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DEBBIE'S TRAVEL BLOG

I have just spent four months travelling through ten countries in Southeast Asia, India, China and now I am in Seoul. It’s great being an observer for a decent period of time. You can ponder all manner of things, and in this case, after plenty of thinking time, I feel suitably qualified to make some global packaging trend predictions. Resource use will remain an issue with population growth and decreasing resources stretching the planet. Waste reduction, recycling and reuse will also be an increasing themes for central and regional governments who in turn will push back more on manufacturers, brand owners and retailers. There will be an increase in waste and recycling infrastructure to reduce waste to landfill – much of this will be met by businesses. There is money to be made in waste. Eventually central and regional governments will have to increase their focus on end-use consumers to encourage good waste decisions. The amount of food packaging manufactured will increase due to changes in lifestyles and demographics. Household size is shrinking, more people are living alone and they are working longer hours, therefore the rise of convenient pre-packaged meals. Here in Seoul I have been stunned at the amount of convenience stores on every corner selling meals for one and also individually wrapped food items such as apples and eggs. Packaging design will become more complex as designers meet increasing requirements - easy to open (ageing populations in many countries), resealable, lightweight, clean and eco-friendly/sustainable and increasingly demonstrate traceability and authenticity of materials, ingredients etc. Consumers want to know what they are buying, they deserve to know, and there is commercial opportunity in building their trust in your product. The use of plastics will come under greater scrutiny. There will be increasing pressure to use alternatives to plastics from individuals, scientists, environmental groups, academics, business and civic leaders. More individuals will elect to go ‘plastic-free’ and in response marketers and retailers alike will have to ensure they provide sustainable products in sustainable packaging. With those predictions in mind I am considering establishing a couple of niche businesses starting with cardboard drinking straws. Anyone interested in joining me in this venture? Right, time is up. Best I pack my backpack as I am off to Japan later today. I wonder what packaging innovations I will see and what business ideas I will get? Cheers, Debbie

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