The road to designing out waste

By Alastair Jones

As we move towards further eliminating packaging, we will see more and more exciting opportunities for product innovations come to life.

The mission is on to accelerate the move towards a more sustainable economy.

Designing effectively to keep materials at their highest utility and highest value has seen smaller packs, refillable concepts, renewable components and many other great initiatives being taken. And more and more we are considering eliminating packaging altogether. We have seen a number of examples of packaging-free concepts in the food industry including WikiPearl, a small ball of ice cream, sorbet or even cheese, protected by an edible outer shell; Ooho, the edible water bottle made from seaweed; and Loliware, a fruit juice served in an edible cup made from agar.

So, what does this mean for brands? With no packs or labels to design for on-shelf standout, it is paramount that the product itself and the way it behaves are uniquely branded. The founder of WikiPearl, David Edward, acknowledged that, “People buy food products because they like them, not to solve the world’s problems.” It is not enough to convince shoppers to buy into new concepts simply because they are sustainable; brands need to incorporate added benefits and enhanced branded experiences into their products and services. Up-cycling continues to be a great way to do this. Take Kaleidoscope’s Always Bee, a jar of honey designed around a recycled wine bottle that becomes a vase. Also, the label made from seeded stock will flourish, when planted, into pollinated flowers to attract bees.

The sustainable philosophy invites new and exciting opportunities for packaging innovation across multiple fields including product design and new business models. If enough brands commit to greening their actions, this will establish a framework for a resilient system to work in the longer term and accelerate the transition to a circular economy. 

ECHO's future insight journal Absolem 2015, considers how brands can explore future solutions like edible packaging in a way that connects with their core brand truth. To pre-order your copy please get in touch! 

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