Industry Coverage icon

Sustainable Autonomous Packaging Solutions

Drive customer satisfaction through sustainable, technology-led innovation.

Unlock a Free Sample

Companies working to become more sustainable in this space face several obstacles:

  • The lack of maturity in relation to the hardware and machinery used in packaging
  • Failure to use packaging as an effective branding tool
  • The high cost of exploring and developing alternative packaging materials
  • Inability to keep up with tighter regulations
  • Losing out on consumers because the packaging is not attractive, convenient, or sustainable

Our Advice

Critical Insight

Sustainability in packaging is now a competitive differentiator. Technology-led initiatives that leverage alternative sustainable materials in packaging will improve production efficiency, help companies beat the regulatory curve, and increase sales, satisfaction, and retention.

Impact and Result

Failure to define and meet sustainability goals will mean:

  • Significant reputational damage in addition to fines and legal action
  • Inability to remain competitive in an evolving marketplace
  • Being a less attractive option for customers actively looking for more sustainable solutions

Sustainable Autonomous Packaging Solutions Research & Tools

1. Sustainable Autonomous Packaging Solutions Storyboard – Research that provides guidelines to using modern technology to make your manufacturing value chain more sustainable.

Choosing the right technology will help accelerate your progress toward sustainability. This deck offers an overview of emerging hardware and software, a snapshot of a technology maturity model, and a guide to get you started.

2. Get-It-Right Guide – A detailed description of considerations to be made before preparing to launch a project to upgrade or install packaging machinery.

Use this guide to get ready to begin your packaging technology modernization journey by ensuring that you carefully consider key areas that will contribute to a successful implementation.

Unlock a Free Sample

Sustainable Autonomous Packaging Solutions

Drive customer satisfaction through sustainable, technology-led innovation.

Analyst Perspective

Drive customer satisfaction through sustainable, technology-led innovation.

Packaging plays a critical role in enhancing a product's appeal and creating a memorable customer experience. The design, materials, and sustainability of packaging are all vital in creating a positive brand image and meeting consumer expectations. Consumers are beginning to appreciate the potential of smart packaging, which can offer additional features such as product information, personalized promotions, and enhanced interactivity. As sustainability becomes a critical driver for regulatory policy, companies are undergoing a digital transformation to meet the growing demand for eco-friendly packaging solutions.

The shift toward sustainable packaging is driving the use of digital software and automated hardware to optimize supply chains, reduce waste, and improve sustainability. Adopting circular economy principles and leveraging digital technologies can help companies reduce costs, meet consumer sustainability demands, and gain a competitive advantage in the market. It has now become critical for companies to monitor evolving regulations and take a proactive approach to sustainability to meet consumer demands and regulatory requirements.

To succeed, companies must invest in innovative and sustainable packaging solutions that provide value to the customer while reducing environmental impact. Packaging plays a significant role in shaping consumer behavior and brand perception, making it a crucial element in the success of any product or brand. The combination of digital innovation and circular economy principles is driving the packaging industry toward a sustainable and customer-focused future.

Photo of Shreyas Shukla, Principal Research Director, Manufacturing Industry, Info-Tech Research Group.

Shreyas Shukla
Principal Research Director, Manufacturing Industry
Info-Tech Research Group

Executive Summary

Your Challenge

Packaging must modernize. Packaging suppliers and companies which use packaging material have been transforming their approach to keep up with consumer preferences and the competition.

Regulations are changing. The increasing restrictions on material used in packaging is impacting technology.

Waste is a growing concern. Consumers are paying attention to packaging disposal.

Transformation is being driven by:

  • Consumer advocacy toward sustainability
  • The recent e-commerce boom
  • Varying degrees of regulation of packaging material

Common Obstacles

Businesses must adopt a technology-led approach to make their packaging both more sustainable and more relevant to consumers. Several obstacles complicate these efforts to use packaging to its fullest potential:

  • Lack of maturity regarding the hardware and machinery used in packaging
  • Failure to utilize packaging as an effective branding tool
  • The high cost of exploring and developing alternative packaging materials
  • Inability to keep up with tighter regulations
  • Losing out on consumers because packaging is not attractive, convenient, or sustainable

Info-Tech’s Approach

Info-Tech recognizes that technology plays a key role in sustainability and related regulations.

Choosing the right technology will help accelerate progress on sustainability.

Info-Tech will provide:

  • An overview of innovative emerging technologies covering both packaging hardware and software
  • A snapshot of a technology maturity model covering packaging technology and processes
  • A guide for properly beginning your journey toward higher packaging technology maturity

Sustainability in packaging is now a competitive differentiator. Technology-led initiatives that leverage alternative sustainable materials in packaging will improve production efficiency, increase sales, satisfaction and retention, and help companies beat the regulatory curve.

Packaging is essential for protecting products

Packaging will always be essential for the safety and protection of products during the delivery process. With a high demand for most consumer products, the need for high quality packaging is also increasing. Packaging provides additional information on the product, brand, and its values via artwork and labeling.

Packaging type

  1. Industrial packaging
    Industrial packaging is used during the manufacturing and/or warehousing stages of product movement.
  2. Primary packaging
    This layer of packaging is in immediate contact with the product.
  3. Secondary packaging
    This layer of packaging is used to group various pre-packaged products of the same type.
  4. Tertiary packaging
    This layer of packaging is usually intended for palletization and transportation.

Packaging function

Physical protection

Protects product from the elements, vibration, compression, mechanical shock, electrostatic discharge, temperature variations, tampering, pilferage, counterfeiting, and theft during transport and storage.


Prevents damage to product from permeation of air, water vapor, and dust, and segregates product components before end use when required.


Provide information on product contents, usage, transport, recycling, and disposal of packaging as mandated by consumer law.


Containment of multiple units or large quantities of product for efficient storage, display, and sales.

Portion control

Division and distribution of product suitable for individual or personal consumption for granular inventory tracking, ensuring product consistency, and regulating prices.


Product differentiation and branding communication through packaging to reflect messaging, values, and features to help consumers make purchasing decisions.

(Source: IOSR Journal of Business and Management, 2023.)

Packaging is a growing global market

The global packaging market is valued at approximately US$1 trillion. A little over half the total packaging market is comprised of packaging for consumer goods, food, hygiene, and pharmaceutical products. The consumption patterns of these products have been volatile since the pandemic hit, but generally remain unaffected by economic cycles.

The packaging market can be segmented by packaging material type:

Packaging Material Type





Industry Applications





Rigid Flexible
Durable Yes Yes Yes Atypical Atypical
Non-durable Yes Yes Yes Atypical Atypical
F&B Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Chemical Yes Atypical Atypical Yes Yes
Pharma Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
(Source: Mordor Intelligence, 2023)

The global packaging market is expected to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.94% during 2022-2027.

The Asia-Pacific region is the largest and fastest growing packaging market across all packaging material types. The global packaging market can be segmented as follows:

Pie chart of different packing materials.

“64% of consumers will try a new product because the packaging grabs their attention.”
– Nielsen

Source: LinkedIn, 2022

Several factors impact the packaging industry


  • War in Eastern Europe continues to impact supply of commodities & labor
  • Threat of impending recession is forcing consumers to change their behavior

Consumers likely to become cautious with spending


  • Global economies are in flux
  • Supply chain issues persist, labor shortages continue, and inflation is rising, increasing prices of goods

Demand continues to be volatile


  • Consumers have growing concerns about the behavior of large companies
  • Consumers want clear & transparent messaging to reflect branding claims and regulations to enforce it

Consumers want more sustainable products


  • Consumers are more curious and have a strong desire to make well-informed choices
  • This forces brands to build digital experiences and ecosystems for their products

Technology driven digital experiences are a differentiator


  • Brands must address new regulations targeting use of environmentally damaging material to continue operating in major markets

Sustainability regulations becoming tighter and more complex


  • Consumers still believe they can save the planet from climate change and are forcing brands to develop more eco-friendly products and become environmentally responsible

Consumers willing to make eco-friendlier choices

Source: Mintel Global Packaging Trends, 2023

Consumer behavior and environmental challenges drive changes in packaging approaches

Brands and manufacturers must understand four global drivers guiding today’s packaging trends to develop an actionable packaging strategy for the present and future.

Consumer behavior

  • The average consumer is younger. Consumer demographics have changed over the last three decades.
  • Consumers today prioritize convenience but are also willing to make a purchase decision based on packaging.
  • Consumers care about sustainable packaging and how it is treated at end-of-life.
  • The pandemic caused e-commerce to explode, and this will continue to drive the packaging market.

Environmental challenges

  • Consumer advocacy has forced companies to rethink their packaging strategy to incorporate more eco-friendly materials.
  • Brands are pursuing sources of alternate materials, hybrid bio-based material, renewable polymers, and breakthrough technologies in recycling and waste reduction.
  • Recycled and compostable material are easy entry points to meet new demands.


  • Regulations are tightening around the use of harmful material in packaging and treatment of waste.
  • The European Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive obligates member states to meet targets for the recovery and recycling of packaging waste. This is an example of the rigorous approach governments are taking to limit the environmental impact of packaging waste.


  • Evolving hardware and digital technologies are helping companies use packaging material in a more sustainable and cost-effective manner.
  • Digital technologies enable rapid prototyping of new designs and exploration of alternative packaging materials.
  • Machines automatically right-size packages based on the product’s required amount of packaging.

Source: Esko, 2022

Sustainability and technology are leading the transformation in packaging

Consumer behavior has been driving the last 20+ years of packaging innovation/transformation. The drivers of innovation have shifted over time. Now, a mix of politics, ethics, laws, and consumer demand is impacting packaging trends – technology is enabling packaging to become more eco-friendly.

Consumers prioritize convenience China becomes largest consumer of packaging B2C gains popularity Regulations become more stringent Packaging will need to adapt to mass customization
Smaller pack sizes gain popularity E-commerce gains popularity E-commerce explodes Inflation increases prices Cost of sustainable alternatives will drop
Asia-Pacific region drives demand Environmental concerns arise Sustainability becomes key driver Engagement technology gains popularity Packaging will contribute to data collection/sharing
Decline in glass and metal packaging Use of recycled/compostable material increases Cost of recycled material drops More companies focus on circularity Circularity becomes mainstream
Rigid plastics become packaging of choice Plastic use continues to increase Packaging is now a marketing platform Eco-friendly packaging materials are mainstream Third-party eco-friendly certification to gain popularity
2000 - 2010 2010 - 2020 2020 - 2023 Now Near Future
  • Finland introduced a deposit return scheme for recyclable bottles and as a result 90% of purchased bottles were returned in 2020.
  • Unilever launched a cheaper concentrate of their laundry detergent in a 500g pack, equivalent to 3L of their liquid detergent.
  • SmartLabel allows US consumers to view additional digital information that can't fit on product packaging.
  • Harvest Snaps adding QR codes on their packaging allowing consumers to join a TikTok community.
  • BCG launched an AI-powered digital platform that helps companies quantify their emissions and provides them with solutions at scale.
  • From January 2023, sale or distribution of food packaging containing PFAS chemicals at/above 100ppm is banned in California.
Source: Mintel Global Packaging Trends, 2023

Packaging plays an important role in consumer decisions

  • 80% of consumers want packaging to keep product safe
  • 69% of consumers care about useful information on packaging
  • 49% of consumers want packaging to digitally connect them with online information
  • 65% of consumers care about recyclable packaging
  • 56% of consumers are willing to pay more for product with eco-friendly packaging
  • 63% of consumers say that packaging elevates product perception
  • 25% of consumers will make a purchase decision solely on the quality of packaging

Source: WestRock Pulse Packaging Survey, 2022

Consumers rely on packaging to provide safe access to products.

Consumers also expect packaging to provide access to product information, shape their perception of the product, and explain how sustainable the packaging is. The following are criteria that play a role in consumer purchasing decisions:


Consumers want packaging to keep product safe, fresh, effective, and protected from tampering.


Consumers care about useful information on packaging and want packaging to digitally connect them with online information.


Consumers care about sustainability of packaging and will choose (or pay more for) a product with recycled packaging.


Consumers sometimes choose a product due to its packaging and feel that it adds to the premium perception of a product.

Sustainability in packaging can be achieved in many ways

Affordability is no longer enough for most consumers. New, sustainable packaging materials must be explored, developed, and applied to products.

To become sustainable and develop/use sustainable packaging, consider the seven Rs of sustainability:
  1. Remove demand by eliminating packaging where possible.
  2. Reduce demand to optimize packaging by right-sizing or light-weighting.
  3. Re-source packaging materials by replacing vendors, packaging materials.
  4. Rework processes using efficient packaging, improving throughput, and common-use SKUs.
  5. Reuse/Refurbish packaging to extend its life, reduce costs and carbon footprint.
  6. Recycle packaging material, use recycled material for packaging, and implement circularity.
  7. Recover waste from each part of the production process and recycle/reuse generated waste.

“Whereas ten years ago, customers wanted a good product for the cheapest price possible, that is just not enough now. People are so much more aware of our surrounding environment, so we will have to be.” – David Hampton, Group Commercial Director, Snowfox Group

Development and application of new materials is challenging and will require a significant investment of time, money and innovation to be successful.

There are four categories of alternate materials that can be adapted for packaging use:

No innovation Currently used in other products, industry sectors, or geographical markets
Low innovation Based on existing materials but requires additional development for intended use
Medium innovation Not currently used and no similar applications exist
High innovation Entirely new materials, processes, and supply chains required

Some examples of alternatives include mushrooms, bamboo, hemp, cellulose, sugarcane, shrimp shells, limestone, feather, wool, liquid wood, palm, coconut.

Source: Efficio Consulting, 2023

Sustainable Autonomous Packaging Solutions preview picture

About Info-Tech

Info-Tech Research Group is the world’s fastest-growing information technology research and advisory company, proudly serving over 30,000 IT professionals.

We produce unbiased and highly relevant research to help CIOs and IT leaders make strategic, timely, and well-informed decisions. We partner closely with IT teams to provide everything they need, from actionable tools to analyst guidance, ensuring they deliver measurable results for their organizations.

What Is a Blueprint?

A blueprint is designed to be a roadmap, containing a methodology and the tools and templates you need to solve your IT problems.

Each blueprint can be accompanied by a Guided Implementation that provides you access to our world-class analysts to help you get through the project.

Talk to an Analyst

Our analyst calls are focused on helping our members use the research we produce, and our experts will guide you to successful project completion.

Book an Analyst Call on This Topic

You can start as early as tomorrow morning. Our analysts will explain the process during your first call.

Get Advice From a Subject Matter Expert

Each call will focus on explaining the material and helping you to plan your project, interpret and analyze the results of each project step, and set the direction for your next project step.

Unlock Sample Research


Shreyas Shukla

Visit our Exponential IT Research Center
Over 100 analysts waiting to take your call right now: 1-519-432-3550 x2019