Sustainable Packaging Design: How we’re adapting…

By Kate Clayton
By Kate Clayton

How can a packaging design agency impact the sustainable design agenda?

At an event hosted by the Design Business Association (DBA) in the backstreets of Waterloo earlier this year, an interesting discussion about design and sustainability started between a cluster of UK design agencies. Inspirational panellists included Oliver Lawder, Senior Creative Planner at Futerra, Mark Shayler, owner at Ape, Chris Sherwin, Director at Reboot, Noora Markkanene, Senior Sustainability specialist, UPM Raflatac and hosted by Chief Executive of the DBA, Deborah Dawton.

This DBA discussion initiated an internal discussion at DA that has led to the evolution of our methodology so that we can anticipate and promote change in branded packaging design – giving us a real chance to address the sustainable agenda.

Packaging design in isolation isn’t going to solve the worlds environmental challenges, but it’s a good start and it’s where we can influence and guide brands.

In the group discussion at the DBA event, boardroom leadership was identified as the biggest catalyst for change, followed by legislation, consumer demand and the financial imperative.

With a growing shift in corporate social strategy at FMCG board level towards longer-term gains business model instead of short-term gains, we are likely to see more briefs that have sustainability in mind – especially when it comes pack construction, the materials used on-pack communication. We’re getting prepared to support FMCGs through this change…

The reason for mentioning corporate strategy is because we can only respond to a client’s appetite and built-in policies to create longer-term change and financial sustainability – that ultimately initiates, influences and shapes their design briefs.

Adapting our processes

It was at the pre-briefing stage where the group at the DBA event collectively felt that agencies could make a difference by support Marketing Managers and Brand Managers to develop more sustainably focussed design briefs.

So, after 25 years of working with a specific design methodology, we have recently introduced a new component – a sustainability questionnaire. We have adapted our design process influence and guide clients in this area to build up their knowledge of what’s possible. This is where it gets interesting! We will be publishing a copy to download from our website this Autumn!

Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

You can request a copy of the form in advance by emailing me at