Tube Prospects

The tube has mastered the crisis well and is still very much in vogue

The past years with worldwide economic upheavals caused by the pandemic and the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine have brought with them an extremely difficult economic environment. In these challenging times, the tube as a packaging material has been extremely resilient and proved to be an anchor of stability in the fast-moving consumer goods market. In these uncer-tain times of crisis, customers and consumers alike have relied on the proven qualities of the tube. The tube convincingly scores thanks to its special features and beneficial properties. Be-sides its outstanding sustainability and convenience performance with a whole host of user-friendly aspects, their core competencies came to the fore: their excellent standards of hygiene and outstanding barrier properties for perfect product protection providing a high level of safety.

The tube’s unique principle is superior to most other forms of packaging

Hygiene is of paramount importance in the fields of pharmaceutical, food and cosmetic products and for all other sensitive products. The tube’s unique principle is clearly superior to most other forms of packaging where purity and hygiene are concerned: contaminants, germs or bacteria do not enter the tube when it is opened and used. Easy and trouble-free resealability plays its part, too: tube contents like ointments, food or cosmetic creams do not become contaminated and can therefore be used safely and for a long time.

The product is well protected and will reliably maintain its quality

Concerning product protection there is hardly any other form of packaging that offers such tailor-made and excellent barrier properties as the tube. It is impermeable to light and air, water and humidity, germs and bacteria as well as other contaminants. In addition, it is corrosion re-sistant and unbreakable, so that its contents are perfectly protected. At the same time, sensitive and volatile constituents cannot escape. The unique properties of aluminium or other suitable barrier materials in laminate or plastic tubes see to that. Tubes offer a high degree of safety and reliability, not only in use but also during storage and transport. Everyone involved in the supply chain benefits. Producers and the retail trade know that the product is well protected and will reli-ably maintain its quality and effectiveness for a long time.

Ideally suited for travel and life on the move

The post-pandemic return to a mobile society also plays into the tube's favour because hardly any other form of packaging is ideally suited for travel and life on the move as the tube. First of all, its light weight has a positive impact. Hand luggage remains easy to manage and rucksacks are easy to carry. Besides saving weight, tube sizes made especially for travel also save valua-ble space. Moreover, tubes are unbreakable and therefore do not harbour any risk of injury due to glass or similar materials. And anyone who has ever suffered from liquids or semi-solid con-tents escaping from a broken, leaking or damaged bottle, jar or similar container and spreading throughout a bag or case will appreciate forever that the tube is unbreakable. The fact that the tube is easily and reliably resealable is another argument in its favour here. There are special closures that enable it to be used with one hand; an additional practical benefit when one is on the move. Thus, the tube is simply the ideal packaging material for our mobile society.

Fit for online trade

Online trade is also growing, a trend that is sure to continue and from which tubes should also benefit. For example, pharmaceutical products that are often sold via so-called internet pharmacies play an important role here, as do cosmetic and care products of special brands that are otherwise not readily available via the shop round the corner. The tube is the ideal form of packaging for this rapidly growing sales channel particularly where shipping is concerned. Its low weight saves companies transport and delivery costs. In addition, it is unbreakable and the risk of possible transport damage is considerably less than it is with other forms of packaging. Moreover, the tube’s outstanding barrier properties ensure that the product reaches the consumer intact. For manufacturers this means less complaints and a reduction in the number of items returned, and therefore a lowering of their costs and the overall environmental impact. Last but not least, there is no loss of image for the company or the brand as a result of complaints. And as there are also black sheep trading online, the tube industry is able to offer protection against counterfeiting via hologram technologies, tamper-proof seals in the form of membranes and closures and various track & trace processes as an additional security benefit.

Simple to handle for older people

An increasingly ageing population is another phenomenon in Europe. Higher living standards, better medical care and medical advances are leading to a higher life expectancy and a growing number of senior citizens. For this age group in particular, the tube is especially well suited to their needs thanks to their convenience and user-friendliness. The tube is simple to handle for older people because it can be easily opened and closed. Specially developed closures that are tailor-made for senior citizens make things even easier and more convenient. For example, ointments and creams can be applied in the right quantity and precisely where they are required. Intelligent application solutions offer additional support in this context and help make handling the tube more reliable and less troublesome in old age.

One-person households and individualisation

Moreover, one-person households and individualisation are also continually increasing. This means smaller quantities and tailor-made packaging formats and products are required for consumption. The need for smaller portions also brings the tube into play because it can be produced in all kinds of different sizes depending on consumers’ habits. Regardless of whether it contains pharmaceutical, food, or personal care products, the tube’s good resealability and barrier properties ensure products last longer and stay fresh in a one-person household. As a packaging medium, the tube can also meet enhanced desires and needs with respect to individualisation today thanks to rapid technical progress. Small and very small runs can be produced at a reasonable cost. Digital printing allows flexible decoration of small lots. It is now even possible to carry out tailor-made, personalised printing so that product developers’ and marketing specialists’ phantasies know almost no bounds.

Sustainability at its best

Last but not least, sustainability is high on the agenda of packaging producers, customers and politicians alike. Therefore, tube producers are constantly working on an optimized packaging recyclability, the minimization of material input and the use of post-consumer recycled (PCR) instead of virgin materials in order to achieve a better resource efficiency of the final product. With regard to recyclability, there is a clear trend towards mono-material specifications which optimally fit in the existing aluminium and PE or PP packaging waste streams of European Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) systems. Concerning the use of PCR materials in the final packaging, the availability of high-quality recycling materials is a big challenge in the market. Here, demand is by far higher than supply. As regards resource efficiency in the final product, also an optimal product protection, which is convincingly provided by tubes, is of paramount importance because the carbon footprint of the filling good is often much higher than that of the packaging. Thus, any product waste must be avoided by all means for an utmost environmental performance of the complete system.