The Future of Packaging | Aylesbury Box Company
The future of packaging looks set to be a balancing act - sustainable, functional, cost effective and appealing. How to tick all those boxes?
packaging, bespoke boxes, plastic packaging, packaging waste, packaging material, packaging manufacturers, unboxing, packaging review, FSC Certified packaging company,
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The Future of Packaging


The Future of Packaging

The future of packaging looks set to be a balancing act. Brands want sustainable alternatives to plastic and ways to engage with buyers. However, they also need solutions that are functional and cost-effective. So, as a packaging manufacturer, how do we tick all the boxes?

A Future Less Reliant on Plastic Packaging

The future of packaging must include far less plastic. The UK has good facilities for the collection and recycling of paper-based packaging. As a result, recycling rates for cardboard boxes, moulded paper pulp trays and cartonboard are high. Yet, the same cannot be said for plastic packaging.

The majority of plastic is currently sent overseas, often to countries with inadequate facilities to process the waste. This is having a detrimental effect on the environment. Unfortunately, local communities are the worst hit, but it has a global impact. As it is an unsustainable process, rapid change is necessary.

Governments, manufacturers, producers, the packaging industry and retailers all have a part to play in creating a future less reliant on plastic packaging. And, as cardboard specialists, we are working hard to be part of the solution.

Over the last decade, we’ve taken steps to:

  • Minimise our plastic use
  • Offer alternatives to plastic fillers and tape
  • Proactively encourage our customers to adopt these alternatives

We’ve seen a significant shift in attitudes and priorities, but there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Increase in Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT)

On 1 April, PPT will rise from £210.82 to £217.85 per tonne. This is one step in encouraging a shift towards alternatives to plastic packaging. At the recent Sheet Plant Association Conference, guest speaker Neil Osment highlighted that this is an opportunity for paper-based packaging producers. His research identified that there was potential to replace 1.5 tonnes of food punnets and trays with cartonboard and cardboard substitutes. That’s music to our ears!

In addition to PPT,  producers are required to map and report on packaging lifecycles as part of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). Although payments have been postponed until October 2025, this aims to inform sustainable packaging decisions. When fees are introduced, the money will be invested in the UK’s recycling infrastructure.

Changes to Food & Beverage Packaging

Much of the single-use packaging waste is generated from food and beverages. That’s because plastic and polystyrene have been used to contain and wrap consumables for decades. Fortunately, many common single-use items, such as plastic takeaway containers and cutlery, have been banned. Equally, supermarkets and brands have worked to remove or reduce plastic packaging. So, looking to the future of packaging, we expect to see this shift in packaging material choices continue.

However, moves toward sustainability must not diminish functionality or increase costs. Packaging manufacturers, like us, need to explore all options to achieve cost reductions without compromising quality.

Panel discussions at the Sheet Plant Association Conference focused on ways to streamline production. The evolving potential of AI and other innovative technology will almost certainly be necessary to balance all the requirements. This is necessary to ensure the continued shift to sustainable materials.

Simply encouraging producers to buy British is a good step towards a sustainable supply chain. As a UK packaging manufacturer, this is something we endorse! Unlike orders placed in China, we provide short lead times and low-volume runs, as well as minimising airmiles and offering responsive customer service.

The Case for Bespoke Boxes

Another trend that has been identified in food and drink packaging is differentiating premium brands. Those in the industry highlight that packaging upgrades will be essential to retain shelf presence and elevate perceptions.

Standard packaging solutions for retail and e-commerce packaging are not enough. Bespoke boxes, which incorporate the company values or brand story are needed to attract and engage buyers. Custom-printed designs and interactive elements help to personalise in-store buying and provide memorable unboxing experiences. We love creating bespoke boxes for our customers and we know their customers often comment on the quality and style of the packaging.

Help With your Packaging Review

If you are looking to remove or reduce plastic, increase supply chain sustainability or upgrade your branded boxes, we can assist. As an FSC® certified packaging company, with a knowledgeable team, we will listen to your requirements and offer advice. This can inform you packaging review. Simply contact us on 01296 436888 or to start the conversation.

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