The design of a product plays a crucial role in how the product affects the environment. This is why eco design, in accordance with customer requirements, is at the heart of our product design. The design approach of eco design involves much more than the recyclability of packaging or the use of recycled materials. Eco design goes far beyond this. Rather than viewing packaging separately, it sees it in unity with the packaged goods. Optimal consumer and product protection are the main considerations during development. In eco design, we consider the packaging and packaged goods as one single system throughout the entire life cycle of both products. We see the eco design concept as a truly future-oriented innovation.
On the one hand, the life cycles of packaging and packed goods are closely linked, and on the other hand, it is always important to find a solution that offers maximum functionality and cost-effectiveness. This means that trade-offs between requirements concerning product protection and the reduction of the environmental impact of packaging – for instance through minimal material use, the use of recycled materials and a recycling-friendly design – are inevitable.
A comprehensive consideration of product development following the eco design model must include the careful deliberation of all of its advantages and disadvantages. For example, the use of recycled material stands to reason from an ecological point of view. After all, it saves resources. At the same time, however, economic aspects should also be considered. How does the use of recycled materials affect product costs? It must also be examined whether the use of recycled materials could lead to functional limitations – if, for example, the necessary material rigidity or toughness cannot be achieved. If the use of recycled material is still requested in this case, the design will have to be modified. The product developer is also required to check whether a suitable recycled material exists at all and whether it can be meaningfully used in terms of eco design.
Eco design must ensure optimum use and handling throughout all phases of a product life cycle, from production through storage and filling, packaging and transport, all the way to proper product use and subsequent disposal. And it is crucial to remember that only designs that guarantee waste sortability can be used as recycled material in a second product life.
The current social debate on plastic packaging often ignores the fact that resource consumption for the production of packaging – and thus its environmental impact – is usually lower than that for the production of the packaged goods. Food packaging example: plastic packaging significantly prolongs the shelf life of food compared to many alternative materials. For example, the summary of the ecological evaluation of packaging carried out by GVM Packaging Market Research (published April 2018) included the following observations: The CO2 savings as a result of reduced cheese waste is 2.5 times higher than the additional CO2 emissions for optimised packaging.
In other words, a dogmatic renunciation of plastic packaging can have a significant negative effect on environmental and sustainability objectives.