Packaging design is not friendly to environment

Designers have come under fire from within the industry for not doing enough to promote the cause of recycling in packaging.

Speaking at a London conference on design and recycling last week, Dragon founder and Design Council councillor Dorothy Mackenzie called on brand managers and design consultancies to make environmental concerns a part of all packaging design briefs.

Mackenzie says groups need to be more proactive and companies must begin to take responsibility. Less than 10 per cent of recent briefs taken by Dragon contained any recycling requirements.

‘Many companies have an environmental policy at a corporate level, but that doesn’t get reflected on a day-to-day basis by marketing departments,’ she says.

Rob Holdway, a research fellow at Royal College of Art and partner at innovation group Giraffe, attended the conference and says consultancies aren’t taking up the sustainability challenge because they see legislation and recycling issues as ‘irrelevant and a constraint on creativity’.

‘Many design groups see [this type of issue] as imposing things on them they don’t know or care about and stopping them doing what they want to [creatively],’ says Holdway.

Andrew Jenkins, advisor for packaging and environmental compliance at Boots the Chemists, says the company’s research shows 60 per cent of consumers look for ethical qualities in products and 36 per cent base their purchasing decisions on them.

To meet this demand Boots is implementing environmental guidelines for packaging on its Intranet and is about to ‘educate’ rostered groups about its recommendations.

Holdway says consultancies should not be waiting to take the lead from clients like Boots, but should be directing and advising clients more proactively.

‘Designers complain of being brought in late when all the decisions are already made. But they don’t contribute enough because they’re not informed enough. [Designers] need to know more and contribute more or they won’t be taken seriously,’ he adds.

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