Eco design examines the entire product life.

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.  


Handling such trade-offs must therefore be precisely regulated during the development phase. What is more important, the minimal use of materials, for example through a non-recyclable material structure, or recyclability? In order to find the right path here, we talk to our customers about the specific criteria that need to be considered. To help us, we use the “Round Table for the Eco Design of Plastic Packaging” guidelines. There is never a perfect solution for a life-cycle-friendly eco design – but our goal is to be a little better every time. To do this, we need to have as much knowledge as possible of what is important in the various phases of a product’s life. Our thinking does not stop at the factory gates. With every new product, we ask ourselves: What is the best way to make the product? How can I improve handling for our customers? How can I optimise handling for consumers? How can I make the product optimally recyclable? How can I achieve all this using recycled material? How can I make a positive influence on logistics? The TEKU® plant pots in Circular blue are the perfect example of how this can be successfully implemented. Here, we use a material-saving thermoforming process to make a product whose material is part of a closed loop. But there is still room for improvement in the value-added cycle, for example in recycling. The approach of the closed material cycle achieved here is the fundamental idea behind our PÖPPELMANN blue® initiative.

More in the GRI report:


Efficient use of resources.

We want to use resources efficiently and avoid environmental damage in order to enable subsequent generations to have a future worth living.

Günther Orschulik, Head of Product Management TEKU®

Full-circle with PÖPPELMANN blue®.

Closing the circle: how Pöppelmann was inspired by Ellen MacArthur and assumed the pioneering role in responsible plastics processing.

The management (from left): Henk Gövert, Norbert Nobbe, Matthias Lesch.

We assume responsibility – with competence and experience.

Plastic is a material that has been enabling humanity to make ground-breaking progress for more than 100 years: in medicine and in the household, in communication and in mobility.