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Looking Ahead to 2023

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How do you sum up a year like 2022? At Sonoco, we’re using the word “growth.”

Looking ahead to 2023, we’re excited by the potential opportunities we see in these four trends…

Trend #1: Packaging will probably only matter more.

Don’t misunderstand us. Packaging has always mattered, but it’s likely to matter even more. Why?

Sticking out matters more in an increasingly crowded market. Crowded shelves, competitive internet searches, countless sales calls—crowded markets will only continue grow, and sticking out will matter more.

People-friendly packaging matters in a market driven by reviews. When your customer struggles to open a package, it reflects poorly on your product and your brand. When a customer has a delightful experience with your product’s packaging, they carry those feelings to your product and brand.

Providing customers with the best experience spreads goodwill and creates brand advocates who share their experience with others both online and offline.

Demand for paper packaging will increase. According to the Paper & Packaging Board, consumer attitudes are changing about the materials used in packaging. 56% of consumers believe paper packaging is making a positive impact on the environment, while 58% believe plastic packaging is making a negative impact.

As a result, many brands are investing in increasingly sustainable packaging solutions—much of which include paper alternatives.

Trend #2: Safety will keep gaining employee loyalty.

Employee safety should precede planning and decision-making. Sadly, it’s often an afterthought. The last few years continue to emphasize what a valuable resource employee loyalty is.

Employee loyalty must be earned, and prioritizing safety and well-being is one of the best ways to do so. Here’s how…

Start with executive leadership. Until those at the top make safety a priority, it won’t be. Although prioritizing safety makes good sense financially, safety shouldn’t be a means to a financial end. Leaders who value their employees care for their well-being, and employees take note.

Make safety a part of the company culture. Company culture results from making intentional choices. If you want safety to be part of your company culture, weave it throughout your entire company. After all safety impacts an entire company, not only factories, plants or mills.

At Sonoco, we incorporate safety on a practical level. How do we do this? We encourage every employee to…

  • Keep their workspace clean and orderly.
  • Reduce exposure to unsafe scenarios.
  • Set safety expectations for everyone (including guests).
  • Encourage team members to value each other by speaking up.

Demonstrate respect for employees. Safety is physical but also emotional and mental. Treating employees (regardless of their level within the company) with dignity should be the norm.

Your workplace should be a place where employees are truly safe—in every sense of that term. Protecting their safety demonstrates you value each employee, and part of protecting them means listening to their concerns and suggestions.

Trend #3: All sustainability wins will matter.

Big or small—all sustainability wins are wins.

Sharing and celebrating big wins matters. At Sonoco, we’ve seen some big sustainability wins:

  • We’ve nearly met or exceeded all our current 2025 goals and are working toward our 2030 goals.
  • We’ve seen normalized greenhouse gas reductions (GHG) with an absolute drop in energy usage.

Noting and celebrating small wins matters. While celebrating the big wins, we’re mindful that the countless tiny wins matter too. In Elk Grove, IL, our facility installed LED lighting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). As a result, we will see an 8.6% reduction of scope 2 emissions at this plant.

Aligning and collaborating with the right-fit sustainability partner matters. Choosing the right partner in each area of your company is important. Aligning with the right packaging partner may be even more important when it comes to meeting your sustainability goals.

According to McKinsey & Company, meeting sustainable packaging goals are often challenging to reach, but with these four steps possible to reach:

  • Collaborating across different company functions.
  • Linking goals with meaningful incentives.
  • Clarifying what success looks like with metrics.
  • Updating training programs to equip teams for success.

The right packaging partner can make all the difference. They can help you find both big and small wins that inch you in steps and leaps toward your sustainability goals.

Trend #4: Investing in employee recruitment and development will pay off.

Developing team members with programs is an opportunity for companies to invest in their own growth.

At Sonoco, we believe people grow businesses. Each team member adds value to what we do, so we work to attract and develop our team.

Investing in recruitment highlights employee potential. Identifying candidates with potential takes work. Knowing where to start can be challenging. At Sonoco, we work at doing the basics well:

  • Slow down the hiring process to identify needs and develop a corresponding job description.
  • Give candidates opportunities to demonstrate their qualities.

Investing in employee development helps attract, engage and keep team members. Providing opportunities to expand existing skills or develop additional skills matters. At Sonoco, our apprenticeships are an important investment in attracting new employees as well as developing and keeping existing employees.

2022 was a year of growth. 2023 likely will be too.

With the right teammates and global network of partners, we’ll adapt, innovate and create the best business solutions in 2023 and beyond.