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Driving Packaging Collaboration: Co-Innovation For Sustainable Design Solutions

by Ilkka Harju on 10/16/2020 | 4 Minute Read

When it comes to collaborating on sustainable packaging design, it all starts with an idea, and the end result is a new package that succeeds in the marketplace because it addresses consumer needs, preferences, and buying decisions. However, everything begins with understanding the lifecycle of the products and what the performance needs are for packaging throughout the entire value chain. 

For that to happen, we need to take a holistic approach. A starting point today requires looking at where and how we can design with renewable and recyclable materials while minimizing the use of fossil fuels. The consistent quality of the material is also pivotal, as well as ensuring high production efficiency and the prevention of waste in packaging manufacturing and packing lines.

Well-designed packaging should protect the product inside and the world outside. The crucial step is to develop a packaging solution created with its entire lifecycle in mind. One package that exemplifies this is the Arctic Blue Gin package we designed for the U.S. market with a dramatic holographic design inspired by the Northern Lights.

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For this type of collaboration to be successful, we need effective coordination, information sharing, listening, and iteration throughout the process. That requires knowledge and expertise throughout the packaging value chain, from material suppliers to designers, as well as an understanding of brand vision, consumer behavior, cultures, business, design automation, and sustainability.

Here are the four ways to do this effectively with speed-to-market in mind.

Collaborate, Synchronize, & Communicate 

You can achieve the best results when all partners on a project share their expertise freely. No matter how good a new idea or concept is, you'll have a whole team working on it. That requires patience and coordination. 

For Arctic Blue Gin, we worked closely with the brand owner in collaboration with converting and printing partners (Hazen Paper Company and AM Packaging) to minimize materials and ensure durability. We chose MetsäBoard Pro FBB Bright Paperboard because it is lightweight, smooth, and works best with holographic film. This board also has excellent embossing properties that make the tree and branches graphically produced on the package stand out. This collaboration also ensured that the graphic design and finishing effects resulted in an impactful consumer experience.

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Analyze the Lifecycle

We should design products using a minimal amount of material that can achieve maximum performance. You have to manage the whole lifecycle carefully and responsibly, taking into consideration design, procurement, production, logistics, the consumer, and, finally, material collection and recycling. Arctic Blue’s packaging analysis included the careful material choice to minimize substances through lightweighting while ensuring durability from transport to store and making it easy to recycle. In the case of the gin, we discovered that the materials used for their previous package proved to be ideal for this project. 

Test Different Structures to Save Resources and Avoid Over-Packaging.

Computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools allow sophisticated analysis to predict the performance of different designs and support the user for optimization. The MetsäBoard Pro FBB Bright Paperboard used for Arctic Blue Gin has a very uniform smooth surface, scores and folds exceptionally well, and has environmental superiority. While it was clear that this material was preferred, in other cases, we recommend careful screening of alternative materials that can help streamline the material testing process and accelerate the packaging design process.

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Address Your Consumer’s Needs

Good consumer experiences are essential for any project, and designing a sustainable package has become a more meaningful part of the experience. Consumers drive the business through their beliefs, preferences, and buying decisions, so educating them about these choices will help them make informed decisions. Right now, there’s a movement against single-use plastic packaging, and that encourages brand owners to look for more sustainable packaging solutions. 

Conveying an image of a clean, crisp winter night highlighted by the flaming Northern Lights provided a striking visual impact. But the genuine sustainable kicker was that the picture gets reproduced by printing over a holographic metallization effect with transfer-metalized Envirofoil, which uses less than 1% of the aluminum of traditional foil laminate and no zero, making it both economically and environmentally friendly. 

You also need to balance cost with innovation. Price always plays a significant role when developing new solutions, which is why you must adapt materials, technologies, and production efficiency to reach both profitability and performance.

The challenges are great, and collaboration is essential to meet these hurdles. Bringing the right stakeholders together and leading the process will be the key to successful innovation.