Study: Rigid Plastic Packaging Preferred Material

DUSSELDORF, Germany, October 27, 2010 – A market analysis commissioned byMarbach Werkzeugbau GmbH, a leading global supplier of injection molding and thermoforming tooling for the packaging industry, reveals that rigid plastic packaging remains a highly sought after and value-driven alternative to traditional materials like glass, metal, and paperboard for a range of consumer applications. The study, which was completed in cooperation with the University of Stuttgart, shows that rigid plastics continue to be viewed as a highly favorable option over traditional materials and will enjoy strong growth over the next five years. Marbach discussed the report’s findings during K 2010 (Hall 3 Booth C35), the 18th International Trade Fair Plastics + Rubber, Oct. 27-Nov. 3, in Dusseldorf, Germany.

“We knew anecdotally and through isolated studies that plastics packaging had an upper hand but this unbiased report firmly concludes that more and more packagers and food and beverage companies are tending away from glass and metal to plastics,” said Hubert Kittelmann, Marbach business director.

The recently completed six-month study assessed the views of European consumers and approximately 30 leading global experts from the packaging world, including engineers, packagers, and fillers. The findings show that consumers continue to value the performance attributes of plastic packaging, including lightweight, safety, shelf appeal, convenience, and microwaveability. Some consumers still feel glass packaging portrays a cleaner, environmentally friendly, and healthier solution for food packaging. Meanwhile, metal packaging is preferred less by consumers and suffers from reduced shelf appeal.

The findings reveal that busy consumer lifestyles are increasing the demand for “ready-to-eat” foods that are more suitable for packaging in microwaveable plastic containers. The study also finds that food producers are particularly focused on glass breakage during production. They are joined by filling companies who report a strong interest in removing glass packaging from their operations. In addition, retailers seek greater use of plastic packaging which is lighter, robust, less prone to damage, and less costly to transport.

This positive feedback from consumers and packaging experts reinforces the growing trend away from glass in major food and beverage categories. For instance, the evolution of barrier technology has driven the replacement of glass for baby food containers in the U.S. over the last five years. Similarly, retortable in-mold-labeled (IML) food containers in Europe are made possible with the arrival of multilayer barrier labels.

The amount of plastic packaging has increased significantly in the last few years, and its image has clearly improved, according to the study. Still, public opposition to plastics on environmental grounds persist and manufacturers continue to investigate new strategies and alternatives to meet sustainability goals for their products, the report says.

Overall, the study paints a promising role for plastics in the packaging industry over the next five years. “Certainly, the easy substitutions have been done, but new value-added replacements of glass and metal will continue gradually,” said Kittelmann. “New business opportunities will be driven by enhanced material, tooling, and processing technology.”

About Marbach Werkzeugbau GmbH

Marbach, based in Heilbronn, Germany, was founded in 1923 as a small family business. The company has grown into an international operating group of companies with approximately 1100 employees. The Marbach Group consists of a global network of subsidiaries, joint ventures, and franchise partners. The company’s two corporate entities include the Die Cutting Technology division which provides cutting dies and tool technologies as well as machines and material for die cutting production. Customized solutions developed and deployed on customer request ensure high-quality products. The Tool Manufacturing Division specializes in production of the latest thermoforming tools, injection molds, and related automation including IML systems for the packaging industry. For more information, visit