Packaging predictions for 2020

Like it or not, there’s no denying that we’re living through times of significant change and upheaval. And the world of packaging isn’t immune. Luckily – even if they can’t fix everything else going on in the world – our packaging experts have got a nose for what’s new; and their innovative thinking is second to none when it comes to helping businesses find solutions to their packaging challenges. Here’s what they are predicting will be big news in the year ahead:

1. Sustainable packaging

Sustainability is still, and will continue to be, a priority for every kind of business in 2020. The change in mindset since we were all awoken to the harm plastics cause to the environment has been swift, with industry, retail and the public embracing the message and working to eliminate plastic, particularly the single-use kind, in favour of more paper-based products.

However, this throws up new sustainability challenges, which we are likely to hear more about, and see a movement to address, over the next year. The key message for 2020 will be: not all plastic is bad and not all paper is good. It’s about making the right packaging choices for your business and the environment.

2. Returnable and reusable packaging

The advantage of plastic packaging over paper is that it can be used time and time again. Antalis Packaging Technologist Todd Smith anticipates a growth in requests for reusable and returnable packaging: “During 2019, we worked on some exciting, bespoke projects that tackle the issue of packaging waste by using plastic in the way it is meant to be used – not as something to be discarded after one use, but using its inherently robust properties to create packaging that provides serious product protection and can be used multiple times. This kind of packaging is likely to be big news for manufacturing businesses that need to transport tools and components to and from factories and sites around the world.”

3. More changes to the high street

It would take a very courageous optimist to say that 2020 will be the year that the poor British high street starts to show signs of recovery. However, John Garner, Head of Business Development at Antalis Packaging believes that we will start to see some changes that could lead to a more sustainable physical retail format; and one of the biggest ones for 2020 is stockless shops. “There’s no doubt that e-commerce is here to stay, but it’s fair to say that sometimes nothing beats touching, feeling and interacting with a product before you commit to buy. And that’s where stockless shops will start to bridge the gap between old retail and new. Consumers can check the fit, quality and colour of an item without then having to lug shopping around with them; instead they will be able to order in store and have it delivered home. It’s how things have always worked with larger retail items, such as furniture, but we’ll see it extending to smaller items, too.”

4. Delivery by drone and robot

While it might seem all very sci-fi, drones and robots are fact. Amazon first announced news of its Prime Air delivery drone back in 2016, and in a guide published last month, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority refers to making long distance drone operations an ‘everyday occurrence’, with official trials beginning early this year. As Britain’s roads become ever more congested, drone and robot delivery could help to take a little pressure off and ensure the goods get through.

5. A shift away from heavily branded packaging

With in-store shopping continuing to fall, senior Packaging Technologist, Jason Poxon, thinks we will also start to see a fall in requirement for heavily branded packaging: “With more and more items going straight from the warehouse to the home, there just won’t be the same need for heavily printed external or primary packaging. As well as helping to reduce expenditure for product manufacturers and retailers, it will also mean less waste, which is good news from an environmental perspective, something that is going to continue to be at the forefront of our minds throughout the coming year.”


If your packaging’s in need of a facelift for the year ahead, let our experts create a personalised packaging plan to help you deliver a successful 2020 – arrange yours now here.