Coronavirus: Effects on the Packaging Industry

Coronavirus: Effects on the Packaging Industry

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There are implications stemming from the novel coronavirus that affects almost every industry, and packaging is no exception. Apart from what are tragic consequences of COVID-19, issues from social distancing and economic uncertainty are poised to cost the global economy trillions. While many problems are seen in supply-chain interruptions and oil price uncertainty, there are numerous other business implications for packaging as a whole. 

Packaging An ‘Essential Business Operation’

The United States Federal and state governments have begun limiting manufacturing operations to those that are only ‘essential business operations.’ The Flexible Packaging Association has recently issued a letter to the White House, the Governors, and Capitol Hill urging leaders to recognize packaging manufacturers under the ‘essential business operation’ mandate. Their argument lists food insecurity, sterile medical equipment, as well as access to pharmaceutical and other miscellaneous medical supplies as prime reasons to add packaging to the limited amount of operations allowed under the mandate. 

Packaging Supply Levels

Many finished products coming from China are on backlog due to plant closures. Large consumer products companies such as Proctor & Gamble rely on Chinese suppliers in order to finish preparation of up to 17,000 different products that are then distributed throughout the world. Supply chain experts warn leaders with concerns in packaging to take a close look at their current supply levels, and prepare for a dramatic increase in demand as more countries and companies come back online after seeing a dramatic dip in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Single-Use Packaging 

As sustainability has remained on the lips of individuals across the globe, many businesses and governments have begun to impose restrictions on items that fall into the category of ‘single-use.’ Due to the growth of the coronavirus and concerns of spreading the virus, both lawmakers and businesses have rebounded their views and have instituted measures favoring these types of products. For example, on March 1, 2020 the state of New York passed new legislation that would ban single-use plastic bags starting on April 1st. This new law is now delayed to May 15th in order to help thwart the spread of coronavirus. 

Starbucks single-use paper cups have also been highly criticized for their impact on our global environment over the past few years, and as a result, Starbucks asks that patrons either bring their own tumblers, purchase multi-use coffee cups, or pay extra for the single-use paper cups. With growing concerns over the spread of coronavirus, Starbucks has lifted it’s charge for single-use paper cups in hopes this practice will throttle the spread of the disease, even if sustainability is negatively affected as a result. 


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