2016 Packaging Trends To Watch

January 12, 2016

Welcome to the New Year, everyone! Now that the ball has dropped, toasts have been made and resolutions likely broken, it’s time to get back to business.

To help prepare for the best and most up-to-date packaging in 2016, some of our Ernest design experts tell us what to expect in the way of trends this year. Here are some of their insights:


Greg Hildreth, Senior Design Specialist – Facilities & Safety

The EPA has created its Design for Environment (DfE) initiatives and programs, similar to the existing sustainability recognition, Green Seal. These recognitions will likely transfer over to packaging that incorporates biodegradable or more post-consumer waste into packaging. For instance, research is happening on creating films from dairy instead of petroleum-based resin.

Larry French, Senior Design Specialist – Cold Chain Solutions

Reusing packaging is the highest form of recycling because there is no waste, and we see this idea being embraced in cold chain. Gel packs in your meal delivery systems were getting punctured and contaminating foods. Now you’ll see companies not only using hard shell cold packs to provide more strength, but also to be reused with built-in, return labels. They can be sent back to the manufacturer where they are sterilized and used again.

Terry Scott, Senior Design Specialist – Facility, Safety & Sanitary

We are seeing a lot of bamboo, a highly renewable resource, used in commercial-grade paper products including use in towel and tissue markets.

Tim Wilson, President of Ernest Packaging Solutions

Conversion to lighter weight liners that are stronger and more effective in sustaining top to bottom compression will continue to grow in 2016. The lightweight liners use less paper but are stronger than conventional liners. This creates viable source reduction and again lowers the carbon footprint.

We use these high-performance liners in our Cardboard Chaos series, where we put them to the test in the form of skateboards, guitars and more.

Mike Martinez, Director of Design Solutions

Due to the implementation of dimensional weight (DIM weight) shipping pricing, gone are the days of boxes that are way too big for the product inside. We are seeing fast adaptation of better-fitting corrugated cartons. This provides flexibility and reduces costs when it comes to shipping product. Of course, there is the added benefit of source reduction and a smaller carbon footprint too!

Check out our DIM weight app to see how this impacts shipping costs.


Tim Andrisani, Senior Design Specialist – Inner Packaging

Some bubble manufacturers are going high-tech with great products that create multiple void fills and cushioning mediums through one machine. In the past, it was one machine creating one film, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case anymore.


Dave Kavlich, Senior Design Specialist – Adhesives

There is increasing automation across all industries. Manufacturers that we work with are making products that are automatically putting the box together, filling it and sealing it. Much of this is already in place, but the speed and simplicity are going up while the costs of running such equipment is going down.

Sean Hunter, Senior Design Specialist – Shrink, Stretch & Systems

High-speed, automated wrapping equipment has been in use by large companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi for a while. A single person in Kansas could run multiple operations from a laptop. Now, we see more high-tech automation available to even the smallest production plants, though still not quite as fast as the big companies.

The packaging world is always changing, and that means the time is always right to make sure you have the best solution. Talk to Ernest Packaging about what you want to accomplish to move your packaging forward this year and for years to come!