Corrugated packaging is a perpetually popular choice across numerous industries, especially since its design promotes increased durability. Manufacturers and retailers understandably prioritize sourcing durable, reliable materials, and corrugated packaging often meets requirements. Here’s a look at emerging trends that will help shape how and why people use this kind of packaging.

Corrugated Insulated Packaging

Shipping perishable products can pose challenges, but it’s becoming more necessary. The rising popularity of meal kits and grocery deliveries has forced enterprises to take proactive measures. Many companies use options like cooling packs and refrigerated trucks to keep the goods from spoiling. Businesses will still choose those solutions, but some will soon start relying on corrugated insulated packaging, too.

Market Kurly, a South Korean grocery delivery startup, recently won a global packaging award for an insulated corrugated box that helps protect goods in transit. The company conducted more than 40,000 tests while developing its design. The results led to a container that maintains a temperature of approximately 0 degrees Fahrenheit for 14 hours.

The company has no current plans to make its design available to other entities. Even so, this innovation should motivate other brands to explore using insulated corrugated packaging to keep things cold for longer.

Virus-Resistant Packaging

As the novel coronavirus continues wreaking havoc in many parts of the world, people are more intent on following simple measures to stay safe, such as wearing masks and washing their hands after touching shared surfaces. These concerns led companies to develop products to give people peace of mind, such as virus-resistant clothing.

It’s no surprise that packaging professionals have had similar thoughts. Consider the number of people who might touch a packaged product in a supermarket. When you think of logistics personnel, sales floor workers, customers and cashiers, it’s easy to envision products passing between several people in a given hour.

A recent partnership between packaging brand DS Smith and Touchguard led to creating virus-resistant cardboard packaging. The solution combats bacteria and stops enveloped viruses from replicating. More specifically, it offers a 99.5% kill rate in under 25 minutes and halts person-to-person infection transfers. With this development in the news, corrugated packaging specialists may start investing in options that stop viruses from spreading through frequently handled items.

Corrugated Shrink Wrap Replacements

Many corrugated materials serve as secondary packaging. For example, they can hold multiple units of a product together, such as drink bottles. Secondary packaging facilitates the efficient manufacturing and distribution of products and ensures that a product does not become separated from its container. Secondary packaging can also provide additional marketing opportunities, especially when it features a brand-centric design.

Companies are perpetually exploring how to avoid using disposable plastic packaging, especially as people become more concerned about plastic ending up in oceans and harming marine life. A creatively designed corrugated drink can holder could offer the answer.

The package, known as the TopClip, offers an average 30% lower carbon footprint than plastic alternatives. It’s also completely recyclable and features cutouts on the top to help consumers carry the packaged products. Beer companies were among the first to become interested in using the TopClip. However, this versatile product could also accommodate products like drinkable yogurt or individual servings of applesauce.

Corrugated Packaging That Supports Sustainability Goals

Many countries, states and cities have set ambitious targets for reducing emissions, boosting recycling rates and making other positive changes to help the planet for this generation and future ones. Corrugated packaging is well-positioned to help meet those milestones. For example, reusable corrugated plastic packages are available. Additionally, companies can recycle corrugated cardboard or purchase accessories that facilitate reusing boxes made from it.

GEA, a food processing company headquartered in Germany, came up with a dual-material packaging solution. It aligns with the country’s goals to meet a recycled packaging quota set for 2022. The FoodTray product combines corrugated cardboard with a plastic film that creates a seal. This packaging, which could accommodate prepared meals, features more than 80% recycled materials and a design that allows one-handed opening. It’s also easy for users to separate the materials before recycling.

As people worldwide continue concerning themselves with more sustainable packaging, you can expect to see more innovations like this one. If a package’s materials or design encourage people to recycle, they’ll be more likely to permanently integrate the practice into their lives.

The E-Commerce Boom

The COVID-19 pandemic was a significant contributor to 2020’s surging e-commerce sales. As more people bought merchandise online, corrugated cardboard suppliers felt the strain. The rise in demand became apparent early in the year. Figures for corrugated box shipments showed a 9% rise in March 2020 compared to the previous year.

Analysts also expect the demand spike to continue, particularly since so many people have embraced online shopping and don’t want to return to their old ways. If packaging professionals find corrugated cardboard in short supply, plastic corrugated boxes could be feasible alternatives.

Market researchers identified e-commerce popularity as a significant driver of corrugated plastics’ ongoing growth. They also named the food and beverage, pharmaceutical and tobacco markets as some industries that already frequently use corrugated plastic packaging. Such material resists leakage and damage, making it a durable choice for delicate goods.

Corrugated Packaging Will Remain a Viable Option

The trends identified here show how corrugated packages can meet many longstanding and emerging needs — from improved sustainability to reduced virus transmission. Companies that rely on corrugated packaging must think creatively about how such materials can address their requirements.

Doing that may mean coming up with new technologies or methods, as some of the entities mentioned here have done. However, shaking things up could pay off, especially if the trend helps a business show customers and peers why corrugated materials remain relevant in today’s world and for the foreseeable future.

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized. She regularly covers trends in the industrial sector.