Could packaging play a new role in brand differentiation?


Both PepsiCo and Nestlé have announced some potentially significant packaging developments in the war on plastic waste, but as consumer sentiment shifts, observers suggest there are opportunities to completely rethink the role of packaging.

Nestlé is now wrapping its YES! fruit bars and nut bars in environmentally friendly paper, having devised a polymer-coated paper – which is recyclable and which degrades within six months in the ocean – that can be used on an existing high-speed production line without ripping.

The Financial Times reported that the food giant has not patented the technology and intends to make it available to other businesses next year.

“It is not in our interest to hold on to this,” said Jas Scott de Martinville, Nestlé’s global confectionery research and development leader. “We want the industry to use paper.”

PepsiCo, meanwhile, is to begin using 100% recycled polyethylene terephthalate for its LIFEWTR brand, end the use of plastic packaging for its bubbly sparkling water brand and plans to introduce aluminium can packaging for its Aquafina water brand in the US,according to Packaging Gateway.

“We are doing our part to address the issue head-on by reducing, recycling and reinventing our packaging to make it more sustainable, and we won’t stop until we live in a world where plastics are renewed and reused,” said chairman and chief executive officer Ramon Laguarta.

Both businesses signed up last year to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with UN Environment, which advocates for the elimination of unnecessary plastic packaging and greater reuse and recycling of plastics.

Reuse of packaging, in particular, opens up possible new avenues for brands. A pilot program in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Paris aims to reinvent packaging as a service, with multi-use containers “borrowed” by the consumer before being taken away to be cleaned, sterilised and reused.

“This major shift in ownership of the package from the consumer to the brand is a ticket to unfettered imagination in consumer experience and sustainability,” according to Stuart Leslie of design firm 4sight Inc.

“The package essentially becomes an asset and can be viewed and designed as a device,” he wrote in Adweek.

“Brands can rethink what their package does and how the consumer uses it, such as a pill package that reminds you when to take or reorder pills, detect when food has expired (say goodbye to the smell test), automatically order more product when it’s running low or even self-seal to ensure freshness.”

Sourced from Financial Times, Packaging Gateway, Inc, Adweek; additional content by WARC staff

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