When creating this blog, I decided to save this article for last because sustainability is the most talked about aspect of packaging design in today’s society. Many people today are very environmentally conscious and would like to take steps to reduce their carbon footprints. Additionally, these same people are pressuring companies to reduce the material used in their product’s packages in order to be more “green.” As mentioned in one of the JustEncase articles earlier, less packaging is not always the solution to this problem, however. Because companies need to provide enough packaging to protect their products from damage during shipping, climate, etc, they will need to find a greener material rather than decrease packaging size all together.

To support my hypothesis, I gathered some statistics on company’s predictions for the future of green packaging. According to Experience Festival, “53.5% of industry executives believe that recyclable packaging will be significantly important or the most important ethical packaging innovation over the next 5 years,” and only “37.5% believe reduced packaging will be the most important.”

Due to the increasing consumer demand for green products, many companies are constructing plans to make their products (and the products’ packages) more efficient. In the video below, Steve Kelsey describes the three different types of company responses to this demand.

So what makes a package “sustainable”? According to the Sustainable Packaging Alliance, a product must fulfill four key qualifications in order to be considered green. They are:

1. Effective: The product must provide social and monetary benefits.

2. Efficient: The product must use “materials, energy, and water” as efficiently as possible.

3. Cyclic: The product must be recyclable or reusable through industrial or natural systems.

4. Safe: The product must not be polluting or toxic.

A great example of a product that fulfills all of these four requirements is the new Coca-Cola PlantBottle.  Made from 30% plant material, the bottle is both natural and  100% recyclable. Additionally, Coca-Cola is subsequently creating programs to collect these bottles across the nation in order to encourage consumers to recycle. The bottle continues to function as the previous packages have with its ability to protect the beverage from damage or contamination. The only downside to this innovative design, however, it’s the costly procedures necessary to execute the company’s big plans. In the end, Coca-Cola prides itself on making positive changes in the world while satisfying its loyal consumers. Thus, the company has made it clear that they are dedicated to finding a green solution for all of their products in the near future.

Because the topic of sustainability is so important in today’s society, there are hundreds of suggestions for green materials that have the potential to replace plastic or styrofoam in future package designs. One of these suggestions comes from Eben Bayer, a speaker at a 2010 TED conference. In the video posted below, Eben explains his invention of a product called MycoBond which uses mushrooms to create a foam-like material that can be used to protect fragile objects during shipping.

To have a general overview of sustainable energy and green package design, you can check out the podcast below in which Rose Grabowski explains the benefits that this new trend will provide to both companies and consumers.

Bharat Book Bureau. (2010). Trends Impacting the Ethical and Sustainable Packaging Market. In
     Global Oneness. Retrieved from Global Oneness website: http://www.experiencefestival.com/wp/
     article/trends-impacting-the-ethical-and-sustainable-packaging-market
Defining Sustainable Packaging. (2005). Sustainable Packaging Alliance. Retrieved from Sustainable
     Packaging Alliance website: http://www.sustainablepack.org/research/subpage.aspx?PageID=10&id=7
PlantBottle. (2011). The Coca-Cola Company. Retrieved from The Coca-Cola Company website:
     http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/citizenship/plantbottle.html
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