The global PET packaging market was worth USD 64 billion in 2021, and it is expected to reach USD 100 billion by 2030, registering a CAGR of 5% during the forecast period (2022–2030). PET, also called polyethylene terephthalate, is a kind of polyester. It is expelled or transformed into plastic jugs and boxes to pack personal care items, food and refreshments, and other consumer items. PET is terephthalic corrosive and an ethylene glycol polymer. The packaging sector makes notable improvements in eco-friendly innovations, meeting consumer needs for a more sustainable society. There is a noticeable increase in awareness among customers that high-performance packaging may enhance the shelf life of a product, generating an extensive need for sustainable end-of-life packaging options, especially in PET (polyethylene terephthalate) packaging solutions.
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PET possesses packaging characteristics that make it preferable over other packaging techniques. PET packaging's specific beneficial characteristics are high transparency, shiny surface, good stability, high-pressure resistance, good barrier properties, and lightweight. PET is a biologically inert material that does not react with foods or beverages and is resistant to attack by microorganisms. It has been approved as secure for contact with foods and drinks by FDA, Health Canada, the European Food Safety Authority, and other health-safety agencies.
Nowadays, disposable PET bottles range from 20 g - to 30 g. A glass bottle with a sizeable content would weigh around 25 times more (source: DLG e.V. - German Agricultural Society). The returnable PET bottles are heavier due to their thicker walls and robust base. The decreased weight has a positive effect on transport costs. Moreover, the disposable PET bottles are conveyed to the filling plants as preforms and only blow-molded to finished bottles. This makes it possible to improve the payload of the transport vehicles significantly.
Furthermore, according to the National Association of Container Distributors, the demand for lightweight packaging from consumers and businesses drives the need for PET. While bottles have seen continued gains in lightweight over many years, it has continued to gain traction, with some manufacturers reaching less than 8gms for a 500ml PET water bottle. The trend toward lightweight products is partial due to cost-optimization and helps manufacturers achieve a competitive edge.
Compared to several other plastics, PET has a significantly better eco-balance. The recyclability of PET refers that the packaging waste is reduced, and the volume of waste incineration decreases. The raw materials consumption in production is also lower than many other plastics. It is recycle-friendly as its polymer chains break down at a low temperature, producing minimal polymer chain degradation during the recycling process. According to the Food Packaging Forum Foundation, 822,363 ton of PET bottles is collected in the United States for recycling annually.
Both PET and rPET plastic can be recycled. Due to the thermodynamic qualities of PET, the material can be heated, melted, and transformed into new materials again and again. For this process to occur, adequate local infrastructure must ensure that the plastic material can be transported to recycling plants with the right machinery. However, this starts with the consumers disposing of recyclables in the appropriate bin.
Globally, the recycling trend of PET is growing with government mandates and industry initiatives. The United States PET recycling rate increased from 29%, as per the NAPCOR (National Association for PET Container Resources) and APR (Association of Plastic Recyclers). Toronto also recycles around 3,600 metric tons of single-use PET bottles every year; 30% are water bottles. Furthermore, bio-PET is made out of a combination of renewable raw materials, such as starch, glucose, vegetable oils, and cellulose derived from different agricultural products or plant residues and subsequently transformed into essential substances to be processed into various types of bioplastics. It is plastic based on 30% renewable raw material and 70% oil-based.
With the increasing investment in the plastic packaging industry, PET bottle grade manufacturers are witnessing a surging demand from various pharmaceutical companies, boosted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, Samyang Packaging constructed a PET bottle manufacturing and recycling factory in Korea. It emerged as the only enterprise in Korea capable of manufacturing, distributing, and recycling PET bottles for environmental preservation.
Over the past decade, awareness among the population regarding the harmful effects of plastic usage has been growing drastically. Many public campaigns and initiatives by the governments resulted in increased awareness among the public. Thus, plastic packaging consumption witnessed a significant impact in the past few years, thus creating a challenge for PET packaging in the pharmaceutical industry. For instance, in November 2019, the Kerala Government in India banned single-use plastic products used in pharmaceuticals and many other end-user industries.
The increasing government regulations regarding the use of plastics are posing challenges for new market players. For instance, the government of India is mulling a ban on Single-Use Plastics. However, favorable policy frameworks like the Laghu Udyog Scheme and other existing government schemes on MSMEs are expected to facilitate the entry of new players.
As the caps and closure industry is heavily dependent on the inputs for manufacturing, PET, which is utilized as raw material, has highly fluctuating costs in the market. As production cost depends on these raw material costs, manufacturers find it challenging to maintain constant output. Moreover, PET is sensitive to UV light (Ultraviolet), especially at elevated temperatures, under high humidity, and in the presence of oxygen, all of which are present when PET bottles are exposed to the weather. Such a factor hinders the growth of solid container PET in the nutrition and vitamin supplements packaging.
The developments in polymer science are increasing and may significantly impact plastic bottle packaging. Companies like Berry Plastics and Gerresheimer, with their R&D activities, are anticipated to play a vital role in discovering innovative packaging solutions that offer higher value than the existing products, such as intelligent and active packaging.
There are promising options for addressing future packaging challenges. The most important is recycled PET (rPET), which has a carbon footprint of almost one-fifth that of virgin PET. Its first essential growth factor is consumer acceptance. People are ready to consume beverages in 100% rPET bottles, which may have been opposed in the past.
The global PET packaging market share is segmented by product, type, end-use industry, and region.
By product, the global PET packaging market is segmented into Bottles and Jars, Bags and Pouches, Trays, Lids/Caps, Closures, and Others.
Bottles and Jars hold the most dominant share in the market. It is also expected to be the fastest-growing product type over the forecast period, accounting for USD 55 million by 2030 at a CAGR of 5.8%. The developing e-commerce sector globally contributes significantly to the market's growth. As delivering PET bottles and jars is accessible from a logistics point of view, many brands are increasingly using PET for their packaging needs. Additionally, as PET bottles are lightweight and do not require extreme care, the transportation cost is significantly reduced. Therefore, the growing inclination of people towards e-commerce is anticipated to bolster the market demand over the forecast period.
The Trays segment holds the second-largest share in the market. It is estimated to reach a value of USD 13.5 million by 2030 at a CAGR of 5.13%. Growth in consumption of packaged food products in developed and developing countries will substantially increase the demand for PET food trays during the forecast period. This is essentially due to the busier lifestyles of people, which is expanding their inclination towards using convenience food products. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the demand for ready-to-cook food as customers in some countries switched to cooking fresh food in their homes. However, countries like China witnessed a greater inclination towards self-heating ready meals. As such, the demand for packaging trays witnessed an increase.
By packaging type, the global PET packaging market is segmented into Rigid Packaging and Flexible Packaging.
The Rigid Packaging type occupied the largest market share. It is estimated to reach a value of USD 65 million by 2030 at a CAGR of 4.9%. However, the emergence and preference for flexible packaging impact the rigid PET packaging market. This is primarily because flexible packaging uses fewer resources, and manufacturing flexible PET products consumes less energy than rigid packaged products.
Moreover, regulations in some regions, such as RPPC (Rigid Plastic Packaging Container) and California Law, are anticipated to impact the rigid packaging industry. Under the law, manufacturers who sell items in rigid packaging containers must meet one of the conditions, i.e., validate the container has been sourced reduced (light-weighted) by 10%; the container comprises 25% post-consumer resin, or the container is refillable at least five times by the product manufacturer, or the container is reusable at least five times.
The Flexible Packaging type is predicted to be the fastest-growing segment, accounting for USD 25 million by 2030 at a CAGR of 5.7%. Small-sized flexible food packaging is environmentally friendly and enables consumers to prevent food spoilage and decrease food waste—often caused by large portions of packaged food. Flexible packaging designs are embedded with valves, zip closure, and other resealable features for controlled dispensing to decrease food waste and save cost. Flexible PET packaging offers puncture resistance to careless handling or sharp objects and adapts to different weather surroundings during e-commerce purchases.
By end-use industry, the global PET packaging market is segmented into Food and Beverage, Pharmaceuticals, Personal Care and Cosmetic Industry, Household Products, Industrial Goods, and Other end-use industries.
The Food and Beverage industry holds the largest market share and is expected to be the fastest-growing end-use industry over the forecast period, accounting for USD 60 million by 2030 at a CAGR of 5.8%. The food and beverage industry is the most prominent user of PET packaging. Various food products are packaged using PET material, especially convenience-sized soft drinks, juices, and water. The demand for bottled water is witnessing increased demand across the globe.
The Pharmaceutical industry holds the second-largest share. It is estimated to reach a value of USD 7.5 million by 2030 at a CAGR of 3.6%. Various plastic resins, including PE, PP, PET, PS, PVC, and bioplastic, are widely used for manufacturing pharmaceutical vials, bottles, syringes, pouches, closures, sachets, cartridges, tubes, and blister packs. The manufacturing process involved in PET container production to be used for pharma packaging applications does not involve the use of any heavy metal, thereby eliminating the concerns regarding the presence of harmful chemicals, including Bisphenol A (BPA) of di (2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP).
The global pharmaceutical industry is accelerating, with more and more medicines being sold every year. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has further contributed to the growth of the pharmaceutical industry across the globe. The high level of medicine usage among consumers is anticipated to propel market growth over the forecast period.
The global PET packaging market share is segmented into Asia-Pacific, North America, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa by region.
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Asia-Pacific is the most dominant and the fastest-growing region in the market. It is estimated to reach a value of USD 45 million by 2030 at a CAGR of 6%. China is among the largest consumers of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) globally. The excellent accessibility of raw materials and decreased manufacturing costs have aided the production growth of engineering plastics, like PET, in the country for the last few years.
North America is the second-largest region. It is estimated to reach a predicted value of USD 12.5 million by 2030 at a CAGR of 4.3%. The United States is the largest producer and consumer of PET globally, owing to the significant demand in its downstream sectors. The export of PET packaging products from the United States is also constantly growing. Furthermore, according to IBWA, Americans consumed 15 billion gallons of bottled water in 2020, up 4.2 percent from 2019, as most bottled water is packaged in 100 percent recyclable PET plastic and HDPE plastic, which are the plastics that are considered as being recyclable and the most recycled plastics in the world.
Europe holds the third-largest share in the regional market. It is estimated to reach a predicted value of USD 12 million by 2030 at a CAGR of 3.2%. Germany has the most advanced plastics sector in Europe. Polymer makers, converters, and machine manufacturers are all part of the country's plastics industry. The domestic plastics business is one of Germany's most important industry sectors, with sales of EUR 92 billion according to GTAI.