SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, Washington, has released a third report in its series of in-depth studies on how the consumer market impacts various segments of the plastics industry. In the report, “Packaging Market Watch: Plastics Packaging Wraps it Up,” SPI concludes that the current fast-paced, environmentally conscious consumer market will continue to drive the demand for innovative plastic packaging.

The report incorporates the expertise of Ken Gronbach, a multigenerational marketing expert and author; the Society of Plastics Engineers; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; (EPA) and others, SPI says. Together, their research and data provide the backdrop critical to understanding the infinite benefits that plastics offer the $700 billion global packaging industry, according to SPI. Plastics account for one-third, or $250 billion of the packaging industry, which is the largest single market for U.S. plastics, SPI states.

“Plastic packaging is ubiquitous due to its many advantages over other material choices,” says William R. Carteaux, SPI’s president and CEO.  “Plastic products are lighter, use less energy to produce and transport, and have multiple recycling and recovery options. Through cutting-edge science that’s produced bioplastics and other innovative applications, the plastics industry has answered the call of consumers who are deeply committed to reducing their carbon footprint.

Carteaux continues, “Plastics are tough enough to withstand the stresses of transportation, yet capable of screening out even the smallest particle of dust. If plastics were not used for packaging, something else would be—and the obvious candidates are paper, cardboard, glass and metal.”

Other types of packaging would require 64 million metric tons of material, increasing energy waste by 80 percent, according to the Franklin Associates, a Kansas-based research firm quoted in Market Watch. The result would be a 130 percent increase in the carbon footprint.

Therefore, says SPI, polymers consistently substitute for other materials in packaging because of their weight, strength, design flexibility and low cost. The global polymer industry is expected to grow with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.9 percent from 2015 to 2020. The demand for polymers is driven by growth in end use markets, like packaging, mainly from emerging economies, SPI says.

SPI’s Market Watch series examines end markets and growing world economies through the lens of demographics, public policy, technology trends and resource issues. Previous reports on automotive and transportation and health care and medical devices are available here. In 2016, SPI says it plans to issue reports that discuss plastics’ position in building and construction, and automotive recycling.

The Plastics Market Watch series looks at the consumer’s impact on the business of plastics, including demographics, economics, policy developments and technological improvements for markets including automotive and transportation, health care, packaging and housing and construction. The reports are accessible here.