Pharmaceuticals, like every consumer packaged goods (CPG) market, has experienced a reckoning with its ecological footprint, especially in its most consumer-facing aspect: packaging.
Consumer preferences and governmental crackdowns have led to more reduced waste measures and downsized/lightweighted packaging configurations that are taking full advantage of the abundance of alternatives to virgin packaging materials. These efforts are putting the global pharma sustainable packaging market on a decidedly upward trajectory. According to a recent study, the market is projected to grow from $71.6 billion in 2022 to $146.3 billion by 2027 — that’s a staggering +15.4% compound annual growth rate.
While the Asia Pacific market is projected to grow at a higher rate from 2022-2027, North America is expected to be the largest market. Costs, however, continue to be an influencing factor in the global journey toward improved packaging sustainability in the pharmaceutical segment. Regulatory initiatives, waste reduction methods, and the increased cost of sustainable raw materials like biodegradable and recycled/reclaimed plastic, glass, and metal materials prove eco is not always economical. There’s also the cost of testing and certifications. But opportunities for growth abound, buoyed by surging consumer environmental awareness and demand for more environmentally friendly packaging.
Attendees at February’s Pharmapack Europe had a firsthand look at the influence of sustainability both in the show agenda and among the more than 350 exhibitors. “We have seen a really big shift in 2023 and our own Pharmapack Report predicted sustainability will be the biggest single issue for the industry this year,” comments Laura Indriksone, Brand Director at Pharmapack Europe, who notes that there’s been diverse responses to meet the challenges of sustainable drug delivery innovation and greener packaging supply chains.
Another trend at the show was the increase in companies of all sizes working to marry connected devices and sustainability goals. “I think this could be a big trend of the year ahead, that the industry is looking for new partners and is being much more open in its consideration criteria,” she says. “Companies both big and small are looking to widen networks and make supply chains more diverse and more secure.”