Packaging and plastics

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Modern packaging entails more than producing disposable wrappings that protect products. Packaging materials are also banners and marketing tools that distinguish a brand. Packaging has actually become part of the contemporary marketing mix. It has to look beautiful and reinforce the brand identity. It is therefore far from surprising that companies are willing to invest more time and money into enticing and high-quality packaging.


The world population is still growing at a rapid pace. By the year 2050, there will be some 9.7 billion people living on Earth (2 billion more than the current world population), according to a UN population report. All these people are going to need healthy and safe food that is packaged well enough to properly distribute and store it.

Unfortunately, there is still a lot wrong with the way modern food distribution operates. Currently, around 30% of the food produced worldwide is not consumed and gets lost somewhere between the farmer and the consumer. It’s a huge waste and a major, daily, and potentially life-threatening problem for many people in poorer parts of the world.

The positive news is that good packaging techniques and materials have the potential to tackle and solve food waste. Ageing populations, smaller households and the need for convenience mean that the demand for smaller (and therefore more) packaging is increasing, especially in the western world. In developing countries, the growth of the middle class, modern supermarkets, urbanisation and the need for safe food are driving a growing demand for packaging materials. The need for more and better packaging is thus fed from various directions. Economists expect the global use of the largest packaging segment, namely plastic packaging, to grow by 18 to 20%between 2017 and 2021.

The aforementioned developments mean that the packaging industry is currently in full swing. Packaging materials have to be more durable and beautiful than ever, while also serving as increasingly valuable marketing tools. Changing marketing and customer demands shape the following trends.

1. Multimedial

Retail packaging is increasingly being equipped with technical gadgets, such as chips, QR tags and interactive elements. Technology allows brands to connect directly with consumers, thus creating new marketing opportunities. This phenomenon is also referred to as “connected packaging”. Connected packaging allows you to offer consumers something extra after their purchase. Think of it as a reward for choosing you. Another advantage of the multimedial nature of modern packaging is that you make it easier and more attractive to enhance or expand the usage of certain products.

2. Personalised experiences

Personalisation is an unstoppable trend. Companies are increasingly adapting products to the individual interests and preferences of the customer. Special, tailor-made collector’s editions of a standard product are a good example of this. By taking personalisation seriously, you create brand awareness and take the ultimate customer experience to the next level. Occasional customers turn into loyal buyers and repeat customers into real fans of your brand!

The growing trend of personalisation has also reached and transformed the packaging industry. Larger brands and companies, in particular, are increasingly offering consumers the opportunity to personalise the packaging to their own personal tastes. Take Tony’s Unlimited Chocolate Machine. Tony’s Chocolonely’s own superstore has been open for a while and hugely popular from day one, partly because the brand has a steady base of users and fans. But the company’s success also has a lot to do with the uniqueness of the retail environment.

The Tony’s Unlimited Chocolate Machine allows you to literally design and put together your own bar. You can choose from the variants milk, pure and white, but also have the option to add your own ingredients. Caramel, crackling sugar or kletskop are just a couple of delicious examples. You can also personalise the bar with your own name. You can use one name, but also two. The bar is divided into two pieces. This allows you to share the other half of your sweet treat with your best chocolate buddy.

Tony’s personal wrapper is a great case because we have contributed to its success by taking care of the necessary IT integrations!

3. Sustainability

We are increasingly aware of the fact that we live on a planet with finite natural resources. This means that we must deal efficiently and responsibly with the scarce resources and materials that mother nature delivers if we want to save the environment and safeguard our own future. The packaging industry must take the lead in the sustainability process that we have all started. After all, we consume an endless amount of products, each with its own packaging. Fortunately, the packaging industry is increasingly concerned about sustainability, which has led to plenty of exciting developments.

4. Fewer raw materials, similar quality

The essence of packaging mainly lies in the provision of information and the protection of a product. Packaging can have a “green image”, but if the packaging material does not protect the product properly, there is no sustainable solution. Due to tighter environmental legislation and increasing consumer demand for green packaging, there is a strong push towards a solution like sustainable circular packaging (biobased) instead of boxes, wrappers, bottles and bags that are made from traditional plastics. The global market for bio-based chemicals is expected to increase to at least 12.2 billion dollars by 2021.

What are the solutions that the packaging and plastic industries have to offer?

Fortunately, the packaging and plastics industries are responding to the changing desires and needs of markets and consumers. This is done in a number of ways.

  • Companies are investing more and more in the digitisation of the end product, but also in making their factories smarter. For example, machine builders and their customers regularly apply new technologies to streamline machine maintenance. IoT is a perfect tool for this because this technology allows you to reap the benefits of predictive maintenance. Sensors communicate about the state of specific components and processes (for example, the number of rotational strokes) and allow you to perform proactive maintenance on a machine in a much quicker and more effective fashion. This prevents or at least minimises service interruptions. You can fine-tune production to demand, allowing you to produce for less cost and with less waste.
  • Many producers of packaging material are strengthening their position in the supply chain by creating better and clearer insights into the prices of their suppliers.
  • The rise of excellent customer portals makes ordering online faster and easier than ever. Moreover, you can prepare and offer quotations in a brief window of time.
  • A supplier portal ensures better cooperation when it comes to quotations and delivery.
Weener Plastic

Weener Plastics

Appronto developed and implemented a TMS application (transport management system) for Weener Plastics. The Mendix app automates the logistical processes related to transport and planning. In addition, the solution streamlines the administration and financial processing of those processes. The results are spectacular and take the shape of a single, harmonised working method at all locations, more efficient planning and a halving of the team that deals with planning activities on a daily basis.

Weener Plastics has the desire to organise and manage logistical processes as optimally as possible. The new application relieves workers from repetitive and cumbersome manual jobs that used to cost a lot of time and manpower and allows staff to act faster and more efficiently. The development of the application is an important step towards process optimisation. The two locations of Weener Plastics Netherlands (Ede and Tilburg) both had different work routines. Thanks to a critical look at both the software and the processes, those crucial business processes are now streamlined. A double profit for the organisation.

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