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What new design features have been incorporated due to this evolution?

This technology enabled us as designers to view up close what really happened at every step of the supply chain and saw the introduction of a number of new features. Webbed corners, waste used as additional protection, or to reinforce weak points, secure and returnable closures that required no adhesive tapes, and paper alternatives to retention films are just a few. Whilst these evolutions enabled new design features, they also allowed us to fine-tune, develop and understand previous ones like perforated multi-depth cases.

Just how much difference did the perforations reduce the performance of the pack and was the reduction of void fill or volumetric capacity enough to offset the increased material requirements? This ability to test, whilst also having the experience and tools, means we can evaluate without prejudice which one is the most sustainable solution.

What are the advantages of designing “sustainable packaging”?

First of all, it’s important to highlight that the days of making a pack from recycled paper and labelling it as environmentally friendly are long gone. Sustainable packaging solutions mean so much more and can cover everything from the sourcing of raw materials to right size designs, volumetric size during transit, and ease of recyclability.

Beyond the most obvious advantage of being better for the environment, sustainable packaging can also provide an enhanced customer experience, support reductions in costs, CO2 emissions and energy usage. There really is no negative to choosing a sustainable packaging solution, only advantages.

What does the future look like for e-commerce packaging and sustainability?

Customer demand and needs have already started to go beyond that of the structural design and print, with a move deeper into materials, supply chain testing and circularity. Although home delivery packaging has greatly evolved over the past 25 years and even more rapidly in the past five years, there are still no signs of innovation slowing down.

The increase of customers wanting their ordered goods when, where, and how they want, means the future will need holistic, agile and circular packaging solutions that fix the pain points closer to the source. No single design, material or process will be the solution to solve all issues, but manufacturers using a combination of their innovations, supply chain understanding and tools will ensure they can apply the right solution to the problem.

Recently, there has been a great shift in focus from just the physical pack design, to now one where we develop end-to-end supply chain solutions. Our recently introduced Circular Design Principles are a great example of supporting this new mindset for our designers and ensuring that the optimal amount of material is used to safely deliver the product, whilst also being kerbside recyclable and ensuring recovery of as much fibre as possible.

You may think that as an individual designer you do not have the ability to make a big change on your own but, as highlighted earlier, 80% of environmental impacts are made at the design stage. This means the key to sustainability is not only a change of mindset on how we design packaging, but also in our numbers, as small changes today made by many, result in big differences tomorrow.