The future of packaging design

Sustainable packaging concerns are one of the biggest challenges businesses face when packaging their products. There has been a huge increase in awareness on sustainability, and in turn consumers are putting the pressure on brands to use renewable alternatives. This helps not only the manufacturer, but the consumer to reduce their overall environmental impact, so it is easy to see how the use of packaging can impact the consumer’s decision on whether or not to buy a product.

To improve the sustainability of packaging there are several possible strategies, including using less packaging per product, using smaller shipping boxes, using materials that are easy to recycle for the end-user, or using completely different materials. It’s becoming a huge consideration of the briefs we receive, when working on packaging design.

We are seeing some great examples at the moment, with several big brands making progress in improving the sustainability of how their products are packaged. One in particular is Heinz, who in 2018 vowed to make 100% of their packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

A target of theirs for this year is to remove all plastic from their multipacks, using the new Heinz eco-friendly paperboard sleeves. These are made from responsibly sourced material as well as being fully recyclable and use 50% less material than a full wraparound box would. They are also making improvements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the manufacturing and transport of this new packaging is carbon neutral. This means the CO2 footprint of their four packs will reduce by almost 20% compared to the shrink-wrapped design.

Nestle have the same goal, to make 100% of their packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

This week, Smarties have launched their updated sharing chocolate bar packaging, recently announced by Nestle to only use recyclable paper moving forward. This makes Smarties the first global confectionary brand to make the switch and will remove about 250 million plastic packs per year. The Smarties packaging is sustainably sourced, and the brand have included information on how to correctly dispose of it on the label to raise awareness.

It’s encouraging to see large consumer brands making the necessary changes to minimise their environmental impact. We actually love the look of paper packaging, especially when compared to the single-use plastic packaging we are so used to seeing in the supermarket. Our hope for the future is that all brands will take similar steps and in turn, we’ll see many more products packaged in sustainable ways.

To see our thoughts on the end of single use plastics, you can read our previous blog post

Could you reduce the amount of packaging you use? 

Large brands making the necessary steps to come up with more environmentally friendly solutions is food for thought for all of us. It’s important for us as designers to consider the format we’re designing in, and how it can be produced in a more sustainable way.

As well as reducing plastics or the amount of packaging used per product, there are other ways to move towards eco-friendly packaging. Making the packaging easy for the end-user to dispose of is just as important! A simple cardboard box will be easy to recycle, but if that box has a plastic window, it’s another thing to remove and separate. A balance between sustainability and convenience has to be struck for it to work effectively.

If you have a packaging design project you need help with, or would like some guidance on a more eco friendly solution for your product, get in touch for more information.