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When talking about sustainability, product packaging is mostly considered a side story. But our internal packaging team begs to differ.
Most of us can relate to the feeling of frustration when dealing with a badly designed piece of packaging. There is even an expression for it, wrap rage. And while some might think that packaging is just a (hopefully) good-looking product container, there is so much more to packaging design than what meets the eye.
Angela Brunzell, the leader of our packaging team, gives us the full story.
Hi Angela. What’s the deal with packaging?
The deal with packaging is that it has so many jobs to do at once. For one thing, it has to keep the product safe. It should also inform the consumer about the product and its function. There are many legal aspects to it too, like the trash bin symbol that we need to put on all packaging with consumer electronics inside. But there are also the logistic things, like efficient pallet utilization and bar-codes. And as a cherry on top, the packaging should look and feel nice to give the consumer a good feeling about the product.
And what about unboxing, is that important too?
Unboxing is also very important. There’s nothing like an unboxing experience where every detail is on point. And the other way around, too. Having to break open the packaging is pure frustration.
So wrap rage is real?
Wrap rage is definitely real. And the worst kind is when the packaging is filled with unnecessary things or materials that just don't serve a purpose. It’s such a waste of time and resources.
Speaking of unnecessary things. What is your philosophy when it comes to packaging?
We have a minimalistic “less is more” approach. This means that we try to optimize the packaging for the product in order to minimize the use of material. Great packaging should only contain the most necessary things. It should also to the largest extent possible be made from mono-materials, which means that each part is made from one single material rather than a combination of materials. This makes it easier for consumers to recycle correctly and also easier for the recycling plants to process.
Does your packaging tick all the boxes?
We’re getting there. Actually, we’re launching a new packaging during the fall of 2021 that has been designed with all these aspects in mind. We’re excited to show it to the world. The new packaging solution is made of sustainable renewable materials and also some recycled materials. The new concept clearly demonstrates the minimalistic approach with few parts that has a clear role to play.
And what about sustainability?
When it comes to packaging, the biggest environmental impact comes from the size, the weight, and the type of material. We are constantly working to increase the amount of recycled material used in our packaging. A few things are still a bit tricky, like removing the last little pieces of plastic remaining in some labels and laminates, but we’re aiming to get there as soon as we can.
Why is 100% plastic-free packaging tricky?
To answer that, we need to look at the bigger picture. On its journey from our factory to the shelf, the packaging is put under a lot of pressure, potential bumps, hits, and scratches. The packaging needs to protect the product while also keeping its good look. From a sustainability point of view, a product that can’t be sold because of transport damage is the worst type of waste. So small things like stickers that keep the packaging closed and laminates that protect the information on the surface are still crucial for us. But we’re working on finding plastic-free solutions for that.
There are apparently a lot of aspects to keep in mind. Does packaging deserve more time in the limelight?
I think it does. Then, of course, I’m a bit biased. But packaging really is much more complex than you might think. If our only job was to protect the product the best we can, we could just pick the most durable, heavy, and protective material we could find. It would probably be very expensive and very unsustainable. The fact that we have to consider aspects like sustainability, recyclability, size, weight, and aesthetics makes the job way more difficult and also interesting. It’s a big puzzle with very few corner pieces.
It sounds hard. How do you do it?
The thing with packaging is that you hardly notice when it’s good, only when it’s bad (if you’re not as nerdy about it as we are). But I’d say that the perfect experience is when it looks good and feels good To open. No hiccups, snags, or dead weight, just a good feeling. And most of all, easy to recycle.