Today the entire packaging industry has a huge responsibility in helping to safeguard the planet from an excess of plastic and waste. Here’s what’s changing.
Despite the Covid-19 health crisis slowing the over-exploitation of natural resources, 22 August 2020 still marked Earth Overshoot Day – the day, more than three weeks later than in 2019, on which the earth’s natural resources for the year were exhausted. At the current rate, we would in effect require 1.6 planets to satisfy our needs.
Many consumers are increasingly concerned about our negative impact on the planet. Excessive carbon emissions, climate change, and the huge quantity of plastic polluting our seas and oceans are the main (but not the only) issues that humankind has been grappling with in recent years.
A lot of these problems arise from the consumer and capitalist culture we are accustomed to, which feeds our obsession for buying goods that are not always environmentally friendly.
Fast fashion and electronics are two particularly guilty industries. Consumers in the United Kingdom, for example, buy more new clothes than anywhere else in Europe, with an estimated 23 million items going to landfill in 2017.
Although the beverage world has not been one of the industries in the firing line, for years it has been searching for more sustainable solutions. And at Tapì, we also try to make our own contribution. We invest in research and trial new technologies and production processes, which help us to optimize workflows and reduce waste. It also helps us create sustainable closures from plant-based raw materials or from reusing waste material. We wanted to give a name to our corporate best practices and activities linked to sustainability, all of which form part of Tapì’s DNA: we called it LEI – Low Environmental Impact.
The role of the consumer in the sustainability era
When sustainability became an element of added value for consumers, a number of companies decided to follow the trend by moving to green packaging. Environmentally friendly packaging is now no longer merely a trend – it’s a necessity for humankind and the planet.
Moreover, recent research shows that sustainable packaging is one of the main factors influencing buying decisions. Around 80% of consumers – and millennials above all – say they are happy to spend more money buying products from companies that respect ethical and sustainable principles.
How can packaging design help combat climate change and waste?
The entire packaging industry has been through significant change over the past 20 years as focus has shifted towards ease of use for the end consumer, design, and practicality.
Previously, branding and style were the only challenges facing packaging designers. Now, other factors such as efficiency and greenness have come into play. We therefore feel confident stating that there is a shared consciousness throughout the beverage supply chain – from producers to designers, right up to the client/consumer.
For companies specializing in packaging production, this means greater innovation and a move away from one-size-fits-all solutions towards custom packaging designed with – and for – clients on an individual basis. It also means greater potential for special products, which buyers could be prepared to pay more for.
But how exactly can packaging designers help combat climate change and an excess of plastic waste? Let’s find out.
Consider the packaging design “Rs”
Until recently, packaging was mainly made from largely unsustainable elements. In recent years, however, the sustainable Rs model has gained ground. This green concept sums up our three constantly evolving basic principles: Reduce, Reuse e Recycle, the aim of which is to raise awareness, prevent waste, and conserve natural resources.
At Tapì over the past few years we have combined this philosophy with improvements to our production processes and the design of new sustainable closures, helping the brands that use them to best express their values.
Analyze the real lifecycle of packaging materials
Analyzing the packaging lifecycle is a genuine issue as different forms of packaging can make it difficult to assess the real environmental impact.
As an example, let’s take an aluminium can and compare it with a glass bottle. Aluminium consumes more energy when it is produced but is very efficient to recycle. At the same time, glass requires less energy to produce but has to be melted in order for it to be recycled. However, simply washing and reusing the bottle results in greater energy efficiency than recycling the can.
Focus on regulatory drivers
Regulation remains supportive and some countries are promoting, or have implemented, guidelines that will have a direct or indirect impact on packaging choices – from recycling to reducing carbon footprints.
These incentives all aim to achieve greater progress in reducing waste, and improving products’ longevity and the end consumer’s experience. In short, less waste means fewer costs for producers and the environment.
Overall, the packaging industry is undergoing significant positive change and designers are trialling increasingly innovative measures to satisfy the demands of a constantly evolving market (and world).
At Tapì too, we are always seeking out new sustainable solutions for the premium and super-premium beverage market. For more information, visit the sustainability section of our website.