Ten Tips for Sustainable Packaging Design

In the past 10 years, sustainability or green packaging has become a hot topic in the packaging industry. Under the impetus of retailer's requirements, public awareness, economic pressure (especially petroleum products) and government policies, sustainability has penetrated into all aspects of packaging - from the source of raw materials to the final treatment of products - and ultimately It evolved into a very complicated problem.


Since the concept of sustainable packaging has been deeply rooted, you can use the following methods to improve the environmental impact of packaging.


1. Design packaging from the perspective of life cycle

There are many life cycle assessment tools available to help packaging designers understand the impact of different packaging on the environment. For example, the U.S. Sustainable Packaging Alliance's online design software can help users make more informed material choices and more accurate design decisions through an intuitive environmental indicator; and EarthShift's smart packaging life cycle assessment software ( PackageSmartLCA) also allows packaging designers to assess the environmental impact of their work.


However, one thing to note is that sustainability indicators and standards are constantly evolving and changing. Therefore, as long as a solution is selected, it must be used consistently. Different tools can be used to measure the same kind of packaging and different results may be obtained. Therefore, the key is to maintain consistency and find the right direction for development.


2. Minimize the use of packaging materials

Assessing each component in the package, can we minimize the use of packaging materials without compromising product integrity? Take the example of LIVOrganic, a famous manufacturer of all-natural sports drinks. The company used a traditional PET (polyethylene terephthalate, a kind of resin) beverage bottle. Now they use it. Amcor's technology reduced the weight of a 16.9 ounce bottle from 36.8 grams to 31.4 grams, and the weight loss ratio reached 14.6%.


At present, suppliers are constantly developing new containers, lids, labels and other products in order to reduce the volume of the package and reduce the price tag area.


3, choose a new alternative packaging for product delivery

New machinery and new materials enable packers to produce multipacks, trays, or shelves with less material to minimize waste.


For drinking water distributor companies, it is a certain risk to change the packaging of bottled water from a corrugated carton to a shrink film. Fortunately, Polypack's nested packaging helps them achieve a staggered arrangement of water bottles and pass them through. The shrink film ensures the stability of the bottle during transport, thereby reducing the need for corrugated trays or mats and achieving cost savings. According to the company's owner, the customer likes the new packaging because it uses less material, is easier to handle, and has a strong appeal.


4, find the opportunity for packaging reuse

In Costa Rica, Pizza Hut’s customers were recommended to use a brand-new pizza box that could be split into cardboard and small boxes containing packaged food. In 2010, KFC also introduced reusable lunch boxes and won the Green Packaging Award of the year. The lunch box is a transparent bowl with a lid labeled "reusable" and can be used in microwave ovens and dishwashers. What's more, it uses a non-porous patented technology that allows moisture to see through without opening the hole to achieve freshness. In addition, this lunch box is made of 100% polypropylene, which is the first choice for food storage in the food and beverage industry.


But reusable practicability is not merely a requirement for food packaging. Puma also attaches great importance to it. The company and Yves Behar, a San Francisco-based industrial designer, have jointly launched a "smart little pocket". Eco-friendly packaging aims to reduce waste caused by traditional shoe boxes. This package consists of a piece of cardboard and a cloth bag. The top and bottom of the traditional shoe box are removed. Only four sides are used as the supporting frame. Then a bag is used and the bag's picker is put through the hole on the side. This will not only save board material, but also eliminate the need to provide the customer with a shoe box. In addition, the paper it uses is 100% recycled paper, and the fabric is recycled polyester nonwoven. It is alleged that only this packaging will allow Puma to save 65% of paper and a large amount of electricity and water resources.


5, improve your product

The most successful transformation in sustainable packaging is household cleaning products. Starting from detergents and other cleaning agents and chemicals, household cleaning companies have adopted a concentrated formula to reduce the consumption of water in the product life cycle. In addition, they also reduce the environmental impact of packaging products through small packaging and supplemental packaging.


6, try to use recyclable packaging design

In the production of packaging materials, the most effective way to save energy is recycling. Although many materials, such as paper and PET, have achieved large-scale recycling, coatings, labels, and other elements that enhance packaging capabilities are hard to find a suitable recycling route. Fortunately, we already have new options.


SmartPlanet Technologies has introduced a very promising technology, the EarthBoard. It uses a coating made of powdered minerals that is very easy to recycle and is an ideal replacement for polyethylene coated paperboard. In addition, this coating can also be used on recycled paperboards without affecting the brightness of the paper.


7. Adopt a packaging strategy that encourages consumption

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the United States produces about 34 million tons of food waste each year, so food packaging that can promote consumption is often more likely to make a breakthrough in sustainability. The technologies that can currently be used to reduce food waste are mainly recloseable packaging, packaging that can clearly indicate the date of use, and other technologies that help separate the product from its packaging. For example, Helmann is a convenient package designed for mayonnaise, which adds a coating of non-stick material inside the container, allowing consumers to easily remove the last bit of mayonnaise that remains in the bottle.


In addition, although large packaging looks more sustainable than individual packaging, the environmental advantages of small packaging are greater in terms of actual consumption of the product.


8, understand the source of packaging materials

More and more retailers and consumers are now paying more attention to sustainable packaging, so be sure to use environmentally responsible packaging materials. For example, the toy manufacturer Mattel had been severely criticized by Greenpeace because the company used cardboard packaging containing a lot of wood fiber from the Indonesian rainforest. To this end, Mattel has introduced new sustainable procurement principles to regulate the company's procurement of paper and wood fibers. Hasbro also quickly followed this approach.


9, find space-saving opportunities from the distribution process

At the second Packaging Summit Forum at Michigan State University, Kevin Howard, an industry expert, once again emphasized the importance of packaging design to saving logistics and distribution costs. He said: "You have to know what changes have taken place in your surroundings. Some of them cannot be packaged by the International Transportation Security Organization (ISTM) standard but are unblocked in practice."

10. Consider raw materials made from renewable materials

Packaging based on renewable raw materials - from bioplastics made from corn or sugarcane to protective packaging made of mushrooms has now become one of the fastest growing areas. However, compared with traditional materials, these new technologies still face certain problems in actual production.


When selecting renewable materials for packaging, it is advisable to use life cycle assessment methods; to understand the performance of these materials during the regeneration process; to identify their source and ensure that their performance meets your packaging requirements.

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