The traditional wrapping and packaging category includes paper and paperboard used for wrapping and packaging purposes, namely: case materials (used mainly in the manufacture of corrugated board), cartonboard (used mainly in cartons for consumer products, such as frozen food and liquid containers), and other wrapping and packaging (all papers and boards used for packaging purposes …

The traditional wrapping and packaging category includes paper and paperboard used for wrapping and packaging purposes, namely: case materials (used mainly in the manufacture of corrugated board), cartonboard (used mainly in cartons for consumer products, such as frozen food and liquid containers), and other wrapping and packaging (all papers and boards used for packaging purposes other than case materials and cartonboard). Such traditional wrapping and packaging materials have been manufactured and used since the nineteenth century. Nowadays, the wrapping and packaging materials are highly recyclable: the fibre length and stability properties of corrugated board can withstand up to 25 recycling rounds1.

Figure 1. Wrapping and packaging production by major regions. Data: FAOSTAT, 2022.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Case materials production by major regions. Data: FAOSTAT, 2022.
Figure 3.
Figure 3. Cartonboard production by major regions. Data: FAOSTAT, 2022.
Figure 4
Figure 4. Other wrapping and packaging materials production by major regions. Data: FAOSTAT, 2022.

The global cartonboard market is anticipated to experience growth, particularly in the premium and high-performance packaging segment, propelled by the rising global population and disposable incomes. The market is expected to benefit from a robust influx of new product developments in under-developed markets, including preserved foods, fruit juice, thermoforming, and other functional beverages. This trend is poised to drive the expansion of the cartonboard market.

The main drivers of market development are as follows:

  • Cartonboard has received significant attention, propelled by the increasing demand for cost-effective and lightweight packaging, along with the growth of the e-commerce industry in the United States and Canada. Many vendors opt for cartonboard containers known for their ability to withstand the challenges of transportation, providing protection against damage during transit.
  • The heightened public scrutiny and ongoing discussions about plastics in the ocean and the environmental impact of packaging have compelled manufacturers to embrace environmentally friendly packaging solutions. This shift provides brands with an opportunity to align their packaging with consumer values, as consumers express a positive sentiment towards corrugated boxes.
  • The evolving political agenda and legislative measures, with a growing emphasis on plastic-free packaging, are significant factors shaping the market.

The global exports of paper and paperboard; folding cartons, boxes and cases, of non-corrugated paper or paperboard exceeded 11 billion USD in 2022. According to the World Bank2, top exporters of folding cartons, boxes and cases, non-corrugated paper or paperboard in 2022 were China ($2,413,103.46K, 406,240 t), Germany ($1,737,452.99K, 594,869 t), European Union ($1,492,597.05K, 496,964 t), Netherlands ($699,262.05K, 338,804 t), Poland ($629,908.40K, 208,873 t). The top importers of these products in 2022 were United States ($1,167,261.85K , 311,510 t), France ($999,678.70K , 340,407 t), European Union ($819,909.67K , 180,981 t), Germany ($562,907.24K , 210,795 t).

Experts argue that there is no direct substitution relationship between traditional wrapping and packaging and plastic packaging. This could be attributed to the expanding market for packaging materials, accommodating demand for both types. Additionally, the suitability of traditional wrapping and packaging versus plastic packaging may vary depending on specific applications. Despite this, traditional wrapping and packaging might emerge as a more sustainable choice over the life cycle of a product compared to fossil-based plastic packaging. Nevertheless, further research is necessary, especially regarding innovative materials like bioplastics.

References:

  1. Kreplin et al. 2019. Multiple recycling of paperboard: Paperboard characteristics and maximum number of recycling cycles— Part I: Multiple recycling of corrugated base paper, TAPPI Journal November 2019 https://imisrise.tappi.org/TAPPI/Products/19/NOV/19NOV631.aspx
  2. World Integrated Trade Solutions database: https://wits.worldbank.org/Default.aspx?lang=en

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