Featured image for Want To Go PlasticFree? Now, There's an Online Design Tool For That

Want To Go PlasticFree? Now, There's an Online Design Tool For That

by Bill McCool on 01/10/2023 | 4 Minute Read

When it comes to packaging, it looks like going plastic-free just got a little bit easier.

Launching today, PlasticFree is a materials and systems solution platform that seeks to make the world a little less reliant on environmentally destructive and harmful plastics. Spearheaded by global solutions group A Plastic Planet (APP) and developed by over 40 designers, materials experts, scientists, and business leaders, PlasticFree is a much-needed design tool that aims to empower 160 million global creators and designers to utilize plastic-free alternatives. 

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The change-making platform for materials and systems solutions understands that designers have one of the most critical roles in remaking the packaging industry into one that’s truly sustainable. But to transform how creatives approach a design project, they need the tools and resources to implement a paradigm shift of that nature.

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Currently, the site contains over 100 case studies spanning the globe that detail concrete material alternatives for designers looking to make their work genuinely sustainable, whether it's bamboo, algae, seaweed, or even aluminum. Creatives looking to subscribe to the site can do so for £250 annually (about $303 in America-speak). What’s more, PlasticFree will feature workspaces for team collaboration on projects, editorial content from leading experts in the land of all things anti-plastic, and daily updates to help put the kibosh on synthetic, human-made polymers.

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“Everything begins with a creative process. There is significant power held by the 160 million global creatives to help us rethink how we take, make, and waste, to reimagine different systems and material uses in a very different way from today,” said Sian Sutherland, co-founder of APP and PlasticFree, in a press release. “Our default dependence on incredible but toxic and indestructible plastic has to end. Designers want to be part of the solution, but there is a minefield of misinformation. If we can ignite and empower creatives by giving them trusted, relevant data and inspiring case studies, we believe we can change everything much faster.”

“We have one simple goal—make the designer the smartest, most confident person in the room to push back against that inevitable brief that says just use a bioplastic or a recycled polymer, so we get a green tick,” she added. “Above all, our focus is on system change, not just better materials.”

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The PlasticFree advisory council features a murderers' row of design talent, like Jo Barnard, Tom Dixon, Thomas Heatherwick, Ayse Birsel Skylar Tibbits, Shaway Yeh, and—full disclosure—Dieline founder Andrew Gibbs who also co-founded PlasticFree with A Plastic Planet.

Naturally, London and New York creative agency Made Thought led the design for the new platform as the collective not only developed the PlasticFree Logo but also helped APP create the world’s first plastic-free grocery aisle.

According to the agency, they chose to go with an image-first aestehtic, that way, it could serve almost like a trend tool to help creatives keep up plastic-free innovations and materials. "All designers are like magpies—always looking for something new, different or exciting," said Ben Parker, founding partner at Made Thought. "After all, with so much innovation currently being driven by sustainability, it means PlasticFree is a unique inspiration platform for the creative industry.

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"It helps translate topics that can often be lofty or very dry, making them both digestible and desirable," added Parker. "And, critically, it feels optimistic, a place full of potential and possibility of making a plastic free world."

Most importantly, PlasticFree not only fills in a designer's likely knowledge gaps, but caters to a real need in the design community. "There are many 'trend' sites out there already," explained Parker. "We wanted to create that careful balance of showing just how exciting and beautiful our new future of systems and materials can look and how you can be part of it while communicating the deep authority and know how of the team behind the platform. What designers need is trusted, fresh, relevant information, delivered in a way they want to consume it."

Every material a designer uses has a life cycle. If the packaging industry can mobilize and empower creatives to make inspired choices and forego plastic by opting for sustainable, biodegradable, reusable, refillable, or compostable solutions, then that's a win for the planet.