The global pharmaceutical plastic packaging market continues to tread steadily despite the supply chain hiccups during the initial phase of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The growth prospects can be accounted for by easy forming, and high versatility in terms of materials and customization. Plastic packaging in the pharmaceutical industry is popular owing to superior barrier characteristics. Consequently, it is considered as a safe option to prevent contamination.
However, challenges arising from environmental concerns associated with plastic production and disposal remain a key deterrent to widespread adoption. Options such as bio-based and bio-degradable plastics are likely to gain greater attention in the market.
Innovations in Sustainable Approaches
According to the WHO, plastic based packaging, especially for vaccine production, has displayed strong growth in terms sustainable packaging efforts.
High quality plastics comprise up to 85% of recycled materials, and these meet the requirements of modern heat-sealing processes. Also, new innovations in PET and PE sourcing from biodegradable products such as sugarcane could prove beneficial to growth prospects.
In terms of prefilled syringes and cartridges, cyclic olefin polymer (COP) has emerged as a feasible alternative to conventional glass materials. COP has the benefit of high efficiency in disposal through incineration processes, while generating very little ash.
In addition, the use of this material reduces the requirement for secondary packaging and minimizes packing weight and size improving on sustainability and logistics.
Pharmaceutical packaging companies are increasingly considering options in biodegradable materials, recycled materials, and compostable polymers. Advancements in machinery for improvements in plastic packaging will be important in the near future, with integration into smart packaging applications.
The global pharmaceuticals sector has been at high risk from increasing production and distribution of counterfeit products, impacting not only revenues of market players, but also overall supply chain. According to the American Society for Microbiology, around 10% of all drugs in circulation around the world are counterfeit. The problem is especially pronounced in developing countries, for generic medicine with weaker regulatory infrastructure.
Pharmaceutical plastic packaging manufacturers have invested extensively in the development of solutions in their offerings for this issue. LocatorX, in Atlanta have developed solid-state atomic clock technology for plastic pharmaceutical packaging in collaboration with the nanomaterials department at the University of Oxford, which uses a combination of QR codes and cell towers to track and monitor potential counterfeit products, potentially replacing conventional 2D barcodes.
Research into covert optical security features has also gained ground, where submicron-scaled microstructures are etched into polymer substrates of any color or opacity to generate invisible security codes, which become visible when exposed to vapor. In addition, such technologies do not require specialized testing authentication equipment, and show potential for growth in developing countries, with minimal infrastructure.
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The various forms of plastics have gained substantial acceptance by pharmaceutical manufacturers for product packaging applications. However, strict regulations by governments around the world associated not only to environment protection, but also consumer safety have created challenges for players.
In addition, easy availability of alternative materials such as glass, and volatility in pricing of raw materials required for plastic production could potentially limit growth prospects by substantial margins.
In addition, pharmaceutical manufacturers have taken up a number of initiatives to minimize plastic waste from their offerings. A key strategy finding increased acceptance is to minimize overall production of plastic packaging materials, through molding innovations in CAD and CAM designs.
Also, materials such as cyclic olefins are limited in select pharmaceutical applications owing to higher susceptibility to scratching, lack of standardization, potential for gas permeability. Further, coating alternatives to conventional siliconization will gain importance, limiting the scope of plastics in pharmaceutical packaging.
North America Pharmaceutical Plastic Packaging Market
North America is the leading market, with growth primarily driven by steady demand in the United States. According to FMI, the region will account for roughly 28% of the overall market share in 2020, with a valuation of US$ 13.15 billion.
The United States market contributes significantly to revenues in the region driven by greater investments in drug development, the country’s healthcare system, and higher per capita income. In addition, the region has presence of key manufacturers such as AbbVie Inc., Pfizer, and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.
Growth in the region is likely to display gradual rise as drug manufacturers invest increasingly in functional properties of packaging products, particularly in terms of barrier properties and product security. Advances in biotechnology will result in faster gains for pre-fillable syringes, IV bags, and vials.
In Canada, the pharmaceutical plastic packaging industry is projected to focus more on products for generics and biologics packaging, supported by efforts in the sector by Pharmascience and Apotex. In addition, demand for anti-counterfeiting packaging is also growing aided by the country’s Drug Supply Chain Security Act.
With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the operations of the North American Pharmaceutical Plastic Packaging industry have been driven by guidelines from regulators such as the WHO and CDC.
Manufacturers have been deploying hygiene and social distancing processes, including higher frequencies of sanitation processes, work from home, restrictions on non-essential travel, while expanding production and warehousing facilities to keep up with demand.
Europe Pharmaceutical Plastic Packaging Market
Europe is estimated to be the second largest market for pharmaceutical plastic packaging in 2020. Advancements in smart packaging, aimed towards energy efficiency and environment-friendly options are likely to positively affect the industry here. This is particularly true of recycled plastic, owing to the availability of low-cost raw materials, and initiatives to minimize plastic pollution.
Backward integration of value chains is expected to gain prominence in the near future in terms of gaining cost advantages in generating finished products. The growing adoption of high-density polypropylene for the production of pharmaceutical packaging is expected to play a role in this trend, owing to cost benefits in supplies and production.
Also, strict guidelines set by regulatory agencies such as the European Medicines Agency in terms of varied factors such as extraction, migration, sorption, and toxicology studies have a significant positive influence on the pharmaceutical plastic packaging, owing to its impact on product development.
East Asia Pharmaceutical Plastic Packaging Market
East Asia has positioned itself as a highly critical market for pharmaceutical plastic packaging for the forecast period. Although currently lagging behind North America and Europe, the East Asian market, comprising China, Japan, and South Korea is expected to surpass both western markets before 2030 in terms of both, volume and value.
Rapid globalization in recent years has resulted in key manufacturers expanding geographically with production facilities around the globe, which has increased the length of supply chains and influencing changes in terms of raw materials used.
Growing pressures of costs on manufacturers, coupled with cost-effective services offered by contract manufacturing in East Asian countries is a major driver of the industry in the region.
Pharmaceutical products are increasingly being imported into western countries from East Asia, which has made it important for manufacturers in the region to comply to western packaging standards. Strict regulations and tax incentives under set regulatory standards, coupled with growing interest in OTC drugs has propelled the Japanese and South Korean pharmaceutical plastic packaging markets.
On the basis of material, pharmaceutical plastic packaging is available in a wide range of options including polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyamide (PA), cyclo-olefin polymer (COP), cyclo-olefin copolymer (COC), and others (PHA, PLA).
Of these, the demand for polyethylene has been higher than the others, accounting for more than 30% of the overall market share through 2030. On the other hand, cyclo-olefin copolymer has emerged as a nascent, fast growing segment. This can be attributed to the growing demand for feasible alternatives to conventional polyacrylonitrile based polymers in medical packaging, in compliance to strict regulatory standards in the industry.
Pharmaceutical plastic packaging is produced in flexible and rigid formats, on the basis of end use application. Of these rigid packaging formats have accounted for leading share of value and volume, accounting for close to 60% of the market through 2030. However, there has been a gradual transition from rigid to flexible packaging options.
The demand for rigid packaging primarily rides on superior product protection offered by these packaging formats. Also, rigid packaging provides better recyclability, and a high range of customization in terms of substrates and product sizes.
Offerings in the pharmaceutical plastic packaging sector can be largely categorized into ampoules & vials, bottles, blister packs, trays, prefilled syringes & cartridges, bags & pouches, and others. Bottles remain highly preferred in the pharma sector, holding an estimated 37.5% share in 2020.
Versatility in packaging applications range of pharmaceutical products including, capsules, tablets, syrups and others has made plastic bottle formats popular. LDPE and HDPE are common materials that are likely to be used during the forecast period.
Pharmaceutical Plastic Packaging Companies and Competitive Intelligence
Participants in the pharmaceutical plastic packaging industry are currently pushing forwards with strategies to expand production capacities during the covid-19 pandemic. Leading market players are also involved in strategic geographic expansion, particularly in developing economies with the aim of exploiting cost benefits and to lengthen supply chains.
There is a growing focus among major companies to provide end users with customized packaging solutions. In addition, manufacturers are also seeking to expand the scope of use for their products aside from conventional pharma packaging applications.
Gerresheimer AG for instance furthered its expansion into South America with a new plant in Goias Brazil for pharmaceutical plastic packaging products in 2018, with a further expansion of 20,000 sq meters by 2021. On a similar note, the company opened a new plant in Changzhou, China for pharmaceutical primary plastic packaging for exports to the USA.
Germany-based Schott AG has announced plans to invest US$ 1 billion by 2025 to expand its pharmaceutical packaging production capacities for products including polymer vials, ampoules, syringes, and cartridges, with new plants in the United States, China, and Germany.
Klöckner Pentaplast has revealed plans to expand its recycled PET extrusion capacity in North America with a multi-million-dollar investment. The effort will support closed loop packaging for the pharmaceutical sector, including curb-side recycling options meeting goals of sustainability and innovation.
In addition to these, some of the other leading pharmaceutical plastic packaging manufacturers are:
- Alpha Packaging Holdings
- Amcor plc
- Berry Global Inc.
- Becton, Dickinson & Company
- Parekhplast India Ltd.
- West Pharmaceutical Services Inc.
- Wipak Group
- Mondi plc
- Sealed Air Corporation
- Constantia Flexibles Group GmbH
The list is only indicative – full list of pharmaceutical plastic packaging key players is available upon request.
Pharmaceutical Plastic Packaging Industry Report: Scope
Historical Data Available for
USD Million for value and Tonnes for Volume
Key Regions Covered
North America, Latin America, Europe, East Asia, South Asia, Oceania, Middle East & Africa
Key Countries Covered
US, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Germany, U.K., France, Italy, Spain, BENELUX, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, GCC Countries, Turkey, Northern Africa, South Africa
Key Segments Covered
Material, Packaging Type, Product Type, and Region
Key Companies Profiled
Gerresheimer AG, Schott AG, Alpha Packaging Holdings Inc., Klockner Pentaplast Group, Amcor plc, Berry Global Inc., Becton, Dickinson and Company, Parekhplast India Ltd., West Pharmaceutical Services Inc., Wipak Group, Mondi plc, Sealed Air Corporation, Constantia Flexibles Group GmbH
Market Forecast, brand share analysis, competition intelligence, DROT analysis, Market Dynamics and Challenges, Strategic Growth Initiatives
Customization & Pricing
Key Questions Answered by the Report
- What is the pharmaceutical plastic packaging market size?
The pharmaceutical plastic packaging market size is forecast to surpass US$ 83 billion by 2030. The market is expected to rise at 6.1% CAGR during 2020-2030.
- Which is the largest market for pharmaceutical plastic packaging?
North America currently leads the worldwide landscape. The large-scale presence and expansion of pharmaceutical product manufacturers, besides growing investment towards anti-counterfeiting technologies are aiding expansion in the region.
- Which are the top companies in pharmaceutical plastic packaging market?
Some of the top companies participating in the market are Gerresheimer AG, Constantia Flexibles Group, Schott AG, Sealed Air Corp., Alpha Packaging Holdings Inc., Mondi plc, Klockner Pentalplast Group, Wipak Group, Amcor plc, West Pharmaceutical Services Inc., and Berry Global Inc.
- What are the benefits of pharmaceutical plastic packaging?
The application of pharmaceutical plastic packaging is largely supported by low production costs, superior barrier characteristics, high resistance to leaks and breakages, and suitability for printing operations.
- In what materials are pharmaceutical plastic packaging available?
Pharmaceutical plastic packaging is usually available in a range of materials polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyamide (PA), cyclo-olefin polymer (COP), Cyclo-olefin copolymer (COC). Of these, the demand for polyethylene packaging will remain significantly higher than the others.
- How has the market for pharmaceutical plastic packaging evolved in the past 4 years?
Between 2015 and 2019, the North American market for pharmaceutical plastic packaging has held the lead and accounted for over 30% of global share. Rigid packaging variants such as bottles, and polyethylene materials have been highly preferred by manufacturers around the world.
- How is the market for pharmaceutical plastic packaging expected to shape up in the coming decade?
North America is has become a mature market, and is projected to account for substantial share in the overall market. However, the East Asia market is expected to display very strong growth, even potentially surpassing North America by the end of the forecast period. Flexible packaging options, and prefilled syringes and cartridges are expected to become increasingly popular during this period.
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- Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
- Polyamide (PA)
- Cyclo-Olefin Polymer (COP)
- Cyclo-olefin Copolymer (COC)
- Others (PHA, PLA)
By Packaging Type
- Flexible Packaging
- Rigid Packaging
- Ampoules & Vials
- Blister Packs
- Prefilled Syringes & Cartridges
- Bags & Pouches
- Others (Jars & Containers)
- North America (U.S., Canada)
- Latin America (Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Rest of LATAM)
- Europe (Germany, U.K., France, Italy, Spain, BENELUX, Russia, Rest of Europe)
- East Asia (China, Japan, South Korea)
- South Asia (India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Rest of South Asia)
- Oceania (Australia, New Zealand)
- Middle East & Africa (GCC Countries, Turkey, Northern Africa, South Africa, Rest of MEA)