The following plastic materials were purposively chosen to gain an overall better understanding but also to remain focused on the Circular Design Challenge.
Take-away coffee cups + lids
Take-away Juice cups
Bottle caps and tear offs
cups and plates
Snacks folks and spoons
We need to make a paradigm shift from plastics to other materials which are readily available at our disposal for instance wood and glass.
On the other hand, we need to making packaging more sustainable as seen below.
Many people are naturally concerned about the environmental effects of packaging. The design choices made when specifying packaging determines its environmental impact, which with care can be reduced to a small proportion of the overall product life-cycle impact. Unnecessary packaging wastes energy and resources. Well-designed packaging brings signiﬁcant beneﬁts, particularly avoiding waste of the product itself e.g. keeping food fresher for longer.
No packaging is completely sustainable because manufacturing requires energy and creates waste. But designers can make packaging more sustainable by considering environmental impacts during manufacture, use and disposal while ensuring optimum performance in protecting the product.
Sustainable packaging could be considered to be the packaging design with the lowest environmental impact that provides the required functionality. It is paramount that analysis of packaging takes into account the social, environmental and economic considerations across the whole lifecycle of the product that it contains to avoid misleading conclusions.
Which material is best?
The environmental impacts of different materials vary signiﬁcantly. To improve packaging sustainability, it is vital to consider their impacts at each stage of the lifecycle.
Reduce, reuse and recycle
Designers can improve the sustainability of packaging by following the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle. But because environmental impacts must be considered across the whole lifecycle of a product, it is important not to reduce packaging to the extent that it results in damage to the product.
One way to improve the sustainability of packaging is to use less of it – reducing size, thickness and weight as much as possible. Reducing packaging cuts down on the use of materials and it also takes less energy to manufacture and transport lighter and smaller goods. As well as being better for the environment, this cuts costs which provides a strong incentive for companies to minimize packaging.
A good way to make packaging more sustainable is to reuse it in its original form. For example, some specialist retailers will reﬁll shampoo bottles if customers bring them back to their store.
Using materials with recycled content helps cut down on consumption of virgin resources and can reduce the amount of energy used in manufacturing. It also creates a market for waste materials making recycling more viable.
Engaging the consumer
Packaging is an essential part of marketing, helping products stand out on the shelf. But making packaging look more attractive can conﬂict with sustainability goals. For example, goods such as perfume and cosmetics are often elaborately packaged to increase desirability. As consumers become more environmentally aware, they may begin to reject goods that are perceived to be over-packaged.
PVC, packaging and health
PVC (polyvinylchloride) is used in packaging such as food trays, drinks and shampoo bottles and blister packs. Where facilities exist, PVC can be efﬁciently recycled or safely burnt in high-tech incinerators.
Packaging regulations can help reduce waste and improve recycling. For example, some countries have introduced legislation to prevent unnecessary packaging and under ﬁlling.