The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world to its core, uprooting our economy and disrupting our daily lives in a way we probably didn’t consider possible. One of the most commonly used terms to describe this period has been ‘unprecedented’ – but in the world of plastics and packaging, there is still so much change to come. The last few months have totally shifted the perception of packaging and its role within society, and in turn, drastically altered its future. As one of the industries that will emerge with stronger public awareness of the importance of our offering, it is vital that we react to this increased attention by continuing to innovate and work towards lasting solutions.
At Caps and Closures, we view this momentous challenge faced by consumers, businesses, and society as a whole as an opportunity for creative thinking and innovative design. As a leading designer and manufacturer of packaging products for foods and pharmaceuticals and winner of multiple industry awards, we feel both obliged and well-positioned to lead this new age of packaging into uncharted territory. This pandemic has highlighted society’s needs for secure supply, product protection, and food safety. We believe that this period presents an opportunity for the industry as a whole to reflect, prepare, and look ahead to how we can apply our resources to alleviate this problem.
From shifting public perceptions to increasing the demand for protection, this is how COVID-19 will change the future of packaging forever.
Changing the way we think of packaging
The COVID-19 pandemic has threatened our way of life and significantly shifted the conversation around packaging. The increased social awareness around hygiene and risk of infection has seen plastic become more valued as a key tool for protecting public health and safety. Often unfairly maligned, the reality is that the use of plastic packaging has become absolutely integral to our hopes of beating this pandemic and someday returning to normal life. To most people, completing everyday tasks like shopping for groceries would not be possible without access to hand-sanitizers, plastic gloves, and packaged food. Suddenly, packaging is the saviour.
Funnily enough, COVID-19 has changed the conversation around plastics and packaging to the point that its major appeal has reverted back to what it was first developed for – a protective measure designed to keep products fresh, clean, and germ-free. Will this renewed focus on hygiene cause companies that previously used packaging as a medium for advertising to shift towards safety? For a society that has been trending towards form over function, this would represent a significant change.
Increased reliance on protective packaging
COVID-19 has made health and safety paramount in the public conscience, and as a result, plastics and packaging have become heavily relied on as a protective measure. For consumers worried about contracting the virus, packaging is now integral to allowing them to conduct their daily tasks. Rarely will you see anyone handling fresh produce without gloves or grocery bags, and hand-sanitizer has become almost ubiquitous in shops, offices, and even cars. Packaging has been recognised as an irreplaceable tool for increasing shelf life, guaranteeing safe delivery of goods, and ensuring product and consumer protection. Today, its value has arguably never been higher.
This statement rings equally true from a business perspective, where multiple industries have been devastated by the sudden onset of this virus. For sectors such as travel, hospitality, and retail, recovery depends on finding a way to reduce the risk of transmission. The demand for protective packaging will change the way we travel, shop, and work – consider the hygiene protocols that will have to be implemented for airlines to be able to serve meals going forward. The future of numerous industries hinges on the development of innovative new technology in protective packaging – and as Plato said, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’.
More social responsibility for the packaging industry
While the value of packaging has gained more public recognition during this pandemic, prior issues have not gone away, and packaging companies like ourselves now have more social responsibility than ever. As demonstrated by the increasing reliance on protective packaging, one of our biggest responsibilities will be ensuring that all packaging is secure, hygienic, and safe for consumers. This may result in the development of more stringent packaging safety standards and put pressure on companies to develop new, highly secure packaging.
Companies seeking to win back consumer confidence must reassure them that what they are purchasing does not put them at risk of contracting the virus. In the same way that packaging has previously been used as a marketing tool to convince consumers to purchase a product, it may soon be used to convince consumers that a product is safe to purchase. Brands may be required to include a symbol or message to demonstrate that their product meets a certain standard of packaging security as the concern for personal safety increases. It’s also likely that we’ll see an increase in the adoption of ‘increased tamper evidence’ packaging, which is certainly an area ripe for innovation.
Adding to the heightened social responsibility that has fallen upon the plastics and packaging industry is the ever-present issue of sustainability. It’s unsurprising that as the demand for single-use plastics has increased, living sustainably has taken a backseat to personal safety. However, the need for a circular economy of plastics remains – and it is up to us as an industry to work out how to balance these demands.
Working together towards a solution
At Caps & Closures, we believe in creating partnerships to work towards solutions. In the same way that COVID-19 has changed the future of packaging, the steps we as an industry take to address these issues will define our future.
For those looking to assist in the global fight against this pandemic
Caps & Closures offers creative workshopping sessions to help you move forward with a new product concept. With decades of practical experience and multiple design awards, we are the ideal partner for your new product development – simply drop us a message and get in touch!