At a time when the industry is scrambling to react to societal and political pressure for more sustainable packaging, Andrew Capper, creative director at Echo, a London-based innovation, brand strategy and design agency, looks at how lightweighting could help solve this issue.
Lightweighting might not be the ultimate answer to producing sustainable packaging, but it should be an important shorter-term step towards achieving a solution to a hugely complex problem. The process is a bit like a carmaker creating an increasingly efficient petrol engine whilst at the same time innovating an alternative power source that is "greener".
Everyone should be lightweighting their packaging, but the resulting benefits can be difficult to see and communicate. On paper it makes sense: use less energy, use less material, and improve transport efficiency. But if this executed poorly, it can create as many issues as it solves.
There’s a limit to how much material can be removed for the pack to still do its job. Today, most plastic bottles are, by and large, recyclable. If a bottle is made lighter still, there’s a point when it becomes uneconomical to recycle and the energy required to process is no longer offset by what’s recovered.
In turn, that slightly lighter bottle will now go on a one-way journey to incineration or landfill rather than back into the recycling system. There is also the risk of making packaging so light that it breaks or leaks, which is less sustainable in the long-run and can provoke an erosion in brand trust.
Read the full article via Packaging Europe here.