Design packaging for secondary use
The scope of a design brief is usually the pack’s primary function. Sustainable design goes further
Thinking beyond the product
A well recognised and responsible approach to developing more sustainable packaging is following the principles of: ‘reduce; re-use; recycle’. However, we also need to think innovatively about optimising packaging use beyond its perceived lifespan.
“Pack designers must maintain a ‘re-use’ mindset”
The primary purpose of packaging is to protect the product and this principle should never be compromised. Designing packaging for a secondary use does not necessarily mean compromising its primary purpose.
A recent article by a world-renowned chemist highlighted the need for designers to think differently about packaging design, and particularly pack structures. To move away from a ‘disposable’ mindset to one of ‘re-use’, in an effort to reduce packaging waste. “Packaging designers should plan for a product’s potential recycling or re-use at the end of its life before it is even made”.
Identifying social and environmental needs
The idea of re-useable packaging is clearly not new. Many pack formats are designed for re-use to reduce the negative impact of material waste on the environment. However, a more innovative approach is to ‘design in’ a secondary function, beyond its intended primary use, for social and environmental benefits.
‘A Litre of Light’ plastic bottle project
This project, featured in our ‘Bright ideas’ blog, is an innovative and inspirational concept demonstrating how packaging waste can contribute to social and environmental issues.
The idea is practical and provides a straightforward means of implementation. Imagine what additional value could be created if this concept was ‘designed in’ at the outset of the bottle structure design process.
Secondary function focus
Plastic bottle disposal is one of the most widely publicised negatives of packaging waste. What an opportunity this presents for a brand courageous enough to embrace the problem and find an alternative solution to conventional waste disposal.
The ‘Litre of Light’ bottle concept could be optimised further by not only considering the bottle’s secondary function but also designing in features to promote that use.
Primary function focus
One of the delights of innovation is transforming a constraint into an opportunity. Designing plastic bottles is a complex task, with many factors influencing the pack structure, such as material, size, product type, etc. One key factor is maintaining integrity of shape throughout the supply chain, particularly during the liquid filling process. A design feature often used to serve this purpose is the ‘anti-ovalisation’ ring, which creates a point of strength and therefore rigidity in the bottle structure.
This structural detail could provide the means to greatly improve the installation of the ‘Litre of Light’ bottles, thereby demonstrating how ‘secondary function’ can lead and optimise ‘primary function’. Contact us for more information on this concept.
This innovative approach to packaging design requires collaboration. Strategic thinking aligned with the aspirations of the brand, together with design and technical expertise, can facilitate thinking and ideas beyond packaging’s primary function.
A shared responsibility for packaging production, set within the broader context of social improvement, is a powerful and convincing proposition for any brand.