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Points to Consider – Sustainable Design

Simple packaging principles and practices that are more efficient and save resources are one our minds here at Silvertoad. Have a look below at some useful points if you have a product packaging brief.

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Designers can’t provide practical contributions to minimize the use of natural resources, or can we? After all, we develop stories and ideas, build brands, and sell products. The world’s long-term well-being is better off in someone else’s hands, right? Wrong compadre!

The Silvertoad team is consists of some of the most thoughtful and conscientious folks alive, eager to contribute to a cleaner, healthier ecosystem. Yet, we often feel insignificant or powerless to make a difference in our daily work life; we lack the authority to make the big changes or influence the dramatic issues of global warming, environmental management, or ethical consumerism. But with every other industry moving towards being ‘better’ what can we do? We’ve been thinking. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

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Thankfully, we don’t have to invent cold fusion to make a difference. There are some simple, basic principles and practices we can do to be more efficient and save resources. An added bonus is that they result in reduced costs and quicker speed to market for our brands:

Consolidate packaging materials:

International design giant – Landor Associates recently conducted an audit of packaging components and manufacturing facilities for Schlage Locks (pictured above), leading to recommendations for streamlining and optimizing package components. Within the optimized system, the design team provided concepts for updated thermoform and carton structures. Then, by partnering with Schlage’s core supply-chain providers, we developed proprietary, more efficient structures that improved shelf impact and showcased products more effectively. Our efforts reduced the total number of package material and parts by more than 50 percent and delivered approx. £0.75 million annually in cost savings.

Calibrate color:

Reduce waste and shipping by adopting an accurate and reliable color development process. Use calibrated monitors to share digital soft-color proofs. Printing hard-copy proofs with a standardised profile and configuration across multiple locations can significantly reduce the waste associated with multiple iterations, as well as minimize the carbon footprint associated with shipping multiple color proofs back and forth between partners.

Color simplification:

Some businesses benefit from the use of an extended gamut color workflow (standard process color plus orange, green, and blue) for printing. If successful, such optimized solutions reduce waste, raw materials, and ‘makeready’ time.

No greenwashing:

Respect ethical environmental stewardship. A solution may look good on paper or as an anecdote. But if it doesn’t reduce waste or save resources, it isn’t worth the effort.

Don’t throw away good ideas:

Just because a solution can’t be approved or qualified in time for a project, don’t discard it entirely. Plant the seeds for future optimization. Use the current initiative to educate and instruct. Pave the way for future improvement.

Leave the science to the scientists:

We don’t have to invent new packaging material in order to be successful. But we can be skeptical of proposed solutions to ensure they are practical. Ask the right questions: Does it require more energy to produce? Does it contaminate the recycling stream? Can it be converted efficiently?

Avoid gimmicks:

If using an unconventional approach, be clear about its impact. I think a packaging board made of stone is cool but I would investigate its qualities before touting its green potential.

Identify what CAN be done, not just what WE can do:

We may not be directly involved in a game-changing solution but we can point stakeholders in the right direction. Take a stand for positive change. Provide pertinent examples.

Let’s let the experts solve the renewable energy demand and we’ll concentrate on doing our part to organize and optimize our process to minimize its impact on our environment.

It’s now up to us, don’t you think?