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Create a Packaging Design Consultancy as a Charitable Organisation focusing on Sustainable Packaging Designs

Create a team of expert designers and process engineers that can help set up new packaging processes that reduce plastic waste.

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There's been loads of great ideas on how we can design for zero waste, but it's my view that companies will often always strive for the most convenient thing for the consumer, and this often results in lots of pieces of separate packaging.

The idea here is to create a charitable organisation, filled with the sort of brilliant people that come up with the ideas on here! Add in some experienced manufacturing process engineers, who understand the difficulties of production on a large scale. This new organisation could then create not only the designs, but a fully planned method of delivering these commercially. Designs and methods created could be patented and then licenced for free to anyone, in a creative commons fashion. 

The organisation's aim would be to get manufacturers to use their designs - it could offer free consultancy to new and existing companies, so that any time a new product is created they can provide guidance on how they can use plastic sustainably.

Of course WRAP organisation already exists and does some brilliant work in this field, and so it could be subset of this organisation. However, I believe a separate entity would work better in this case, with people that can be dropped into other peoples business armed with direct expertise on packaging production. 

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

One of the easiest ways is to redesign packaging so that only a single material is used, and constituent parts are not separable. An example could be a method for producing PET ready meal trays, with a PET transparent film lid, but bonded at one end in such a way as to be inseparable. As far as I'm aware the process to make this happen in a factory doesn't exist, and would require redesigns to packaging machinery and/or input materials - this is where the organisation would help.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

The great thing about this is can apply anywhere - consultancy could happen in any region, or country, and it could even have offices around the world to both create ideas and to share them!

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

The organisation would focus on a single product at first, and then grow from there with new ideas and new processes. Funding is obviously the main difficulty, but once some momentum is achieved, I suspect that many large companies would be keen to both use the service, and help fund it.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

Becoming a top idea would be a fantastic validation that this is perhaps a good direction to approach this problem from. The accelerator program would allow further validation through testing, and success following the program would be a real life change in a single product, but a change that is fully implemented.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

This idea is an individual idea, and isn't particularly novel - it's just my sole opinion of the best way to reach the foundation's goals!

Tell us about your work experience

I'm a manufacturing engineer, with factory but not packaging experience.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

Not applicable.

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Photo of Jamie
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Hi Andrew, l really think you're onto something here. It would be great to bring together people who understand the manufacturing of plastic packaging and ideas people.

Adding on to Kate's point - it would be fantastic to have a guide for packaging designers to easily reference which clearly shows

the particular damage caused by different plastics (GHG, blocking drains, microplastics etc..)
how well different plastics are recycled and which areas/countries recycle them
different price points
what are the alternatives and their properties
arguments to help discuss with clients

I know the Ellen MacArthur Foundation as created something similar but it is not targeted to packaging designers and design studios.

JP

Photo of Andrew Lodge
Team

Thanks Jamie, you're exactly right, as I think perhaps sometimes it's not even considered in the design process, as it's likely not even on the Agenda. I read an article on the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39953209) that listed some of worst offenders in terms of recycling. These are the things that we think are recyclable, but in practice, while they are, they get rejected in the MRF and then end up in landfill anyway!

I wonder if the designer of the luzozade bottle (which is a PET bottle inside a PE Sleeve) knew for instance, that by making the exterior out of PET or by using modern inkjet or screen printing techniques could dramatically increase recycle rates witha minimal cost impact?

There's also another message here - if two parts of any packaging needs to be separated, manufacturers should make it clear to the consumer that they need to separate items before putting in the recycling! Personally, I think the government should legislate that for items made of multiple materials, this must be clearly labelled as such. And while they are at it legislate for compulsory recycling instructions, and a recyclability/sustainability traffic light system. :)

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