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Pharmaceutical Packaging: Shifting Towards Sustainable Packaging

   April 10, 2024

When it comes to medicine, drug manufacturing and packaging play an important role. In the pharmaceutical sector, drug packaging is not just considered a part of the marketing mix; it is related to the product’s shelf life, features, and application. Drug packaging is vital to keep drugs away from bacteria, damage, temperature, and the outer atmosphere. At the same time, packaging also addresses the concerns of child poisoning.

Paper & Paperboard Packaging is a Recent Trend in the Market

As the pharmaceutical industry and key market players move towards sustainability goals, the use of paper and paperboard in packaging is increasing. The governments of many countries are also adopting sustainable policies for the packaging industry, so key players are gradually shifting towards paper-based packaging to adhere to the regulatory framework.

Paper is a common material used in pharmaceutical packaging. It is used for both primary and secondary packaging. In primary packaging, it is used for various applications such as sachets, cartons, and blister pack backing. It can be coated or laminated with other materials to enhance its barrier properties and ensure adequate protection for the medication. In secondary packaging, paper and paperboard are used for folding cartons, corrugated boxes, pouches & bags, and others.

The consumption and production of paper are increasing for packaging applications owing to its properties. Paper packaging is relatively cheaper than other types of packaging materials, making it a cost-effective option for pharmaceutical companies. Paper-based laminate composites can enhance the storage time of pharmaceutical products, making them suitable for packaging that requires a modified atmosphere. This can contribute to the preservation of medication efficacy.

Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly focusing on innovative packaging designs that cater to the developing needs of their customers, such as accessible and user-friendly packaging and sustainable and environmentally friendly packaging materials.

Some of the recent product launches are as follows,

  • In April 2022, Amcor plc (U.S.) launched sustainable High Shield laminates for pharmaceutical packaging. These new High Shield innovations include more sustainable pharmaceutical sachet, stickpack, and strippack packaging, providing options in both paper-based and Polyolefin-based materials.
  • In July 2021, Huhtamaki (Finland) launched a Push Tab paper, the first paper-based blister solution for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. The packaging is made up of more than 75% paper material and eliminates PVC from blister packaging.

Blister Packaging is Expected to Gain Traction in the Market

Blister packs are used for the packing of oral solid drugs such as tablets, pills, capsules, granules, or lozenges. The material used in the manufacturing of blister packaging is PVC, metal, and paper. Blister packaging addresses the many concerns faced by traditional packaging, as it reduces the risk of contamination and offers extended shelf life. According to Amcor plc (Switzerland), in Europe, 85% of solid dosage drugs are packaged in blister packaging. Additionally, trends such as the proliferation of e-commerce and sustainability are driving packaging in the pharmaceutical industry toward blister packaging. The rising approvals of oral solid drugs, the introduction of mini tablets, and patient-centric packaging are driving the demand for blister packaging.

Demand is expected to increase further with innovations such as smart packaging, tamper-evident packaging, and recyclable blister packaging. Additionally, the key players operating in the market are also innovating the material used in blister packaging to create more sustainable packaging.

Some of the recent product innovations include:

  • In November 2023, Schreiner MediPharm L.P. (Germany), in partnership with Keystone Folding Box Co (U.S.), introduced a smart blister pack with child-resistant, senior-friendly features. The blister packaging is manufactured using integrated electronics to convert it into a real-time e-diary for capturing dosing history data.
  • In October 2023, Perlen Packaging (Switzerland) and ETIMEX Primary Packaging GmbH (Mexico) collaborated to develop polypropylene mono blister packaging to meet the increasing demand for eco-friendly packaging.

Insights from Pharmaceutical Packaging Market Analysis

Recent insights from Meticulous Research® provide valuable perspectives on the future trajectory of the Pharmaceutical Packaging Market. Projections suggest a potential worth of $176.54 billion by 2031, driven by a remarkable Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.6% from 2024 to 2031. The recent focus on smart packaging is driving innovations in the field. Moreover, significant trends are emerging due to ongoing evolution, such as automation in pharmaceutical packaging, integration of digital technologies in packaging, anti-counterfeit packaging, and others.

As the global landscape takes shape, North America is expected to hold a substantial market share in 2024. The regional share is attributed to the significant and rapidly evolving pharmaceutical industry in the region and automation in pharmaceutical packaging. North America is home to numerous renowned pharmaceutical manufacturers and packaging companies, including Catalent, Inc. (U.S.), Corning Inc. (U.S.), Berry Global Group, Inc. (U.S.), Drug Plastics Group (U.S.), AptarGroup, Inc. (U.S.), and WestRock Company (U.S.) have established a broad presence across various regions, leading to the widespread adoption of their products. This comprehensive overview from Meticulous Research serves as a gateway into the pharmaceutical packaging market.


The pharmaceutical packaging market is driven by factors such as growth in the pharmaceutical sector, the rising demand for drug delivery devices, growing healthcare expenditures, the increasing focus on biosimilars, and the growing trend of contract manufacturing & packaging in the pharmaceutical sector.

Furthermore, the rising adoption of personalized medicines & self-medication, improving healthcare provisions in emerging economies, the growth in pharmaceutical R&D spending, and the increasing focus on vaccine development & vaccination coverage are expected to generate growth opportunities for the players operating in this market. Thus, the rising demand for sustainable packaging and advancements in pharmaceutical packaging are supporting the pharmaceutical packaging market growth.

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