tell the consumer when their contents have reached their sell-by date, where and at what temperature the packaged product has to be stored and the applications it is intended for. All the same, modern packages already come with all this information. Intelligent packages that satisfy many criteria in addition to supplying the necessary consumer information are on the advance – and not only where foods are concerned. The plastic film industry has therefore been hit much less hard by the 2009 economic crisis than other branches of the plastics industry.
It’s flexible packages, i.e. film packages, that are in particularly strong demand because of the low cost of materials and production and their broad range of applications. Low in weight, they help to conserve resources while also offering plenty of scope for recycling. Film packages are replacing their rigid counterparts in many applications and conquering new market segments thanks to their constantly growing functionality. Even today, plastic films meet about three quarters of global demand for flexible packages and with a growing trend at the expense of paper and aluminium foil.
According to a study by the US Freedonia Group, global demand for flexible packages will rise by an average of about 3.5% per annum in the coming years from a good 16 million tonnes in 2008 to ultimately almost 19.5 million tonnes in 2013. The market researchers are forecasting the fastest growth in the developing regions of Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa as well as in the Middle East. The biggest volume growth, Freedonia anticipates, can be expected in China – the country that has meanwhile overtaken Japan and is now, after the USA, the second biggest market for flexible packages. The growth expected in India, Russia and Indonesia is also strong. However, the already saturated markets in the USA, Western Europe and Japan will temper a global boom in film, Freedonia claims. Furthermore, the technical scope for achieving the same applicational properties with increasingly thin films will also check the increase in the processed volume. For instance, a nappy film weighed 30 g/m² a few years ago; today, at 14 g/m², it now weighs less than half.
The use of flexible packages in the food and beverages industry and in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry is encouraged by the materials’ hygienic qualities and long shelf life. The further development of breathable films, microwave- and freezer-safe films, and biodegradable films is also spurring their growing use.
See all about this technology in the next trade fair K 2010 in Dusseldorf Germany from October 27 to November 3