Pharmaceutical packaging at the heart of the market’s ecological transition: less plastic, more circularity

Consumer expectations in terms of commitment to the circular economy affect all sectors. Particularly those markets that use single-use plastics, such as pharmaceutical packaging.

The packaging ecosystem of the healthcare and pharmaceutical markets is under the spotlight, given the complexity of pharmaceutical industry packaging.

In the age of green packaging, the world of health, pharmacy and parapharmacy is in the sights of consumers. The evolution of pro-environmental requirements on the part of both government and end-users is pushing for pharmaceutical packaging to be simplified, so that it can be more easily integrated into recycling channels.

The current state of pharmaceutical packaging and new challenges

Expectations in terms of environmental awareness and commitment to the circular economy are high. Between constant climate change, the ever-changing seasons, growing awareness of eco-design and the recyclability of the product-packaging pair, all the markets around health, pharmaceuticals, hygiene and beauty are being profoundly challenged. Manufacturers have no choice but to reinvent themselves through new business models.

= less environmental damage
= less depletion of natural resources;
= practical optimisation of resource management.

Of course, the world of health and the pharmaceutical industry are no exception to the new challenges.
With a predilection for the single-use plastic used in the majority of pharmaceutical packaging, the market is being forced to react and renew itself.

Single-use plastics: a major challenge for pharmaceutical packaging in the quest for circularity

The European findings on the consumption-to-packaging ratio are crystal clear: each inhabitant generates around 180 kg of packaging waste per year, of which an average of 40% is plastic packaging, compared with 50% paper.

The European Union’s medium-term objective is to promote the use of reusable refills, with the aim of making them fully recyclable by 2030.
In the long term, the aim is for the packaging ecosystem to be carbon neutral by 2050.

At the same time, the new requirements of the pharmaceutical packaging market are mainly geared towards circularity objectives.

In order to meet both specifications and consumer expectations, the aim is to reconcile the safety and protection functions of medicines with the use of bio-sourced and non-petro-sourced materials, which would make pharmaceutical packaging more sustainable.

Between primary, secondary and tertiary packaging, the Holy Grail for the industry will be to better control the production and distribution chain, implement CSR strategies to eliminate superfluous stages and achieve sustainable economies of scale.

The future of sustainable pharmaceutical packaging

What practical measures can be taken to integrate pharmaceutical packaging more effectively into the circular economy, in order to reduce waste in the sector and encourage packaging recycling?

How can we rethink the eco-design of the product-packaging pairing to boost eco-responsibility in the health and well-being sector?

Three sustainable solutions are currently emerging as the most applicable in the short term, and profitable in the short and medium term:

  • Designing pharmaceutical products and packaging by integrating recycling at the heart of production strategies (packaging cardboard, leaflet paper, needles and syringes, PET bottles, etc.).
  • Controlling and saving resources (energy, water, biodiversity).In other words, integrating energy recovery at the heart of consumption, by raising awareness among the general public and local authorities (purchase of more sustainable medicines by clinics and hospitals, as well as private individuals).
  • Promoting the most environmentally-friendly innovations in the sector. Think eco-design, waste management and recovery, re-use of secondary materials, etc.

The pharmaceutical industry and the healthcare ecosystem are at the heart of concerns about the use of single-use plastics. That’s why pharmaceutical packaging will have to reinvent itself over the next few years, to meet both consumer expectations and government requirements.

If you’re also involved in the health and beauty or pharmaceutical packaging markets, the ALL4PACK Emballage Paris exhibition is the place for you, at the crossroads of pro-environmental innovations and trends.

Join us at the next edition of ALL4PACK Emballage Paris 2024: registration is already open and we’re waiting for you!

In the meantime, take advantage of the replays of the previous edition’s conferences, and take part in all the 2023 events.

ALL4PACK Emballage Paris: Innovation never stops!
The must-attend event for professionals in the sector, and the benchmark event for players in the packaging and logistics ecosystem.

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