Secondary packaging is in the spotlight as packagers strive to reduce, reuse and recycle.
With retailers demanding greater value and users demanding
reduced cost, secondary packaging is under the microscope, according to PMMI’s
latest report. The Secondary Packaging Market Research Study
found that all respondents are investigating and re-evaluating their
“Every study participant is looking at substrates, weight, cube size and how to
fit more in a cubic foot,” said PMMI President and CEO Charles D. Yuska.
Corrugated fiberboard is under particular scrutiny because the amount used
impacts overall costs. According to PMMI’s research, 80% of companies are
currently using regular slotted containers (RSCs) for secondary packaging;
within that group, 51% are decreasing usage by 5-60%.
RSC users are moving toward trays with overwrap or Bliss Boxes, according to
the report. Companies already using trays are changing to pads with overwrap,
and shrink wrap only when the product allows.
Nearly 50% of packaging professionals interviewed for the study predicted a
decrease in corrugated usage, with specially designed cartons filling the void.
Twenty-four percent predict no change, saying that packagers will strike a
balance between lighter weight and strength. And 21% foresee an increase in the
use of corrugated fiberboard material due to Internet sales.
“It’s important to note that there can be trade-offs between functionality and
costs,” Yuska said. “The packaging professionals we spoke to all agreed that
one of their tasks is to balance ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ and not compromise
Also under consideration are alternative materials and the recycled content in
corrugated fiberboard. Each change impacts secondary packaging performance, as
well as the machinery and primary packaging involved.
“Each factor is connected,” Yuska said. “Recycled content in corrugated
fiberboard can affect machinery performance, and the type of primary packaging
directly impacts choices in secondary packaging. Rigid packaging for liquids,
for example, requires less secondary packaging than flex packaging.”
The report includes a list of alternative materials, including the corn-based
bio-plastic polylactic acid (PLA); Hexacomb, a honeycomb product made from
container board and starch; thin-seal polypropylene; reductions in flute
construction and micro flutes; and folding boxes in new ways to reduce
Many factors are behind the drive for change. Sustainability accounts for 70%,
with respondents noting it as a goal in improving their secondary packaging.
However, the study results indicate that sustainability is often as much a
means to an end as it is a goal unto itself. Cost savings, customer requests,
strategic initiatives to ‘go green’ and reducing transportation costs are other
leading drivers for changing secondary packaging.
“Sustainability is a primary driver, but the goals are often the gains that
come as part of achieving more sustainable solutions,” Yuska said. “Improved
operations, cost savings and lower transportation costs were the top three
drivers that participants listed.”
For the study, PMMI researchers interviewed packaging professionals from
consumer packaged goods (CPG) firms in the food, beverage, dairy, electronics
and personal-care markets; materials suppliers; and contract packagers. The 67
participating CPG firms included four of the top 25 food manufacturers (two in
the top 10); three of the top five beverage companies (five in the top 15,
including the number-one specialty coffee retailer); two of the top 15
electronics companies; and the three leading paper companies.
is a trade association whose more than 540 member manufacture packaging and
packaging-related converting machinery, commercially available packaging
machinery components, containers, and materials in the United States and Canada. PMMI’s goal is to be the
leading global resource for packaging, and its mission is to improve and
promote members’ abilities to meet their customers’ needs. The association
organizes the PACK EXPO trade shows: PACK EXPO International, PACK EXPO Las
Vegas and EXPO PACK Mexico.
For more information, visit www.pmmi.org
For more information, or to purchase the report, contact Paula
Feldman, PMMI Director of Research and Statistics, at (703) 243-8555 or e-mail email@example.com.