The PackHub Trend Report January

National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham
Birmingham, United Kingdom
27 - 28/02/2019

The Packaging Innovations Trends summary

January 2019


Welcome to the latest Packaging Innovation Trends summary compiled by leading UK packaging consultancy ThePackHub. We have selected five sustainable packaging innovations that we hope you will find of interest. Contact ThePackHub for more information about our Innovation Zone database or how we could help you with your next packaging project. If you’d like more packaging news like this, you can subscribe to our newsletters here.




Leading dairy brand Müller is introducing a new recyclable milk cap for the UK market, which uses 13% less plastic. All of the Müller’s branded and private-label fresh milk products in the UK will include the new lighter cap. The change will see the removal of around 300 tonnes of plastic per annum. Müller has collaborated with supplier of sustainable plastic packaging solutions Paccor to design the 1.3g compression mould caps.  Müller’s HDPE fresh milk bottles are 100% recyclable and the business is aiming to increase the use of recycled plastic in its bottles to 50% by 2020. The business also continues its ongoing lightweighting programme that has seen the removal of around 10,000 tonnes of plastic from their bottles in the last two years.


Espoo, Finland-based beverage packaging specialists Esbottle are working on the development of a paper-based beverage bottle as an alternative to plastic and glass. The cardboard bottle solution is seen as being able to displace plastic as a viable environmentally friendly offering. The board is lined with a plant-based coating to prevent liquid absorption. The outside is lacquered so that moisture, oxygen or UV radiation to prevent spoiling the contents. The material is completely recyclable and can be disposed of in conventional kerbside collection. The cap is still in development to find a non-plastic version Esbottle is looking for investors or companies to partner.




Every year, a third of all food produced in the world is wasted. This is equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes according to figures from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Association. Reducing food waste is a big opportunity and an urgent one. A lot of food is thrown away due to lack of understanding as to whether the produce is still fit for consumption. Confusion over whether expiration dates are valid can mean that perfectly edible food gets trashed. A new range of smart food storage containers from product innovators Ovie hopes to change things. The Smarterware containers keep track of the food’s lifespan and signal when they have passed being OK to eat. It works using SmartTags that are placed in the lid to track how long food has been in the fridge. They can also be attached to generic storage containers. The system estimates how long the item will last, based on Ovie’s database of food spoilage times. A countdown to the expiration date then starts. The kit can also be connected to a user’s mobile app or to a smart home system like Alexa or Google Home.




A new innovation has been developed by researchers at Fraunhofer in the hope of reducing the perfectly edible food that is wasted due to consumers not being sure if it is still fresh to eat. Scientists from the German research institute have developed a small infrared portable scanner that will determine if a food item has gone bad as well as its degree of ripeness. The solution could prove to be a useful tool for retailers, industry food handlers and consumers to help prevent what is essentially unnecessary food waste. The device is based on a high-precision near-infrared sensor. An infrared beam is shined on the food and the reflected light is measured across the IR spectrum. The absorption spectrum from the food is compared with a known sample to help determine the c food condition. The scanner is still in the demonstrator stage with consumer testing at supermarkets due to start later this year.


Scientists from Tel Aviv University are working on a new bio-plastic derived from marine microorganisms in an attempt to reduce the environmental impact of biodegradable plastics. The new process does not rely on fertile soil and fresh water to grow the plant matter, which is in short supply in many parts of the world. This also puts demands on farming capacity that needs to be used to grow food crops. Researchers from Tel Aviv University have been developing a sea lettuce algae called Ulva lactuca to help create a new bio-material. It is cultivated in the sea, and then fed to single-celled Haloferax mediterranei microorganisms, which excrete a PHA bioplastic polymer. This can then be used to produce biodegradable plastics. Work is ongoing accessing alternative bacteria and algae to find combinations capable of producing bio-plastics with different functional properties. A research paper has been published in the Bioresource Technology journal.


These innovations are a selection of almost 3,000 initiatives uploaded to ThePackHub’s Innovation Zone database. If you like to know more about the Innovation Zone, our monthly packaging reports or how ThePackHub can help with your next packaging project please let us know. You can subscribe to ThePackHub’s innovation newsletters here.