Sustainable Packaging Trends For 2024: The Top 9 Revealed

As 2024 approaches, the plastic packaging industry continues to evolve and sustainable packaging solutions remain in sharp focus. 

An increase in consumer awareness about packaging pollution, and expectations that their brands will embrace environmentally friendly packaging, is driving businesses to rethink their product packaging to stay ahead of the curve. Governments and regulatory bodies too are starting to take more action, as we’ve seen with the introduction of EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) legislation in the UK this year.

We believe it’s our responsibility to work together, as businesses, consumers and regulatory bodies to push for green packaging innovations and eco-friendly practices in our daily lives, to make our planet a better place to live in, for everyone.

But what will these innovations and practices be? Continue reading as we reveal the top 9 sustainable packaging trends that will be making waves in 2024….

2024 Trend 1: The Circular Economy Approach

Much of the work already being done by businesses and governments globally to advance sustainable packaging solutions is based on a circular economy approach – and this trend looks set to continue in 2024.

The circular economy approach focuses on designing packaging that is not only recyclable but extends the life cycle of a product, maximising the value of materials and minimising waste.

Businesses – including Cambrian! – are increasingly looking at ways to use more recycled content, design for recyclability, and develop products that can be easily disassembled and recycled.

We’re proud to pioneer sustainable packaging solutions that are guided by and based on a circular economy approach in plastics. Talk to one of our team today about upgrading to eco-friendly plastic packaging in 2024.

2024 Trend 2: Increased Consumer Awareness & Education

Now more than ever it’s vital for businesses to be sustainable – and in 2024, businesses are going to have to continue to up their green game.

The expectation from consumers that companies will embrace sustainability in their working practices and use eco-friendly plastic packaging across all their products is likely to increase even further. Studies show that a third of consumer decision-making is based on packaging, so not adopting sustainable packaging solutions can devalue brand image and make a product a less desirable investment, potentially derailing commercial success.

Brands communicating and educating their customers on how to responsibly dispose of packaging will be a key expectation too. Missed capture – the theme of this year’s Recycling Week – remains a big problem and the onus will be on companies to make it clear on their packaging exactly what can (and can’t!) be recycled.

At Cambrian, we’re always on hand to help our customers make sustainable packaging decisions that work brilliantly for their business. If a client would like a particular PCR (post consumer recycled) item, for example, they can request it through our Made To Order service, and we’ll do everything we can to source it and make it available to them.

2024 Trend 3: Minimalist & Sustainable Packaging Design

Packaging that is designed for recycling and reuse – ie, with the circular economy front of mind – is expected to be a hugely popular trend in 2024.

Brands are increasingly embracing packaging that is designed with minimalistic and efficient structures, eliminates excess materials and is as lightweight as possible (see Trend 4 for more on this!). This goes a long way to reducing packaging waste, which is a huge priority in sustainable packaging solutions.

The concept of ‘right-sizing’ (choosing the appropriate packaging size for the product to reduce empty space and lower transportation emissions) is also gaining traction.

Sustainable packaging doesn’t mean compromising on aesthetics. In fact, minimalist and visually appealing designs are becoming more popular. Brands are realising that sustainable packaging can be eye-catching and memorable, creating a strong brand image while reducing environmental impact. 

2024 Trend 4: Lightweight Packaging Solutions

Making plastic packaging lighter in weight is a trend that looks set to gather momentum in 2024. Reducing the size and weight of packaging overall helps to save money on shipping costs (you can fit more packages in one shipment!) and using fewer materials helps reduce packaging waste – thus decreasing your carbon footprint.

Plastics continue to be one of the only packaging solutions that defy concerns about lighter weight packaging affecting product quality and protection. Our Cambrian range of pails, for example, is made from Polypropylene (PP), which is one of the lightest weight plastics out there, and typically uses up to 40% less plastic on average than our competitors – without any compromise whatsoever on product quality or integrity.

Choose from a grey 2.5Ltr, 5Ltr or 10Ltr bucket made from 70% post consumer recyclate (PCR) and 25% post industrial recyclate (PIR) for one of the most sustainable pail packaging solutions on the market.

2024 Trend 5: Use Of More Recycled Content

Using a higher percentage of recycled material is a key trend that will continue to ride high in 2024. 

Cambrian is already a trailblazer in this area, with our groundbreaking Ecycle™ range, which is made of 100% recycled content and our Zero PPT range which contains at least 30% recycled materials. Both these ranges are completely exempt from PPT (plastic packaging tax).

One of the most effective ways to create sustainable packaging solutions is to use increased amounts of recycled plastic materials and we look forward to continuing working with our suppliers and manufacturers in 2024 to ensure that the products we stock and supply contain as much recycled content as possible.

2024 Trend 6: Shift To Mono-Materials

One of the biggest barriers to recyclability is composite packaging made up from multiple types of plastic. In 2024, there looks set to be much more emphasis on eco-conscious packaging materials manufactured from similar types or one single type of plastic.

At Cambrian, we’ve already started setting the trend for the use of mono materials in the plastic packaging we supply. Our exceptional new White & NIR Black Smoothwall lotion pumps –  one of many groundbreaking sustainable packaging solutions we launched this year – are monopolymer (ie, made from the same type of plastic), which means the whole product can easily be recycled using standard kerbside facilities.

Similarly, our outstanding Minerva trigger is made from a single polyolefin (a group of plastics from the same family), so that too can be recycled in its entirety using standard plastic recycling solutions.

Trend 7: Smart Sustainable Packaging Solutions

Smart – or intelligent – packaging solutions are on the rise and will undoubtedly be a key trend disrupting the industry in 2024. 

Examples of smart packaging include embedding packages with technologies like QR codes, NFC (Near Field Communication), or RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) that provide consumers with information about a product – including its origins, ingredients, and sustainability credentials. 

Smart packaging looks set to be a key trend for 2024 because it will also help businesses in their work to become more sustainable. By investing in intelligent packaging technologies, brands can increase consumer engagement but also enhance and support efforts to be more traceable and transparent in their adoption of eco-friendly packaging solutions. 

2024 Trend 8: Advanced Labelling Technologies

Labelling processes are becoming increasingly smart too – and this means they’re becoming more sustainable. More efficient labelling techniques mean shorter production times and less use of energy, which reduces your carbon footprint and helps save time and money.

Our exceptional In-Mould Labelling service, for example, takes all the hassle out of the label printing process. We can deliver a fully printed, irremovable, waterproof and food safe label that compliments your product and brand aesthetics all at once! What’s not to love!?

Trend 9: Legislation And Regulation

Governments worldwide are introducing legislation and regulations to combat plastic pollution and promote sustainable packaging. These regulations are pushing brands to adopt eco-friendly practices and invest in sustainable alternatives. 

2023 saw the introduction of EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) legislation in the UK, for example. This legislation requires manufacturers and producers to pay the full cost of managing their packaging waste from when it goes on the market, to the end of its life. In 2024, the new regulations will be fully rolled out and possibly also expanded, with a view to the introduction of more legislation in the years ahead. If you’re unsure what EPR could mean for your business, check out our blog and get in touch to see how we can help.

For more information about all of our services, or if you have any questions at all, please get in touch.