top of page

What is Smart Packaging?

The Next Chapter in the Story of Packaging

Smart Technology

We’re always looking to be on the cutting edge. This is true for companies across every industry. Amazon uses artificial intelligence to decrease delivery times. Your favorite baseball team looks for an advantage through advanced statistics. Even the packaging industry gets ahead of the competition with smart packaging.

But we’re not reinventing the wheel. The goal of smart packaging is to improve existing packaging through technology. We are making better products for consumers and manufacturers. For example, benefits of smart packaging include extending shelf-life and providing extra information.

We are on the cusp of a revolution from printed electronics to integration in the Internet of Things (IoT). Looking ahead, it is exciting to see the places smart packaging will take us.

Active Packaging

Active Packaging

One form of smart packaging is active packaging. This is when packaging interacts with contents to extend or improve quality during storage.

A common example of active packaging is oxygen absorbers. Certain types of beer bottle caps with oxygen absorbers are capable of extending shelf-life up to six months.

Antimicrobial packaging exploded in popularity following the Covid-19 pandemic. Viruses are not the only bacteria thwarted by antimicrobial packaging; it can also prevent or limit mold.

Intelligent Packaging

Intelligent packaging is when packaging provides an additional, external benefit. The simplest example of this is when you scan a barcode or QR code with your smartphone and are provided nutrition and allergy information. But, it can be much more than a simple QR code.

Intelligent Packaging

One of the most exciting new technologies is printed electronics. Electrical devices are printed on various, flexible substrates that can then be adhered to or made into packaging. The ability to create printed electronics with regular equipment such as screen or inkjet printers make this technology quick to scale. Scotch makers Johnnie Walker harnessed this technology in 2015 to create a bottle that could detect whether it was open or sealed. Parent company Diageo could then send personalized notifications to smartphone users about the state of their bottle.

Last month, International Paper unveiled their new Ohmega powered by TouchCode technology. This advancement in intelligent packaging uses electricity naturally stored in the human body to activate a unique code built into packaging. A major selling point of TouchCode over QR codes is TouchCodes are not replicable, meaning every package can be associated with a unique message.

What Does Smart Packaging Mean for Me?

A valid question remains: is smart packaging anything more than a gimmick? The answer, at the moment, is yes and no.

No: currently, smart packaging is more effective as flashy advertising than daily use. This is due to the cost of manufacturing and a lack of practical applications. Buzz Connect creating 80,000 beer cups that glow in unison during the Super Bowl is cool, but doesn’t do much else.

QR codes

Yes: the more we try to work with smart packaging, the more we learn. This includes finding cost-saving technologies and discovering new uses in daily life. The most useful smart packaging in 2021 is the inclusion of QR and RFID codes. Factories connected to the IoT can sort and distribute packages, pallets and more. Once goods have reached the consumer, they can look up nutritional information. Marketing teams take advantage of smart packaging to continue brand storytelling.

We live in a digital world and it is necessary that our packaging solutions adapt.


GCB Solutions has the packaging industry experience to help you through shifting trends. Whether you are beginning the design process or looking to make that final push to launch, we can help.

Call us at (904) 263-2804 or schedule a free consultation, today!


    bottom of page