Single-use plastic has several advantages over other substrates, including weight, affordability, versatility, and energy required to produce. Looking at durability, plastic has high strength-to-weight and strength-to-stiffness ratios, which allow it to outperform some metals on a pound-for-pound basis. This creates opportunities for single-use plastic in the packaging industry. According to Citibank, Globally approximately 400 million tonnes (mmt) of plastics are produced a year, with roughly one-third used for packaging applications.
- The foodservice industry is one of the prominent end-user industries that hold a significant share in the cups and bottles market. The growth of online food delivery services augmented the demand for food cups and portion cups. According to the US Census Bureau, the total foodservice sales in the United States amounted to USD 6.02 million.
- However, rising bans on the production and use of single-use plastics across the globe, along with rising demand for reusable plastics and sustainable alternatives majorly due to increased emphasis on lowering GHG emissions and decreasing capacities of sustainable disposal of single use plastic are affecting the growth of the industry. In January 2020, China joined the growing movement of more than 120 countries pledging to ban single-use plastics. The country of 1.4 billion citizens is the No. 1 producer of plastic waste in the world.
- In Europe and the US, the plastic industry has used the threat of coronavirus contamination to push back against bans on single-use plastics. Although restaurants and other food businesses can now only offer home delivery or takeaway options, the food and beverages industry remains the major contributor to the growth of single use plastic packaging market in various regions.
The increased demand for packaged food and pharmaceutical products may drive the market growth during the spread of COVID-19. However, given the changing consumer preferences and regulatory risks, the growth rate in demand for single use plastic products could potentially decrease in the long run, and a decrease in SUP consumption could lead to overcapacity and a decrease in prices.
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Key Market Trends
PET is Expected to Witness Significant Growth
- PET, among the raw material resin, is the dominant material capturing a market segment of more than 80% due to the easiness with which the physical property is altered to suit a wide variety of customer's needs while maintaining low costs.
- Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is used for the carbonated drinks packaging due to its high impact resistant nature and improved moisture and gas barrier properties. They have a rigid structure with high strength. â€‹Moreover, compared to high-density polyethylene (HDPE) packaging, the glossy appearance of PET bottles with ultraviolet barriers often stand out for extending the shelf life of products, making the glass-like transparency a standard for a variety of packaging.
- For instance, Coca-Cola, in its annual reports for 2018 and 2019, mentioned that the unit volume sales of its CSD were 3.306 billion unit cases in 2018 and 3.44 billion in 2017. The company has claimed to be the most significant player in the North American region, with a market share of 43% in 2018. However, looking at the increasing emphasis on lowering the use of single-use plastic and bans associated with the same, the company has taken initiatives and also stated that it would recycle as many bottles as it uses by 2030, to use 50 percent recycled materials in packaging by that date and to optimize it's waste disposal methods.
- The rate of recycling of PET packaging highly depends on the availability and accessibility of recycling infrastructure and therefore serves as a significant factor impacting the growth of the market in a particular region. For instance, currently, 94 percent of U.S. residents living in communities with a population of more than 125,000 have recycling programs available to them. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that 29.9 percent of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles and jars (think bottled juice or a mayo jar) were recycled as of July 2019.
Quick Service Restaurants to Witness Moderate Growth
- The food service industry is one of the prominent end-user industries that hold a significant share in the cups and lids market. The growth of online food delivery services augmented the demand for food cups. Among regions, the United States is the second-largest food market across the world. The volume of plastic allocated to food packaging amounts to approximately 40% of plastics. Moreover, according to the US Census Bureau, the total foodservice sales in the United States amounted to USD 6.02 million.
- The government enforcements also harms the market. However, due to the ongoing pandemic New York State's ban on single-use plastic bags, which went into effect on March 1, 2020, it was postponed to May 15, 2020. Such a spike in plastic demand would likely lead to a temporary change in the short-term initiatives and goals of transitioning to a circular economy. Apart from this, it is likely to put pressure on the plastic manufacturing chain.
- However, as single-use plastic packaging is heavily used in quick-service restaurants, altogether banning them would have a significant impact on the revenue made by these vendors as the cost for replacing the packaging of numerous products with alternative packaging is associated with excess operational cost. For instance, in India, single-use plastic was to be banned on October 2, 2019, but due to the disruptive impact on the food industry, the ban has been put on hold in some states.
- In order to improve upon the growth rate of the market in the long run, significant players in the food industry are concentrating on longterm plans to enhance the rate of recycling of single-use plastic as it is becoming a major environmental concern especially damaging the oceans due to dumping. For instance, KFC has pledged that by 2025, all plastic-based, consumer-facing packaging will be recoverable or reusable. As a global brand that operates more than 22,000 restaurants in over 135 countries, KFC is in a position to have a real impact on how the industry approaches to waste and packaging management overall.
The competitive rivalry amongst the players in the single-use packaging market is high owing to the presence of some key players such as Dart Container Corporationâ€‹, Georgia-Pacific LLC, Graphic Packaging International, Inc., etc. Through strategic partnerships, mergers, and acquisitions these players have been able to gain a stronger footprint in the market.
In April 2020, Graphic Packaging Holding Company, a provider of packaging solutions to food, beverage, foodservice, and other consumer products companies, through its primary U.S. operating company, Graphic Packaging International, LLC, announced the close of its previously announced acquisition of the Consumer Packaging Group Business from Greif, Inc.
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