188Global packaging trends are driven by several forces in dynamic equilibrium. These include societal focus on the environment, government regulation, and customer and market needs. Overlaying all of this are, of course, geographic and cultural preferences and differences.
A useful metaphor for packaging is as a “bridge” between the formulated active ingredient and its ultimate application to the target. This metaphor requires that we view both the formulation-packaging and packaging-application relationships.
Different packaging technologies relate specifically to the most important trends and are more or less successful in responding to the above driving forces. Packaging source reduction technologies include recycling, bulk systems, returnable-refillables and ways to avoid use of select packaging components. The evolution of biodisappearing materials, including water-soluble films and biodegradable plastics, provide other possible approaches to source reduction. New packaging-application designs can result in such desirable features as closed systems and controlled rate of pesticide release. New formulation technologies lead to and require new packaging systems. The important relationship between pesticide use rate and packaging requirements leads to the realization that the total amount of packaging requirements are better viewed as a function of acreage treated than per pound of active ingredient used.
The way the future unravels depends on both the relative emphasis given to the market and the public’s perception. We can help shape that future with the technologies we choose to emphasize as well as the degree to which we can help public perception and reality coincide.