Melling also has the honesty to concede that, as a team of designers, the consultancy is more interested in aesthetics than ecological issues. ‘Environmental considerations are secondary unless there’s some added value from using Green materials – if they add value to the overall effect on-shelf, for example,’ he explains.
Buck explains Taxi Studio does try to ‘specify materials that contain less bleach, for example’ but maintains that ‘the motivation has to come from the client side’.
‘We’re a business, not the Green Party and ultimately we have to answer the brief,’ he adds.
Sprout Design director and senior designer Rob Brown disagrees. The consultancy has specifically established itself with a sustainable and inclusive design remit. Brown concedes answering the brief is key but says, just because they’re not specified doesn’t mean environmental considerations should be ignored.
‘We put ecological thinking into every design without making a big thing about it,’ he asserts. ‘If a client is interested we talk about it; if they’re not we do a good design for them that incorporates environmentally friendly materials and simply don’t mention it.’
He also refutes the cost argument. ‘It doesn’t cost more to create sustainable design and, in fact, reducing packaging intelligently can save [a client] money without affecting the desirability of the product,’ he explains.
Helen Hughes is a member of Wrap’s retail innovation team. She says both designers and clients ‘have a lot to offer in driving waste minimisation forward’ and also believes designers have more influence than they acknowledge.
‘Designers are in discussion with major brand owners every day and [can have] an impact if they see the benefits of incorporating waste minimisation into a brief,’ she says.
Butcher & Gunderson designs packaging across a range of product categories for supermarkets including Waitrose. The consultancy is currently working with a client on a project to reduce waste in pet food packaging and also completed a similar project last year for Pyrex.
‘Pyrex dishes are unusual shapes and need packaging to enable merchandising,’ explains Leo Beaumont, client services director at B&G. ‘But we were specifically briefed to address the issue of wastefulness and reduce waste in packaging.’
The group minimised both the amount of packaging and the materials used and devel
Wraps Waste Minimisation Innovation Fund
The main criterion is a reduction in the weight of product packaging funding is based on the predicted tonnage reduction
Funding will support research and development projects into the design, prototyping and piloting of products, packaging, materials and systems.
Funding can also be used for consumer research and testing.
See www.wrap.org.uk for more information on funding.