The story of packaging is a clear success story. It has been a part of human life longer than dogs, cereals or roofs over our heads. People have lived and developed cultures without electrical power, flowing water or the wheel. But they have never been without packaging. This is no accident. Packaging pays off economically as well as environmentally and socially because the value and costs of a packaged good far exceed the value and costs of its packaging.
It doesn’t matter if we are talking about water, food, electronics or medicine: Without packaging, most of what we need would break, be lost or spoil long before it reached us.
This does not mean that we can live better simply by using more packaging. It also doesn’t mean that every type of packaging is necessarily well made and useful.
But it does show that we cannot live without packaging. And it also shows how meaningful and fascinating the topic of packaging really is.
Packaging is one of the most highly developed products of our time. It serves a wide range of purposes and uses and exists in diverse colors and shapes, materials and designs.
The lifecycle of packaging
In the first step, the packaging is manufactured. The packaging consists of packing materials (paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, metal, etc.).
The packaging must be manufactured in a way that enables it to fulfill its primary functions (protection, logistics, marketing, etc.). These functions are encountered during storage, distribution of the product at retail and use of the product by the customer.
The final step in the life of packaging is disposal, such as via recycling or burning for energy. The main purposes of packaging are protection, storage, transport, simplifying use/handling and providing information about the contents and the product designation.
Because modern packaging must sometimes fulfill very diverse functions, packaging development is influenced by a number of different factors. First and foremost comes the packaged article itself, but other factors include consumer wishes, brand standards, the design, technology, distribution and logistics.
Each of us has daily contact with the packaging industry. With its products, the industry forms an important link between end consumers on one hand and producers and retailers on the other. In addition, they are of central importance to goods transport and maintaining a supply of goods.
Over 500,000 people work in the packaging industry in Germany, Austria and Switzerland alone. Alongside its strong customer orientation, the industry’s most important features include great flexibility, highly engineered production processes and creativity in the development of innovative solutions.
86% of packaging manufacturers have their own research and development departments. The packaging industry is diverse and encompasses a variety of industry segments. The industry is characterized by a very heterogeneous structure with many different players. Over 90% of the companies are classic mid-market companies, including many hidden champions.