5 Sustainable Examples of Packaging Design Innovation

5 Sustainable Examples of Packaging Design Innovation

Procurement is a strategic function built on a foundation of excellence and innovation. That means constantly working to understand the most intricate parts of our procurement channels and supply chains. Yet despite that focus, one fundamental element that’s vital to effective procurement is often overlooked – the role of packaging.

Packaging is not only a source of significant commercial waste, it’s a huge opportunity to innovate to both cut costs and improve sustainable practice. The results in some cases can be astonishing. IT giant Cisco saved over US$6 million with their ‘Pack it Green’ initiative to reduce packaging.  

Cisco saved US$6.1 million thanks to sustainable packaging strategy

Cisco is not alone in embracing the opportunities of more sustainable packaging strategy. Here are 5 exciting examples of innovation in packaging that demonstrate real positive change for business.

IKEA: Efficient and Sustainable Space

Swedish furniture chain IKEA is well known for its innovative use of space through their flat-pack furniture model. Yet that obsession with efficiency goes far beyond individual items, down to the heart of their packaging optimisation strategy.

One simple innovation emerged from the repackaging of the company’s Glimma Tea Candles. By changing them from loose bags to a stacking design, the company was able to fit 108 more of these products on each pallet for shipping. That might seem a relatively small change, but for a company of IKEA’s size it resulted in over 400 fewer trucks hitting the road each year. That’s a big saving on costs, and a significant reduction in environmental footprint.

Hermes: Carbon Negative Packaging

If you thought that carbon-neutral packaging was as good as it gets, UK-based delivery company Hermes has gone a step further.

It claims to have become the first company in the world to present customers with the opportunity to utilise carbon-negative packaging. This bold claim emerges from the use of eco-packaging GreenPE. According to the company that produces this innovative material, it is created from a plant-based product that actively removes 3kg of carbon from the atmosphere for each 1kg of packaging created. Innovations like this provide huge potential for wider use in a more sustainable procurement practice.

Henkel: Rebuilding a Packaging Lifecycle

The full lifecycle of a product is an increasingly important concern for procurement, but what about the lifecycle of our packaging? German beauty brand Henkel is building that consideration into the heart of its sustainable packaging initiative.

As of 2017, packaging for over 1.2 billion consumer products produced by the company included recycled material. Going forward, a key element of the brand’s wider sustainable strategy is reducing packaging weight per sales unit by 20% into 2020. Not only does that reduction in weight help improve the environmental cost of transporting their products, the reduction in energy use for transport is likely to have a consequent knock-on impact on supply chain costs.

Dell: Tackling Ocean Plastic with Packaging

Global computing giant Dell is also taking their packaging innovation a step further, looking to help actually tackle one of the world’s most pressing global challenges – ocean plastic.

Each year millions of tonnes of plastic waste enters our oceans, creating a growing environmental disaster. Dell is turning that on its head, by committing to utilising ocean plastic as a source of recycled plastics for its packaging.

Dell now uses packaging trays made up of from a blend of 25% recycled ocean plastics, combined with other recycled plastics. The innovation not only provides a positive step for corporate social responsibility, reports suggest that this sustainable innovation is actually reducing the overall costs of packaging.

Ecovative: Mushroom for Packaging Innovation?

Innovative packaging startup Ecovative is helping grow a better future of packaging – quite literally. Ecovative products are constructed from a type of fungus grown from agricultural waste, shaped by the bacteria mycelium which helps create a strong, and crucially biodegradable, ‘mushroom material’.

If all this sounds a little bit mad, consider that previously mentioned packaging innovators Dell and Ikea have already signed up to trial this packaging solution in their own products. By creating this packaging innovation from low-cost agricultural waste, Ecovative packaging is not only cost-effective, it creates a solution that is superbly environmentally friendly.

Here are other related articles you may be interested in