Hughes Enterprises

What is Trending in Flexible Packaging in 2021

Warehouse with rolls of polyethylene

After a tumultuous 2020, businesses and consumers alike have started off the year with much speculation and cynicism. When it comes to packaging, companies around the globe had to jump through hoops to secure the products they needed all year long. Due to shortages, reallocations, and logistical nightmares, packaging supplies have been hard to come by over the past year. Keep reading for insights on flexible packaging trends in 2021.

Modern Flexible Packaging Materials

Flexible packaging is a pretty broad term. It essentially encompasses any package that has a shape that can be easily changed after it is filled and while it is being used. Some of the most popular options include paper, plastic, and other types of films.

The materials list above can be formed into a variety of packaging applications depending on the need. From a container perspective, the most common options are pouches, envelopes, bags, and sleeves. These types of flexible packaging have become popular, especially in the ecommerce space, largely due to DIM weight restrictions.

Flexibles and Shipping

DIM weight restrictions emerged as parcel companies struggled to accommodate the ecommerce boom. Essentially there is a minimum cost for the size of a box, no matter the weight. This makes shipping air within packages very expensive.

Flexible options, such as mailer envelopes are becoming more common than corrugated boxes on delivery trucks these days. They are cost effective to buy as well as to ship. They can also accommodate an endless amount of products—from cosmetics to books to clothing and everything in between. As long as the product can (1) fit in a mailing envelope and (2) avoid damage in the envelope, it is likely that the product will be shipped in some kind of envelope or pouch.

Endless Options, Few Choices

When it comes to flexible packaging, there are tons of options available, but not all are the best choice for your packaging needs. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic made it extremely hard to get mailing envelopes in 2020. The supply and demand was so skewed that the marketplace couldn’t keep up. During this time, companies had to really think outside of the box (or outside of the envelope!). Solutions that were previously available were no longer affordable or accessible.

Having a partnership with a packaging distributor is the best way to get ahead of the curve when it comes to having access to the products that you need. We know the industry and the trends; we also have the partnerships to make sure you always have access to the products that you need. And when they are not available, we are actively implementing alternative solutions. 

One example came to light during the pandemic. While certain types of mailing envelopes were not readily available for purchase, especially in large quantities, we were helping our customers to implement machines to make their own envelopes. We also helped other customers with finding alternate materials and suppliers to meet their production quotas. We take the heavy lifting (when it comes to packaging) off your plate so you can focus on what you do best.

Getting Green

“Greenwashing” is a type of marketing that is used to persuade consumers to purchase a product based on a false sense of being environmentally friendly. Unfortunately people have been convinced that all plastics are bad, which is not the whole story

Flexible packaging materials are becoming more green every day. Sustainable packaging refers to the whole process of the supply chain. From a high level, no matter what material we’re talking about, flexible solutions like mailers and pouches innately weigh less, so they cost less to transport (i.e. less fuel and emissions).

When it comes to “going green” it is also important to consider that some of the harder plastics on the market may have a high energy impact, but are often more durable and can support the notion of reusability.

Taking it a step further, to go completely “green” and eliminate the carbon footprint, bio-degradable options are extremely important. When it comes to packaging, flexible materials such as bio-polymer based shrink films that are earth friendly are becoming more popular for companies that are looking for bio-degradable options.

Multi-Purpose is Key

Using envelopes and pouches for your secondary packaging can be a great way to consolidate SKUs for your packaging materials. Instead of having a variety of sizes and shapes of boxes, a company can utilize flexible options that can accommodate many different sizes and shapes.

Flexible solutions are highly customizable and can easily be implemented on your packaging line. Aside from mailing pouches and envelopes, flexible packaging void fill solutions, such as air bags and foam, are also able to be used for a variety of applications. 

Partner With Hughes For Your Flexible Packaging Needs

From the materials to the machinery, we have everything you need to implement flexible packaging solutions in your supply chain. What’s more important is that we have packaging engineers and experts that show up every day to create custom flexible packaging solutions for our customers. Contact us today to learn more about your flexible packaging options.

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