The e-commerce plastic packaging market was valued at USD 10.26 billion in 2019, and it is expected to reach USD 21.78 billion by 2025, registering a CAGR of 13.6% during the forecast period 2020-2025. The e-commerce industry is exploiting the opportunities in the packaging landscape driven by young demographic profile, with increasing internet penetration and relatively better economic performance in the past few years. Many companies that provide packaging support to e-commerce players are developing and creating new ways for packaging products to be sustainable, which caters to a new trend. For instance, Startup Limeloop recycles billboard wraps to create durable shipping pouches that can be reused up to 2,000 times. Also, Noissue creates compostable mailers made from corn starch that breakdown entirely within six months.

  • The growing proliferation of online retailing and the emergence of omnichannel presence is driving the market. Flexible packaging solutions are experiencing a positive demand across the end-user industry sectors, such as in food, retail, consumer goods, and pharmaceuticals. The demand is catalyzed by the sustained growth of urbanization, a large expatriate population, and the changing landscape of online retailing. According to a Shopify report, with 16.1% of all retail sales expected to happen online in FY 2020, manufacturers and traditional brands are increasingly bypassing retail partners and selling DTC (Direct to Consumers). With growing online sales channels, several products are being packaged with various flexible plastic films, shrink sleeves, and labels for efficient shipping and logistics. ?
  • Increasing biodegradable plastic packaging for online retail is driving the market. Bioplastics has begun to take a prominent place in e-commerce packaging because they have several possible applications. Like conventional petroleum-based plastics, they can be molded into various shapes, but come from renewable sources and thus generate fewer greenhouse gases. ? The major sources are fermented starches such as wheat and corn, as they are biodegradable and highly durable. For instance, EcoEnclose, an e-commerce plastic packaging provider, provides a fully recyclable eco-friendly bubble mailers made with at least 32.6% recycled content. These padded poly envelopes have cushioning to protect various goods in transit.
  • Further, the Covid-19 pandemic is causing significant loss to the market. The plastic packaging sector, which packs products other than the daily essentials and medicines, shut down, and it is incurring losses, as the product requirements nearly reached zero. Further, with the increasing demand for medicine, food, and other essential goods at an all-time high is causing a lack of available packaging to ship them in.
  • However, according to Adobe’s Digital Economy Index’s latest data, US e-commerce jumped by 49% in April, FY 2020, compared to the baseline period in early March, before shelter-in-place restrictions came into effect. Online grocery helped drive the increase in revenues, with a 110% boost in daily sales between March and April. Meanwhile, electronic sales were up by 58%, and the book sales doubled.? Meanwhile, in some regions, Coronavirus is bringing back single-use plastic bags, instead of accepting reusable ones. Also, online retailers are witnessing Black Friday-like sales due to the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on their businesses.

Key Market Trends

Consumer Electronics Accounts for Significant Share

  • With the increasing demand for consumer electronics worldwide, the demand for protective plastic packaging is expected to surge in the forecast period.? Among the specialized plastic packaging systems for consumer electronics and media, shrink packaging, or commonly known as shrink wrapping, and stretch wrapping are very common and widely used. If compared to shrink film and bags, stretch wrapping affords large energy-saving and does not require the availability of fuel. This simplifies the inventory.?
  • For instance, the Mavic Air 2 drone, which was launched in April 2020, is packaged with a smart controller and a smartphone display in carton boxes that come with protective plastic shrink-wrap, to avoid damage during shipping.
  • Further, several cellphones are packed and shipped using plastic material. Although several manufacturers are drifting toward sustainable packaging options, the role of plastic films and wraps to package boxes is growing. ?For instance, although the packaging for iPhone X is highly recyclable, and 100% of the fiber in its retail box is either from recycled content, like bamboo, waste sugarcane, or responsibly managed forests, it comes with a plastic film for barrier protection and matte finish.
  • Further, when it comes to efficient packaging, plastics often enable manufacturers to ship more products with less packaging material. This process of light-weighting can play an essential role in boosting the environmental and economic efficiency of consumer product packaging. For instance, Kingston’s HyperX Savage EXO, launched in 2019, comes packaged between layers of clear blister-pack inserted in the box. The plastic, screwless, and slate-gray case protects the drive’s internals.
  • Furthermore, EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam is widely used to protect and save electronic products during shipping. It has several properties, like durability, recyclability, and being lightweight. The products mostly used for packaging include television, bulb, and other electrical appliances.
  • Moreover, according to the Consumer Technology Association, retail revenue from consumer electronics/technology sales in the United States, in 2019, was USD 406 million. The sales are expected to reach USD 422 million by the end of FY 2020. With the increasing demand for consumer electronics, the demand for plastic packaging, especially air pillows and bubble packaging is significantly rising in the United States.

Asia-Pacific to Witness Significant Market Growth

  • Asia-Pacific accounts to witness significant market growth. China is one of the emerging nations where the e-commerce market is growing rapidly due to the rising consumer preference for online shopping, the proliferation of alternative payment solutions, online shopping events, such as single day offering lucrative discounts, and improved logistics infrastructure. According to, the Chinese e-commerce sector generated CNY 4.82 trillion in online retail sales during the first half of 2019.
  • Moreover, there are various factors for the surging e-commerce market in China, such as increasing penetration of smartphones, good retail infrastructure, cross border regulation, and cost-effective labor. According to ZME Science, the number of parcels delivered in the country tripled in the last four years, going from 20.6 billion in 2015 to 63.5 billion in 2019.?
  • Further, in India, the growth in organized retail, along with a boom that the country is experiencing in e-commerce, has been fueling the growth of plastic packaging. According to data released by the ASSOCHAM, the per capita consumption of plastic is expected to get doubled by 2021 from the 2016 level. The ASSOCHAM stated that India is annually consuming 12.8 million metric tons of plastics. Moreover, consumers are demanding more sustainable products, and brands have to imbibe this concept strongly in their business approach.?
  • Furthermore, recycling has become a major part of cosmetics, skincare, and perfume companies. Amazon India is working toward reducing the usage of single-use plastics and optimizing recycling. The plastic currently used in packaging mailers and bubble bags is made of 20% recycled content. Presently, less than 7% of packaging at Amazon India Fulfilment Centers includes single-use plastic.?
  • Moreover, in November 2019, Walmart-owned e-commerce marketplace Flipkart rolled out a new initiative that focuses on creating awareness among consumers on the proper disposal of plastic packaging. As part of the initiative, Flipkart is conducting the pilot project to collect plastic packaging back from consumers at select hubs across Mumbai, Bengaluru, Dehradun, Delhi, Kolkata, Pune, and Ahmedabad.?
  • Also, the sustainable supply chain packaging is enhancing the growth of the market. In December 2019, Storopack developed rEPS, a new material comprising 100% recycled ESP or PS from post-consumer goods, and it will be used for packaging material in the future. It is an attractive solution for companies who wish to use environment-friendly packages. The company planned to provide this solution packaging in 2020.?

Competitive Landscape

The e-commerce plastic packaging market is fragmented due to the presence of various players. With their initiatives towards plastic recycling and sustainability along with acquisition and partnership, the market poses a rivalry among the players. Key players are Amcor PLC?, Pregis LLC, etc. Recent developments in the market are -

  • February 2020 - Pregis LLC joined the Circular Economy Flexible Packaging (CEFLEX), a European consortium of companies and associations representing the entire flexible packaging value chain. CEFLEX established a roadmap, and it targets to achieve a circular economy for flexible packaging during 2020-2025.?
  • January 2020 - Sealed Air Corporation, which is the inventor of Bubble Wrap, launched a new version of Bubble Wrap brand packaging material that is made with at least 90% recycled content.? Aligned with its sustainability pledge, Sealed Air’s future product developments will also incorporate post-consumer recycled content.

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