There are numerous things to think about in packaging, whether you’re designing a package or figuring out the best way to market a packaged product. Visual presentation is one huge aspect, as are materials and size. The eco-friendly aspect of your packaging also needs consideration. There’s no way to avoid product packaging waste. but you can reduce it by using recycled packaging.

Besides just making packaging from recycled materials, you can go further and utilize packages people recycle themselves. Use the packaging for other purposes after they’ve removed your product. Let’s look at several examples.

Think More Broadly Than Recycled Outer Packaging

You’ll commonly see outer packaging made from all or mostly recycled materials, and making that choice is a good first step. However, you can also go further to protect the environment by using soy-based inks and compostable materials. Those are two strategies used by Numi Tea.

Clearly not content with a basic approach to recycled packaging, the company explored options competitors might not even consider. Each Numi Tea package features an “Eco-Responsibility Audit.” It shows what the company conserves annually through its packaging decisions, including over 9,000 trees and four million gallons of water.

Numi Tea specializes in organic varieties, so its target market is arguably made up of people who care about the planet and embrace such packaging.

Create Something New From Your Packaging

You’ll often see recycled packaging that’s compostable, so it eventually goes back into the Earth. There’s also a slight variation of that, in which packaging produces something that comes from the Earth. Forward-thinking manufacturers have dreamed up plantable packaging by infusing the materials with seeds.

A company called Pangea Organics took a zero-waste approach with its packaging by creating a material that’s biodegradable, compostable and plantable, then using it for soap packages. This is a great example of how a company seamlessly connected its products with an eco-friendly packaging.

A person merely has to soak an empty package in water for about one minute and then insert it into approximately an inch of soil. The resultant herbs are part of Pangea Organics’ ingredient list. It allows consumers to familiarize themselves with the company in new ways.

Set New Packaging Trends in Your Industry

You can also use eco-friendly packaging to act as a trendsetter within your industry.  PUMA did this when repackaging athletic shoes. Most people are familiar with the cardboard lids used for shoeboxes. But PUMA had a different idea when it launched the Clever Little Bag campaign.

The company created sleeves that keep the shoes in place when they were on display. But become reusable bags once consumers bring them home. This new packaging design uses 65 percent less paper and even has a built-in handle so shoppers don’t need a separate bag to carry their shoes after purchasing them.

This packaging design required 21 months of work and thousands of failed attempts, but the company says doing away with cardboard shoeboxes saves substantial costs and is more convenient for customers.

PUMA’s showing what’s possible in the shoe industry, a sector that has relied on cardboard boxes for decades. Thanks to these creative ideas, we may soon have different ideas about what constitutes a shoe container.

Educate Customers About Why You’re Choosing Eco-Friendly Packaging

If customers are familiar with your current, non-eco-friendly packaging, it’s especially important to explain why you’re making a move to recycled packaging. Taking a personal tone when explaining your reasons often works very well. It’s also okay to admit switching packaging is a learning experience you’re going through along with the customers.

A company called Demes made an all-in-one moisturizing stick that initially came in a plastic container similar to a roll-on deodorant dispenser. Then, when company representatives were on vacation and strolling along the beach, they noticed plastic waste washed up on the shore, and that sight struck a chord.

After researching options, the company switched to a biodegradable cardboard container that had its environmental perks. It also required changing the product’s formula and was more expensive overall. More recently, the company decided to switch to reusable tins.

It described this packaging evolution on its website, showing a strong example of corporate transparency. If you can do the same when experimenting with new packages, consumers may not be as resistant to change.

Encourage People to Recycle

Even if your company does everything right in selecting eco-friendly packaging, it’s still up to your customers to complete the process. They must recycle the empty containers. A company called Lush Cosmetics has a cool incentive program to get people motivated about recycling.

Lush Cosmetics specializes in handmade body products ranging from lotions to facial scrubs. Many items come in black pots made entirely from recycled materials. However, the company also has an exchange program where people can bring five empty pots to their local Lush stores and receive a free face mask for their efforts.

Hopefully you’re now more inspired about possibilities within recycled packaging. Keep an open mind and a flexible attitude when working with different options. And always listen to customer feedback to stay on the right track.


About the author

Lexie Lu

Hello! My name is Lexie and I have a fervor for design, writing, and coffee. I graduated with a dual major in Creative Writing and Commercial Design, and through those grueling study hours (facilitated by coffee, of course) I always found time to write for myself.

My posts feature design trends throughout all industries and show how the field is always changing. There’s never a dull moment in the design world!

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