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The United Kingdom (UK) Packaging Industry is witnessing significant growth owing to increasing manufacturing activities in the region that is propelling the demand for packaging services in the area. According to the Packaging Federation of the United Kingdom, the UK Packaging Manufacturing Industry has annual sales of GBP 11 billion. It employs more than 85,000 people that represent 3% of the UK's manufacturing workforce. Also, it is a significant contributor to the UK GDP and a vital link in the broader Packaging Supply Chain.
Plastic packaging constitutes a significant part of the United Kingdom packaging industry. Also, the Market For Plastic Packaging In The United Kingdom is anticipated to register a significant revenue due to substantial manufacturing facilities. According to the United Kingdom Parliament, it is estimated that five million tonnes of plastic are used every year in the United Kingdom, nearly half of which is used in packaging.
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The market in the United Kingdom is also witnessing demand for plastics due to the emergence of the Flexible Packaging sector. Global vendors are expanding in this region as well as local companies are being acquired, which is aiding in increasing the market demand. For instance, in April 2019, US-based flexible packaging company ePac Flexible Packaging announced its plans to open its first manufacturing location in the Midlands, UK. The new division primarily focuses on food manufacturers and co-packers of all sizes by offering finished pouches and roll stocks.
Brexit is anticipated to drive the United Kingdom plastic packaging costs owing to increasing trade regulations between the EU and UK, scarcity of skilled labor, loss of competitiveness of local resin manufacturers, and decline in plastic recycling rates that could all potentially affect the plastic packaging industry in the country.
Further, the increase in regulations against the use of plastic is anticipated to lay a significant effect on the market. For instance, In March 2020, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer revealed that the plastic packaging tax would see companies paying EUR 200 per tonne of packaging made from less than 30% recycled plastic from April 2022.
Key Market Trends
Growth of Plastic packaging in United Kingdom
The growing technological advancements and expanding the end-user industry's packaging applications are some of the major factors driving the growth of the plastic packaging market in the United Kingdom. As the population is growing, the use of packaging per person is also increasing, and due to trends in consumer behavior, such as the growth in the use of convenience products and the increasing use of plastic as a substitute for other packaging materials, the usage of plastic packaging has been increasing significantly in the market.
Moreover, the growth of E-commerce sales, increasing demand from food and beverage packaging, increasing demand for personalization of products, and growing industrial packaging is driving the growth of the market in the region. According to VoucherCodes.co.uk, the online share of retail sales in the United Kingdom in 2020 would account for 26.2%.
Further, owing to implementation in regulations against the use of plastic, various manufacturers and associations across various end-user industries have raised their concerns. Due to the tax regulation, the Food & Drink Federation has complained that the UK's newly announced plastic tax will penalize food and beverage producers and called for efforts to improve the country's recycling infrastructure instead.
Also, in January 2018, the UK government unveiled the 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment policy document, which addressed issues surrounding packaging. One of the critical points was regarding setting out a target of achieving 'zero avoidable plastic waste by 2042'.
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Also, the region is witnessing a decline in the use of various plastics. For instance, according to RECOUPs, Black Plastic Packaging Forum report, it is estimated that the amount of black plastic packaging used in the UK fell from 36,000 tonnes to 10,000 tonnes going into 2020. It also mentions that black plastic now accounts for 0.7% of consumer plastic packaging placed on the UK market each year.
Beverage Industry to occupy major share in the market
The beverage industry plays an essential role in the United Kingdom region. The primary factors driving the beverage industry's growth in the country include steadily increasing population and per capita income and changing lifestyle.
Factors such as high disposable income, ease of availability, improvement in living standards, wide variety, and presence of domestic as well as international players in the market are fueling the beverages industry growth in the region. According to Office for National Statistics (UK), consumer spending on food and nonalcoholic beverages in the United Kingdom accounted for GBP 26.7 billion in Q4 2019 from GBP 22.1 billion in Q1 2012.
Moreover, the bottled water market value in the country is also witnessing significant growth, which is also fueling the market for plastic packaging market as the majority of bottled water is packaged in PET bottles. According to the British Soft Drinks Association, the value of bottled water in the country accounted for GBP 1.635 billion in 2022 from GBP 1.066 billion in 2013.
Also, the carbonated soft drink market is witnessing growth in the adoption of plastic packaging in the country. For instance, according to the British Soft Drinks Association, plastic/PET constitutes a 69.2% share in carbonated soft drink packaging.
Further, owing to stringent regulations and rules pertaining to the use of plastic in packaging and to achieve sustainable goals, the major beverage company are limiting the use of virgin plastics. For instance, Pepsico pledged to switch to 100% recycled PET (rPET) by 2022 in the United Kingdom.
As the demand for plastic packaging has been increasing significantly in the United Kingdom region, the market is mildly concentrated with the presence of major players like Amcor, Coveris Holding, Berry Global, Sealed Air Coporation, Constantia Flexibles, among others.
December 2020 – Amcor partnered with Mars Food to launch recyclable microwavable rice pouch to the market. The packaging technology will make the pouches for Mars Food's household brands such as Ben's Original and Seeds of Change. The project will move Amcor closer to achieving its pledge to develop all its packaging to be recyclable or reusable by 2031.
September 2022- Coveris Amberley Labels, company's decorative labelling business, has unveiled a luxury, new-look brand across its two UK sites, following a multi-million investment announcement in July to strengthen Amberley's position in the premium labels market. Amberley Labels was acquired by the Coveris Group in 2022 to support long-term growth plans in the beverage, personal care and fragrance label sectors.
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