Times of crisis breed uncertainty in all aspects of life. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all areas of business. The packaging industry has also felt its share of changes, from supply chain issues to abrupt changes in consumer behavior.

When it comes to sustainable packaging, there have been some changes in our market, too, but the long-term outlook is still excellent.

Surge in Single-Use Packaging

When the pandemic came to global attention, it is understandable that people and businesses went into survival mode. Many individuals who had committed to reducing plastic in their lives were suddenly buying and using more of it than ever because it was single-use and could simply be tossed when the consumer was finished with it.

Part of this was due to panic buying at the beginning of the pandemic. Part was due to the perception that items wrapped or delivered in plastic are safer, despite evidence that COVID-19 survives longer on plastic surfaces than it does on products like paper, cardboard or molded fiber.

The key driver for the single-use packaging market as the COVID-19 impacts broadened was the huge increase in demand for delivery and pickup options for everything from food to clothing. Restaurants went entirely to curbside options to keep serving customers safely, meaning they increased demand for to-go service ware. This included not only plastics, but paperboard, molded fiber, and other substrates. Delivery services like Amazon and Chewy also saw increased demand.

Sustainable options for packaging materials have continued to be in demand throughout this upswing. Corporations who set sustainability goals still want to meet those goals and deliver on their promise to consumers. It’s perhaps more important now than ever for these companies to keep customers feeling good about their purchases, so sustainable packaging is finding a solid foothold during this time.

Moving Forward

As the panic surrounding COVID-19 slowly subsides, everyone is moving towards a new normal, and they haven’t forgotten their commitment to reduce plastic waste. Single-use packaging will be in demand at a higher rate than pre-COVID times, as consumer purchasing habits have significantly changed. While the threat of the virus may have turned attention away from sustainability for a time, there is demand and room for sustainable packaging like Earthable® in the new normal.

At Genera, we want to make sure everyone is able to live safely, healthily and sustainably, no matter what the future holds. If you would like to learn more about our Earthable® fiber products, just contact Genera online today.