As environmental concerns grow, people care more about the impact of producing, packaging and distributing products. Today’s consumers demand transparency, and their choices are definitely reshaping the packaging industry.
Sustainable packaging isn’t just for big brands anymore. The once-niche trend of “going green” has now hit the mainstream, and companies can’t afford to ignore the new standards anymore. And it is the responsibility of branding and design agencies to present different sustainable options.
Here are 5 trends that brands are embracing towards a more sustainable packaging and production approach.
TREND 1: Less is More
The single most effective way to eliminate waste is by not creating it in the first place. This means being creative about ways to use less material, while still fulfilling the fundamental purposes of packaging: to protect the product and to convey information about it.
One great example of this approach is the box for the footwear company Allbirds shoes. The box not only functions as a traditional shoe box to transport the shoes from store to home, but also works as a shipper box for online orders, therefore avoiding receiving overkill packaging.
Several grocery stores are taking this concept to the extreme, such as the Berlin-based grocery store Unpacked, that aims to havezero packaging in the store. All items are presented loose or in bulk. And customers are expected to bring their own vessels or rent ones from the grocery store to transport the items home. (Read our blog post about it here)
TREND 2: Designing the Best Garbage
Once you’ve minimized the amount of packaging, the next step is to select materials that won’t end up in a landfill for hundreds of years. Recyclable is great; biodegradable is even better.
Pangea Organics takes it to the next level by embedding seeds into their pulp clamshells, allowing consumers to compost and be rewarded with a little patch of basil.
Saltwater Brewery knew that plastic six-pack rings often end up as ocean pollution and can harm sea creatures. So the company developed a biodegradable (and edible!) six pack holder made from the leftover barley and hops in the beer-making process. It breaks down and can actually provide a snack for our undersea fish and turtle friends.
TREND 3: One man’s trash is another man’s Luxe Rum Bottle
Upcycling is all about finding ways to make something useful out of a material that would otherwise be waste. One recent example is this rum bottle by Fitzroy, with a cap made of melted down Coca-Cola labels (aptly named ‘From Waste to Wasted’). Truly impressive that they were able to turn those old labels into such an artful looking cap.
Method, eco-friendly cleaning products company, launched a collection of soaps packaged in bottles made from collected ocean pollution.
TREND 4: Innovative Material Choices
When we consider the packaging of a product, it is extremely important to look at the entire supply chain, starting with where and how raw materials are sourced and the ways in which they are processed. In order to meet these standards, companies are looking to new types of materials and processes that haven’t been used before in packaging.
Biossance is a biotech-backed skincare company that used sugarcane to recreate the body’s natural moisture molecule. Sugarcane is particularly sustainable because it doesn’t require irrigation or harvesting. Inspired by its eco-friendly nature, they used sugarcane paper stock for the brand’s outer boxes. The tree-free stock is printed with vegetable inks. It can be safely composted and it looks very nice!
Another fascinating example is the recent trend towardsmushroom fiber. It’s compostable, durable and sustainable to produce. We’ve been seeing it pop up in packaging, shipping material and evenfurniture. Read our blog post about this innovative alternative to materials here.
TREND 5: Reuse, Refill or Share?
Packaging a product in a reusable vessel is good, but it also puts the burden on the consumer to find a way to reuse it, and not everyone wants another cosmetics bag or shopping tote. These refillable makeup compacts from Kjaer Weis are a very good idea: while no one uses an entire eye shadow, new season means swap for a new color!
A great example of reusable packaging is Rent the Runway’s garment bag shippers. They use the fabric bags over and over again, and only the label has to be reprinted. They are also cutting down on waste in the fashion industry by giving consumers the opportunity to borrow instead of buy. Isn’t it a great initiative?
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