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The impact of plastic waste on the environment is a global challenge, and it requires a global response.

Smurfit Kappa believes that through innovation, collaboration, better design and partnerships we can build a more sustainable future. To this end, it has launched The Better Planet Packaging Initiative with the goal of reimagining and redefining packaging for a more sustainable world.

As part of the initiative the company is launching the Smurfit Kappa Better Planet Packaging Design Challenge, the first of many projects planned for the coming months and years to start conversations and stimulate new thinking around sustainable packaging.

Challenging You

The Design Challenge is open to designers, engineers, inventors and creative thinkers. Smurfit Kappa has set two specific challenges, and submissions are welcome for either, or indeed both. The objective of each is to find innovative paper-based alternatives to everyday non-biodegradable packaging.

Design Challenge 1:

To develop an alternative solution to avoid plastic stretch wrap around pallets (stacks of boxes) to provide stability during transport and storage.

Today when products are placed on a pallet they are wrapped with plastic stretch wrap for stability. While this is efficient and cost-effective, it creates waste, which potentially can end up as litter, or is not recyclable (incinerated). The challenge is to find a paper-based solution that is recyclable or reusable in the same collection system as paper-based packaging, while still delivering the same properties in terms of stability and efficiency.

Design Challenge 2:

To develop a fully paper-based parcel with thermal protection for chocolate (as an example of a temperature sensitive product) for use in the e-commerce sales channel.

Temperature sensitive products need to be packaged in a way that keeps the temperature low through transport (approximately six hours). Current solutions are in most cases made with materials that are difficult to recycle, such as EPS or cool packs. The challenge is to find a solution that will deliver the required temperature control but is renewable and kerbside recyclable in the paper recycling system, ideally using wood fibre. Concepts can use various types, shapes and forms of paper-based materials – think of paper, corrugated, carton, honeycomb or pulp.


Leading by Example

These challenges invite creative thinking from many angles: there is no one solution. Below are two case studies of paper-based alternatives Smurfit Kappa’s designers have recently developed in-house to address these issues.

Firstly, products with strong primary packaging such as plastic bottles are often packaged in shrink wrap to hold them together securely during transport and storage. Smurfit Kappa has developed a robust corrugated handhold for plastic olive oil bottles as an alternative to shrink wrap. In addition to the sustainability benefits, this highly visible handhold also provides a further branding opportunity.

To take another example, Segafredo Zanetti were packing their coffee bags in white corrugated trays with plastic shrink film, which were unstable during transport with poor in-store visibility. Smurfit Kappa developed a 100% recyclable, one-piece paper-based solution that enables the coffee to be transported securely and placed on the shelf in the same pack. Meanwhile, an eye-catching design with strong emotional appeal increases point-of-sale impact. Through reduced transport costs and faster packaging speeds, the new solution has delivered savings for Segafredo Zanetti, while significantly reducing its carbon footprint.

The Prize

Entries will be judged by an international panel of senior packaging experts from across Smurfit Kappa’s business including paper, corrugated, recycling and sustainability. The winning designers for each challenge will receive a prize of €8000 and the winning packaging concepts will be showcased at Smurfit Kappa’s Innovation event on 16th May 2019.

Register Today

To take part in the competition all participants must first register at smurfitkappa.com/designchallenge. The deadline for design submissions is 29th March 2019.

This content was sponsored by Smurfit Kappa.