Three packaging innovation trends for 2022


Graphic announcing 2021 Packaging Innovation Awards

The Packaging Innovation Awards are one way Dow works to bring together the very best of our industry to push ourselves in the pursuit of better and more sustainable packaging.

Each year I look forward to seeing the innovation that will be highlighted during the Packaging Innovation Awards. The 189 entries in 2021 have all shown truly outstanding innovation - bringing to life how the packaging industry is capable of constantly evolving to meet changing demands across functionality, safety, and sustainability.

We know that packaging cannot simply meet expectations, but that we must constantly work together and collaborate to keep driving change for the benefit of the planet and the businesses and customers we serve.

The Packaging Innovation Awards are one way Dow works to bring together the very best of our industry to push ourselves in the pursuit of better and more sustainable packaging.

This year, the judges identified three trends driving packaging innovation.

1) Packaging recyclability

Designing packaging for recycling ensures materials retain their value and promotes a circular economy. However, there are many complexities to guaranteeing recyclable packaging works with real world waste management processes.

This year the judges were impressed by the number of entries that had considered market specific recycling systems to ensure their designs would not just drive sustainable packaging innovation forward – but work with the systems in place to ensure optimal impact.

Here’s one example of packaging recyclability from the 2021 Packaging Innovation Awards entries:

O F Packaging created a high barrier stand up pouch to protect locally produced muesli and granola, which could also be recycled through roadside recycling. This type of flexible packaging is usually not easily recognised by material recovery machines and hand picking is difficult. The ‘Roll n Recycle’ packaging allows consumers to transform the empty, 100% polyethylene packaging into a 3D shape suitable for their home recycling bin and enabling it to be recycled.

2) On package communication

Another trend that came through was the rise of educating and informing consumers through packaging. The judges themselves always looked at the labels on the package and it was clear that on package information is not only about the contents – it’s also giving instruction and education to help tackle sustainability challenges.

Here's one example of on package communication from the 2021 Packaging Innovation Awards entries:

Veja Multiuso Power is a new multipurpose product, which features a bottle made of recycled plastic and a unique ‘snap on’ trigger, also made entirely of plastic. To make sure the packaging is recycled the correct way, Veja Multiuso Power Nature has a QR code on the sleeve label guiding consumers on what needs to be done to give the packaging another life. Through an augmented reality experience, consumers are taken through the steps to prepare their bottle for the recycling bin, such as easily removing the sleeve label using the handy perforation.

3) A greater focus on safety and hygiene

COVID-19 caused a seismic shift across every aspect of our lives - how we live, shop and work.

As a result of the pandemic, we’ve seen demand for products with much greater safety and hygiene credentials increase in a way we couldn’t have predicted two years ago. What’s clear from reviewing the 2021 entries is that this is a trend that’s here to stay, and things developed initially because of COVID-19 will have a halo effect on packaging products in other areas.

Here’s one example of packaging safety and hygiene from the 2021 Packaging Innovation Awards entries:

The pandemic led to many product shortages around the world, including the pumps vital in handwash packaging. ITC quickly responded to this need and introduced a pump-less handwash pack, designed for better squeezability. Although initially a solution used to overcome the issue of pump shortages, the unique design means that the packaging is entirely plastic, without the metal spring and glass ball of the pump, making the product fully recyclable.

Explore all the award-winning packaging innovations

On March 31, 2022 the winners of the 2021 Packaging Innovation Awards were announced. Take a look through all the packaging innovation recognized for outstanding achievements in technological advancement, enhanced user experience and/ or responsible packaging.

Dow is also focused on diversity in innovation. For more information, please navigate to our Seek Together blog to learn more.

Visit the winners gallery website:

Romain Cazenave, EMEA Marketing Director, Packaging & Specialty Plastics