Deep Dive

Industry insights from our journalists

  • A Smurfit WestRock banner hangs in front of the New York Stock Exchange
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    Courtesy of Smurfit WestRock
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    2024 packaging M&A trends: Megadeals are in, destocking hangover is out

    Despite several high-profile megadeals between large packaging companies in recent months, small companies make up more volume than meets the eye, according to analysts. And international transactions are gaining prominence. 

    Katie Pyzyk • July 10, 2024
  • Two people reading a document in an industrial workplace setting.
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    Permission granted by JBM Packaging
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    Second chance hiring can bridge labor gaps, break employment barriers

    Although some companies say they initially hire formerly incarcerated individuals to overcome a labor shortage, these programs can lead to less employee churn, lower recidivism and life-changing impact, advocates say.

    Katie Pyzyk • April 30, 2024
  • A variety of shrink bands to seal jars and bottles that have compostable messaging printed on them.
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    Permission granted by Elevate Packaging
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    Compostable packaging take-back programs aim to ease consumer burden, boost recovery

    As compostable packaging rollouts outpace access to collection, more companies are looking to make collection less confusing via mail-in or pick-up programs.

    Katie Pyzyk • March 13, 2024
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    golubovy via Getty Images
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    Does this packaging contain recycled plastic? Inside the mass balance debate

    An accounting system long used in other industries is gaining prominence in the packaging sector, due in part to the rise of chemical recycling. Companies, trade groups and regulators are weighing the complexities and controversies.

    Leslie Nemo • March 5, 2024
  • A bee sits on a thistle in the UK
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    Nigel Harris via Getty Images
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    Biodiversity emerges as an ESG priority in packaging, but measurement could be a challenge

    As international standards evolve, fiber-based packaging companies are in the spotlight. Smurfit Kappa, WestRock, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and Canopy Planet weigh in on what the increased focus means for the industry.

    April Reese • Feb. 20, 2024
  • A cooler full of various brands of milk in half-pint containers.
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    Lindsey Shuey/The Republican-Herald via AP

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    Carton shortage may last through school year, but brandless packaging brings relief

    Pactiv Evergreen said it’s producing half-pint cartons at maximum capacity as a supply chain disruption still challenges dairies and schools. Some people suggest the problem originates from an Ohio converting plant shuttering.

    Katie Pyzyk • Jan. 12, 2024
  • A person wearing black gloves holds a cardboard e-commerce box with QR codes and a barcode printed on the address label.
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    Sean Rayford via Getty Images
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    Customization, AI and scannable codes seen as future opportunities for digital printing

    As the technology’s capabilities broaden, converters are “thinking in completely different ways” about packaging production and predicting it will capture some of analog printing's market share.

    Katie Pyzyk • Dec. 20, 2023
  • Industrial machinery with rolls of paper intertwined.
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    Permission granted by Georgia-Pacific
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    Brands level up packaging with digital printing’s customization, consumer connection options

    From Taylor Swift-printed Amazon boxes to different versions of the same product, digital inkjet printing enables converters such as Fortis Solutions Group, Printpack and Tetra Pak to meet brands' evolving needs.

    Katie Pyzyk and Shaun Lucas • Dec. 13, 2023
  • A loader manages compost at a Recology facility
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    Courtesy of Recology
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    Compostable packaging’s contested, complicated past doesn’t determine its future

    Composters can struggle to manage the wide variety of new packaging entering the market, leading to greater calls for labeling guidelines and testing. Cities like San Francisco and Minneapolis offer case studies in how to make it work.

    Mary Catherine O'Connor • Dec. 5, 2023
  • Labels on brown packaging
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    The image by Assemblies Unlimited is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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    Compostable packaging is still evolving but popular. Here’s where experts say it could be most effective.

    From farmers markets to Walmart to stadiums, compostable packaging is on the rise. Elevate Packaging, NatureWorks, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and others weigh in on how to get it right.

    Hollie Stephens • Dec. 4, 2023
  • Rolls of paper being printed on industrial machinery.
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    Permission granted by Georgia-Pacific
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    ‘Revolutionary’ digital printing technology uptake expected to accelerate for packaging

    DS Smith, Georgia-Pacific, International Paper, WestRock, O-I Glass and others are among the companies innovating with this technology, which can increase precision and reduce waste. 

    Katie Pyzyk and Shaun Lucas • Nov. 29, 2023
  • A photo composite of tetra pack bottle being lassoed. The background is a screen shot from the 2012 Green Guides.
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    Photo illustration: Shaun Lucas/Industry Dive; Getty Images; Federal Trade Commission 

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    Taming the wild west of environmental marketing: A Green Guides history

    More than 30 years after state attorneys general pushed for scrutiny of marketing claims, the packaging landscape is as complicated as ever. Did the guides serve their original purpose?

    Mary Catherine O'Connor • Sept. 6, 2023
  • A person opens a box with a product wrapped in filler packaging in front of a video camera.
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    Milko via Getty Images
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    Packaging evolves in response to ‘unboxing’ videos flooding social media

    Brands are requesting customized boxes to touch consumers’ emotions and build loyalty. Filler material, in-box printing and sustainability contribute to memorable unboxing moments, too.

    Katie Pyzyk • Aug. 16, 2023
  • Upside down plastic bottles
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    sebasnoo via Getty Images
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    Demand for recycled plastic in packaging is growing. So are concerns about potential health risks.

    Recent studies have raised questions about health effects from plastic, including recycled material, as companies and regulators increasingly look at ways to advance the use of recycled resin in food-grade packaging.

    April Reese • June 26, 2023
  • Person holding hamburger in a wrapper
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    hapabapa via Getty Images
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    As PFAS restrictions advance, paper industry struggles to phase out use

    The toxic “forever chemicals” have long been used in the packaging sector. While companies say they’re being phased out, finding alternatives and fully eliminating them from effluent remain ongoing issues.

    April Reese • April 3, 2023
  • Photo illustration of cardboard box
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    Photo illustration: Shaun Lucas/Industry Dive; Getty Images

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    5 factors influencing packaging design and operations

    From navigating inflation and changing regulations to assessing the impact of automation and plastics M&A, these are some of the top industry trends to watch.

    Katie Pyzyk, Maria Rachal and Cole Rosengren • March 27, 2023