Busting the “less is more” packaging myth

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You’ve heard it. When discussing sustainable, economically friendly packaging design trends, many are saying, “less is more.” Not only does this phrase represent the economic trend towards sustainability, but also the preference for simplified, uncluttered design. While we are not here to tell you that “less is more” is just a myth, we do want to encourage you to take a look at this minimalist packaging trend and ask a few important questions to make sure this trend is right for your next product.

Packaging reduction trends

Between 1990 and 2005, packaging in the U.S. actually increased by over 12 million tons, generating 31% of all waste. The good news is the amount of packaging that is being discarded has reduced slightly due to recycling efforts. Packaging waste is, in fact, the biggest component of solid waste filling our landfills, but taking a closer look it is the material and energy usage related to packaging and its products that are adding to environmental issues. Consumers still want convenience and value, and marketers, designers and packaging companies are doing their best to create packaging that fulfills consumer’s needs.

Three things to know about “less is more”

Many believe that in order to create sustainable packaging, they must cut down on materials and only use natural products, but packaging decisions aren’t so simple. Here are three things to know about sustainability:

More harm than good

Cutting back on packaging materials could result in damage to products during shipping, handling and sorting. If a product is damaged, it results in wasted money, energy and resources. Even more so, this damaged product becomes waste in a landfill, doing more harm than good.

Recycled materials are less durable

Materials that have been recycled are typically less durable than those that are not. Paper, for example, has fibers that are shortened every time it is recycled, making it structurally weaker. The trick with recycled materials is maintaining a consistent quality, because parts may be recycled from different materials that will perform differently.

Paper or plastic?

Many think that paper is more natural and biodegradable than plastic. In reality, the paper production process for a paper shopping bag takes more energy and releases more greenhouse gases than a plastic bag.

Is it right for you?

Figuring the right kind of packaging for your product is no easy decision. Instead of just focusing on “less is more,” companies need to be considering how they can be optimizing their product packaging process to minimize environmental impact and the risk of product damage. We can help you with the product packaging design process to ensure your materials are sustainable and your final product keeps consumers happy.

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