According to a new report by AMI Consulting, the European collation shrink film market will boost in correlation with the use of PCR resins – yet it is expected to face obstacles in its growth, from increasing consumer demand for plastic alternatives to international legislation.

The report examines the supply and demand picture by country, gathering insight into end-use application trends, resin developments, and their influence on growth dynamics. This data culminates in a five-year forecast predicting the future of this type of packaging within the industry.

Collation shrink film is said to have become more popular in recent years, as it enables brands to utilise full face printing on the packaging itself while increasing customer convenience when they buy multiple products at once.

Supposedly, this growth has been largely influenced by the industrial shift away from monoextrusion and towards three-layer coextrusion, and then onwards to five-layer coextrusion. As such, enhanced metallocene resins have been tailor-made alongside other, more established raw materials, with the intent of maximising gauge reduction.

In many applications, the downgauging of virgin resin film is said to have reached its limits. The report predicts that future developments within the industry will narrow manufacturers’ attention to thinner films ‘whilst maintaining 30-50% post-consumer recycled (PCR) resin content’. It also maintains that, because collation shrink films are non-food contact, they are a suitable candidate for the incorporation of PCR.

Beverage packaging, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, is thought to be the most popular application for collation shrink film – yet its suppliers are facing the challenge of consumers’ resistance to plastic packaging, with many brands switching to cartonboard alternatives for their point-of-sale packs. Some are removing shrink film entirely, instead opting for multi-buy discounts at till point.

AMI identifies new sustainability regulations as a challenge to the European market, alongside the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, polymer shortages, logistics challenges, and changes to retail channels. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine complicating the supply chain further and inflating prices, customers are expected to be cautious in their spending – although collation shrink may still be profitable when applied to cheaper, staple products, e.g., canned foods.

Recyclate ‘should continue to take share from virgin LDPE,’ AMI says, ‘although at a lower pace than the industry may anticipate’. It is thought that, while brand owners will turn to recyclate to fulfil both company and national sustainability goals, the limited availability of high-grade PCR resin will create difficulties.

Valoregen and Dow recently partnered to build a hybrid site for mechanical and advanced recycling, with the latter expected to become the main recipient of its PCR resins.

Another report by AMI in 2018 claimed that the BOPP film industry was stalling financially, yet continued to expand.