It takes rigorous analysis to be truly sustainable

It was great to read the Sustainable Design supplement in Design Week (DW 12 June).

The fact that this was published – apparently printed on paper from sustainable sources – demonstrates the increasing importance of sustainability in design.

However, most designers and clients still seem to think in terms of the lowest common denominator about sustainable packaging – looking at how they can reduce its size and make it biodegradable, while delivering maximum on-shelf impact. Much more needs to be done.

I bet few designers know that the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s definition of

sustainable packaging has eight criteria, including the need for packaging to be beneficial, safe and healthy throughout its lifecycle; to be sourced, manufactured, transported and recycled using renewable energy; and to be manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices.

The only way to come close to achieving all eight stipulations is to have processes in place that enable us to break down and analyse the sustainability of all aspects of a brand’s packaging – in the same way that we have tools to deconstruct the brand itself to understand the importance of each element in its make-up. This helps designers and clients understand the environmental consequences of each aspect of packaging, so they can strike a balance between effective design and sustainability.

Sustainability is a complex issue, but one that needs to become a real way of thinking and working for all designers.

Phill Jones, Creative services director, Anthem Worldwide, by e-mail

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