10 Great Tips for Designing a Sustainable Package

03/05/13 at 01:51 PM by

Sustainability is on everyone's mind these days, and for packaging professionals this is especially true. At DeLine Box our focus is always on offering sustainable corrugated packaging and retail corrugated packaging. 

Keeping up with ever changing sustainability standards can be a full time job, so we thought we would pass on the highlights of an amazing list from GreenerPackage.com. They compiled 10 tips for designing a sustainable packag and you can read the full article here. Below are some high points.

Take a life-cycle approach to package design. There are many Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) tools available today to help package designers understand the environmental impacts represented by different packaging options. One is the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s COMPASS® (Comparative Packaging Assessment) online design software, which helps users make more informed material selections and design decisions by providing visual guidance on a common set of environmental indicators. PackageSmart LCA Software, one of several software-based LCA tools fromEarthShift, also allows packaging designers to evaluate the environmental impacts of their design selections.

Evaluate each component of your package. Ask yourself, "Can changes be made to use less material without compromising product integrity?"

Consider new alternatives for distribution packaging.New machinery and material technologies are enabling packagers to use fewer materials to create multipacks, bundles, and pallets, as well as create shelf-ready packaging that minimizes waste at the retailer level.


Look for opportunities to make your packaging reusable—where it makes sense. In Costa Rica, Pizza Hut customers have been introduced to a new pizza box design that allows the box to be broken down into plates and a smaller box for leftovers. In 2010, Kentucky Fried Chicken debuted its Reusable KFC Sides Container.Made of polypropylene, with patented “ventless vent technology” that allows moisture to escape without requiring a hole in the lid, the clear container with red lid is promoted as being reusable, and microwave- and dishwasher-safe.

Whenever possible, design for recyclability. One of the most effective ways to preserve the energy expended in manufacturing packaging materials is through recycling.

Employ packaging strategies that encourage product consumption. Approximately 34 million tons of food waste are generated in the U.S. each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. So packaging that increases the likelihood that the majority of a product is consumed provides a tremendous sustainability advantage

Know where your packaging materials come from. Increasingly, retailers and consumers are looking to CPGs for transparency. It is to your benefit to make sure you are using responsibly sourced packaging materials.


Evaluate your distribution system for space-saving opportunities. In a presentation at Michigan State University’s second annual Packaging Executives Forum, consultant Kevin Howard of Packnomics, LLC, emphasized the importance of designing packaging “from the outside in, rather than from the inside out,” to minimize distribution logistics costs.

Consider materials made from renewable feedstock. Packaging based on renewable feedstocks—from bioplastics made of corn or sugarcane, to protective packaging constructed of mushroom roots—is a rapidly growing area. But there are many questions still to be answered regarding the viability of some of these technologies and their relative sustainability versus traditional materials.

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