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How the Packaging Industry is Adopting Sustainability Practices

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Behind the scenes at Goldman Sachs, thought-provoking insights are bubbling up each day. This space is for a few nuggets we think are worth sharing. From macroeconomics to the genome medicine revolution to the rise of digital gaming, these stories from around 200 West show you how top-level views can impact your life (and maybe even shape the way you think about money).

Odds are pretty good that a story about ecommerce mentions brick-and-mortar stores or the way the way it’s transformed how we shop.

Kristy Grippi of Goldman Sachs’ Investment Banking Division, however, has an angle that’s unexpected, and it’s about the business it’s literally wrapped in – packaging. 

This Long & Short of It video has the full details, but these highlights could tide you over until have time to hit play and give it a listen.

We need more packaging, stat

The world is big on buying things online – Grippi says approximately 15 to 20 percent of all goods worldwide are purchased online with the expectation that ecommerce is only going to increase.

The result is that there’s “a need for more and more packaging in the world” in both the short and long term. 

Packaging manufacturers are thinking “eco”

Cranking up production and calling it a day seems like it would make a lot of sense when what you’re already producing is in demand (see: need for more packaging above). Grippi says packaging manufacturers are using awareness around sustainability both to change what their products are made of and add to their product mix, such as moving away from single use plastics and turning to plant-based fiber and new premium packaging.

This is more than a nod to consumer concerns. 

Grippi says it’s a business move that can bump manufacturers’ gross sales, and it’s a change that doesn’t stop with a retailer choosing one type of box over another. Online shoppers could probably expect to see this change up close, because Grippi says this new, premium packaging allows “customers to make the decision on whether they’d like a cheaper form of packaging that is not sustainable, or if they’d rather pay a premium for a more recyclable form of packaging that’s more environmentally friendly.” 

In other words, you could choose to pay more for a box that makes you feel like you’re doing right by the environment. 

Sustainability could cause packaging to change and even disappear

We mentioned that packaging could incorporate alternative items like plant fibers, but that’s just one example of the changes we could see. Grippi expects “we’ll have higher recycled material content and so things like air pods within the box to protect your good will be made of recycled materials or will be biodegradable themselves.”

She also expects the amount of packaging to shrink. “The shipment of whatever good you get likely doesn’t come ‘a box within a box’ protected by other packaging but comes simply within the box itself, delivered with a label right to your door,” she says.

Sustainability and packaging: What’s coming

  • Approximately 15 to 20 percent of all goods that are sold are sold via the internet and shipped via some ecommerce route
  • Our Investment Banking Division expects the need for packaging to continue to increase over the next 5-10 years, thanks to the continued rise in ecommerce
  • Boxes will increasingly include recycled material or be biodegradable

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized professional advice. Articles on this site were commissioned and approved by Marcus by Goldman Sachs®, but may not reflect the institutional opinions of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Goldman Sachs Bank USA or any of their affiliates, subsidiaries or divisions.