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The global e-commerce plastic packaging market (henceforth, referred to as the market studied) was valued at USD 10.26 billion in 2022, and it is expected to reach USD 21.78 billion by 2031, registering a CAGR of 13.6% during 2022-2031 (henceforth referred to as the forecast period).
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The rapid growth of the market is primarily driven by fashion and apparel, consumer electronics, and personal care industries. Considerable investments in the consumer electronics, personal care, and fashion and clothing industries are creating a scope for the expansion of packaging opportunities. According to IBEF, in 2018, electronics were the most significant contributors to online retail sales in India, with a 48% share, followed closely by apparel at 29%.
– Global E-Commerce Plastic Packaging Market players, including Amazon, are packaging items in bubble mailers or plastic bags that are lighter and allow for more details to be placed on planes and trucks, saving the company's operative and packaging costs. Single-day sales in countries, like China, by e-commerce giant companies, such as Alibaba and JD.com, also spur the plastic packaging and waste related to it. Data suggests that the sales of Alibaba's single-day sale hit more than USD 38 billion in revenue. According to Adept Packaging, additional e-commerce sales resulted in 7,5000,000 extra plastic bags.
– However, due to the rising awareness about plastic waste and pressure from the government agencies, e-commerce players are turning into the more sustainable options of packaging, keeping aside plastic packaging. For instance, in August 2022, the Indian e-commerce player, Flipkart, owned by Walmart, introduced eco-friendly paper shreds. These replaced poly pouches with recycled paper bags and replaced bubble wraps and airbags with carton waste shredded material and two-ply roll.
– With the increasing demand for medicine, food, and other essential goods at an all-time high, a lack of available packaging to ship them in, can cause significant interruption. In some places, several suppliers of print and packaging raw materials have been declared as essential business operations, and as a result, other countries are campaigning for the same recognition to keep their goods in traction. According to Adobe's Digital Economy Index's latest data, US e-commerce jumped by 49% in April, FY 2022, compared to the baseline period in early March, before shelter-in-place restrictions came into effect. Online grocery helped drive the increase in revenues, with a 110% boost in daily sales between March and April. Meanwhile, electronic sales were up by 58% and the book sales doubled.
– Also, many plastic e-commerce packaging companies that are not able to increase their production based on the high demand will not be able to sustain in the post-pandemic market scenario, as most of the organizations that relied on those packaging firms already shifted to new companies to fulfill the demand in the market.
Key Market Trends
Consumer Electronics and Media to Hold Significant Market Share
– According to the Consumer Technology Association, retail revenue from consumer electronics/technology sales in the United States, in 2022, was USD 406 million. The sales are expected to reach USD 422 million by the end of FY 2022. With the increasing demand for consumer electronics around the world, the demand for protective plastic packaging is expected to surge in the forecast period.
– Among the specialized plastic packaging systems for consumer electronics and media, shrink packaging, or commonly known as shrink wrapping, and stretch wrapping are very common and widely used. Compared to shrink film and bags, stretch wrapping affords large energy-saving and does not require the availability of fuel. This simplifies the inventory. For instance, the Mavic Air 2 drone, which was launched in April 2022, is packaged with a smart controller and a smartphone display in carton boxes that come with protective plastic shrink-wrap, to avoid damage during shipping.
– When it comes to efficient packaging, plastics often enable manufacturers to ship more products with less packaging material. This process of light-weighting can play an essential role in boosting the environmental and economic efficiency of consumer product packaging. Also, blister packaging is ideal for small consumer electronic goods. This type of plastic packaging highlights electronic accessories and provides a degree of tamper resistance, while still being convenient and easy to open. These characteristics are helping drive the market growth.
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– For instance, Kingston's HyperX Savage EXO, launched in 2022, comes packaged between layers of clear blister-pack inserted in the box. The plastic, screwless, and slate-gray case protects the drive's internals. Further, several mobile phones are packed and shipped using plastic material. Although several manufacturers are drifting toward sustainable packaging options, the role of plastic films and wraps to package boxes is growing.
Asia-Pacific to Witness Significant Market Growth
– Asia-Pacific is expected to witness significant market growth. China is one of the emerging nations where the e-commerce market is growing rapidly due to the rising consumer preference for online shopping, the proliferation of alternative payment solutions, online shopping events, such as single day offering lucrative discounts, and improved logistics infrastructure.
– China is also the world's largest market for e-commerce and surpassed the United States and the European Union in 2017 with USD 800 billion in sales. It is expected that 200 million new shoppers might come online by 2022, making the share to 71%, reaching a total of more than 670 million shoppers. According to Greenpeace, the volume of the packaging material used by the e-commerce sector was 9.4 million tons in 2022, and it is expected to reach 41.3 million tons by 2031. Also, about 850,000 metric ton of plastic waste was produced by the package-delivery sector in 2018.
– Moreover, according to the IBEF, the Indian e-commerce market is expected to reach a value of USD 200 billion by the end of 2026 from USD 38.5 billion in 2017. This rapid growth of the industry is primarily triggered by the increasing internet and smartphone penetration. The continuing digital transformation in India is expected to increase the country's total internet user base from 604.21 million in 2018 to 829 million by 2021.
– The e-commerce market in Japan is also witnessing the significant usage of plastic packaging in the industry. According to the Ministry of Environment Japan, 745 kiloton of plastic packaging is used per year. Additionally, according to Social Innovation Japan, 30 billion plastic bags are used per year in Japan, majorly contributed to the retail and e-commerce sectors.The government also imposed charges on retailers and e-commerce players for using plastic bags. The move is a step forward for Japan's efforts to reduce disposable plastic waste.
The market studied is fragmented, with market incumbents, such as Amcor PLC, Berry Global Inc., and Sealed Air Corporation, operating in the market. Sustainable competitive advantage can be gained through innovation in design, technology, and application. Amcor opened two e-commerce testing laboratories in Manchester, Michigan, US, and in Ghent, Belgium. At both sites, the company's packaging experts will test and certify packaging for customers from around the world. Recent developments in the market are –
– March 2022, Pregis acquired So.Pr.Ad. SRL (Soprad), Italy, a provider of temporary protective films. Going forward, the company's products will be marketed under the Pregis' PolyMask brand. PolyMask's products include temporary surface protection films and specialty films.
– March 2022, Berry Global Group announced that, in order, to address the increasing demand from clients, it is investing approximately USD 30 million to increase the production capacity of ultra-high performance stretch films. The investment is allocated for new lines and upgrades to the existing assets in nine of the Company's North American locations that currently manufacture stretch film.
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