Struggling with how to design a package to be sustainable?
Mark Dziersk, vice president of industrial design in the Chicago office of Brandimage-Desgrippes & Laga, a global brand design firm, offers these 10 principles of design, counting down from 10 to 1, ala the Late Show Top Ten list on the David Letterman show.
10) Less Is More, Dziersk said at the recent Sustainable Plastics Packaging conference in Atlanta. Simple designs have less impact [on the environment], take up less space, increase the efficient use of space for shipping and at retail, and reduce transportation and shipping costs.
9) Maximize Your Impact. That is, use phrases, when you can, such as 100 percent recyclable. You have to put the product in the right package that matches the consumer expectation. You can't fight against yourself.
8) Ask Questions. Challenge the concept and the premise of the packaging design, he said. Hewlett-Packard did that when it came up with a recycled, reusable messenger box two years ago for shipping three laptops at a time, reducing the amount of cardboard and plastic packaging by 97 percent. The product uses 25 percent less truck space at Wal-Mart and cut the retailer's transportation costs for that product by 31 percent.
7) Integrate Your Talent. Great ideas come from everybody, Dziersk said. Find ways to bring ideas into life and integrate them into product development, Give people the freedom to take one foot out of the sandbox.
6) Waste Not, Want Not. One example of that is the Samsung E200 Eco cell phone, which is biodegradable, made from corn, consumes less energy and is less polluting, Dziersk said.
5) Design for Recovery. TerraCycle [Inc.] reclaims old products and turns them into new products for the home and office, he said. Similarly, since late 2008, all packaging for Speedo goggles have been made from recyclable materials with the reusable goggle pouches partially constructed from swimsuit fabric cut-offs.
4) Design in Parallel. An example: the 3-year-old student-designed HangerPak, which is used to ship T-shirts and can be turned into a hanger, he said.
3) Understand the Scope of what you are trying to accomplish, he said. That led Puma AG to replace its traditional shoe box earlier this year with the Clever Little Bag, a reusable shoe bag with a handle on top. Instead of a lid and a bottom, the inside of the package which contains the shoes slides out the end, so the new package can still store the shoes. The new package uses 65 percent less paper and will reduce water, energy and diesel consumption on the manufacturing level by more than 60 percent per year, said Puma. The firm also suggests that because the package is a built-in bag, it offers the potential to save 275 tons of plastics annually used to make carryout shopping bags.
The top two design principles: Tell a Story (with your package); Engage the Consumer. You can't just go out and say you are sustainable and not look it, Dziersk said. You want the consumer to look at the package and instantly view it as sustainable.