What Is Eco-design? Advantages of the Latest Revolution in Packaging

24 Mar 2021

The amount of plastic, paper or carton that we use as containers and packaging has increased in recent years. In the United States alone, the waste linked to products’ packaging and wrapping multiplied by three between 1960 and 2018, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency. Luckily, almost 54% of them were recycled in 2018, as opposed to the meager 10% in 1960. Even so, no less than 38 million tonnes end up as waste each year.

This unsustainable situation has brought forward the concept of eco-design applied to packaging, with the purpose of limiting the impact this industry has on the environment.

What is eco-design?

What makes eco-design different is that it takes ecological principles into consideration when designing each one of the elements that constitute a product. In this context, as they draft a new design, they also analyse the impact it will have on the environment during its entire life, with the goal of reducing it since the moment of its creation.

Up until recently, the sector had certain qualms when it came to applying ecological criteria to packaging, due to the misconception that it would result in an increase of the costs by default. However, nothing is further from the truth: eco-design can turn out to be cheaper, since the manufacture of these items requires saving energy, as well as the use of less raw materials.

Eco-design in the creation of packaging

If you are still wondering at the need to apply eco-design concepts to packaging, we invite you to peek at Twitter and look at the tweets under the hashtag #excessivepackaging. You will find hundreds of examples showing the opposite of responsible packaging, not only in e-commerce deliveries, but also in the very design of the product’s container.

What eco-design criteria should you use to avoid client rejection and counter the effects of excess waste? Here are a few examples:

- Choosing reusable, renewable or recycled materials in order to lengthen the packaging’s useful life and, ultimately, improve the recycling ratio by making it easier for the consumer. 

- Fighting against empty spaces: the volumetric development of packaging has a direct impact on logistic charges. Non-optimised containers increase costs because they mean having to store and transport… air

- Going for a minimalist packaging design: sometimes, unnecessary elements are added to the packaging because they stand out or make it more attractive. However, this goes directly against eco-design, which seeks the same effect (or even a better one) with fewer resources.

- On the one hand, favouring united elements that save the energy destined to the packaging’s manufacture and, on the other, the separation of said units to ease recycling. For example, our ComboPackTM  service complies with both, since packaging is already seen as a unit from the beginning, with the goal of saving time and materials in packaging lines. At the same time, it does not interfere with recycling afterward.

- Always prioritise the raw materials whose extraction is completed in a responsible manner and with the lowest possible energy and water consumption. For example, certificates such as the PEFC® or the FSC® C016627 endorse the wood used for packaging’s manufacture was obtained within the framework of sustainable forest management.  


The eco-design, an essential aspect for the cosmetic industry

Eco-design is one of the trends that is developing most in the beauty industry. In Essentra Packaging we have spent many years working to transfer the criteria for eco-design to the effective development of the cosmetic and pharmaceutical packaging manufactured today. As experts in the industry of carton packaging, our team can help you create a container for your product from a sustainable point of view, never leaving aside the productive and logistic perspective. Shall we talk?