Swedish designer Marie Falk is celebrating after scooping one of the top prizes for the second year running at the Pro Carton Young Designer Awards.

Her innovative packaging solution Save the Trip was conceived while still at school and followed her winning entry in last year’s annual competition run by Pro Carton, the European Association of Carton and Cartonboard manufacturers.

Falk’s idea for Save the Trip was to both amuse and nourish young travellers. The pack combines healthy snacks with games and crosswords to make long journeys more entertaining, made entirely from cartonboard, meaning it’s easily flattened and recycled.

Speaking about her design, Marie said: “The brief for the assignment was to rethink food packaging to make it more fun, enjoyable and appealing for children. The inspiration for my concept comes from my own experiences. We are totally in the hands of service stations or convenience stores when we travel, and the only choices tend to be fast foods which means that you often end up with packaging made of multiple materials, all of which you must get rid of somewhere. I wanted to create an environmentally-friendly pack that fulfilled a need for families with children travelling, but also a slim, price optimised solution for distributors.”

Marie’s Save the Trip was one of more than 400 entries from students at 50 design schools across 21 countries. Along with nine other finalists she attended the gala Awards ceremony and was one of four winners chosen for creating the next generation of innovative and sustainable packaging concepts.

On winning for the second time, she commented: “It was unreal! Unlike last year, when I was part of a team, this year I did everything myself – the original idea, the structural design, the graphics, mock-ups and documentation. When I realised I was in the final again, I really felt I could relax and that I’d done something that was really good. As I thought winning again really wasn’t an option, I just enjoyed participating and felt so pleased to be able to relive it once again.”

As part of last year’s prize, the young award winners visited Iggesund Mill in Sweden and Graphic Packaging in the UK. Added Marie: “Iggesund’s Mill was a fantastic experience, particularly learning about how well they care for their forest and the environment; Graphic Packaging International also took really good care of us.”

Marie is now working as a designer at major Scandinavian staircase manufacturer Eurostair AB in Karlstad, Sweden. She still closely follows packaging design trends and had this to say about current debate surrounding waste packaging and plastics: “We need packages that are easy to recycle. However, while most people believe that it’s the packaging itself that’s bad for the environment, what we actually need is packaging that can help to tackle food waste.”

She added: “If you look at packs today in general, many are hard to empty and have excessive outer packaging. They’re bulky and often made with multiple materials that complicate recycling. We must rethink: brands need to consider packaging that has a clear environmental focus. We also need to encourage customers to recycle and brands to be more transparent in their environmental work.”

And finally, Marie had some words of advice for other students unsure of how entering the awards might benefit them: “To have this recognition is a great feeling and the awards helped me to build a lot of contacts in the business.”

Tony Hitchin, General Manager of Pro Carton commented: “Marie deserved to win Young Designer of the Year for a second time in a row for her ingenious use of sustainable carton and cartonboard to create a product that really responds to consumers’ needs. Her design is yet more proof that cartonboard packaging is environmentally-friendly, economically balanced and can be entertaining all at once!”