Europe to lead growth in the biodegradable pharmaceutical packaging market

According to a report, the desire to reduce waste, technological advancement and regulatory standards will all drive the adoption of biodegradable pharmaceutical packaging.

Recyclable logo (three green arrows) on a brown background - idea of sustainability/environmentally friendly practices

New research suggests Europe will lead the charge in the growth of the biodegradable pharmaceutical packaging market between 2021 and 2027. According to the market research report, the effort to reduce non-biodegradable waste; new regulatory rules and standards; and technological advancement will all underpin the expansion of the global market.

Pharmaceutical packaging materials must provide physical and biological protection during storage, transportation and distribution of pharmaceuticals. They are categorised into three types: primary packaging, which has direct contact with the pharmaceutical product, secondary and tertiary packaging, which provide external protection, ensuring the product’s safe distribution and supply.

Biodegradable packaging materials are eco-friendly materials, usually made of paper, plastic, recycled cardboard, corn starch gelatine, pectin and wheat bran, among others.

Driving growth

Rising tide of waste

Three leaves in a circle (biodegradable logo) surrounded by the words 'biodegradable packaging'

The adoption of biodegradable pharmaceutical packaging is currently being driven by a desire by industry, governments and consumers to reduce the accumulation of non-biodegradable packaging waste that is being driven by the rising incidence of chronic disease and the growth of the global population. One method to overcome this is the implementation of biodegradable packaging alternatives, hence the growing demand in this market.

According to the report by Coherent Market Insights, Europe will lead the growth of the global market, primarily as a result of the desire to reduce non-biodegradable waste. The European Commission has reported that, of the almost 60 percent of packaging waste generated from food and pharmaceutical products, household goods and other products, about 40 percent comprises food and pharmaceutical packaging waste.

Technological advancement

Additionally, the focus on technological advancement by manufacturers is also projected to bolster the market. The report cited Gerresheimer AG’s eco-friendly packaging products, including containers with green packaging (plastic containers made of sugarcane) and Duma Combi (tablet packaging container with a separate compartment for the patient information leaflet), showcased at Pharmapack 2016, as an example. It also noted that in September 2019, DS Smith PLC received an award for the best ‘Pharmaceutical Packaging Solutions’ from the Global Health and Pharma Magazine for its sustainable products.

The report also indicated that technological advancements, such as three-dimensional (3D) printing, could promote demand for biodegradable packaging materials. 3D printing technology can be used for manufacturing packaging materials that can easily be recycled and reused, for example, metals, plastic materials and rubber, said the authors.

Regulatory push

The research also found that regulatory rules and standards have augmented the adoption of biodegradable and eco-friendly packaging materials in the pharmaceuticals industry. According to the report, this will continue to drive growth in the global biodegradable pharmaceutical packaging market going forward.

Holding back the market

The report indicates there are two primary factors restraining growth: the high costs of biodegradable packaging materials and their weight. Since these eco-friendly materials are made up of organic raw materials they require processing to convert them into the finished product, driving up prices. Additionally, they are typically much heavier than non-biodegradable materials.

Major market players

According to the report, some of the key players in the global biodegradable pharmaceutical packaging market include Gerresheimer AG, Berry Plastics Corporation, DS Smith PLC, Rengo Co. Ltd., Bemis Company Inc., Smurfit Kappa and Amcor PLC.