Rigid Plastic Packaging in Western Europe

April 2024

Rigid plastic is one of the most important packaging types across Western Europe, heavily used in many industries. It continues to be valued for the protection it offers products with its strength and rigidity as well as its resistance to chemicals. Further growth seems assured, particularly as legislation, industry players and packaging companies continue to drive the development and use of recycled and recyclable rigid plastic packaging types.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key Findings

Slight dip in demand in 2022, but sales still well above pre-pandemic levels

Although the unit volumes of rigid plastic used in Western Europe showed a small decline in 2022, retail sales over the 2017-2022 period as a whole recorded positive growth, helped by a spike in demand in 2020 when lockdowns and foodservice closures pushed more consumption into consumers’ homes.

PET bottles and thin wall plastic containers dominate rigid plastic

PET bottles and thin wall containers continue to be the leading pack types in rigid plastic packaging. Both pack types were recording growth over 2017-2022 and, by the end of this period, were accounting for almost identical near 40% shares of overall rigid plastic packaging unit volumes, with rigid plastic, in turn, making up almost a third of overall packaging sales.

Trend towards smaller pack sizes for on-the-go and impulse purchases resumes post-pandemic

The post-pandemic period has generally been seeing a return to smaller pack sizes as consumers resume their busy lifestyles, boosting demand for on-the-go packaging solutions. During the pandemic, with consumers spending more time at home, larger pack sizes benefited with more cooking and snacking in the domestic environment as well as shoppers trying to avoid too many visits to physical grocery stores,

Continued “greening” of rigid plastic packaging a must

Consumer demand and the regulatory environment are expected to continue driving the trend towards more sustainable rigid plastic packaging. The usage of rPET continues to grow, even if shortfalls in the available capacity of recycled resins has been slowing this growth to some extent, while collection and recycling systems are being put in place in increasing numbers of countries, with Germany something of a blueprint for others to follow in this regard.


Key findings
Slight decline in 2022 but positive growth in 2017-2022 as a whole for Western Europe
PET bottles add almost seven billion units in new sales over 2017-2022
Positive growth throughout 2017-2027 apart from inflation-impacted 2022
HDPE bottles losing share to transparent and lighter PET bottles
Thin wall plastic containers losing share in France
Turkey adds the most new sales over 2017-2022
PET bottles makes the most gains in rigid plastic over the review period
Bottled water and carbonates the main drivers of PET bottles growth
Thin wall plastic containers see increasing usage in plant-based yoghurt
HDPE bottles losing share in main category dairy
Main category sweet biscuits continues adding sales over 2017-2022
Plastic screw closures will need to be tethered to the main container from mid-2024
Plastic screw closures the dominant closure type in rigid plastic packaging
Food dominates the smallest sizes, and beverages the bigger sizes
The 301-500ml size band is popular in beverages for its on-the-go portability
Extension of Deposit Return Schemes expected across Western Europe
Turkey expected to record the strongest growth over 2022-2027
Schwarzkopf using “Social Plastic” in its hair care packaging
Germany will remain the biggest market
Coca-Cola Germany switches to fully recyclable rPET for its soft drinks packaging
Declines expected in rigid plastic food packaging in France and Germany
Turkey to see the fastest growth over 2022-2027
Turkey will see the fastest growth, but the UK will remain the biggest market
Italy to see declining packaging unit volumes of rigid plastic in the home care industry
Austria: Market Context
Belgium: Market Context
Denmark: Market Context
Finland: Market Context
France: Market Context
France: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Germany: Market Context
Germany: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Greece: Market Context
Ireland: Market Context
Italy: Market Context
Italy: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Netherlands: Market Context
Netherlands: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Norway: Market Context
Portugal: Market Context
Spain: Market Context
Spain: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Sweden: Market Context
Sweden: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Switzerland: Market Context
Switzerland: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Turkey: Market Context
Turkey: Competitive and Retail Landscape
UK: Market Context
UK: Competitive and Retail Landscape


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