One recent study has found that 37% of US consumers now prioritise sustainability when making purchase decisions with 30% of consumers willing to pay more for products that deliver on their sustainability claims. Added to this, 51% of supply chain experts expect the circular economy to continue to steadily grow in the coming years. 

Sustainability at the heart of strategy and design is now a must – not a nice-to-have – for brands and businesses wanting to maintain engagement with consumers and drive effective and long-term brand development and growth.

Why sustainability is changing the packaging production process

Up until recently, technology and directives did not support the establishment of an industry standard in sustainable packaging. But now, large-scale industry initiatives like the UK Plastics Pact, the evolution of digital technologies and forward-thinking business owners and consumers are driving incredible innovation and improvements in the sustainable nature of packaging materials and accelerating the redesign of the entire packaging production process for the better.

What constitutes the best in sustainable packaging

Many brands have already made noticeable commitments to, for example, ensuring sustainability of packaging materials or rethinking methodologies. However, the SPA states that for any packaging to be deemed sustainable, it has to meet four key criteria:

·   Efficacy
Packaging should provide value by protecting its contents throughout its journey along the supply chain, while supporting responsible and informed consumption.

·   Efficiency
The line and machinery used to create sustainable packaging should be optimised to use materials as efficiently as possible across the life cycle of each product.

·   Cycle-orientation
The materials used for packaging should be cycled continuously through natural or technological systems to reduce degradation and the use of potentially environmentally harmful additives.

·   Safety
Every part of sustainable packaging should be designed in a way that poses no risks to the health of humans and ecosystems.

Sustainable packaging should come from renewable and recyclable sources and should contain no carcinogens or hazardous materials. It should be designed to minimise waste during manufacturing and consumer use and should align with the product’s life cycle and green initiatives from the manufacturing plant to the end consumer. If brands can meet these criteria, they will inevitably create maximum desire, impact and longevity for their brand with minimal environmental impact.

Pearlfisher Project Case Studies

We are increasingly working with a wide range of brands, including Yoplait, Love Ocean, Nordgreen and others to create the most lightweight and impactful sustainable packaging designs.

Consider Pastures 

For Consider Pastures, we wanted to elevate the idea and quality of the client’s high welfare, pasture-raised eggs and remove them from the commodity context that many other egg brands fall into. The brand design and world match the brand mission to always provide the very best that nature has to offer – from bringing back the classic carton to a new monogram and embossed messaging – to speak to the premium, considered and hand-crafted approach in every step of the egg production and every detail of the packaging design. 

Love Ocean

When working on Love Ocean we focused on building the brand on a packaging sustainability system based on the concept of ‘love, refill, reuse’. The novel and fun whale-tail shaped bottle has been designed to allow parents to engage children with tales of the ocean and the importance of its preservation during bath time. Made from 100% plastic, and designed to be kept and reused, refill product pouches can be delivered to consumers’ doors and sent back to Love Ocean for reuse. Each bottle purchased funds the removal of 1kg of ocean-bound plastic to keep our oceans clean.

Guardian by Nordgreen

Designed to last 100 years, the new luxury timepiece, Guardian by Nordgreen, aims to be the world’s most sustainable watch. It has been developed with field experts and independent research institutions to ensure that every aspect of its design, marketing, logistics and after-service is as sustainable as possible. The modern product packaging is made from 3D-printed, recycled plastic that is printed on demand to offset the negative environmental impacts of storage and also contains integrated NFC chips, which provide full transparency to audiences by enabling them to track each watch’s production process and learn how best to recycle the packaging.

Sustaining business advantage

There are numerous benefits to utilising sustainable packaging, and not all of them are limited to attracting certain environmentally responsible consumer bases. Some of the other notable advantages include:

·   Reducing an organisation’s carbon footprint
Sustainable packaging can help reduce a brand’s CO2 emissions, for example by lowering the amount of packaging needed to manufacture completed goods.

·   Improving the efficiency of storage procedures
Sustainable packaging can enhance the efficiency of a business operation by reducing the amount of storage space required, compacting shipping units or redefining shelf-displays.

·   Limiting resource requirements and costs
Sustainable processes can reduce the amount of energy and resources required to manufacture packaging, while reducing water usage, solid waste production, and emissions.

Connecting to your consumer

Ultimately, a brand’s decision to champion packaging sustainability – from concept to consumer – will position it as a preferred choice among today’s discerning consumers who support socially and environmentally responsible brands and initiatives that aim to preserve the planet and the life it supports.