Collaboration & creativity to design away from waste

Illustration by @eshakespeare

APCO Collaboration for our targets.

A recent report by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has highlighted our progress on achieving our 2025 National Packaging Targets that look to ensure:

  • 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable packaging
  • 70% of plastic packaging being recycled or composted
  • 50% average recycled content included in packaging
  • Phasing out problematic and unnecessary single use plastics packaging

While we have seen an improvement on the previous years, there is still a long road ahead, particularly when it comes to plastics. Currently, 89% of packaging on the market is recyclable, however there is still a considerable amount of valuable materials ending up in landfill which is estimated to have an economic cost of around $520 million and resulted in approximately 2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions during the reported period.

As packaging designers, we have a role to play in collaborating across the packaging supply chain to make sure our designs are working towards our national packaging targets. Even within the context of recyclability, there are a number of key design elements such as inks, materials, shape, size, weight of packaging that determine the recyclability and its value to material reprocessors.

We are committed to do our part in helping the brands we work with here in Australia & New Zealand to achieve these targets. If you would like to understand how to circular design could enhance your packaging, we would love to chat.

Sensitivity & innovation to maximise materials

Illustration by @eshakespeare

Paper or Plastic.

It’s an extremely common question- which is more sustainable paper or plastic packaging? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. There are several factors that create a material’s environmental footprint as well as offering very specific functional benefits for the product that must be taken into consideration.

Designing sustainable packaging needs to have a systemic approach across the whole packaging value chain and work towards a circular economy.

To obtain the environmental advances we need, like achieving global carbon reduction targets and halting biodiversity loss, we must look beyond the material conversation and instead:

  • Design out waste and pollution
  • Regenerate natural systems
  • Keep products and materials in use

There are often perceived sustainability benefits, particularly when referring to renewable materials, but every material has an environmental impact. Understanding these impacts through Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) is a great way to validate the material choices you make within the context of the packaging system.

At Depot, we take a strategic, circular approach to identify the most appropriate packaging system for brands.  By optimising packaging design and communication, we look to improve the environmental footprint and recoverability of materials after their primary use.

Harmonise with our planet to regenerate

Illustration by @eshakespeare

ABBEV It’s what’s inside that counts.

We’re seeing many businesses starting to look beyond packaging and consider how to reduce the environmental impacts across their whole business, and AB InBev is no exception.

“Protecting the environment in which we operate and from which we source those ingredients is an absolute prerequisite for us to make sure we can continue to brew our beers, that’s why sustainability is so core to everything we do.” – Ingrid De Ryck, Chief Procurement & Sustainability Officer, Anheuser-Busch

As part of their broader sustainability goals, they have invested $100m to repurpose barley after it’s used to make beer, diverting it from landfill. This will see its wholly owned subsidiary EverGrain transform saved grain into food and other beverages. Using grain, like barley twice- first to create the beer and then incorporated into food or beverage products drastically reduces the environmental impact across inputs needed to create these products, such as land and water but also contributes to the sustainability missions across the businesses involved.

The food and beverage sectors are ripe for innovation to identify opportunities in how we design out waste across businesses and find creative solutions to repurpose product materials. But it starts with a sound understanding of where your impacts currently lie, to create a future-fit sustainability strategy.

You can find out more about AB InBev’s Sustainability Strategy here.

Our Friends of the Earth thoughts are brought to you in collaboration with philo & co.

philo & co are a circular design consultancy helping creative agencies and brands transition to a circular economy. Pippa, the Founder of philo & co, is a Circulab certified circular design consultant and has more than 10 years’ experience within the creative industry working with global design agencies and leading FMCG brands.

Pippa brings a holistic view in solving the systemic challenges required to transition from linear to circular design by embedding regenerative thinking and practices into the heart of organisations. In 2020, she became a Climate Reality Leader following training by the Climate Reality Corps, led by Al Gore. When Pippa is not thinking of how to rid the world of waste, she is usually at the beach or enjoying a hearty meal (and wine) with friends.

Teamwork is dreamwork.