Wrap strikes a blow in fight against wasteful packaging

It’s always good to see activists putting money where their mouth is, especially when it benefits design. It is therefore encouraging to hear about the Waste & Resources Action Programme’s pot of cash to back innovation in packaging with a view to reducin

It’s always good to see activists putting money where their mouth is, especially when it benefits design. It is therefore encouraging to hear about the Waste & Resources Action Programme’s pot of cash to back innovation in packaging with a view to reducing waste.

Wrap’s £8m Innovation Fund should be a boon to the likes of Boots the Chemists and Tesco, which already have environment-friendly strategies in place, and to eco-warriors like Sprout Design. But how much better if it were to provoke more mainstream clients and branding groups to take a more responsible attitude to packaging – ahead of legislation forcing change.

It is one thing to specify eco-friendly packaging as a selling point for organic products. But this will have little effect on world resources and ecology unless the same approach is adopted across the board.

Even more effective would be a positive response from the design industry to Wrap’s initiative, which takes the debate far beyond the use of appropriate materials. The challenge is surely there, particularly to structural packaging and branding experts, to come up with solutions that make a real difference to consumers, clients and society at large.

Wrap director of waste minimisation Mark Barthel cites edible packaging and self-cooling cans in our piece, but there are other ways. For Barthel it is about taking a more holistic approach and it is surely a role in which design can star.

Designers at a Wrap conference a couple of years ago pleaded ignorance of methods and materials to make their designs more eco-friendly, blaming manufacturers and activists for not spoon-feeding them data that was freely available. With Wrap’s continued efforts lack of knowledge should no longer be an excuse and this latest initiative, if well documented, should add a bit of inspiration to the pot.

All packs need personality

Talking of inspiration, we know how inspiring a witty pack can be. The delights of reading the label of an Innocent smoothie or Pret-a-Manger sandwich pack are revisited by Simon Jones (see feature, page 22).

But here we are talking about niche brands for which personality is key and ‘human’ communication is deemed desirable. How much more fun though if the multinationals were to adopt a similar stance across their massive portfolios of products.

Okay, you might not want to joke about life-saving medications or highly technical kit. But surely there is scope for simpler, more appropriate communication in packaging across all categories.

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