Smart packaging is one of those innovations that connect the physical world with the digital world. It acts as the bridge between manufacturers, retailers, consumers and social media channels. What in the past merely protected and marked goods is increasingly being given new functions thanks to digital technologies. Packaging is becoming clever and infinitely more practical for consumers, retailers and suppliers.
What is Smart Packaging?
The word smart packaging is about the packaging systems using embedded sensor technology used in food, pharmaceuticals and numerous other products. You can monitor freshness, extend shelf life, view quality information, and improve customer and product safety. Furthermore, smart packaging offers new business chances based on digitalization.
Smart packaging vs active packaging
Smart packaging uses chemical, electrical, electronic or mechanical technologies or a combination of these technologies. In particular, smart packaging involves the use of technologies that make the packaging an irreplaceable part of the overall product.
Active packaging deals with the addition of additives to packaging systems with the aim of extending or maintaining the shelf life and quality of animal or fresh plant products. For example, manufacturers use light filters, ethylene absorbers, moisture control, antimicrobial coating, and more depending on the product being shipped.
‘Smart’ means that the packaging can communicate and monitor. ‘Active’ packs control the contents of a pack. However, flexible packaging can also be smart and active at the same time.
It is packaging that works together with the content, improving the quality or shelf life of the content during the storage stage. Either certain substances are released into the certain substances are removed from the medium or its immediate surroundings.
With active packaging, products have a longer shelf life and better quality during storage. The active packaging releases or removes substances in order to protect the product itself. To achieve this, light-filtering materials, ethylene and oxygen absorbers, moisture-regulating materials or antimicrobial surface coatings are used. The active ingredient can be included in the packaging or inserted separately.
The smart packaging market is growing
Although the technology for smart packaging is already available in many areas, the mass application has so far failed because of the high production costs.
Smart packaging expands the benefits of product packaging for consumers and companies. The challenge for the customer is to get used to the additional benefits and change old habits. It is conceivable that in the future this technology will even be demanded by consumers. This means that companies have to deal with identifying working technologies and be the first to offer them in the niche.