How Has The Packaging Industry Changed Since The 1970s? - Wessex Packaging

How Has The Packaging Industry Changed Since The 1970s?

14th February 2024

In the 1970s to 1980s packaging played an insignificant part in the distribution and sale of goods, it was rather perceived wholly as a practical container to transport items across the country.

In this day and age, the packaging industry is constantly under pressure to become more advanced; producing new packaging to meet changing environmental standards by ensuring packaging is both light and more environmentally friendly than its predecessors.

Like many sectors, the most notable change over the years is the industry’s primary structure. In the 1970s to 1980s, business mergers, acquisitions and the start of globalisation completely reshaped this, shifting the focus onto the aesthetics and materials used in packaging. This focus increased further still during the 1980s and 1990s where the industry experienced a ‘plastic revolution’.

Plastic was ideal for packaging as it was very light, which made transportation simple. It also had the capabilities to become even lighter with the advancing technology. Plastic was also strong and very long lasting, a trait that was favourable at the time.

It was just after the plastic revolution that high awareness of environmental issues grew, as did the demand for packaging materials that were recyclable and environmentally friendly, such as Tetra Pak cartons and cardboard sleeves.

Innovation has kept the industry afloat: take the basic aluminium can, for example. As popularity for single portioned cans grew, packaging firms met this demand by designing a ring pull, which has grown to be a primary element for modern packaging.

Time and time again the industry has repeated this pattern, for example in the UK milk market. Inspired by new Government-led initiatives that focused on reducing waste, manufacturers felt pressure to design a container that was lighter and more sustainable.

The packaging business has remained successful throughout the years because of its ability to develop or enhance products to meet the changing demands and demographics, with the UK being at the forefront of providing solutions to these challenges.

We predict the challenges the industry encounters will become more complex in future decade, encouraging new developments and further evolution of packaging.

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