How Artificial Intelligence Can (and Can’t) Help Shape the Future of the Packaging Industry - Printpack
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How Artificial Intelligence Can (and Can’t) Help Shape the Future of the Packaging Industry

No matter the industry, every brand is seeing the impact of artificial intelligence. There is an undeniable race to be among the first adopters of its capabilities. However, there are considerations that must be addressed before diving into the vast opportunities. Through development in AI, the packaging industry will undoubtedly experience improvements in efficiency, sustainability, and methodology. These are some of the top uses (and limitations) of AI for packaging.

Supply Chain Optimization

Across industries, the impact of AI on supply chain optimization has been significant and continues to evolve. AI programs have been useful in data management by noting inconsistencies, identifying patterns, and spotting potential patterns within vast data pools. In turn, costs are reduced and there is increased agility by surpassing human capabilities. The processes for demand forecasting, predicting shortages, and route and warehouse optimization have been transformed completely.

Quality Control

Traditional quality management is seeing a complete revamp through AI – reducing human error and increasing efficiency. AI quality control systems also have the ability to offer valuable insights into the underlying causes of defects, empowering businesses to implement necessary measures to prevent their recurrence in the future. Amazon rolled out AI systems across dozens of fulfillment centers to identify and discard damaged goods. It is estimated to be three times as effective as humans. With the deployment of AI, Amazon has boosted operational efficiency and improved the customer experience by reducing the chance of receiving damaged products or packaging.

Intelligent Packaging

By providing real-time information on a product’s freshness, temperature, or location, AI enables companies to optimize their supply chain and reduce waste. Smart/intelligent packaging also allows for better inventory management, as products can be tracked and restocked automatically. In the future, it has been predicted that AI will enable personalized packaging, where products can be customized based on individual preferences and needs.

Sustainability Improvements

AI has the power to boost sustainability by generating more eco-friendly algorithms, used to monitor and oversee packaging throughout the recycling chain, ensuring circularity and gathering insights for future sustainability decisions. These systems can also help brands by analyzing current packaging and identifying areas where packaging can be improved to increase recyclability with knowledge of the most sustainable materials, alternatives for packaging and even new mediums are offered as options.

Unilever is using AI to develop sustainable packaging solutions with a new type of recycled plastic designed to reduce waste and emissions, along with AI-driven management system to automatically sort and store consumer waste to fast track the recycling process and reduce degradation.

——– What Can’t AI Do? ——–

Trend Forecasting

While demand forecasting and data analysis are capabilities of AI models, trend forecasting and consumer reporting for the future are not. When our team asked ChatGPT to make predictions for packaging design trends for 2024, especially relating to future advancements associated with AI, the response consisted of phrases like “please note that these are speculative and do not necessarily reflect actual future developments” and “it’s important to remember that the future is uncertain, and these predictions should be taken with a grain of salt.” While the language model was able to supply some “possibilities,” it takes an expert with critical analysis and knowledge of the industry to truly predict confidently.

Segmented & Personalized Marketing

Without the career-long knowledge of team members about audiences across the world, AI language models would be unable to deliver personalized marketing campaigns and goals through packaging design. While AI can certainly leverage consumer data to develop campaign content, the tried-and-true methods behind connecting with customer bases and enhancing engagement/brand loyalty will always lie in the deep-rooted knowledge and history that a brand team has.

EDI Planning and Processing

AI does not include the vendor management communication processes and electronic data exchange (EDI) that make a packaging partner feel accessible. The electronic order processes that directly impact supply chain efficiency require a dedicated team to handle vendor tracking and transportation performance, giving customers peace of mind. If AI were the sole owner of these processes, there would be no way to contact suppliers about quantities and substitutions, out of stock risks, raw material lead times, or last minute changes.

Provide Ethical & Accurate Insights

An often downplayed issue with AI models is the possible lack of ethical considerations. Along with automated responses from AI systems comes a disclaimer that “it’s worth noting that successful implementation requires careful consideration of ethics, data privacy, and responsible decision-making throughout the packaging industry.” AI algorithms may be biased towards certain groups or trends leading to unfair outcomes and inaccurate predictions. It’s crucial to carefully (and humanly) evaluate and test AI models before implementing them to ensure that they are both ethical and accurate to your company and the environment.

Unique, Original Design and Customization

While AI can assist in creating innovative package designs by analyzing consumer preference, product data, and to meet specific requirements, the ability to create a never-before-used idea or develop original looks for packaging lies in the hands of talented designers and product development team members.


Upcoming Artificial Intelligence technologies pose many benefits to the packaging industry, including:

  • Operations Optimizations
  • Defect Detection
  • Decreasing Costs
  • Waste Reduction
  • Environmental Impact Improvement

From our perspective as a trusted packaging provider, we see the higher level of accuracy in detecting flaws in packaging products and optimized supply chain operations as the most advantageous uses of AI.  By leveraging the many powerful uses of AI, organizations can gain a competitive edge in today’s dynamic environment. However, amidst the excitement of innovation, it remains important for users to consider the limitations and potential risks of implementing new AI methods in order to prevent bias and maintain equitable processes and procedures.


About Printpack

Printpack is a leading manufacturer of flexible and specialty rigid packaging with over 60 years of experience helping brands improve retail visibility, heighten brand awareness, and capture market share.  Printpack combines unique insights into consumer preference with advanced technological capabilities in order to convert packaging concepts into reality. Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, Printpack is a privately held company that believes cooperation and integrity result in sustainable innovation.

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