Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

M&S returns to selling meat in paper!

Posted in Food Packaging, Innovation, Recycling on June 10th, 2010 by Jane Bear – 6 Comments

No, Marks &Spencer aren’t returning to selling loose meat slices between paper sheets, but they are going to be offering pre sliced meats in packaging made using Billerud’s Fibreform material.

This great new paper is highly formable, provides enough barrier properties for the cooked meats and of course is seen as being environmentally friendly – Great for M&S’s Plan A.

Thanks to Packaging for making us aware of this one.

Packaging sustainability – a multi-faceted approach

Posted in Materials, Opinion, Recycling on May 6th, 2010 by admin – 5 Comments
Planet Earth

Planet Earth

I found it interesting to read Incpen director Jane Bickerstaffe’s argument against the introduction of single measures to assess packaging’s impact on the environment. There is so much ‘green wash’ and ‘hogwash’ out there, that it’s not surprising people are confused.

I totally agree that a holistic approach needs to be  adopted, considering all supply chain implications. Companies need to aim for overall resource efficiency and work towards sustainability balancing economic, environmental and social considerations. This may sound ‘easier said than done’, but as Jane points out “it isn’t if it is based on actual information about product damage and spoilage rates and a good dose of common sense. After all, that’s what we all do when we go shopping – we look at financial cost, quality, quantity, aesthetic appeal, life-span and, increasingly, many of us look at environmental information. We balance them all out and decide what we want.”

So take a ’step back’ and think again about your corporate ‘carbon footprint’ policy or your move to make all of your packaging ‘lightweighted’, ‘recyclable or ‘reusable’. You may be ‘hitting the right’ buttons in terms of government policies and legislation, but are you really doing what’s best for the planet and a sustainable future?

Let’s have some common-sense here. With a little thought, a multi-faceted approach can be justified and work. Let us know what you think!

Chris Penfold

To read Jane’s full article just follow the link to our friends at Packaging News

Definite Thinking Out Side Of The Box

Posted in Branding, Design, Marketing on April 14th, 2010 by Jane Bear – 5 Comments

Ok, ok, I know it’s a bad pun, but I like the thinking behind the new puma packaging.  It’s a bit of a shame it didn’t go further though.  The bag it’s self looks great, and if they had the right kind of shipper packaging what else would they need?  Why do they still need so much corrugated board?  Maybe that is more down to their consumer image and how they think the bags on their own might be viewed.

 There is obviously some thought gone into their plans though and I have to say, the idea that they can save on packaging just by folding their t-shirts one extra time is great.  Credit where credit is due. Jane Bear

If you would like to see their promotion video just visit  You tube or if you would prefer to read an article why not try this one in Packaging News

Visiting The Soup – Missing The Point?

Posted in Environmental Issues, Recycling on March 22nd, 2010 by Jane Bear – 7 Comments

I fully appreciate that this headline making trip will help to raise the general public’s awareness or the ‘great Pacific packaging soup’ but have they missed the point a bit?  It’s great that they are using predominantly re-newable and free energy sources and that they have a composting toilet and laptops that run off the power of a bike generator, but in making the hull of the boat out of recycled bottles aren’t they showing that it’s OK to keep making and using all these bottles because other uses can be found for them? 

As the BBC’s full article points out, if this trip were to hit any problems then it could be that they have just delivered an extra 12,000 bottles filled with Carbon Dioxide direct to the packaging soup…

I suppose a wooden boat might not have generated as much media interest, but then maybe it would have been a better message – I’d be really interested to know your thoughts. (Jane Bear)

A boat made of 12,000 plastic bottles has set sail on a voyage from San Francisco to Sydney to spread awareness about pollution in the world’s oceans.  To read the full article on the BBC website just follow this link  Boat made of 12,000 plastic bottles

Another attempt at packaging re-use – Credit for trying

Posted in Environmental Issues, Recycling, Retailers on March 18th, 2010 by Jane Bear – 1 Comment

Interesting and all credit to ASDA for trying out this idea again.  It’s true, there is now far more emphasis placed on the amount and type of packaging used than there was when ASDA last tried this route, but there are other issues.  What proportion of the customers will actually remember to take the pouch back to the store with them and how messy could the filling be are just a couple of the issues that could arise.  It will be interesting to see how it gets on.

As for brands adopting this, I personally can’t see it happening any time soon.  Not because as this article suggests they could loose shelf presence, as I’m sure they would still have products on the shelves around it, but more because of the logistics, how would they stop their products being dispensed into an ASDA own pack.  I’m sure there are packaging solutions to this issue, with different shaped orifices and dispensing nozzles, but it will certainly all need to have been sorted before any of the big brands follow ASDA’s lead. (Jane Bear)

While the idea of refilling your own packs in store is not new, a new trial by ASDA supermarkets in the UK is again attempting to bring this idea from smaller niche outlets into the mainstream. Consumers are being offered ASDA private label fabric softener in a refillable plastic pouch that can be used up to 10 times in store.  To read the full article by Josh Stock, Euromonitor International just follow this link to Packaging World

DAY 6 – Packaging Tip No6 – Environment & sustainability

Posted in Design, Environmental Issues, Opinion, Recycling, Top 10 Tips, Uncategorized on March 11th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 4 Comments
Packaging Top Ten Tips

Packaging Top Ten Tips

In order to help you develop your packaging more productively, we have generated a series of  FREE short 1-2 minute videos detailing our Tip Ten Tips for getting it right. We will be posting 1 x video per day on this blog site over a 10 day period – so keep a look out for them – they could save you a £££$$$ fortune in the long run!

DAY 6 – Tip No6: These days the environment is top of everybody’s mind. But, did you know, there is lots of legislation to which you must comply? Also, as new materials continually come on to the market it’s difficult to keep up with it all…find out more in the video…

Enjoy your packaging. Cheers Chris

Today’s Video:

Packaging Tip No6 – Environment & sustainability – by Chris Penfold – Design Cognition

Look out tomorrow for Tip No 7 – Physical protection?…..

A packaging solution to the Great Pacific Garbage soup?

Posted in Environmental Issues, Innovation, Materials, Opinion, Recycling, Technology, Uncategorized on March 8th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 16 Comments
Pacific rubbish soup

Pacific rubbish soup

As many people know, there is a huge and ever-increasing mountain of rubbish growing in the middle of the Pacific, like a giant festering ’soup’, much of which consists of plastic packaging waste. This has had a massive knock-on affect in the  form of polluted beaches on islands throughout the South Pacific, such as the popular Kamilo beach in Hawaii.

A British company believe that they have a packaging remedy. Symphony Environmental has created a substance that can be added to plastic materials to speed up the degradation time from several decades to just a few months.

Apparently “The special additive, called d2w, is put into plastic products when they are being manufactured. It works by weakening the carbon bonds, lowering the material’s molecular weight and eventually causing a loss of strength. The plastic can be given a set lifespan, depending on what purpose it is ultimately intended for.”

The aim is to get bread bags for instance to degrade in a matter of weeks and other items, designed for a longer shelf-life to degrade over many months.

This sounds great in theory and clearly a lot of research has taken place since this company was set up in 1995. We are in favour of any initiatives that help reduce/manage packaging waste. However, there are a number of issues that need to be clarified and addressed (if they haven’t been already).

What happens when one freezes items such as bread, to extend shelf-life? Will the degradation process be retarded or halted? Many items, such as toiletry products are used way beyond their stated shelf life. Does that mean that these items could degrade in the cupboard whilst still in-use?

It is also interesting to note that there seems to be “stern opposition from rivals” as the “plastics industry is split into two camps”: There are those that back ‘oxy-biodegradable’ (like dw2) that breaks-down simply with contact with air and those that back ‘bio-degradable’, which require more specific conditions such as burial in the ground and elevated temperature, to work.

I’m not so sure that there is such a defined “split” within the industry and can see the merits and issues of both of these approaches and, in our  opinion, both should continue to be developed. In terms of ‘Oxy-biodegradable’, as I’ve already mentioned above, degradation before end of shelf-life/use is an issue and what happens if a product is, for instance, left in direct sunlight – will this alter the degradation time frame? As far as ‘Bio-degradable’ goes – it is my understanding that unless specific elevated temperatures are reached,  degradation will not commence. So, for it to work properly, industrial bio-degradation facilities are required  – these materials will not degrade properly in a normal household composting bin.

Michael Stephen of Symphony also talks about bio-producers  having convinced British farmers that “crop-based plastics are best” but that “this is wrong…because when they are recycled they give off methane”. On top of this there area a number of concerns with these products around the use of scarce food resources to make packaging.

All of these materials could also present a potential issue of contaminating ‘normal’ recycling waste if not clearly identified & managed properly and I’m not sure that this issue is being addressed. Chris Penfold

What do you think? Let us know.

Taken from an article written by Ben Marlow which appeared in the UK Sunday Times on 7th March 2010. You can read the full article at the Times Online here: Great Pacific Garbage Patch article

10 innovations reshaping business & affecting packaging design & processes

Posted in Business News, Design, Innovation, Opinion, Retailers, Technology on March 1st, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 4 Comments

Follow the link below to read an interesting article which talks about the expected development & impact of the following topics on business:
1. Blue-sky computing
2. Work longer, work older
3. Information does have a value
4. Greed isn’t as good as we thought
5. Energy sources get smarter
6. Generation Xers come into their own
7. Gain from the pain of failure
8. Do more with less
9. Jump on the hedge
10. Deliver us from shopping

So what do you think that this means for 1.the packaging design process (i.e. HOW we design) & 2. packaging design itself (i.e WHAT we design)?

Some will have a major impact and others less so.

The 3 that stand-out for me are:
1.Blue-sky computing - which will have a fundamental affect on the way we work & collaborate over the internet in both the design process and the interactive shopping process.

8. Do more with less – is already having an affect every day on packaging design as we try to balance the need to add ever-more information on the one hand with the need to reduce materials & pack footprint from a sustainability point of view, on the other hand.

10. Deliver us from shopping – will provide interesting & surreal opportunities as internet shopping ‘comes of age’, ‘pick-up’ areas are introduced by stores such as Wal-Mart and as web and mobile phone technology converge.

Read the article by following this link & let us know what you think: 10 innovations that will reshape business

Watch this space for my further, more in-depth thoughts on this over the coming days.



FREE advisory sessions – numbers limited

Posted in Design Cognition News, Events, Exhibitions on February 15th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 11 Comments

Design Cognition are offering a limited number of FREE product and packaging advisory sessions.  Are you worried about the non-compliance of any of your products?  Do you know what regulations your products need to comply to? – Why not book yourself one of these limited sessions and come for a chat?

 If you are attending easyFairs Packaging Innovations show at the NEC (UK 24-25 Feb) then why not take advantage of this fantastic FREE offer?  To book one of the limited 15 minute sessions simply email

 Places are limited though, so if you aren’t quick enough to book one, why not visit us on STAND 582 – right by the main entrance – to leave us your details and arrange a follow-up chat after the show.

If you’ve not already registered for the show why not do it now by following this link and becoming a Design Cognition visitor.

Support for Packaging – at last!

Posted in Drinks Packaging, Environmental Issues, Food Packaging, Social Media on February 15th, 2010 by Jane Bear – 2 Comments

Packaging seems to have spent far to long now being demonised in the press, it’s nice to see an article in a main stream newspaper that actually defends packaging and it’s use to protect and prolong the shelf life of food.

Very interesting and thought provoking article by the New York Times.  Interestingly some of the comments below the article appear to have been submitted by individuals who haven’t read the article very carefully.