Part 2: Changing the trajectory

This is the second post in our series: Sustainable Packaging Transformations℠.

The Plastic Age

Perceived as a benign and fully integrated presence into our daily lives, plastic packaging is the background noise of modern life –filling our homes, landfills, oceans, and our bodies with chemical cocktails of polymers and additives that have not been fully studied nor the negative health impacts, fully understood. Removing plastic from packaging is not just a good thing to do – it’s necessary for the health of all of us and the planet.

The trail to sustainable packaging is littered with lots of negatives and non-starters: too expensive, too complicated, too disruptive. If we are going to design our way out of plastic packaging problem, first let’s get real about the challenges companies are dealing with and help them solve:

  1. Meeting ESG commitments, many companies are way behind.
  2. Relying on current agencies and packaging suppliers to solve.
  3. Proving out ROI and building the business case.
  4. Committing resources to develop and test packaging design innovations.
  5. Dealing with outdated manufacturing equipment.
  6. Consumer Confusion – what exactly does sustainable packaging mean and how do consumers interpret and value the benefits? Willing to pay more?
  7. Design innovation and packaging structure evolutions require a holistic, team-oriented approach and investment.

The world is waking up to this issue – and good things are happening, the message is getting out that change is possible – just not at the pace or scale that is needed to change the trajectory of this new age of humans called the Plastic Age.

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Scientists in Long Beach, California, studying the effects of oceanic microplastic pollution on the ecosystem. Photograph: UIG/Getty

Scientists in Long Beach, California, studying the effects of oceanic microplastic pollution on the ecosystem. Photograph: UIG/Getty

It’s not ALL bad news.
As design professionals we have an opportunity.

Sure, the sheer size and scope of the problem can be overwhelming and immobilizing – yet as design professionals – we have an opportunity, and responsibility, to help accelerate the packaging design transformation. Plastic packaging is a design problem – we can solve.

Design innovations are emerging daily in this dynamic and fluid space –tools available to us today that were not just a year ago. Consider this new creative tool we just subscribed to from Plastic Free that helps packaging designers search a robust database of alternative materials, connect with makers, learn from real life case studies, and be inspired by system change innovations.

Our Approach: Accelerate by example

As design professionals we can help change the trajectory and accelerate change by designing packaging that pays off across multiple touchpoints: retail, ecomm, consumer experience, manufacturing, shipping and corporate ESG goals.

Plastic packaging is a design problem…we know how to solve.

At domo domo, we say – sustainable packaging is an evolution – and it takes baby steps – do one thing right, then another, and another. You are not going to solve all the challenges at the same time, but we can design our way, one package at a time, to a more sustainable, and plastic free, future.

Stay tuned for our next installment of  Sustainable Packaging Transformations℠ coming soon.