Packaging trends we expect in 2022

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As it’s nearly the end of the year, we’ve started thinking about 2022. What could happen in the packaging industry and what packaging trends can we expect to see next year?

Macfarlane packaging surveys

The past year in packaging

Before we look forward, let’s look back…

2021 was another fast-paced and high-demand year in the packaging industry. As a result, prices rose and lead times got longer, changes we may have to live with until manufacturing capacities catch up.

The summer saw the launch of our 6th annual unboxing survey. Over 600 people responded, and results highlighted the rise in eco-conscious online shopping. The findings stressed the importance sustainable packaging and the demand for all packaging to have clear recycling instructions.

Our research also showed that some retailers are missing the opportunity to brand packaging. This hands an advantage to any competitors using branded packaging to create a memorable unboxing experience.

The latter half of the year saw COP26 and the Environmental Packaging Summit take place in November. Both events stressed the importance of the sustainability agenda and reducing carbon emissions; critical factors we expect to influencing packaging trends next year.

packaging trends 2022

Packaging trends for 2022

Based on what’s happened this year in our industry and events unfolding globally, here are our packaging predictions for 2022…

environmental packaging trends

1. True action on the environment

The world is tackling climate change, and there’s no doubt that packaging has a role to play in this. In fact, Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) will become law in the UK from April 2022.

Essentially, this means over 1,300 businesses will have a legal responsibility to report the steps they are taking to tackle climate change. This legislation tackles greenwashing and has another, long term, sustainability goal. It will encourage businesses to align their long-term strategies with the UK’s net-zero commitments.

So, our first packaging trend for 2022 is that we expect businesses to take true action on the environment. Naturally, this will impact packaging. We predict businesses will be:


–  Actively assessing the carbon impact of packaging from cradle to grave

–  Reviewing the sustainability of packaging materials

–  Supporting end-user recycling through clear labelling & recycling information

–  Investing in reusable packaging solutions to create circular economy

recycled content packaging

2. Increase in high recycled content packaging products on the market

Our second packaging trend for next year: that packaging producers and users will be making a big switch to high recycled content packaging. We predict more recycled content plastic packaging products will be launched, as a direct result of the UK Plastic Packaging Tax.

We can also expect many businesses to ditch plastic all together. In 2022 you’ll probably see companies make the permanent swap to paper-based packaging alternatives like gummed paper tape as well.

packaging to enhance customer experience

3. Using packaging to connect the physical and digital customer experience

Elevating the unboxing experience is a crucial marketing tool for many businesses. It’s a physical extension of the online customer journey for most brands. That’s why connected packaging is our third packaging trend for 2022.

Connected packaging is the next step for brands who want to align their physical and digital customer touchpoints. In essence, connected packaging is printed with QR codes, barcodes or images that are scanned with a browser-based app. This then opens and connects them to relevant digital content and experiences.

A connected packaging experience can be as simple as opening a web page. Or, you can opt for an elaborate augmented reality event if your budget allows.

Using connected packaging can add value to your customer journey. It can also help elevate your brand in comparison to competitors, without using any extra packaging material. So, it’s a win for your marketing team and a win for the environment.


We’d love to know what packaging trends you expect in 2022. Comment below! At Macfarlane Packaging, we can help you prepare for and embrace these packaging trends. Some of our resources available include:


–  Support making your packaging more sustainable, reducing waste, and cutting emissions – click here to learn more.

–  High recycled content packaging products available from stock – like high-recycled content bubble wrap, hand stretch film and air pillows.

–  An Innovation Lab team who can advise on connected packaging and the unboxing experience


Get in touch with the Macfarlane Packaging for further support.

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