Just how top of mind is sustainability in packaging among today’s consumers, manufacturers and packaging material and equipment suppliers? According to market research firm Innova Market Insights, the annual growth rate for sustainable packaging rose 26% from 2013 to 2017, and bio-based/biodegradable packaging is increasingly important to discerning buyers.

The drive toward sustainable packaging, accompanied by growing marketplace concern about food waste, has propelled interest and innovations in flexible packaging used for baked goods and snacks. Flexible packaging already has some built-in advantages over other types of rigid packages, in terms of package waste. On top of that, packaging material and equipment providers are coming up with other environmental improvements.

One example comes from Signature Flexible Packaging, which recently introduced new eco-friendly flexible packaging for bars. Energy-cured coatings eliminate the need for lamination processing or adhesive, lowering energy consumption without sacrificing color and graphic vibrancy or barrier properties.

Taghleef Industries, Inc., has created a new generation of biodegradable films under the Nativia name. The films are made from PLA bio-based resins that replace plastics like polypropylene and polyethylene, and can be used in heat sealable, biodegradable forms for bakery, snack and confectionery products, among other items.

International efforts also continue. TIPA, based in Israel, has rolled out a new bio-based fully compostable flexible packaging solution made from several compostable polymers that are mixed to create special resins used for films. Applications include different types of snacks and bars.

Other flexible packaging innovations help reduce food waste, also enhancing sustainability. Mitsubishi Gas Chemical America has developed a special film with a new embedded layer that extends the shelf life of items including nutrition bars without the use of additives.