What is sustainable packaging design?

Packaging is a brilliant commodity but more than ever it is being overused and mass-produced with little consideration of its effects on the environment at both a local and global level. Is there really any need for an individually wrapped avocado?

sustainable packaging

A key component of good packaging design minimises waste while still considering the end-user experience and of course the protection and preservation of the product inside.

There are so many ‘sustainability’ terms being used at the moment that it can be confusing to understand what everything means and what is the best solution for your business. More and more our clients enquire about eco-friendly packaging types, so we thought we’d provide a little explanation about the options available to you and your business:

Reusable or Returnable

Depending on your business model, you may be looking at more of a circular economy approach which encourages customers to return packaging after use and/or promoting reuse. This can include items such as glass bottles/jars, tote bags and metal tins. This can also be an innovative way of encouraging customers to reinvest in your business and keep them coming back time after time.


Recyclable materials include glass, metal, card, paper, corrugated cardboard and some types of plastics. In order for a full product to be recyclable, all of its components have to be recyclable. This includes any adhesive used to bond a product together or a label on glass for example. As an agency, we can offer you guidance on these eco-friendly solutions.


This is material that will decompose over time back into the earth, however, there is no set decomposition timeframe for biodegradable products and some may produce harmful toxins into the atmosphere when breaking down. It’s not always as perfect a solution as it sounds.


This is similar to biodegradable material however it is better for the environment being plant-based. It guarantees a relatively fast decomposition without producing harmful toxins.

Some products labelled as compostable have to be taken to a central facility so they can be processed appropriately leading to further confusion.


Branding and packaging design

It is our job as a packaging design agency to strike a balance between fulfilling the environmentally-friendly credentials you wish to achieve and creating the right aesthetic for your product and business, whilst keeping it within your commercially sensitive margins. Sometimes, the most environmentally friendly options can actually appear cheap and plastic-like in appearance giving a customer exactly the opposite idea and vice-versa.

We can help you navigate this terrain, source options and also help you decide what’s best for you and your business.

Get in touch to discuss more.

Have a look at some sustainable packaging design we’ve created.

Further reading
New Beginnings
29 December 2020
Luvians – Brew & Vines 2019
27 January 2020
Packaging Trends for 2020
10 December 2019