Most people know graphic designers are responsible for making products look desirable enough to draw in consumers, which is a challenge in itself. In the current day and age when the preservation of the environment is one of the top concerns worldwide, we are challenged to go beyond just producing design that looks cool. As the population continues to increase, we continue to create more garbage and thus more stress on the environment.
More and more companies are calling on designers to help create packaging that is eco-friendly and sustainable, by either creating packaging that is fully recyclable or easily reusable. A large variety of biodegradable materials are now available for use to help aid in the war against trash.
Designers play an important role in figuring out a variety of ways to circumvent these issues, by providing solutions through packaging design. The objective of sustainability should be a constant thought throughout the process. It is important to first consider the form and size of the packaging to limit production costs, transportation of the product, and the amount of materials it will take to produce. The challenge is to try to use the least amount of material without sacrificing the functionality of the product. One also wants to keep the cost low enough so the consumer is motivated to spend their money on a sustainable product versus a cheaper plastic based product. Once the form of the packaging is established, material needs to be considered.
The ultimate goal is to find a material that is easy to recycle and that can be produced quickly by the environment. Recycled mixed woods are a good option, as well as, fast growing plants such as bamboo. These readily available materials are cheaper than traditional woods that take longer for forests to reproduce. The durability also needs to be considered. If you are designing a product that is intended for recycling, one should ensure the material will quickly decompose. A product that is intended to be reused for a different purpose, needs to be made from a more durable material.
Brands like Boxed Water, are using paper, a renewable resource, instead of traditional plastic to package their products. A portion of their sales also go towards funding reforestation and water relief through various partnerships. There is also an added benefit from drinking out of non-plastic products as chemicals can often be transferred from bottle to liquid product.
Another brand, Mug pub from Moscow, rethought the way take away beer is packaged. Their rebrand includes paper cups instead of glass to allow for ease of recycling. Packaging that defies the norm in this way, also forces a consumer to reconsider other products they are using and hopefully making more responsible decisions when it comes to purchasing non sustainable items.
Check out some more sustainable packaging here: http://bestdesignoptions.com/?p=12436.