Heterogeneous market for auxiliaries

In view of the diversity of the products, the area of packaging aids is difficult to grasp. It tends to benefit from growth in the online mail order business.

The extensive field of packaging aids includes connecting and reinforcing elements, sealing aids, protective and cushioning aids for storage and transport, opening aids and handling aids. What do they have in common? Many sectors are benefiting from the boom in online mail order. According to a study by the German E-Commerce and Distance Selling Association (Bundesverband E-Commerce und Versandhandel Deutschland e.V.) (bevh), e-commerce with goods grew by 39 percent between 2014 and 2017 to EUR 59.5 billion. Among other things, it is the growing consumer demand for fresh products and temperature-sensitive goods that is increasing the demand for cushioning materials such as air cushion pads, wood wool and packaging chips, as well as for adhesive materials.

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Plastics Europe estimates that around 128 million tonnes of plastics a year are produced worldwide for the packaging sector. Among the packaging aids that can be used for different products, packaging chips made of EPS (expandable polystyrene) account for a large share. Measured against the total volume of plastics, the amount of biodegradable, compostable plastics is almost negligible. According to European Bioplastics, the global production volume used for packaging was around 880,000 tonnes in 2017, and a volume of 1.09 million tonnes is forecast for 2022. In 2017, around 400,000 tonnes of degradable plastics were used as flexible packaging and filling materials.

According to surveys by tradeaccelerator.co.uk, Germany is the world’s largest market for wood wool. They state that in 2016Germany exported wood wool worth US dollars 28.2 million, followed by the USA with US dollars 8.8 million and the Netherlands with US dollars 3.8 million.

According to a study published by the Federal Environment Agency in March 2017, fastenings and closures account for 6 percent of the total consumption of plastic packaging. Overall, there is a trend towards more complex plastic fastenings and closures, which is explained on the one hand by the substitution of tinplate and aluminium closures (due to the increase in rigid plastic packaging containers, in particular disposable PET bottles), and on the other hand by the growing importance of functional closures (e.g. for headstand tubes and bottles).

A new development, which was awarded the German Packaging Prize in 2017, illustrates the breadth of the spectrum of packaging aids. The further development in Smart Packaging by Karl Knauer KG and Inuru GmbH was recognized as “trend-setting for printed electronics and brand staging at the POS or the POA”: It enables luminous packaging with printed, flexible organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) that are printed completely with all electronic components including the batteries.

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