Sustainable packaging and packaging waste reduction – means to promote cleaner environment:
Packaging is used in business to contain and promote finished products for consumer sales and also to transport them to the point of sale safely. The function of packaging includes protecting products in shipping, offering consumers information, providing a branding billboard and giving us a way to carry things home. The most commonly used packaging materials are paper, fiberboard, plastic, glass, steel and aluminum.
A. A high proportion of waste is actually packaging.
Innovative packaging design can mean that the amount of materials used is reduced and that all packaging can be reused or at least recycled. In other words, it is nothing but creating more ‘sustainable packaging’. Using the minimum and most efficient packaging will increase your competitiveness and save you money, as well as attracting environmentally-aware consumers.
Fortunately, everyone from the retail behemoth Wal-Mart to start-up companies and boutique design shops are beginning to look for ways to reduce the volume of stuff we throw away. However, even the most green-sympathetic designer will quickly find there are no easy answers or quick fixes when it comes to sustainable packaging. Even defining the term poses difficulties.
B. ‘What’s a sustainable package?’ Now, the question becomes not how to do away with packaging, but how to use less of the less-harmful materials. To become more sustainable, designers must consider and improve each step along the entire product journey. Packaging, like any other design problem, will need to be rethought with a sustainable systems approach. Designers should expand and evolve creative processes to include strategies like
(a) optimizing material and energy resources;
(b) sourcing materials that are produced responsibly with environmental best practices, fair labor and trade;
(c) choosing materials that are nontoxic, bio-based and made from renewable resources; and
(d) designing for resources recovery or reintegration back into nature after end use.
C. Sustainability criteria for packaging:
1. Is beneficial, safe and healthy for individuals and communities throughout its lifecycle;
2. Meets market criteria for performance and cost;
3. Is sourced, manufactured, transported and recycled using renewable energy;
4. Maximizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials;
5. Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices?
6. Is made from materials healthy in all probable end-of-life scenarios;
7. Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy;
8. Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial cradle-to-cradle cycles.
D. The 5 Rs of creation of sustainable package - Designers dedicated to fostering environmental sustainability—offers some practical advice:
Restore by using materials and supporting firms that reduce or improve our natural capital;
Respect what we have by examining all the impacts that packaging may have;
Reduce the amount of materials, layers of packaging, weight of package, fuel used in transport, etc.;
Reuse something that’s already been made, and make your package easy and desirable to reuse; and
Recover the materials used through recycling, composting or reusing.
One of the most important and simple ways a designer can move beyond conventional packaging solutions is to consider alternative materials. PLA (polyactic acid) is fast becoming the favored alternative to plastic. PLA is made from renewable resources such as corn, and uses fewer fossil fuels and generates fewer greenhouse gases in its production than traditional plastics and some other polymers. PLA can be composted as well. Fortunately, other materials are also coming to commercial viability.
E. The increase in online shopping has meant a rise in goods being delivered direct to customers' homes. This means that more packaging is needed to supply the goods. You can encourage customers to return your packaging to you for reuse by supplying them with a "freepost" return label.
Other ways of improving packaging use are:
(i) Using recycled materials where possible;
(ii) Designing the packaging using the least amount of materials necessary;
(iii) Reusing your own packaging to create new packaging or in other areas of your business.Fortunately, in developed world a new movement is working to make manufacturers more accountable by pushing them to stop producing anything that can't be resold, recycled or reused. Designers have started increasingly recognizing that doing good for the planet is doing good for themselves.