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University of Applied Sciences and Arts School of Art & Design BA Design Management, International


Sustainable packaging
A comprehensive approach towards sustainable packaging with a focus on primary packaging of food and drinks
Lucerne, May 2010


Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts School of Art & Design BA Design Management, International


Lucerne, May 2010


EMETM Daniel Aeschbacher, Tutor and Faculty Member, Design Management, International Claudio Becker

Baselstrasse 47, CH - 6003 Luzern Cell-phone: 0041 78 659 59 36 E-mail:


Abstract 1. Introduction 2. Reference to design management 3. State of the Art 3.1 The context 3.2 Introduction to packaging 3.2.1 The fundamentals of packaging 3.2.2 The packaging design process 3.3 Sustainable packaging 3.3.1 What is sustainability? 3.3.2 What is sustainable packaging? 3.3.3 Materials 3.3.4 Barriers & drivers 3.4 Practise examples 3.4.1 Company overview 3.4.2 Comparison 4. Analysis / Synthesis 4.1 Insights 4.2 Sustainable packaging criteria 4.3 Recommendations 4.4 Conclusion Bibliography Books Reports Webography Monography Acknowledgements Declaration of Authorship Appendices

p. V p. 1 p. 2 p. 4 p. 4 p. 6 p. 6 p. 8 p. 10 p. 10 p. 14 p. 22 p. 25 p. 28 p. 28 p. 29 p. 32 p. 32 p. 38 p. 39 p. 44 p. 45


Figure 1 | p. 2 | Dimensions of Design Management in Organizations by Acklin and Hirter 2009 Figure 2 | p. 3 | Visualization of procedure by author Figure 3 | p. 7 | Visualization of packaging stakeholders (adapted from the sustainable packaging project, Berkeley University, May 2010) Figure 4 | p. 7 | Interaction of Packaging System with Product, Physical and Macro Environment (adapted from Kooijman, 1996) Figure 5 | p. 8 | Visualization of a generic packaging design process by author (adapted from Boylston, 2009) Figure 6 | p. 9 | Visualization of processing influences by author (adapted from Jedlicka, 2009) Figure 7 | p. 10 | Visualizations of sustainability by author (adapted from Wikipedia, March 2010) Figure 8 | p. 11 | Visualization of the 3Ps under consideration of ethics by author (adapted from Wikipedia, March 2010) Figure 9 | p. 12 | Visualization of the three pillars by author (adapted from Wikipedia, March 2010) Figure 10 | p. 13 | Visualization of biological/technical cycle by author (adapted from Figure 11 | p. 14 | Visualization of sustainability principles by author (adapted from the sustainable packaging project, Berkeley University, May 2010) Figure 12 | p. 16 | Visualization of the packaging product life cycle by author (adapted from the SPC,Sustainable Packaging Coalition, May 2010) Figure 13 | p. 17 | Visualization of upstream, downstream impacts by author Figure 14 | p. 17 | Visalization of life cycle assessment by author (adapted from Wikipedia, March 2010) Figure 15 | p. 19 | Green Supply Chain Management by Srivastava SK. (International Journal of Management Reviews, 2007) Figure 16 | p. 21 | Sustainability issue mapping by A420, May 2010 ( Figure 17 | p. 22 | Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States:Facts and Figures for 2008 Figure 18 | p. 22 | Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States:Facts and Figures for 2008 Figure 19 | p. 29 | Visualization of the packaging design process / packaging life cycle by author Figure 20 | p. 32 | Visualization of the analysis process by author Figures 21 | p. 33 | Visualization of value network by author Figures 22 | p. 38 | Visualization of sustainability by author (adapted from Wikipedia, May 2010) Figure 23 | p. 42 | Visualization of concept assessment by author

Image 1 | p. 6 | Primary packaging,, date of access, May 2010 Image 2 | p. 6 | Secondary packaging,, date of access, May 2010 Image 3 | p. 6 | Tertiary packaging,, date of access, May 2010 Image 4 | p. 6 | Natures packaging,, date of access, May 2010 Image 5 | p. 6 | Japanese Packaging Design: Imitating Nature,, date of access, May 2010 Image 6 | p. 28 | Wal-Mart,, date of access, May 2010 Image 7 | p. 28 | Innocent smoothies,, date of access, May 2010 Image 8 | p. 28 | Cailler product line,, date of access, May 2010 Image 9 to 12 | p. 42 | Storage documentation, images by author Image 13 | p. 42 | Sketching for a prototype, Bolyston 2009

Table 1 | p.15 | Sustainable principles, Berkely University 2010 (Sustainable packaging project, Berkeley University, May 2010) Table 2 | p.29 | Summary of measures taken by best practice examples (Wal-Mart) Table 3 | p.30 | Summary of measures taken by best practice examples (Innocent) Table 4 | p.31 | Summary of measures taken by best practice examples (Cailler) Table 5 | p.43 | Proposals for further research by author



Waste is a by-product of affluence, and packaging contributes greatly to the overuse of natural resources on the front end, and excessive waste on the back end. (cf. Boylston, 2009) The topic of this thesis is sustainable packaging with a focus on primary packaging of food and drinks (fast moving consumer goods, FMCG) within grocery shops. The hypothesis states that design management enables companies to develop new business dimensions that drive a comprehensive approach towards sustainable packaging. The research question deals with how design managers can help companies to develop sustainable packaging that results in added business value. The final goal is to establish recommendations for companies, that facilitate the development of sustainable packaging. Moreover, another aim of this paper is to motivate companies to take leadership and drive change towards sustainable packaging. As a first step, this paper investigates the current state of packaging in terms of sustainability. Packaging and sustainability is explored from different view points in order to understand the research question and conduct research data, that is relevant for establishing useful criteria for sustainable packaging. For this reason, different sources, such as books, reports, case studies, expert interviews or web research were considered within the research. As a second step, the analysis of gathered information results in insights, which are furthermore used to establish recommendations for companies that facilitate sustainable packaging development. The paper is concluded with a review of the hypothesis and its objectives.



Nowadays grocery shop assortment has perfectly adapted to modern lifestyles and consumers almost seem to have an unlimited amount of choices. The downside of this development is that even though companies may have addressed consumers needs and wants while increasing their profits, this has unfortunately led to excessive use of packaging, tremendous use of natural resources, waste and environmental pollution. As the Sustainable Packaging Coalition points out, packaging accounts for a third of the waste stream in developed countries. (cf. Sustainable Packaging Coalition, 2010) The most serious external costs of packaging lie in the extraction of natural resources, energy consumption and the emission of air and water pollution throughout the manufacturing processes. (cf. Imhoff, 2005) As Bolyston adds, waste is a by-product of affluence, and packaging contributes greatly to the overuse of natural resources on the front end, and excessive waste on the back end. (cf. Boylston, 2009) I am fascinated by the concept of sustainability. On one hand it is a very complex topic that involves a number of aspects that need to be considered at the same time. It seems to be a topic that is very much about solving and balancing conflicts and is therefore a challenging task for a design manager. On the other hand the concept of sustainability is full of good intentions that serve positively to the long term survival of human kind, the environment and businesses as well. As a future design manager I am convinced that sustainability will become the common language of businesses and there are many areas with a real need of sustainable solutions. Due to the short life cycle of packaging and the enormous consumption of todays society, packaging is one of the industries that strongly needs to find sustainable solutions that furthermore will contribute to their own survival on a long-term view. Therefore it is of my interest to investigate sustainability in context of packaging with the goal to find answers that inspire and motivate companies that are keen to take leadership and drive change towards sustainable packaging. The paper begins with an introduction into the context of the packaging. The reasons, why packaging has arrived at a stage where over-consumption has major effects and implications to the environment are described and furthermore, the reasons why change is necessary are explained. The fundamentals of packaging design are investigated and a typical design process of packaging is described. Moreover, the influence of consumer patterns and behaviours is discussed. As a next step, the paper introduces the reader to the concept of sustainability. A general definition of sustainability is given; the sustainable packaging life cycle schematic is explained. Packaging materials, as well as the major barriers and drivers are described. Furthermore, the system thinking approach among other possibilities that contribute to more sustainable packaging is investigated. Moreover, case studies serve as a basis to investigate packaging approaches that either drive, or prevent from moving towards sustainable packaging. Thereafter the analysis, interpretation and evaluation of research activities leads to major insights in context of business benefits and sustainable packaging prerequisites. Finally recommendations for companies are proposed, which provide a comprehensive approach towards sustainable packaging.



As a starting point it is important to define how this thesis is linked to design management. This section describes the central ideas of design management and how they are relevant to answering the research question and the further procedures. The term design management consists of design and management. The term design stands for an activity and an outcome. This means that design can be seen as an activity, a problem-solving process within design projects, which needs to be managed and finally results in designed outcomes such as products or services. Another facet of design management in context of business is, that it involves a container full of of non-design activities such as marketing, finance, strategic planning and operational activities for instance. (cf. Best, 2006) The term indicates a combination of two different mindsets designers and managers. design management acts as a mediator between these disciplines. Or as Brigitte Borja states, one objective of design management is to familiarise managers with design and designers with management. (cf. de Mozota, 2003) Design management can be seen as an interface that bridges the gap between management and design and between design and production. (cf. HSLU homepage, 2010) It is an interfacing activity of design and management and is at the core an interdisciplinary discipline. (cf. Acklin, Hirter, 2009) Best points out, that in literature there can be found plenty of definitions of design mangement, formulated by practitioners or academic authors such as Farr, Gorb or Topalian & Turner over the last 50 years. Nevertheless, there is no single, universally agreed definition of the term design management. (cf. Best, 2006) To give a single, but comprehensive definition here, Junginer & Lockwood define design management as follows: Design management is the ongoing management and leadership of design organizations, design processes, and designed outcomes (which include products, services, communications, environments and interactions). (cf. Cooper et. al, 2008) In order to demonstrate the core concepts of design management in a visual way, the below design management model by Acklin and Hirter (2009) illustrates the central dimensions of design management. The model has been allocated to Anthonys triangle representing: a) fundamental dimensions (base) and b) activities (right side), level of activities (left side) and movements of the implementation of design management (inside triangle). (cf. Acklin, Hirter, 2009)

Figure 1 | Dimensions of Design Management in Organizations (cf. Acklin, Hirter 2009, p. 9) CLAUDIO BECKER | BA DESIGN MANAGEMENT, INTERNATIONAL PAG E

Acklin and Hirter distinguish between design leadership, design management and design thinking. (cf. Acklin, Hirter 2009, p. 9) The latter term design thinking represents a more fluent concept described by Brown (2008) that has been entering the design management debate. As Minthberg & Dumas state out, design thinking is not a clear cut management approach, but design thinking is capable of addressing a broader system of values, design methodologies or a frame of mind that can infuse design into an organizations culture. (cf. Mintzberg & Dumas, 1991) Or as Herbert and Simon define design thinking, it is a process for practical, creative resolution of problems or issues that looks for an improved future result. (cf. Simon, Herbert, 1996). In terms of packaging, design thinking can therefore serve as an approach to foster creativity and problem solving within organizations in order to develop improved products or services such as packaging for instance. Furthermore, the triangle indicates three levels where design management is active. These are the strategic, the functional and the operational level. At the strategic level, the design philosophy and strategy of an organization is established by envisioning the future. The vision of a company, its mission, the overall policies and how design is used within an organization is defined. At the tactical level, systems, teams and processes are developed in order to manifest the strategic intent through the brand, products, services or customer experiences. The operational level involves the management of design activities such as establishing budgets, timetables, or coordinating people. As an outcome, design becomes tangible in form of products or services. The implementation of design management on all levels is a continuous stream of activities that Acklin and Hirter define as movements of implementation (planning, coordinating and infusing). These movements are not necessarily bound to the hierarchy of an organization but may be expressed by a permanent exchange of information between all levels and across all functions for monitoring and decision making purposes, for managing design activities and for infusing design thinking. (cf. Acklin, Hirter 2009, p. 9) In regard to the thesis and the further procedure, a design manager needs to have different skills, abilities and methods in order to delve into complex topics such as sustainable packaging. A design manager needs to be able to research an issue within a short time and to break it down into meaningful information that allows to create a comprehensive understanding of the area and the implications involved. From a design management perspective, the state of the art within the next sections provide an investigation into the topic of sustainability and packaging based on literature, case studies and expert interviews. Later on, within the analysis and synthesis part, design management tool and methods help to analyse the collected information. Finally the results of the research activities manifest in recommendations for companies which facilitate and enable the development of sustainable packaging. (Figure 2)





Figure 2 | Visualization of procedure by author




3.1 The context
This section describes the current state of packaging and how we have arrived to this point. The benefits of packaging and resulting effects it causes are investigated. Packaging has many benefits at a glance. Hardt argues that functional packaging has improved life of people, because without packaging we would be even less able to nourish the growing world population. (cf. Hardt 2008, in Sherin, 2009) For instance, packaging protects products during transport and can increase their life span what advantageously decreases disposal due to spoilage or damage. (cf. Sustainable Packaging Project, Berkeley University, 2010) Therefore we can deduce that packaging contributes to enable or facilitate the distribution and the access to food and drinks for people on a global scale. Packaging provides benefits for companies as well as for consumers. For instance the surface of packaging serves as a communication platform for all kinds of information. This includes information such as product ingredients, price, usage data and other, that is relevant for consumers. Besides it serves marketing strategies as an instrument to increase appeal of items to consumer resulting in less stock going unsold. Packaging does also control the size and quantity of a product. (cf. referenceforbusiness. com, 2010) This is beneficial for companies in order to control inventory and manage the logistics of their product assortment. Moreover it improves the efficiency of product distribution and might therefore result in higher profit margins for companies. The above mentioned issues represent only a short insight about the benefits that packaging unifies. But packaging doesnt only solve problems, it also produces new ones. Packaging is associated with trash, that greatly contributes to contamination of our environment and furthermore, the production uses and destroys valuable resources and huge amounts of energy. (cf. Hardt 2008, in Sherin, 2009) Consequently this indicates, that packaging delivers added value for human kind but nevertheless, the environmental effects cannot be argued away anymore. Consumption is a linear concept, that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009) This is also how we as consumers perceive products that we consume. We are used to buying things, knowing that they are somehow made, but we are basically interested in using them and once we dont need these items, we get rid of them. Unfortunately there is no away, as Jedlicka points out, because products and their packages have a life after usage. Packaging is closely linked to overconsumption and the effects on the environment are tremendous. Probably nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks that today they will trash the planet. But if consumers make bad choices every day, this accumulates and packaging therefore causes negative impacts for society, the environment, and the economy on a long-term view. As Jedlicka states, we make adds or subtracts from the resources available to us tomorrow each day. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009) At present, the World Packaging Organization estimates that the packaging industry is valued at approximately 500 billion dollars annually and value of world trade in packaging was 60.2 billion dollars in 2005. (cf. World Packaging Organization, 2010) In economic terms, packaging creates an externality. An externality is a side effect of production or consumption. This side effect impacts someone other than the producer or consumer (...) In the case of packaging, the scope of the environmental impacts varies widely. The packaging waste that adds to a lo PAG E


cal landfill represents an externality at the local level. At the other extreme, the contribution of packaging to global warming represents and externality at the global level. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009) Nowadays resources for packaging are global in the sense that they are extracted, produced, used, and traded around the world. For instance, we might buy a milk tetra pack at the local grocery store and even though the milk might be from a regional farmer, the packaging has probably undertaken a long distance through supply chains before. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009) Consumer items come to us via chains of production that stretch around the globe. Along the length of this chain, tremendous volumes of natural resources are displaced and ecosystems disrupted in the uncounted extraction processes that fuel modern human existence. (...) Some of our activities involve minor changes to the landscape. Sometimes entire mountains are moved. (cf. Tilford, 2009) In order to make these statements a little bit more tangible its worthwhile to consider the populations ecological footprint. An ecological footprint is defined as the amount of productive land area required to sustain one human being (cf. Jedlicka, 2009) The Global Footprint Network claims that todays humanity uses the equivalent of 1.4 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. In other words this means that it now takes the Earth one year and five months to regenerate what we use in a year. (cf. Global Footprint Network, 2010) Packaging contributes to natural resource depletion and we can assume that need for raw materials will increase due to economic growth and emerging economic powers such as China or India. But why, and how did we arrive to this point? In fact when industrialisation took place, the focus was on how to make products available to the mass, in large scale productions with an affordable price. The availability of resources was hardly questioned. As the American retail analyst Victor Lebow wrote in his strategy in 1955: Our enormously productive economy (...) demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption (...) we need things consumed, burned-up, replaced and discarded at an ever accelerating rate. (cf. Dave Tilford et al., 2009) Well, unfortunately this has led to the fact that: Since 1950 alone, the worlds people have consumed more goods and services than the combined total of all humans who ever walked the planet before us. (cf. Dave Tilford et al., 2009) Moreover as Jedlicka claims, this has huge implications for packaging, the backbone of todays free market systems because too many of todays products, have been allowed to remain market viable simply because they have not had their true costs for resource impact. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009) As Goodwin points out, when markets are allowed to work as though they were self-contained systems, they become extremely self-destructive, because they degrade the social and environmental context in which they exist, moreover depend on. (cf. Goodwin, 2008) Or in other words as Boylston summarizes, the emphasis on selling more and cheaper goods has long been the objective of the packaging industry. The side-effect of it is that it becomes clear that this myopic view has led to a range of negative impacts, including natural resource depletion, inefficient energy consumption and long-term toxic byproducts. A refocusing of the industrys priorities is overdue. (cf. Boylston, 2009) In order to understand the implications of sustainable packaging, we need to have a look at the bigger picture. According to Jedlicka it is of importance to understand how the forces of the market shape the way we live, and even play. The interplay between producer and consumer, governments and people, stockholders and stakeholders, humans and the environment, and how all of these things interconnect and direct what and how we create, needs to be taken into account in order to understand the complexity of sustainable packaging. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009) The next sections investigate the mentioned issues in more depth.


3.2 Introduction to packaging

3.2.1 The fundamentals of package design According to Wikipedia, packaging is the science, art and technology of enclosing or protecting products for distribution, storage, sale and use. It is furthermore referred to the process of design, evaluation, and production and it is described as a coordinated system of preparing goods for transport, warehousing, logistics, sale, and end use. (cf. Wikipedia, 2010) Michael Hardt, Vice president of the European Designer Association (BEDA) states, that even if packaging are as old as human kind, the form of packaging we know today has a relatively short history. Within the last century we have begun to sell products in large extent. (cf. Hardt 2008, in Sherin, 2009) Nowadays, the type we most associate with packaging is usually retail packaging, wholesale packaging, paper packaging and plastic packaging, primary, secondary and tertiary packaging. (cf. Boylston, 2009) Boylston defines the latter terms as follows: Primary packaging is defined as the material that is in immediate contact with the product (e.g. image 1). In most cases it represents the outer surface of products that are found in the retail environment. Secondary packaging is defined as the packaging used to bundle multipack items or to transport the merchandise from the factory to the retail outlet. (e.g. image 2) Image 3 / Tertiary packaging refers to the bulk packaging intended to safely transport the cargo. (e.g. image 3)

Image 1 /

Primary packaging

Image 2 /

Secondary packaging

Tertiary packaging

If we look at packaging from a different perspective, nature has always originated the most intelligent solutions in terms of packaging. Natures packaging perfectly contains the content of goods protects it from oxygen, water, sunlight and further influences in order to achieve a certain durability. Natures products are well targeted and also promoted through form, surface or colour. Lastly, and most importantly, nature has found a solution for packaging that does not harm the environment. The below images show how nature packages its products and how this has inspired Japanese Packaging Designers.

Image 4 / Natures packaging

Image 5 / Japanese Packaging Design: Imitating Nature



Nevertheless, the focus within this thesis is on primary packaging of food and drinks within grocery shops. Therefore it is of interest to point out the requirements or functions that packaging needs to fulfil and describe the environment of packaging as a next step. As Jedlicka says: The classic request of packaging is only that it protect, inform and sell.(cf. Jedlicka, 2009) or as Bolyston argues, a package is seen as a functional tool that fulfils the various requirements of commerce. (cf. Bolyston, 2009). What we see on the shelves within retail environments is the result or an outcome that unifies the requirements and intentions of many players and interest groups involved within the development, the production and the end-of-life of packaging. The below figure illustrates the many stakeholders that packaging needs to serve.

Figure 3 | Visualization of packaging stakeholders (adapted from the sustainable packaging project, Berkeley University, May 2010) Furthermore packaging is required to act within systems, as described by Kooijman in 1996. (cf. Kooijman, 1996) The below figure describes how the packaging interacts with the product system. The interactions with systems in the ambient and macro environment are demonstrated.

Figure 4 | Interaction of Packaging System with Product, Physical and Macro Environment (Kooijman, 1996)



The products packaging is furthermore a very crucial factor in, whether consumers consider to make a purchase or not. (cf. Boylston, 2009) Especially if we consider primary packaging at the point of sale, the design of the package is the last thing a consumer sees before making a decision. For package designers, this means, that the challenge not only lies in creating a truly unique package that tries to establish meaningful connections and a relationship between the consumer and the product essence, but it also means, that designers need to consider the parameters of the project specifications such as technical feasibility of mass-production, marketing strategies or financial attributes. (cf. Bolyston, 2009). Another important issue that is often not noticed well enough within packaging, is the application of Universal design principles. As Ron Mace, the director of The Centre for Universal Design once defined: Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaption of specialized design. (cf. The Center for Universal Design, 2010) For packaging this means that it is required to serve the needs and abilities of the broadest target group possible. As the Institute for Human Centred design states out: Most simply, Universal Design is human-centered design of everything with everyone in mind. (cf., 2010) Now, that we have considered the basic requirements, functions and the packaging environment, it is worthwhile to describe a generic design process as a next step and demonstrate how the above mentioned issues are applied within the development process of packaging.

3.2.2 The packaging design process

The below figure visualizes the stages of a generic packaging design process that is commonly used in practice. At the core of every package design is a solid research methodology.

selective research methodologies

selective measurement methodologies

Figure 5 | Visualization of a generic packaging design process by author (adapted from Boylston, 2009) Firstly, an investigation into the targeted consumers behaviours and preferences is conducted. This means that consumer characteristics and behaviours, as well as packaging characteristics have to be understood in order to identify meaningful connections that are relevant for the development of marketing strategies for instance. (cf. Bolyston, 2009) Jedlicka points out that one of the biggest mistakes in packaging design is to simply assume knowing what motivates customers at the point of sale. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009) There are many hidden influencing factors such as peoples experiential background, their beliefs or values among many others, that directly affect a consumers choice. Figure 6 on the next page demonstrates the processing influences of consumers that influence decision making at the point of sale. Qualitative research such as ethnographic observation, behavioural studies or interviewing people is used to identify the latent needs of people or gain insights that are relevant for the end product. Furthermore, quantitative research such as demographic statistics, market size, market share or customer attitudes and other data is collected through questionnaires, surveys desk research and other methods.



PROCESSING INFLUENCES: Heart, Mind, Perception Knowledge, Attention Motivation, Other People Barriers to Action


Figure 6 | Visualization of processing influences by author (adapted from Jedlicka, 2009)

As Boylston points out, behavioural studies can only moderately predict mass-market behaviour. For instance, eye-tracking research has shown that almost 30 percent of shelf brands are not even seen by consumers. (cf. Bolyston, 2009) No single particular methodology can assure an accurate reflection of realworld consumer behaviour, they are nonetheless important to consider and applied by companies. (cf. Bolyston, 2009) Of course, research is not only limited to understanding the customer. Further research, such as a competitor analysis, an investigation into the retail environment, or research about production materials and material viability is equally important to consider because it helps to specify the framework for the further procedures involved in packaging design. Secondly, research data is evaluated and used to define the design brief and therefore the design direction. Packaging concepts are developed and reviewed internally as well as by the client. This feedback process aims to improve the concepts continuously. Sketches, prototypes or computer modelling is used to make the final concepts tangible in order to test them on the market. Thirdly, market testing methods such as surveys, focus groups, prototype testing, interviews and others help to refine the product and allow for very specific and targeted shifts in the package design. (cf. Boylston, 2009) The aim is to figure out whether packaging meets the objectives defined or not. This is relevant in order to improve the final outcome of packaging and the last opportunity to change the packaging design before it enters the production chain. It does not mean that packaging cannot be adapted when its already produced for the mass market, but it is likely to be a costly thing afterwards. Lastly, the package design is finalized and prepared for further production and distribution. Now we have considered the fundamentals of packaging design, it is of interest to define sustainability as a next step.



3.3 Sustainable packaging

3.3.1 What is sustainability? This section provides a basic understanding and different views of sustainability, it furthermore demonstrates the roots of the term and current developments. According to Wikipedia, the word sustainability is derived from the latin sustinere (tenere, to hold; sus, up). Dictionaries provide more than ten meanings for sustain, the main ones being to maintain, support, or endure. (cf. Wikipedia, 2010) The first definition that has been quoted most widely was formalized by the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987: Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. (cf. UN NGO, 1987) At the 2005 World Summit it was noted that sustainability requires the reconciliation of environmental, social and economic demands - the three pillars of sustainability. (cf. United Nations General Assembly, 2005) The below figure demonstrates this view by illustrating the three pillars as overlapping ellipses. This furthermore indicates that each area is not mutually exclusive and can be mutually reinforcing. (cf. Forestry Commission of Great Britain. 2010)

Figure 7 | Visualizations of sustainability by author (adapted from Wikipedia, March 2010) Sustainability is often referred to the triple bottom line. The tripple bottom line refers to an expanded spectrum of values and criteria for measuring economic, ecological and social success organizations. (cf.Wikipedia, 2010) (Figure 7) Elkington states, that in practical terms, triple bottom line accounting means expanding the traditional reporting framework to take into account ecological and social performance in addition to financial performance. (cf. Elkington, 1994) The triple bottom line is known by many abbreviations like the TBL, 3BL, People, Planet, Profit (the 3Ps), and Ecology, Economy, Equity (the 3Es). All describe the idea of the major forces of our world that must be served to achieve sustainable balance given our current market models. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009) At the Design Management Intl. course, our guest speaker Ernst-Jan van Hattum, a member of the International network on sustainable design (O2 Global Network Foundation), mentioned ethics as an additional dimension that embraces the 3Ps. (cf. Hattum, 2010) According to the definition on Wikipedia, ethics is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality that is, concepts such as



good and bad, noble and ignoble, right and wrong, justice, and virtue. (cf. Wikipedia, 2010) As Hattum stated, if ethics are considered and applied within all dimensions it contributes to keep them in balance. The followThe following figures show different illustrattions of the triple bottom line.

Figure 8 | Visualization of the 3Ps under consideration of ethics by author (adapted from Wikipedia, March 2010) PEOPLE The term people (human capital) refers to equitable and beneficial business practices; how a company treats its workers, their community, and the region in which it operates. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009) A company that strives for the triple bottom line conceives a reciprocal social structure in which the well-being of corporate, labour and other stakeholder interests are interdependent. A triple bottom line enterprise does not exploit or endanger any of those groups. (cf. Wikipedia, 2010) For instance, a triple bottom line company would not make use of child labour, instead pay fair salaries to its workers or provide safe working conditions and tolerable working hours. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009) Fair Trade is a well known concept in this context. PLANET Planet or natural capital refers to a ventures environmental practices. Do no harm would be the simplest operative sentence. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009) As pointed out in Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, natural capital is the extension of the economic notion of capital (manufactured means of production) to goods and services relating to the natural environment. The authors argue that only through recognizing this essential relationship with the earths valuable resources can businesses, and the people they support, continue to exist. (cf. Wikipedia, 2010) This dependency is furthermore illustrated in figure 9 on the next page. A triple bottom line venture avoids ecologically destructive practices like over fishing for instance. This means that the producers have a responsibility for environmental impacts that are caused through their activities. If companies are not aware of their impacts or simply exploit natural resources this cannot be beneficial in a long term view, whether for companies or our planet. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009) PROFIT Profit is the real economic impact an organization has on its economic environment. This is often confused to be limited to the internal profit made by an organization. (cf. Wikipedia, 2010) According to Jedlicka, profit (monetary capital) is the goal shared by all business, regardeless of their ethics: The idea of profit within a sustainability framework, needs to be seen as the economic benefit enjoyed by all stakeholders, not just the companys shareholders. Its the idea that only a healthy company, earning ethically derived profits, can truly be seen as a contributing member of its community, and society at large. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009)


Figure 9 | Visualization of the three pillars by author (adapted from Wikipedia, March 2010)

Cradle to cradle is another approach described by William McDonough and Michale Braungart, in their book, Cradle to cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. Cradle to Cradle Design (C2C) is a biomimetic approach to the design of systems. (cf. Wikipedia, 2010) It models human industry on natures processes in which materials are viewed as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms. Lovins suggests that the industry must protect and enrich ecosystems and natures biological metabolism while also maintaining safe, productive technical metabolism for the use and circulation of organic and synthetic materials. In other words, it is a holistic economic, industrial and social framework that strives to create systems that are efficient but at the same time do not create waste. (cf. Norton et al., 2008). As Braungart and McDonough state, everything that is made and used by humans, needs to be manufactured in a way that the biological and the synthetic components are reused independently and without harming in endless recycling loops. (cf. McDonough, Braungart M., 2010) According to the EPEA, the Internationale Umweltforschung GmbH, based in Hamburg, the cradle to cradle model distinguish between to material categories: Biomass and industrial mass. As they state out, intelligent production means that all materials are able to flow within a metabolism, be that a biological or technological one: (figure 10). In a biological metabolism, lots of materials are broken down by micro-organisms to form new nutrients. Biodegradable products are used as compost which is then used to form a nutrient basis for new natural resources. All products that are circulating as part of this metabolism are termed consumption products. Certain packaging materials, clothing and parts that wear and tear such as car tires and brake discs were designed for such a cycle. A technological metabolism consists of artificially-created and actively-managed material flows. The idea is that industrial mass is allowed to circulate in closed systems whilst maintaining a constant quality level. The fact that the system is a closed one is a prerequisite for the possible use of toxic substances. These substances have proven to be essential in the manufacture of certain products such as insulated windows. The ease of disassembly and the careful choice of materials for a product is a fundamental aspect of the design.


(For products for consumption)

(For products for service)

Figure 10 | Visualization of biological/technical cycle by author (adapted from

Products and materials in the technical cycle are called products for service. The name is derived from the concept of a service product. Washing machines, for example, are no longer bought rather their service is used at a charge. As such, this leasing principle means that the material remains in the ownership of the manufacturer and is returned to them after a certain defined period of usage. One advantage of this system is that the manufacturer can use materials of a higher standard and quality. (cf. EPEA, International Umweltforschung GmbH,, 2010) The most essential definitions and principles of sustainablility have been covered. Certainly there exist further principles such as the precautionary principles for instance, but those are not described here any further because the major ideas have already been pointed out within this section. There are also critics that see sustainability as an oxymoron. As the Earth Policy Institute points out for instance, there is abundant scientific evidence that humanity is living unsustainably, and returning human use of natural resources to within sustainable limits will require a major collective effort. (cf. Earth Policy Institute, 2010) Or as Redclif points out, the idea of sustainable development is an oxymoron for many environmentalists, as development seems to entail environmental degradation. (cf. Redclift, 2005) Other authors like Kearins are a little bit more optimistic. Kearins describes sustainability as a very complex concept that needs a holistic approach. But he points out that we should not be scared of this complexness and as described in his paper Creating Advencomplexness and as described in his paper Creating Adventures in Wonderland: The Journey Metaphor and Environmental Sustainability, see sustainability as a call to action, a task in progress or journey.(cf. Milne, 2010) The next section defines what sustainability means in relation to packaging.



3.3.2 What is sustainable packaging?

This section provides the current views and definitions of the industry on sustainable packaging. The article of the Sustainable Packaging Alliance in 2002 claims that: There is no clear understanding internationally, about what constitutes sustainable packaging. Policy initiatives have tended to focus on resource and waste reduction and recycling, for example the current European Packaging Directive. (cf. Sustainable Packaging Alliance, 2002) Furthermore the Federal Trade Commission justifies this with the fact that sustainable packaging is a relatively new addition to the environmental considerations for packaging. (cf. Environmental Marketing Claims, 2010) Nevertheless, there are some important approaches that define sustainable packaging which are worthwhile to consider here. Research clarified that the amounts of available information and initiatives in context of sustainable packaging are enormous. The Berkeley University of California is currently running a sustainable packaging project. They distinguish between principles, methodologies, regulations, metrics and tools. The below figure visualizes those areas. As pointed out on the project webpage of the Berkely University :

Principles embody certain collections of values which have come to be associated with sustainability concerns at different scopes and scales. Analytical methods, action-oriented guidelines/scorecards/criteria/ decision-making strategies and regulations/ standards are guided by principles. Some agencies create a variety of principles, methods, standards, and regulations that work to address their cause throughout the product life cycle. Collections of metric are used by methods and make up regulations The values embedded in all of these concepts evolve from sustainabilitys core which requires Figure 11 | Visualization of principles, guidelines and metrics by author (adapted from the sustainable packaging project, Berkeley University, May 2010) balancing issues related to the triple bottom line. (cf. Sustainable Packaging Project, Berkeley University, 2010)



Design - iomimicry/Principles B of Ecological Design - anborn Principles S - esign for Disassembly D Community/Labor &Ecology - Houston Principles Waste Reduction (Affects the Biosphere and Business) - ircular Economy C - radle to Cradle C - ndustrial Ecology I

Management of Natural Resources in the Biosphere and in Commerce - recautionary principle P - Natural Step - Capitals Model 5 - riple Bottom Line T Environmental Health & Safety - Green Chemistry - oxicology T

The chart on the left side provides the Berkely Universitys selection of example principles in various categories of concern. Some of the listed issues have already been covered within this paper and will not be explained further. We now want to consider the most essential definitions, methods and guidelines, whose primarily focus is on packaging.

Table 1 | Sustainable principles, Berkely University, 2010 The World Packaging Organization defines sustainable packaging as it must meet the functional and economic needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. (cf. World Packaging Organisation, 2010) Another definition is provided by Kassidi and Zabaniotou. According to their article Journal of Cleaner Production, is sustainable packaging the development and use of packaging which results in improved sustainability. These definitions are rather vague so far. Though, in the latter definition the authors furthermore indicate, that at the end stage of the design process, an increased use life cycle assessment can tremendously decrease the impacts of packaging to the environment and the ecological footprint associated. (cf. Zabaniotou, Kassidi, 2003) Indeed, as Jedlicka points out as well, sustainable packaging requires a look at the whole of the supply chain: from basic function, to marketing and through the end of life cycle to rebirth. (cf. Jedlicka) Or as the Federal Trade Commission states: sustainable packaging requires more analysis and documentation to look at the package design, choice of materials, processing, and life cycle. (cf. Environmental Marketing Claims, 2010) Bolyston argues that sustainable packaging depends on the sustainable effort that is done in every stage of the life cycle of packaging. (cf. Boylston, 2009) Lastly on Wikipedia, the term life cycle refers to the notion that a fair, holistic assessment requires the assessment of raw material production, manufacture, distribution, use and disposal including all intervening transportation steps necessary or caused by the products existence. The sum of all those steps - or phases - is the life cycle of the product. The concept also can be used to optimise the environmental performance of a single product or to optimise the environmental performance of a company. (cf. Wikipedia, 2010) We can deduce that the packaging life cycle and its assessment is crucial in order to identify opportunities to improve the sustainability of packaging and its supply chain. A visualization of the packaging life cycle is provided by The Sustainable Packaging Coalition, that is dedicated to provide principles and guidelines for the development of sustainable packaging. As they claim it is their mission to advocate and communicate a positive, robust environmental vision for packaging and to support innovative, functional packaging materials and systems that promote economic and environmental health through supply chain collaboration. The Sustainable Packaging Coalition defines sustainable packaging as follows: Is beneficial, safe & healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle Meets market criteria for performance and cost Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy



Maximizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices Is made from materials healthy in all probable end of life scenarios Is physically designed to optimise materials and energy Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed loop cycles. (cf. Sustainable Packaging Coalition, 2010)

Figure 12 | Visualization of the packaging product life cycle by author (adapted from the SPC, Sustainable Packaging Coalition, May 2010)

The above figure describes the steps involved for packaging. From raw material extraction to end-of-use of packaging. According to Boylston each step within this cycle demands amounts of energy but there are also opportunities to reduce the amounts used. Sustainability depends on many different factors involved at all stages. They need to be identified in order to address them with appropriate measures. For instance, stewardship is necessary and helps to safeguarding the environments and protecting the work forces that are local to the extraction of material. The shorter the distance the materials have gone throughout the life cycle the better, because this decreases the amounts of petrol used for transportation for instance. Another aspect is that renewable energy should be used in every possible stage. Reusability and recycling systems or compostability of packaging can additionally enhance sustainability. (cf. Boylston, 2009) As Jedlicka furthermore claims that it is not possible to know the true cost, values or benefits of package design without considering the life cycle. (cf Jedlicka, 2009) Figure 13 on the next page provides a linear view of the packaging product life cycle. We can furthermore distinguish between upstream impacts of packaging that start with the extraction of raw material until the


Figure 13 | Visualization of upstream, downstream impacts by author packaging is passed to the consumer and the downstream impacts of packaging, which are defined as the impacts that occur through the use of packaging and the steps involved at the end-of-life of packaging. (cf. Boylston, 2009) For instance, this is the amounts of energy used for recycling procedures, composting, littering but as shown in the figure, there are also possibilities such as Waste-to-energy procedures, by means that energy can also be produced again. The commonly used tool to analyse the life cycle of packaging is to do a life cycle assessment. According to Wikipedia, the goal of LCA is to compare the full range of environmental and social damages assignable to

Figure 14 | Visalization of life cycle assessment by author (adapted from Wikipedia, March 2010) products and services, to be able to choose the least burdensome one. (cf. Wikipedia, 2010) There are different types of life cycle assessments known with different scopes. The scope varies from cradle to gate to cradle to cradle approaches and furthermore there are types such as the LCA process that addresses the environmental inputs and outputs compared to other approaches that address the economic inputs and outputs. We now considered here the ISO 14040 model that is part of the ISO 14000 environmental management standards in more depth. Figure 14 demonstrates an adopted illustration of the ISO


model in context of packaging that is divided into four main phases. These phases are often interdependent where the results of one phase will inform how other phases are completed. In the first phase, goals and the scope are defined for the study in relation to the intended application. The second phase involves data collection and modeling of the product system, as well as description and verification of data. (E.g. CO2, chemicals, input and output of materials energy etc.) In the third phase, impact assessment is aimed at evaluating the contribution to impact categories such as global warming, acidification, etc. The fourth phase called interpretation/application is an analysis of the major contributions and uncertainty analysis. All data is evaluated thoroughly and the results lead to measures such as product improvement, supply chain management policies and others that contribute to sustainability. (cf. Wikipedia, 2010) Now that we have described the packaging life cycle, we furthermore need to mention that companies such as Johnson & Johnson or Wal-Mart have recently developed their own definition or guiding principles that drive sustainable packaging within their supply chain. As Wal-Mart claims, it is their primary goal to be packaging neutral by 2025, which means that all packaging recovered or recycled at our stores will be equal to the amount of packaging used by the products in their shelves. For this reason they introduced their guiding principles called the seven Rs. These principles stand for: Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Renew(able, Recycle(able), Revenue and Read. Furthermore Wal-Mart introduced their packaging scorecard, that is a measurement tool which allows suppliers to evaluate themselves relative to other suppliers, based on specific metric that evolve out of the 7Rs. (cf. Wal-Mart,, 2010) Johnson & Johnson uses packaging criteria in collaboration with the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) Their 8 criteria are similar to Wal-Marts . Each of their criteria is further divided into different metrics that measure the material impacts of glass plastic and other materials used for their packaging production. (cf., 2010) The contribution of companies towards sustainable packaging is basically the right direction, but critics also claim, that such scorecards should not become the industrys standard. As Julina Caroll, Managing Diretor of EUROPEAN (The European Organization for Packaging and the Environment ) states: Just getting a high score for your packaging with Wal-Mart should not be a reason to rest on your laurels. In our dynamic industry this is clearly something we do not want. (cf. Carroll, European Organization for Packaging and the Environment, 2010) Despite of packaging life cycle assessment, there are related analytical methodologies such as the ecological footprint which is calculated by comparing the biological resources available in a given region to resource demands of a population. Standards have been developed by the network of users of the Global Footprint Network. The standards are available on in order to help to address calculation nuances, including conversions, measure of land/sea parcels, addressing nuclear power, varying data sources, import/export data and biodiversity among others. (cf. Sustainable Packaging Project, Berkeley University, 2010) Another well known footprint is the carbon footprint which represents a subset of the ecological footprint and of the more comprehensive life cycle assessment (LCA). (cf. Wikipedia, 2010) As commonly used today, for example, the term carbon footprint often refers to the number of tonnes of carbon emitted by a given person or business during a year, or to the tonnes of carbon emitted in the manufacture and transport of a product. In ecological footprint accounts, the carbon footprint measures the amount of biological capacity, in global hectares, demanded by human emissions of fossil carbon dioxide. (cf. Earthdaynetwork,, 2010)


As a last point to mention under methodologies is green supply chain management that includes many of the above mentioned issues. One definition of green supply chain management (GSCM) is provided by Srivastava. In his research paper Green supply chain management: a state-of-the-art literature review in 2007, the author defines GSCM as integrating environmental thinking into supply chain management, including product design, manufacturing processes, delivery of the final product to the consumers, material sourcing and selection, and end-of-life management of the product after life. The authors figure below illustrates the involved issues. (cf. Srivastava, Schmidt, 2007)

Waste Management

LifeCycle Analysis Environmentally ConsciousDesign

NetworkDesign& ReverseLogis)cs

Green Manufacturing& Remanufacturing



Loca)on&Distribu)on (NetworkDesign)

Inventory Management

Inspec)on/ Sor)ng

Pollu)on Preven)on


Produc)onPlanning& Scheduling





Product/Material Recovery



Repair/ Refurbish

Source:SrivastavaSK.Greensupplychainmanagement:astateo9he artliteraturereview.Interna<onalJournalofManagement Reviews2007;9(1):5380.

Disassembly ProcessPlanning

Disassembly Levelling

Figure 15 | Green Supply Chain Management by Srivastava SK (International Journal of Management Reviews, 2007)

Until now regulations and laws that affect packaging havent been covered. Regulations give direction or a target for the industry. For instance the European Packaging Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste contains provisions on the prevention of packaging waste, on the re-use of packaging and on the recovery and recycling of packaging waste. Nevertheless as already pointed out in the beginning of this section regulations have focused on resource or waste reduction but have missed to address social impacts of packaging or they do not provide guidance on package design and vary from country to country. (cf. Sustainable Packaging Alliance, 2002) A table in the appendix illustrates an overview of the regulations that affect packaging. In terms of sustainable packaging metrics, research indicated that there is not much information available. The SPC recently launched the Packaging Sustainability Metrics Project to develop a common set of indicators and metrics for companies to use to measure progress toward the vision of sustainability articulated in their definition of sustainable packaging.


As they point out on their webpage, the metrics framework provides a wide-ranging palette of indicators and metrics that are organized into eight categories related to material use, energy use, water use, material health, clean production and transport, cost and performance, community impact and worker impact. Each framework module explains why the measurements are relevant to sustainability efforts, defines each indicator as it relates to packaging, specifies the metric to be used and provides recommendations for what to measure and what not to measure. Unfortunately these metrics are only available to members of the SPC and are not for free. Berkeley University is currently identifying their own metrics within their sustainable packaging project. These metrics will be available for the public soon. We can deduce, that qualitative guidelines for sustainable packaging exists, but concrete quantitative guiding measures, and metrics for optimised sustainable packaging are rare and needed. As the above mentioned issues indicate, principles, guidelines, tools and metrics that contribute to the development of sustainable packaging exist, but as different authors claim, it is important to look at packaging with a holistic view. The term holistic is often referred to system thinking as well and represented in Daniel Pinks book, A Whole New Mind, where the author suggests that design needs a big picture view that includes different perspectives. Pink outlines six essential senses: 1. Design - Moving beyond function to engage the sense. 2. Story - Narrative added to products and services - not just argument. Best of the six senses. 3. Symphony - Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus). 4. Empathy - Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition. 5. Play - Bringing humor and light-heartedness to business and products. 6. Meaning - the purpose is the journey, give meaning to life from inside yourself. (cf. Pink, 2009)) According to Jedlicka, for packaging this means to adopt a system view. Rather than seeing design problems as something to be divided down into the smallest bits, the systems view sees them as opportunities for interconnecting the world. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009) Or as Boylston states, an essential problem to overcome when considering the move towards more sustainable practices in package design is that of connectivity. (cf. Bolyston, 2009) Todays businesses grow in size and due to this, there is a tendency towards specialization and also business isolations between departments in organizations. Unfortunately this often leads to a disjointed whole that lacks the necessary level of connectivity between all of the individual parts. What results from this isolation is an uncoordinated and often divisive stumbling towards a successful business practice, rather than a more agile and holistic approach where each departments moves forward with a clear understanding of the other departments agendas and operational methods. (cf. Bolyston, 2009) According to Jedlicka the system view can be used at multiple perspectives. For instance in package design, the design process, or the structure and the relations of a company. At a design level, the systems view focuses on linkages, boundary, and function. A system that is stable has forces to increase and forces to decrease. Their balance creates stability. Boundaries are exchange points that connect each other and to the world. Packaging has physical, informational and visual boundaries. The functions are the ways that a system responds to the environment. In context of packaging the functions of packaging to protect, inform and sell can be assigned to components of the system as well. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009)



An excellent tool that helps design teams to gain a holistic view in terms of design projects is provided by A420, an exploratory unit formed by Rupert Bassett and Lynne Elvins. As they claim, companies that want to produce sustainable design must navigate in a systematic, holistic way. They need to identify the contexts, agendas and issues involved in their design work. (cf. A420,, 2010) The tool helps to visualize the issues involved that contribute to sustainability. In that sense, it provides a holistic view and a basis for a systematic design procedure. It helps to determine the balance between the context where design operates, the agendas involved (financial, social, environmental and personal) and the wider range of relevant issues that need to be considered when moving towards sustainable design solutions. (Figure 16) The below figure shows an extract of the tool provided by A420.

involved issues

(center = high priority)

Figure 16 | Sustainability issue mapping by A420, May 2010 (

To sum up, this is a powerful tool for multidisciplinary design teams. It connects different disciplines and serves as a tool to engage exchange during workshops. It provides a visualization of the complexity of sustainable factors involved and facilitates the understanding and communication within stakeholders.



3.3.3 Materials Because sustainable packaging also depends on the right material decisions, as mentioned before, this section provides an investigation into the amounts of packaging and the kind of materials that end up in waste. Furthermore, paper and plastics is elaborated in more depth. The Municipal Solid Waste Generation report (2008) of the United States illustrates, that 30% out of 250 million tons of waste are containers and packaging before recycling. Figure 17 indicates the amounts of materials in that category. Paper and plastics are the major contributors to waste streams. (Figure 18)

Total MSW Generation (by Category), 2008 249.6 million tons (Before Recycling)

Figure 17 | Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States:Facts and Figures for 2008

Total MSW Generation (by Material), 2008 250 Million Tons (Before Recycling)


Figure 18 | Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States:Facts and Figures for 2008


PAPER According to Jedlicka, the global paper consumption is currently running at more than 350 million tons per year and fast approaching an unsustainable one million tons per day. Its not surprising that the industry accounts for over 40 percent of the worlds industrial wood harvest, threatening the worlds last endangered forest and the habitat they provide for endangered species. Lastly, Jedlicka points out that the paper industry is the fourth largest greenhouse gas contributor among manufacturers and a huge consumer of energy. Furthermore the paper production is associated with toxic bleaching procedures (cf. Jedlicka, 2009) Nevertheless paper has also benefits at a glance. As Jedlicka states, the primary uses for packaging are extremely versatile. Paper serves a vast array of functions from food to consumer good, to transport packaging for instance. Paper is a renewable resource, it is lightweight, durable, and readily recycled in most markets. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009) Furthermore, paper can be made from a variety of pulp fibre plants. Alternatively to wood-based paper, there is a variety of tree-free paper on the market that is made out of hemp, switch grass, kenaf straw and other sources. As Boylston argues, due to the huge amounts of paper that is already out there demanding high levels of post-consumer waste (PWC), paper stock choices should be of the highest priority. Paper can be recycled up to seven times. (cf. Bolyston, 2009) According to statistics on, recycling one ton of paper saves: 17 trees 7000 gallons of water 2 barrels of oil 4100 kilowatts of energy (statistics from RecycleBank,, May 2010) Designers that are in charge of packaging should support paper that is made from renewable resources. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) provides certification for materials derived from wood. FSC principles account for the sustainability of timer growth and harvest, but furthermore monitor peoples rights and workers rights. (cf. Boylston, 2009) PLASTIC Todays grocery shops are full of plastic packaging. Plastic has recently also been a hot topic in the news because of its negative environmental impacts and its adverse health effects to the human body. As stated in the movie Plastic Planet that was shown in cinemas, 240 million tons of plastic are produced annually. This, for instance has major impacts on sea life, as pointed out in the report of Thomas Hayden, Trashing the Oceans, in 2002. In the movie the amount of plastic is estimated about six times more than the amount of natural plankton. Additionally, plastic stays in the environment for about 400 to 1000 years. Moreover fish subsists of plastics, that keeps in their stomach until they die. Ultimately the cycle comes back to humans and as scientists claim, plastic traces are found in our blood as well. Nobody can really tell the after-effects of all this. (cf. Plastic Planet,, May 2010) According to the webpage, plastic is the general common term for a wide range of synthetic or semisynthetic organic amorphous solid materials used in the manufacture of industrial products. As described, plastics are typically polymers of high molecular mass, and may contain other substances to improve performance and, or reduce costs. (cf. Chemistry - Plastic,, May 2010)



As described in the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia there are two types of plastics: thermoplastics and thermosetting polymers. Thermoplastics will soften and melt if enough heat is applied (eg. polyethylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)). Thermosets can melt and take shape once. After they have solidified, they stay solid. (cf. Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia,, May 2010) According to Jedlicka, plastic has many benefits and drawbacks. For instance, it is very lightweight, durable material that provides moisture and gas barrier prosperities. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009) As described on Wikipedia, plastics relatively low cost, ease of manufacture, versatility, and imperviousness to water are used in an enormous and expanding range of products. (cf., 2010) As already mentioned, this is no difference in terms of packaging trends. As a drawback, additives can make plastic toxic and the materials flow is for downcycling rather than true recycling.(cf. Jedlicka, 2009) As stated on the website, the US capacity to process material and the market demand for the recovered plastic resin continue to exceed the amount of post-consumer bottles that are now recovered from the waste stream. As stated out: The shortfall in supply has existed for over 10 years. In 2005, over 1,050,000 tons of plastic bottles were recycled. Each year the amount of plastic bottles recycled increases by millions of pounds while the recycling rate has stabilized around 25%. (cf. American Chemistry,, May 2010) 25% is not a lot compared to the amounts that are newly produced. Nevertheless, plastic can be recycled and according to, one ton of recycled plastic saves: 5, 774 Kwh of energy 685 gallons of oil 30 pounds of air pollutants from being released (statistics from RecycleBank,, May 2010) Alternatively, bioplastics have become more popular in recent years. The term is an umbrella for biodegradable plastics from renewable sources such as corn, beets or potatoes. Bioplastics is quickly becoming a viable and environmentally friendly alternative to the petroleum-based plastics. Nevertheless, bioplastics also need the facilities for collection and must not derive from needed food sources. (cf. Boylston, 2009) The variety of alternative materials that can be used for packaging is growing. One can easily get overwhelmed by the amount of data available about new packaging materials and technologies available. Because this section cannot capture all available information in this context, it is recommended to packaging professionals to subscribe for online informations systems such as: ecopackaging, packagedesignmag. com, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, or many other blogs and magazines, that provide continuous updates in terms of materials and regulations. To conclude this section, one aspect is crucial and pointed out by Johnson: sustainable packaging is all about systems thinking: Its not just the packaging but also about the materials systems that relate to the package.(cf. Sustainable Packaging Coalition, 2009) This indicates that the choice of material plays an important role in order to enhance the sustainability of packaging, but only if the material supports the system that recovers the used material at the end of use. As Jedlicka points out if a designer just picks a random material out of his or her list of magic green materials and doesnt actually know why the material is environmental friendly, or even how it is applied correctly, then the replaced material can cause impacts far worse. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009)


3.3.4 Barriers, Drivers

At this stage, sustainable packaging has been explored and covered from different view points. The issues described can be seen as drivers or barriers and therefore it is worthwhile to point out what the major barriers and drivers are. This section provides an overview of the essential forces that either contribute or prevent from moving towards sustainable packaging.

According to a joint survey in the Packaging Digest article, John Kalkowski, the editorial director commented on the difficult position packaging firms find themselves in: Modern lifestyles, which demand longer product shelf life and create intense competition among brands, have been major drivers for increased usage of packaging, now seen as a leading contributor to waste streams. (cf. Kalkowski, 2010)

In 2002 the respondents in the survey of the Sustainable Packaging Alliance (SPA) point out that there is little agreement on the definition of sustainable packaging. The survey furthermore indicates, that there is a lack of knowledge considering many issues such as the meaning of life cycle management, or the opportunities to measure sustainable indicators. (cf. Sustainable Packaging Alliance, 2002)


According to Jedlicka, another reasons for failure is the fact, that decisions for packaging are still too often driven or made by people who do not have enough expertise and knowledge in fields such as engineering, design, buyer motivation and not to mention sustainability. The problem here is that in many countries, they are still allowed to do so, because no law for producer responsibilities actions and causes exist yet. The only countries that have introduced laws recently are: the EU, Japan, Australia, and Canada. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009)


According to Green Purchasing Australia REPORT 2009, one of the main barriers mentioned to green purchasing is the confusion or lack of information in order to make the best choice based on environmental considerations. The complex trade-off of environmental components such as greenhouse gas emissions, waste, water use, toxicity, impact on biodiversity is daunting. When considered over the full life cycle of a product or service and weighed up against numerous other purchasing criteria and alternative options, most purchasers find the decision near-impossible. The role of education, guidance and recognised certifications cannot be underestimated in overcoming this barrier. (cf. Green Purchasing Australia Report, 2009)


Additionally the Sustainability Survey Report of Pricewaterhouse Coopers points out that there is often a lack of support from senior executives or limited resources to dedicate to sustainability. Furthermore a lack of urgency resulting from little or no interest from key stakeholder groups, including customers, suppliers and the investment community is indicated. (cf. PricewaterhouseCoopers Sustainability Report, 2002)



As stated on the webpage, the term stands for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, a market segment focused on health and fitness, the environment, personal development, sustainable living, and social justice. (cf., May 2010) Cultural Creative is another term coined by Paul H.Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson in their book The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People are Changing the World. The authors point out that LOHA consumer take a holistic world view, believe that global economies, cultures, environments, and political systems are interconnected and if failure happens in one area, this has an effect on the whole society. (cf. Ray, Ruth, Anderson, 2001) According to Jedlicka this market segment has a great potential to drive change by moving towards more sustainable consumption and its also becoming an interesting target market to gain profits. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009) As pointed out in the Worldwatch Institute, the LOHAS market segment in the year 2006 was estimated at $300 billion, approximately 30% of the U.S. consumer market. (cf. Rosen, 2005)

According to the Pricewaterhouse Coopers 2002 Sustainability Survey Report, in general, the larger the company, the more likely it is to be developing sustainability programmes.: (...) large companies appear to be influenced by non-financial factors especially reputation. For instance, the worlds largest online retailer Amazon expects to see significant benefits, including increased customer satisfaction and a more sustainable corporate profile resulting from sustainable packaging. (cf., May 2010)


According to Michael Hardt, governments adopt contradictory laws. For instance, the Europeans Commissions packaging guidelines forces companies to reduce packaging and improve on recycling opportunities, but at the same time, other regulations demand additional packaging in order to satisfy hygiene criteria. (cf. Hardt 2008, in Sherin, 2009) Or as William McDonough once said: Regulation is a signal of design failure. (cf. McDonough, Braungart, 2010)


As packaging design is synonymous to a very complex system of players involved, everybody wants to achieve their primary goals and therefore influence the outcome or end product. As Hardt describes, packaging delivers the value wanted and requested by clients. If a client wants a cheap solution for packaging, he gets a cheap solution. If packaging is supposed to drive marketing claims, packaging is designed to act as an advertising media (cf. Hardt 2008, in Sherin, 2009) We can deduce that the forces either positively influence the sustainability of packaging or not.

According to Jedlicka, fear is one of the key factors, why change is slow to arrive towards sustainable packaging: Fear felt by the consumer that the unfamiliar product isnt as good (...) coupled with fear of wasting their ever-stretched dollar, fear felt by the manufacturer that the consumer wont accept the new product, and fear by the manufacturers creatives of being fired for stepping too far out of the norm. Otherwise, fear can also be a powerful driver for the industry. The smart companies recognize the growing pressure within public to adopt sustainable practices. Therefore the farsighted companies stay ahead of this tendency in order to be best positioned when legislation forces them to do so. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009)



According to Peterson, some alternative materials that are recycled/recyclable and/or less damaging to the environment can lead to companies incurring increased costs. Though this is common when any product begins to carry the true cost of its production (producer pays, producer responsibility laws, take-back laws). There may be an expensive and lengthy process before the new forms of packaging are deemed safe to the public, and approval may take up to two years.( cf. Ann Peterson, 2008) Nevertheless there are counterarguments that raise to question the above statement. For instance, Wal- mart could save money while improving packaging sustainability. As Kistler, Vice President of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. points out, the concerns over cost have, it seems, been replaced by the sense that there are tangible benefits to be derived from focusing more intently on packaging sustainability, even improved profitability. The packaging scorecard, for instance, helps suppliers see first-hand how sustainable business practices can boost their profits as well. (cf. Packaging Gateways,, May 2010)


In the Pricewaterhouse Coopers 2002 Sustainability Survey Report, respondents indicated that for some companies, sustainability as a concept is viewed with considerable scepticism, or seen as a temporary phenomenon that additionally adds cost without demonstrable benefits. (cf. PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2002) But there is also a counter force of companies that truly believe in the long-term advantage of sustainability, also as a competitive edge to competition.



3.4 Practise examples

The following companies which serve as practice examples are selected because they demonstrate how different measures of companies can either contribute or counteract towards sustainable packaging along different stages that packaging involves. The goal of the comparison is not to demonstrate 100% sustainable solutions for packaging. Rather, it is to examine what different packaging initiatives of companies cause for their businesses in terms of delivering profitable value, environmental improvement and customer satisfaction. 3.4.1 Company overview

Image 6 / Wal-Mart Firstly, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is an American public corporation that runs a chain of large, discount department stores. The company was founded by Sam Walten in 1962. Wal-Mart is the largest grocery retailer in the USA. Within more than 8400 retail units under 53 different banners in 15 countries, Wal-Mart employs more than 2.1 million associates worldwide. The company wants to be seen as a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunities. Wal-Marts purpose has always been to save people money and to help them live better. In terms of packaging Wal-Mart has set its goal to reduce packaging in its supply chain by five percent by 2013. (cf., May 2010)

Image 7 / Innocent smoothies Secondly, Innocent is a UK based beverage company that was founded in 1999. The companies primary business is producing smoothies, flavoured spring water and veg pots that are sold in supermarkets and coffee shops nationally. They are also continuously expanding within European countries. The company strives to act ethically in every area of business since their foundation. Innocent has been determined to fold sustainability into their packaging practices from the beginning. (cf., May 2010)

Image 8 / Cailler product line Thirdly, Cailler the Swiss chocolate producer was founded in 1819 by Franois-Louis Cailler. Cailler is the oldest chocolaterie within Switzerland and was the first producer of chocolate bars. In 2006 the company proudly introduced their relaunch of the brand Cailler. The goal of this rebranding campaign was to position Cailler as a premium product. Therefore even star architect Jean Nouvel was commissioned to design the new packaging. Unfortunately the rebranding turned out to be a big failure for Cailler. The packaging was perceived as environmentally unfriendly by customers, furthermore customers as well as retailers did not accept to pay a premium price for the new products. (cf. Lustenberger, 2006)


Figure 19 | Visualization of the packaging design process / packaging life cycle by author The above figure illustrates all stages that packaging involves. It combines the packaging design process with the packaging life cycle, from manufacturing to end-of-life. Each colour refers to a practice example and illustrates the source of impact. The below table summarizes the companys initiatives, measures and the effects caused for businesses, the environment and customers. 3.4.2 Comparison Table 2 | Summary of measures taken by best practice examples (Wal-Mart) Criteria Company / Assessment WAL-MART Initiative: Sustainability as a core element of their business philosophy Packaging-neutral by 2025 (packaging recovered/recycled will be equal to the amount of packaging used) Milestone for 2013 (5% reduction of overall packaging in its supply chain) Exploring innovative and environmentally-friendly packaging that is good for the environment, but for business as well (profitable) Measures:

R&D / Creation of a sustainable packaging value network (group of buyers, suppliers, government bodies, NGOs and academics) Packaging scorecard (yardstick for suppliers to assess their performance in regard packaging sustainability and costs) Using materials of the highest recycled content (eg. post consumer recycled) Introducing of efficient diesel engines for vehicles (distribution)


Criteria Effects: Business

Company / Assessment Positive reactions from suppliers Competitive advantage through sustainability (eg. corporate image) Improved sustainability know-how / decision-making

Environment Customers

Improved profitability on a long-term Encouragement of supplier collaboration Reduction of environmental impacts through step by step packaging reduction, supply chain improvements, recycling and R&D programmes Reduction of 100,000 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions (distribution) Increased reputation in public (eg. consumers, NGO etc.) Business transparency (eg. sustainable efforts are communicated towards customers)

Table 3 | Summary of measures taken by best practice examples (Innocent) Criteria Company / Assessment INNOCENT Initiative: Sustainability as a core element of their business philosophy Take responsibility for the impact business on society and the environment, and move these impacts from negative to neutral Measures: Introducing 100% post-consumer recycled plastics for bottles Communication strategy that informs customers about the sustainable progress of business initiatives and involves them to be part of that progress (online feedback platform) R&D with a sustainable network of expertise (continuous improvement of supply chain, life cycle assessment, evaluation of alternative materials such as bioplastics) Effects: Business Environment Competitive advantage through sustainability (eg. corporate image) Improved sustainability know-how (lead position) Cost savings through a 20% reduction of plastics for bottles Reduction of petroleum need due to recycled plastics (compared to virgin plastics) Plastic recycling reduces the amount of energy used up to 8 times 50% carbon reduction Customers Education about sustainable business practices, consumption Customer engagement through an open dialog (establishing a sense of a sustainable community) Customers feel good about their conscious consumption (connection to lifestyle)


Table 4 | Summary of measures taken by best practice examples (Cailler) Criteria Company / Assessment CAILLER Initiative: Re-branding/Re-launch of product assortment. Premium product positioning, Cailler should be perceived as a premium product that differentiates from other chocolate producers. Measures: Collaboration with Jean Nouvel, a famous french architect, who was in charge of designing the new packaging. Price increase for products Establishing of new corporate image (including corporate behaviour, corporate design and corporate communication) Advertising efforts (posters, webpage, tv spots etc.) Effects: Business Environment Customers Concerns about the environmental effects Not ready to pay more Overwhelmed by the new image. Irritation of brand perception due to a radical shift from traditionalism towards modernity. Some retailers such as Denner did not accept a price increase as a reasonable argument for Caillers re-branding efforts. Denner refused to pay this difference. Market share loss Profit loss Increased amount of packaging. Multilayered products, including plastics, aluminium and paper. This results in higher pollution impacts to the environment.



4.1 Insights
The below figure illustrates the further procedure of the analysis/synthesis part. The coloration indicates, that the gathered research data serves as a basis for insights, that lead to sustainable packaging criteria, which are used to establish recommendations for companies that enable and facilitate sustainable packaging development. Moreover, proposals for further research are described and a review of the thesis and its objectives is provided in a conclusion statement.






Figure 20 | Visualization of the analysis process by author

Figure 21 on page 33 illustrates the value network in context of packaging and sustainability. This method allows to visualize the interactions as well as it helps to identify the intangible assets of relationships or interactions that create value for companies. According to, value networks are sets of roles, interactions, and relationships that generate economic or social value. Any organization or activity can be understood as a value network that furthermore exhibits interdependence and account for the overall worth of products and services. Companies have both internal and external value networks. (cf. Value Network Basics,, May 2010) The value network visualization served as a tool that helped to identify the intangible value of sustainable packaging for companies and its environment. The results are considered within the following insights. Firstly, general insights are described, secondly the benefits of sustainable packaging are summarized and thirdly, the implications of sustainable packaging are considered. INSIGHT 1 | THE CURRENT STATE OF PACKAGING IS UNSUSTAINABLE Although there is a tendency that more companies move towards sustainable packaging, the research data indicates that the majority of packaging is not sustainable yet. The described evidences cover a range of issues that are associated within the packaging industry. Whether this is about natural resource depletion and scarcity of raw materials, energy consumption for production and distribution, climate change through resulting emissions, waste creation and decreasing capacity for disposal, trash that contaminates the environment or toxicity concerns of packaging materials that endanger human health and result in ecological contamination and damage. All issues indicate that plenty of reasons for change are given. INSIGHT 2 | RETHINKING THE STATE OF PACKAGING IS NECESSARY The packaging industry needs to realize that on a long-term view, change is necessary in order to ensure its own survival. If nothing happens, the current development will lead and end up at an impasse, because natural resources are limited and the current exploitation of resources excels the earth capacity as well as its ability for recreation. Although the challenge is big, it must not be seen as an obstacle. Rather it needs to be seen as an opportunity for change. a rethinking process that calls for action.








Figures 21 | Value Network by author
























INSIGHT 3 | SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING CREATES SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL VALUE The research activities proved the fact that sustainable packaging can provide beneficial value for companies as well as for the environment and the society. This added value might result in form of: Economic benefits/incentives Cost reductions Wal-mart is one example of a case study which illustrates, that sustainable packaging strategies can even reduce costs for companies. Whether these cost reductions result from shorter distribution distances, alternative material choices, an improved supply chain network, or packaging life cycle assessment, there are many tools and areas for improvement. As already mentioned the true costs of packaging can only be determined if the whole packaging life cycle is considered. (cf. Jedlicka, 2009) Minor changes might cause cost reductions when considering the whole life cycle of packaging. Certainly, this involves additional work, but it is beneficial on a long-term view. As a counterpoint it is to mention that the case study of Cailler is a good example for increased costs. The case illustrates, that the public is aware of over packaging, and not ready to pay even more for such a product re-launch. Furthermore the campaign did send the wrong message to the consumer, that is equal to an additional failure of package design. As a result, Cailler lost market share and had additional costs to rework its product line again. Despite of this the image of Cailler was not perceived positively anymore within the public. Improved public image/reputation Todays citizens have access to information through media or the internet. Therefore the public influence is also growing. As pointed out in the state of the art, there is a growing target group within the public that strives for a sustainable lifestyle. Again, Cailler is exemplary for the growing awareness and power of public pressure among companies. The media plays a central role as well. The resulting damage for a company is not easy to measure in numbers, but it definitely has an influence of how a brand is perceived. Emotions do play a role and affect our attitude towards products and services of providers. Growing target market As research data indicates, there is a growing acceptance within the public and awareness about the sustainable efforts of companies. The LOHA segment is a growing target market and can be seen as a potential market for new revenue streams. People have become more health conscious and well being has become a lifestyle attitude. A company needs to have these people in mind. As research indicates, it seems to be a trend with a growing membership figure that will endure within the coming years. This is also influenced by the growing media presence with reports about the effects caused by unsustainable actions of companies. Increased profitability The above mentioned issues result in added value for businesses and contribute to increase their profitability on a long-term. Additionally, the accenture report states that 64 percent of consumers are prepared to pay a premium for products and services that help reduce carbon emissions for instance. (cf. Accenture Survey, 2007) What is also important is to sustain the resources a company depends on. For instance, the environment builds the stock of all a companys actions. If a paper manufacturer has no more trees to extract the raw material for production, then the system collapses. Either the manufacturer needs to quit operating, switch to alternative raw materials or better, prevent from arriving at this stage. Companies need to give back the resources that they took out of the stock.


Increased customer loyalty If the companys sustainable efforts are communicated towards customers through products and packaging, or if customers are involved within the development process of sustainable packaging, then the right messages will be perceived by customers who pay attention to their decision making. Furthermore, this might result in increased customer loyalty, because the product, and the packaging message distinguishes itselves from others. It identifies with the specific values a person has which affect his or her decision making process at the point of sale. People that strive for a sustainable lifestyle will feel addressed, which is a competitive advantage. Environmental Benefits The conservation of natural resources is necessary in order to provide a future for businesses, people and nature. Critics might claim that all efforts done in the development of sustainable packaging does not solve the bigger problems of consumption and population growth, however, the current state of packaging has not arrived at a sustainable stage, it should always be the objective to think about better solutions. As the research proved, there is no one solution for sustainable packaging: It is rather a by step improvement process. It is proven that if nothing happens, there will come a point when no resources will be left. The aim of sustainable packaging is to minimize the damaging effect for the environment and give back a part of business profit in order to sustain the resources for tomorrow. Social Benefits Sustainable packaging initiatives strive to reduce the impacts on community/society as much as possible. Packaging should never be harmful to the environment as well as for people. Avoiding toxic materials that might cause illnesses is of highest priority. Polluting the environment directly affects people as well. As research illustrates, the contamination of sea life has direct effects on people and over fishing for instance causes unemployment of people on a long term, despite of the fact that the business diminishes its resources to exist. Fair working conditions must be provided as well as social rights must be respected within the whole supply chain. Moreover people have an interest and a right to know under what circumstances products are produced. A companys ethical values need to be manifested in the companys actions. A company that provides transparency in terms of sustainable efforts, creates an open dialogue with its customers which creates credibility and mutual trust.

INSIGHT 4 | SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING NEEDS A VISION The case studies from Wal-Mart and innocent indicate, that an established vision for sustainable packaging is necessary in order to achieve the defined long-term objectives of a company. According to Wikipedia, a vision defines the desired or intended future state of a company in terms of its fundamental objectives and/or strategic direction. A vision is a long term view, sometimes it describes how the company would like the world in which it operates to be. (cf. Wikipedia, 2010) For example, the vision of innocents packaging objectives is defined as We want our packaging to have the lowest possible impact on the world around us. (cf., May 2010) The vision of a company needs to become the corporate philosophy, by means it needs to be communicated and understood by the companys internal as well as external stakeholders. It is necessary to build a common understanding of the objectives that a company wants to achieve in terms of sustainable packaging.



INSIGHT 5 | CORPORATE CULTURE NEEDS TO ADAPT A sustainable vision needs to be rooted at the companies core values. Employees on all levels of an organization need to understand and identify with these core values. The education of employees is an on-going process but is essential in order to create a culture that fosters sustainable values and thinking. INSIGHT 6 | STAKE HOLDER BUY-IN DRIVES PROGRESS Stakeholders refers to everyone who has an interest in a process or outcome of an organization. (cf. Wikipedia, 2010) Internal stakeholders, such as the employees, the management or the owners of a company as well as external stakeholders like customers, suppliers, creditors, state or the public have an interest in participating in the progress of company. Sustainable package design is more likely to be successful, if key stakeholders are involved at an early stage of the development process. The aim is that key stakeholders within the organization and further, external specialists or consultants play an active role in defining the design strategy and its objectives. Moreover the commitment of stakeholders builds a common ground of understanding and is a motivating factor that drives research. INSIGHT 7 | SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING DEMANDS MULTIDISCIPLINARITY As the research data indicates, package design and manufacturing involves the collaboration of different disciplines such as marketing finance or design for instance. According to Gayraud, multidisciplinary research can be considered as a subset of research collaboration. As Gayraud states, multidisciplinary research projects require extra efforts and motivation for acquiring knowledge of areas outside of the participants own expertise. Furthermore, Gayraud points out, that the strengths of multidisciplinary research is to provide different approaches to problems. Multidisciplinarity allows researchers to learn the basics of other disciplines, it helps to broaden their education, increase their network and create knowledge that is valuable for solving defined problems. (cf. Gayraud, 2005) Considering sustainable packaging development, a real need for expanded collaboration with other disciplines is given. To give an example here, it is not the job of marketing for instance to do a proper life cycle analysis of a specific packaging. In order to achieve the best possible solution for sustainable packaging, its advisable to establish a team that is able to address the criteria for sustainable packaging in order to find the best fitted solution. Another relevant point is the interpretation of data. As Simon states, aspired knowledge that is gained through multidisciplinarity is highly dependent on the chosen disciplines and the interpretation of data. (Alain Findeli et al., 2008) INSIGHT 8 | MAJOR MISTAKES HAPPEN AT A DESIGN STAGE As the Cailler study illustrates, the major failure of a package design happens at a design stage. If consumers needs are not understood or interpreted correctly, if the package design does not convey the consumers expectations or emotions then it wont sell. The case indicates that consumers and media are sensitive about a companys actions. Packaging reflects these actions through its design. Customer research has therefore failed to understand what customers expect from the product and the package design. INSIGHT 9 | QUALITY & CUSTOMER SATISFACTION A company is basically interested in providing products or services of good quality for customers. A packagings primary function is to protect its content. Sustainable packaging is therefore worth nothing, if the quality of the content such as milk for instance cannot be guaranteed. In this case the product would not sell and this is not an objective of the companies.



Moreover, sustainable packaging must be usable by all people. As indicated within the state of the art, universal design principles need to be considered within sustainable package design. A packaging does not fulfil its objectives if it is not functional for people. For instance, if a packaging cant be opened by people due to haptic reasons then it fails to include a certain target group for revenue streams. INSIGHT 10 | INFRASTRUCTURE & CONSUMER EDUCATION As research illustrates, packaging needs to be seen as a system. Even if new packaging systems might contribute to improve sustainability, the needed infrastructure for collection needs to be established. Despite of the pro and cons of PET and glass, both materials need a system for collecting. Bottles are a good example. Customers need to be educated about their role to bring back these bottles after consumption. If not, the system also fails. This is not different with new materials. Biodegradable materials also depend on the way a consumer disposes the packaging for instance. Therefore sustainable packaging needs to inform customers about the disposal or service involved. INSIGHT 11 | SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING DEMANDS CONTINUOUS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT Research indicates that the requirements and opportunities for packaging are in continuous change. It is a dynamic business. For instance, the regulatory environment of packaging within the next years might not be the same as it is today. Furthermore, technological improvements for manufacturing or material opportunities are likely to change the opportunities that contribute towards more sustainable packaging solutions. Therefore it is essential to keep up to date with the continuous development. Advantageously, this might result in improved sustainable packaging solutions and added value for companies as well. INSIGHT 12 | SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING INVOLVES MANAGING COMPLEXITY AND CONFLICTS Research indicates that sustainable packaging demands a holistic approach. Sustainability as well as packaging, are both complex subjects and need to be handled at the same time. Furthermore companies will encounter conflicts in the development of sustainable packaging, whether this is about people that have different opinions or regulations that affect the outcome of packaging. Companies are challenged to balance conflicts and to handle complexity. INSIGHT 13 | QUALITATIVE INFORMATION BUT A LACK OF GUIDANCE Qualitative sustainable packaging guidelines, principles and metrics for companies do exist. Governmental as well as non-governmental institutions provide helpful tools for companies and there is a lot of information about sustainable packaging provided on the internet as well. Unfortunately, there is not much guidance available, about how companies can approach sustainable package design within a step by step process. The packaging criteria on the next page are based on the described insights. The criteria are allocated to the economic, environmental and social pillars and serve as critical factors that need to be considered within sustainable package design.






Figure 20 | Visualization of the analysis process by author



4.2 Sustainable packaging


Impact reduction through: Reduced raw material consumption Reduced greenhouse emissions (eg. carbon emissions) Reduced waste creation Reduced energy consumption (eg. Fuel > renewable Energy Reduced pollution (air, water) Material viability (recyclable, reusable, degradable) Packaging attribute (volume, weights) Supply chain management R&D (multidisciplinarity) Material Toxicity

Impact on community / people Education (eg. labelling) Social rights Fair working conditions / equality Universal design (design with all people in mind)

Raw material resources / consumption

Quality of product (product protection) Regulatory compliance Image / Reputation Profitability Feasibility of distribution / logistics Customer satisfaction, service implications Marketing objectives (product, price, place, promotion) Distribution / Logistics

Figures 22 | Visualization of sustainability by author (adapted from Wikipedia, May 2010)

The above figure illustrates the major criteria for sustainable package design. The criteria serve companies as a basis to plan actions. The list is a reference point for companies and might be extended or adapted within each project. As a next step, the insights as well as the criteria are used to establish recommendations for companies that help and facilitate the development of sustainable packaging.



Figure 20 | Visualization of the analysis process by author






4.3 Recommendations
The figure below illustrates the list of recommendations for companies in chronological order. The recommendations follow a step by step process which does not mean that it needs to be seen as purely linear, but rather as an iterative process. The next pages describe all steps involved in more depth.

( D E F I N E L O N G - T E R M O B J E C T I V E S , E D U C AT E S TA K E H O L D E R S )



4. R&D
( C U S T O M E R R E S E A R C H , R E G U L AT I O N S , C O M P E T I T I V E A N A LY S I S , A P P LY I N G D E S I G N M E T H O D S )

( C O N C E P T D E V E L O P M E N T & A S S E S S M E N T O N S U S TA I N A B L E C R I T E R I A )






ESTABLISH A VISION / MISSION If a company has made the decision to investigate into sustainable packaging strategies, it is recommendable to define the companys vision about the sustainability long-term goals and objectives in context of packaging. How should the companys sustainable future for packaging look like? How can the business achieve its vision? A vision statement is used by companies in order to communicate long-term achievements or company values towards internal and external stakeholders: from the management, to investors, up to suppliers, employees or the public. Additionally, the companys mission statement defines the purpose of a companys actions and it provides information about how the company wants to achieve its vision. The vision is part of a sustainable package design strategy in a company. The strategy defines the direction of the business and describes the market scope of competition and actions. Competitive strategies or tactics are described in order to outperform the competition. Furthermore, the strategy defines what resources are needed to enable strategies, or how these can be achieved. Whether this is about financial requirements, needed infrastructure or additional know-how, a company needs to have the resources to enable strategy. Another aspect is a companys environment. A company needs to consider the external factors that affect its actions. A SWOT analysis (strengths&weaknesses, opportunities&threads) or the Porters five forces model are possible tools to identify the factors involved. The implementation of strategic objectives into a company is an on-going process. As mentioned, the vision serves as a guideline but it also requires someone who takes the leadership. Permanent research, planning, education, coordination, training of employees and communication with internal as well as external stakeholders is inevitable to enable strategy and the appropriate business culture.



The identified criteria for sustainable package design serve as a basis to plan the involved issues. Its recommendable to establish policies and identify the critical areas in order to apply the appropriate actions that address environmental, economic and social needs. Furthermore, the criteria serve as guiding principle to establish the required task force needed as a next






The task force refers to a multidisciplinary team that is established due to the criteria of sustainable packaging. This team varies because of the product attributes. The requirements of a milk packaging differentiate from the requirements of bread packaging for instance. The appropriate team needs to be identified in order to achieve the research objectives. Furthermore, stakeholder buy-in needs to be achieved by companies. A task force helps to approach the research objectives but further stakeholders such as sales partners, investors, end-users, or public authorities need to be considered as well. Involvement of stakeholders at an early stage of the design process, helps to get their support and moreover it influences the outcome of package design positively.


R & D

As soon as the task force is established the research objectives need to be defined. Furthermore the communication between the participants needs to be guaranteed. Each member of the task force is specialized in a specific field of knowledge. The whole life cycle of packaging needs to be considered within research. Research is then conducted in different areas with different aims. For instance, marketing research or qualitative ethnographic research about customer behaviour is helpful to understand the customers underlying needs. Research tasks probably also include material choices, the regulatory environment, supply chain management or life cycle assessment. From a design perspective, there are different methods available that help to understand the customer. For package design, methodologies such as observational interviews of end-users can be used in order to analyse how a product and its packaging is actually used by different target groups. The insights are useful for packaging improvements or even indicate new opportunities to improve a packagings functionality or handling for instance. The images on the next page illustrate an extract of possible research data in form of images that document food storage. Conversational interviews are documented as well and the resulting data is evaluated with the aim to improve the current product or service for customers.



Image 9 to 12 | Storage documentation, images by author Another powerful tool to identify new opportunities for sustainable package design is scenario planning. Instead of only looking at the current state of packaging, it is helpful to imagine what the future will be like or, how the past has been. Switching the perspective might help companies to identify alternative packaging strategies that serve customers needs while simultaneously improving the sustainability of packaging.



The conducted research data is now analyzed within the task force in order to generate concepts for packaging solutions. This can be achieved through workshops that enhance idea creation. If needed, further people can join the team to bring in their expertise. Different concept approaches serve as a starting point for evaluation. The companys objectives and the defined criteria for sustainable packaging serve as metrics to evaluate each


The life cycle of packaging is assessed by specialists. Marketing strategies are developed and packaging prototypes are generated. Furthermore, the concepts and prototypes are tested by end-users. Focus groups are used to test the outcome of package design. Feedback data is gathered. The concepts are then again adapted according to reactions and gained insights. The finalized concept must conform the sustainable packaging criteria and create economic, social and environmental value. Diagrams such as spider webs serve as a tool to visualize the strengths and weaknesses of each concept.

Figure 23 | Visualization of concept assessment by author

Image 13 Sketching for a prototype / Bolyston 2009




Implementation needs to be planned in advance in order to guarantee the quality of a new package design throughout the production chains. For instance, new technology might demand additional know-how or education of employees. Resources, processes, structures and activities need to be managed and coordinated in order to achieve a smooth production flow. The final product and its package design is evaluated in terms of sustainability and customer satisfaction. Whether the defined objectives have been achieved or not is evaluated. Furthermore, the feedback of early product adopters is used to measure if the packaging has met the customers expectations and needs. The gained insights are used for the refinement of the package design if necessary. In this case, additional research might be considered as well. The long-term success of sustainable packaging can be measured with facts, such as reports on profitability for instance. Moreover the companys sustainable efforts are communicated towards its stakeholders, which might be noticed positively. Continuous research and evaluation of sustainable package design performance is required within a defined time frame. This is relevant, because the conditions for package design might change or because other opportunities have the potential to replace the existing design.


Additionally, it is recommendable that companies investigate further research within the aforementioned issues in order to gain deeper insights: Regulatory environment. Because international regulations diversify from case to case, it is advisable that companies are aware of the different restrictions and influential factors that affect packaging. Compare and contrast existing metrics or guidelines for sustainable packaging. The amount of existing guidelines and metrics provided by different governmental and non-governmental institutions is vast. A comparison of the different approaches is recommendable in order to identify the most relevant information. Investigate customer&trend research. User-centered insights which are conducted through ethnographic research or interviews are key in order to understand the customers underlying needs. Trend research will furthermore open up the framework of thinking and contribute to develop alternative ideas towards sustainable packaging. Table 5 | Proposals for further research by author


Figure 20 | Visualization of the analysis process by author






4.4 Conclusion
The research results indicate, that enough reasons for sustainable packaging are given in order to guarantee the long-term survival of the packaging industry. Furthermore it has been proven, that companies can benefit from sustainable packaging, which furthermore results in added value for the environment and society. Nevertheless, companies which want to investigate sustainable packaging solutions face a number of barrieres and critical factors which have been pointed out within the thesis. The research question dealed with how design management can help companies to develop new business dimension that drive a comprehensive approach towards sustainable packaging. For this reason, recommendations have been developed in order to provide a step by step approach, which facilitates the procedure, companies have to go through. Sustainable packaging criteria serve as a starting point to define the objectives of a companys sustainable packaging strategy. Leadership, collaboration, communication and coordination are the major tasks which companies needs to manage in order to enable sustainable packaging development. A company needs to have someone who is in charge of these activities. Design management brings along the needed skills and the know-how a company is required to have. As described within the thesis, design managenement is an interdisciplinary activity. Bridging different disciplines within the research phase of sustainable packaging is crucial in order to achieve the research objectives. Design management can act as a mediator between the different disciplines, which helps to facilitate communication and the information exchange. A design manager needs to have interpersonal and communications skills, which is necessary to establish efficient team work. The management of the involved activities is another strength of design mangement. Design management involves planning, coordinating and the controlling of different organizational tasks, procedures and activities on all levels of an organization. Furthermore a design manager can be seen as a design champion for sustainable package design. Design management enables companies to establish a sense for design thinking within the company. Different design methods and tools which can be used throughout the design process, enable companies to think outside of the box. As a result, user-centred insights as well as new design opportunities for sustainable packaging strategies can be identified. Therefore, design management contributes and enables companies to develop new business dimensions that drive a comprehensive approach towards sustainable packaging. I am positive, that this paper can make a contribution to motivate companies to take leadership in sustainable packaging.



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I would like to take particular note of the following people, who supported me during the development of this bachelor thesis and thus contributed and facilitated its completion: I especially thank Daniel Aeschbacher, who was my tutor and coach throughout the project. I was glad to get constructive criticism, support and advice from him. Moreover I would like to thank my experts, Fredy Dinkel and Oscar Steffen, for sharing their knowledge with me. I also thank my classmates, who have contributed to my development during the last three years, it was a pleasure to spend and share a great time with you : )




I, Claudio Becker, do hereby certify that the attached work, Sustainable Packaging, a comprehensive approach towards sustainable packaging is entirely my own and that I have indicated all sources (printed, electronic, personal, etc.) that have been consulted. Any sections quoted from these sources are clearly declared and indicated and the source are explicitly given. I further declare that I have included acknowledgment of the name(s) of any person(s) consulted in preparing this Final BA Thesis. Unless otherwise stated, no parts of this work have been published before submission.


Lucerne, 28th of May, 2010




Environmental Laws & Regulations Focused on Packaging, by Hwang. 2007

(Unpacking the Packaging Problem: An International Solution for the Environmental Impacts of Packaging Waste)