I was reading an interesting article, “Overweight packaging a ‘major concern’, says WRAP” from very good UK design resource Design Week. The article talks about how in England there is increasing government scrutiny on how much packaging goes on products. And while such efforts in U.S. are more privatized – Wal-Mart’s sustainability scorecard, for instance – it’s obvious that the stakes are being raised on sustainability worldwide.
And it’s also becoming clear that it’s becoming a design and branding issue as much as anything else. It’s becoming a matter of how consumers use the product … or don’t use it, for that matter.
For example, one particular UK cheese brand cited in the Design Week article has recently switched to a heavier, zip-shut package. While this in some ways is arguably less sustainable because of its heavier weight, it extends the shelf-life of the cheese and therefore prevents consumers from throwing as much away.
And that’s just one of a host of issues that packaging designers grapple with in trying to make packaging more sustainable. The issue gets deeply into consumer behaviors, which gets into psychology.
Designers have their work cut out for them. And from a branding standpoint, the question is becoming more and more crucial too. Consumers are becoming far less tolerant of wasteful packaging. Adding urgency to the matter is that it’s now mainstream media have picked up on sustainability in packaging – often times with damning articles on missteps by marketers and packagers.
Sustainability often starts with the design itself. As if the process of just getting an attractive package that gets attention on shelf wasn’t tricky enough.
But then, like it goes for most things, what worth doing is ever easy?