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Beyond (eco)design: Current approaches to sustainable packaging design

  • Wever, R. (author)
Publication Date
Mar 06, 2014
TU Delft Repository
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Packaging has always received a lot of attention within the field of design for sustainability. The classical approach has been to mainly focus on reducing the impact of the packaging. This approach stems from the ill-informed position that packaging is superfluous, or at best there only for marketing reasons. This is a rather guild-based approach that, if taken to extremes, would lead to complete elimination of packaging, or at most a quintessential brown paper bag. In industry reality though, the packaging design is seen as a way to differentiate, to stand out from the competition. That view is at odds with the sustainability view. Also, through fulfilling its other functions, such as protection of the packed product, packaging contributes to sustainability. This paper discusses several other approaches, such as circular economy as an alternative perspective on sustainability, prevention of food waste as an alternative design priority, and the eco-cost value ratio as an alternative assessment method. Subsequently, the alternative assessment method, the so-called eco-costs/value ratio, or EVR, is elaborated upon. By comparing the eco-burden of a packaging with the value created, it allows aligning sustainability and marketing performance. Hence, it shows an approach to design for sustainability that is more in line with business reality. In this paper several packaging examples are used, but this method is applicable for all sorts of designs, such as furniture design and service design, as will be briefly discussed as well. / Design Engineering / Industrial Design Engineering

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