Collaboration & creativity to design away from waste

Illustration by @eshakespeare

Cascading Material Use Use From packaging carton to walls

We all know the burden packaging waste has on the environment, people as well our economy, with materials discarded after such a short use. That’s why we love packaging waste innovator saveBOARD who design building materials made from discarded beverage packaging such as cartons and coffee cups.

Thrown away and deemed to no longer have a purpose, saveBOARD have found ways to collaborate across sectors to prolong the use of materials and prevent them ending up in landfill. With both industries working towards targets of reducing waste and integrating recycled content, it’s a great example of cascaded material use- diversifying how and where materials can be re-purposed.

“Making high-performance low-carbon building materials using 100% recycled materials from everyday waste is a game-changer that will transform the construction industry in Australia.”

SaveBOARD’s new materials will go on to substitute plaster boards, particle boards and are made by using heat and compression to bond the materials eliminating the need for adhesives creating a cleaner product. In an ideal world, consumer packaging would be designed in a way that it can be easily recycled back into packaging, but as we transition to more circular packaging systems and designs, it’s great to see innovative solutions that repurpose our current ‘hard to recycle’ everyday packaging materials.

Sensitivity & innovation to maximise materials

Illustration by @eshakespeare

Eliminate & Innovate Addressing unnecessary and problematic packaging

With Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Targets fast creeping in, there’s still lots of progress to be made in how we ‘phase out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging’.

There are many packaging items that are sold that are deemed problematic as they contribute to litter and/or are hard to recover and recycle while unnecessary packaging could be avoided as they offer little or no functional performance. Packaging that has been identified within these categories in Australia are items such as EPS loose fill packaging, PVC packaging or pumps and triggers.

So, what’s the solution? We’re big fans of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation who are championing our transition to a circular economy. The Ellen MacArthur’s Upstream Innovation report highlights two key ways to approach unnecessary and problematic packaging:

Direct Elimination “for packaging that does not serve an essential function”
Innovative Elimination “for packaging that does serve an essential function but could be achieved in a different way”

By applying circular design thinking, we can drive smarter solutions to eliminate or innovate and work collectively towards achieving our national packaging targets.

Do you have a problematic packaging conundrum? If so, we’d love to hear from you to see how we can help design a more resource efficient packaging solution. 

Harmonise with our planet to regenerate

Illustration by @eshakespeare

COP26 What it means for the future of packaging

This November global leaders are gathering in Glasgow for COP26, the most significant event perhaps of humanity. The UN believes the conference to be “the world’s last best chance to get runaway climate change under control”. Quite the stark wake up call. But what does this mean for brands trying to navigate the sustainability requirements that now face organisations? 

A lot of the dialogue around ‘net zero’ to date has been focused on energy and looking at transitioning to renewable sources. But the consumption conversation is often overlooked, and it’s a biggie. Achieving our climate targets can only be done if we transition to renewable energy while we create a circular economy for materials and products to address the 70% of greenhouse gas emissions that come from how we produce everyday goods (Circular Gap Report). 

So, when it comes to packaging, that means looking at the holistic ways we can:

  • Design out waste and pollution
  • Keep materials in use for as long as possible
  • Regenerate natural systems

Combined, these three principles will help us to rethink the materials we use, how they’re produced, used and how we can start to create value beyond single use. Defining a clear sustainability strategy will be critical for brands to help mitigate the risk of climate change and provide a clear path to inform packaging design. 

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.