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The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) outbreak has caused many people to reevaluate priorities in their lives. One main priority that has arisen is the public’s awareness of their health and importance of protecting themselves and their family. One study found that 62% of families are actively concerned about contracting coronavirus [1].

It has been shown that COVID-19 can survive on different materials for an extended amount of time, which provides a pathway for people to become infected. Due to this it is likely that packaging materials and design will continue to be in the public spotlight in the upcoming years. Already, 40% of global consumers have stated that they place more importance on packaging due to COVID-19 and seven out of ten consumers believe that packaging is integral in keeping them safe against the virus [5]. Aluminum and tinplate packaging are two of the best packaging materials during this time period and for the future.

In terms of health, aluminum has been found to be one of the materials that COVID-19 can survive on the shortest. On aluminum it only survives up to 8 hours, where other materials, like plastic, it can survive for up to 6 days [2]. This represents a large difference that will likely interest consumers.

While the health impacts of packaging material are in the spotlight it is important for consumers to understand the positive health impacts that aluminum and tinplate have beyond COVID-19. Aluminum and tinplate used in packaging are specifically designed to not release any significant amount of chemicals into products stored inside them. They are much more stable and resilient to breaking down than plastics [3]. Some plastics have been shown to release potentially harmful compounds, like BPA, at a rate of 0.2 to 32 nanograms per hour. While the health implications of BPA are not fully known, there is increasing evidence that it can affect health as an endocrine disruptor [4].

Along with the importance of health and safety, the very real situation of food security has become apparent. The global food supply has been disrupted and the United Nations World Food Program has stated that at least 265 million people around the world are at risk of going hungry in 2020. This is double the rate of 2019 [9].

Furthermore, in supermarkets around the world shelves were nearly empty during the beginning stages of the outbreak. For consumers this translates to purchasing more foods and goods that have a long shelf-life that they can store at home. Both aluminum and tinplate have very long life-spans and it is well established that they can keep products safe for extended periods. For storing water aluminum has been shown to have a shelf-life of at least 50 years and tinplate of 30 years, compared to plastics, which range from 5 to 20 years [6]

This increased awareness of packaging represents a great time for companies to improve their environmental public image by switching to plastic alternatives, like tinplate and aluminum. A study by Nielson, a global analytics company, found “66% of global respondents are willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.” Furthermore, researchers have used data from past years to predict there will be a compound annual growth rate of 6.2% in the sustainable packaging market between 2014 and 2021. It is clear that consumers would like to purchase goods from companies that are environmentally aware [7,8].

The interest in packaging created by COVID-19 has shown that consumer perspective is shifting towards wanting packaging that protects their health, reduces the risk of food shortages, and is provided by environmentally conscious companies.

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References

[1] "KFF Coronavirus Poll: March 2020 (2020)", by Liz Hamel , Lunna Lopes, Cailey Muñana, Jennifer Kates , Josh Michaud , and Mollyann Brodie

[2] "Faculty Opinions recommendation of Persistence of coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces and their inactivation with biocidal agents(2020)", by Matthias Maiwald

[3] "Food Packaging: Why is it Safe to Use Metal to Touch food (2020)", by Alex Cosper

[4] "Plastic Bottles Release Potentially Harmful Chemicals (Bisphenol A) After Contact With Hot Liquids (2008)", by University of Cincinnati

[5] "Has COVID-19 impacted the way consumers think about packaging? (2020)", by Sam Mehmet

[6] "Which container is best for storing water long term? (2020)", by Practical Hospital Services

[7] "Consumer Trends Towards Sustainable Packaging (2019)", by Eric Stefan Kandelin Koons

[8] "green generation millennials say sustainability is a shopping-priority (2015)", by Nielsen Global Survey

[9] "Coronavirus food shortages hunger (2020)", by Amy Gunia

Topics: COVID-19