Greener Packaging Design
April 7, 2009 · Print This Article
Think about the traditional three R’s associated with waste hierarchy, which are reduce, reuse and then recycle. These three R’s associated with the waste hierarchy should absolutely be considered when it comes to product development and packaging development as well.
1. Prevention is step one, because waste prevention should definitely be a primary goal when it comes to product and packaging development. Packaging should only be used where it is absolutely needed. Proper packaging is also an excellent way for your company to help to prevent excess waste. Packaging can play an important role in helping to prevent loss or damage to the contents of the packaging. The energy content as well as the material usage for whatever product is being packaged is usually going to be much greater than the energy content of the package itself. One of the most vital functions of the package is to protect whatever contents are inside for their intended use. For example, if the product is either damaged or degraded, then its material content and energy content may have been entirely lost.
2. Minimization is also known as source reduction, and relates to the mass and the volume of packaging. The mass and the volume of packaging, for each individual unit of content, are capable of being measured as well as used as one of the numerous criteria for minimizing during the process of packaging and design. Reduced packaging makes it possible for costs to be significantly minimized. Packaging engineers are consistently working toward reducing their packaging.
3. Reuse is important because it is encouraged for packaging or components of packaging to be reused for other purposes. When packaging is capable of being returned, it is even more useful as well as more economically viable as well, especially when it comes to closed loop logistical systems. In some case inspection and cleaning are required, and repair and recouperage may also be required in some instances.
4. Recycling involves the reprocessing of packaging materials, including pre consumer materials and post consumer materials in order to create new products. Emphasis is placed on recycling the largest packaging components, especially when it comes to primary components such as paper, plastic, steel and aluminum for example. Smaller components can also be chosen but they are sometimes much more difficult to separate, so they are only chosen when they do not contaminate the operations of recycling.
5. Energy recovery allows for heat to be made available from packaging components through refuse derived fuel and waste to energy processes which can be conducted within approved facilities.
6. Disposal is needed for some materials used in packaging, which means incineration as well as placement within a sanitary landfill. Certain states located within the United States will regulate packages for contents that are potentially toxic, especially if these packages have the potential to contaminate the air from incineration. Packaging like this should never simply be littered.
We hope this provides you a good starting point for your greener package design.