News & Updates

Echo revamps branding for all Kleenex products

Brand design agency Echo has revamped the look for household name Kleenex.

A simplified redesign has brough out bold colours and “powerful associated iconography”. According to Echo, the design “brings a defined stamp of quality and identification to the products, resulting in effective shelf navigation across various markets in addition to overall market stand-out”.

Nigel Ritchie, creative director at Echo, said: “We needed to ensure the redesign was impactful and ownable. Through bold use of colour, refined benefit driven iconography and the use of aesthetics rooted in the brand DNA, we have moved the brand significantly forwards whilst retaining strong brand recall at shelf.”

Lucy Fretwell, design manager at Kleenex added: “The key challenge for Echo was to create a family of individuals within a holistic portfolio, retaining current loyalists whilst appealing to new, younger shoppers. The new designs capture the essence of the brand with a unique Kleenex look and feel that is impactful at shelf and attractive in-home.”

The new design features across all variants and including boxes, pocket packs and wipes.


News & Updates

Boundless creates fresh design for Fettercairn’s global travel retail drive

Boundless Brand Design has created a new look for whisky maker Fettercairn.

The refresh is part of a bespoke campaign for global travel retail. Boundless created an artistic look with swooshes of paint inspired by the streaks of water that fall down the stills.

According to Boundless, “when juxtaposed against the copper graphic lines of the still pot itself and the flavour profile of the whiskies, it creates a broader sense innovative and doing things differently”.

Boundless added that “set against the white background, the contemporary colours and graphic assets deliver both a dynamic and intricate world of storytelling, leaving you interested to learn more”.

Hamish Shand, founder and executive creative director at Boundless, said: “We are thrilled to have created such a contemporary and striking look and feel for the brand within GTR. In such a busy travel environment, this creative is sure to have impact. The storytelling is clear and consistent, ensuring that the unique and innovative features of the brand and whiskies are delivered in a coherent and consistent way across all the brands touchpoints in this space.”



Elmwood designs brand refresh for Dolmio

Pasta sauce maker Dolmio has refreshed its look in partnership with brand consultancy Elmwood

The new visual identity refresh will feature flashes of Italian heritage with the aim of reaching beyond its traditional family-based audience and attract younger consumers.

Elmwood said: “Dolmio’s word mark is also a significant diversion from the brand’s previous identity and of pasta sauces in general, with a more eye-catching and ‘epic’ quality that captures the joy we get and the freedom we feel from creating big-hearted Italian meals full of overflowing yumminess. This is personified by the exclamation mark, an epic celebration that’s big and bold, full of generosity and warmth.”

Elmwood’s global provocation officer, Greg Taylor, said: “Through our partnership with Dolmio, we’ve reinvigorated its brand identity with new, distinctive brand assets that create the perfect balance between ‘Big Heart’ and ‘Great Taste’. Dolmio’s heart comes from the generosity, accessibility and inclusivity of its brand identity, offering people the freedom to use the sauce how they want. But its big heart doesn’t come at the expense of great taste. It’s been a pleasure working with Dolmio to reinvent branding in the pasta sauce market.”


News & Updates

Hunt Hanson redesigns Japanese brand Miso Tasty

Independent brand design agency Hunt Hanson has recently redesigned Miso Tasty, a contemporary Japanese-food brand.

As the brand nears its 10 year milestone, Hunt Hanson was tasked to evolve and elevate Miso Tasty.

The challenge was to bring the brand boldly and proudly to the forefront, whilst maintaining the Miso Tasty’s unique authenticity as a brand passionate about flavour, quality and its Japanese roots.

The new design heroes the Miso Tasty brand, giving it more prominence and confidence as it empowers consumers to transform meals from mediocre to mighty with miso.

The brand’s signature pattern now adorns the jar tops, adding a punch of personality to the packaging whilst giving it more recognisability on shelf. It is secured with a ‘Made in Japan’ seal.

Communication throughout the pack has been simplified to help consumer more easily understand the product whilst a lovely photograph of Bonnie reflects the personal story behind the brand with warmth and charm.

Nick Hanson, co-founder and creative director at Hunt Hanson, said: “To make the brand more distinct and accessible at shelf, we needed cut the clutter and hone in on the key visual elements that embody the excitement and irrepressible spirit of the brand – and then turn them up in a way that is memorable and meaningful.”


News & Updates

Applewood Vegan rebrands to contemporary look

Applewood Vegan, the vegan version of the smoky cheese, has recently undergone a rebrand to give it a more contemporary feel.

he branding has a more colourful, and playful theme, and a new tagline – ‘A Brit Different’ which combines British Cheddar Cheese with the added quirky twist of the smoky taste.

Ffion Davies, brand manager, Applewood Vegan, said: “The Applewood Vegan brand was first created back in the autumn of 2019, when it launched in Asda stores across the UK. Fast forward to January 2023 and we now have Applewood Vegan Grated and Applewood Vegan Slices available to buy in the supermarket giants across the UK, so we really felt it was time to freshen up the brand to represent the new launches and the direction that the brand is heading in. We hope all our consumers love it as much as we do.”


News & Updates

Reusable packaging with perks

Scheme launched in Bradford, as Green Street leads the march to help consumers and businesses be more sustainable

Champions of sustainable retailing and hospitality, Green Street, have launched a new pilot scheme, Borrow with the help of local Bradford cafés and restaurants in a bid to make the city more sustainable.

Borrow, sees participating local businesses lend customers reusable takeaway food and beverage packaging for a returnable deposit of 0.50p – £1. Customers receive an immediate discount on the food and drink they buy through the Borrow scheme. On their return, the cups and boxes are commercially cleaned ready to be re-used and customers are rewarded with not only their deposit back but also with exclusive rewards and the satisfaction of knowing they are helping reduce the unsustainable need for single-use plastics.

In the UK alone, 58 million1 items of food and drink are sold in single-use plastic every week for reasons of convenience, but each has an average life usage of just 15 minutes before being thrown out. These items are often difficult to recycle and Green Street – one of 6 projects in the UK chosen to develop and trial a reusable scheme – have pledged to reduce this number in Bradford with the backing of the Hubbub and Starbucks’, ‘Bring It Back Fund.’

Bradford business leader and Retail Sector Council (RSC) member Victoria Robertshaw has been instrumental in launching Green Street’s new plan of action. She said: “I’m really excited to be launching Borrow; takeaway food and drink packaging is a real challenge – of the 7 million disposable cups used every day in the UK only 2% are in customers’ own reusable cups. Our goal is to find innovative ways to accelerate the adoption of reusable packaging in the food and beverage industry, so I’m pleased to see it taking shape in my hometown by making it very easy for businesses to be able to provide alternatives for their customers.

“Consumers want to make a positive difference. We need to make it easier for all of us to make greener choices and Borrow has been designed to be as simple as possible for the general public. We are aware of the financial challenges many people are facing at the moment too, and hope that by offering small incentives and discounts, people will try the greener options as it will also save them money as well as being better for the environment.”

She continued: “We hope these small steps of change can be adopted by more businesses across the country to inspire greater change and help the planet because that is ultimately the most important thing.”

The incentives Borrow customers can receive include:

  • Discounts on food straight away when they place their order
  • Discounts on their next order when they return the cups and takeaway packaging.
  • Customers with a smartphone can scan a QR code to enter monthly prize draws every time they borrow. The digital rewards scheme has been devised by Maybe*, an innovative technology company.
  • When customers return Borrow packaging, they can collect points which can be exchanged for free food and drink items.

Borrow was successfully trialled for the first time at an Open Iftar held at Bradford Cathedral in March. The event resulted in far less waste than previous events, proving that sustainable events are entirely possible. No single-use plastics were planned to be used at the event and unused food was encouraged to be taken home by guests or redistributed to local organisations supporting refugees.

Popular fusion food restaurant and events group, MyLahore prepared the main courses for the Open Iftar and were one of the first businesses to get involved with the scheme. Director, Ishfaq Farooq, said “We’re proud to be the first restaurant business to take part in the Borrow scheme and are keen to trial reusable takeaway packaging at our Bradford delivery store. We’re thrilled to be able to work with the Green Street team to offer our customers greener choices that are kinder to the planet as well as the wallet. We hope to show the hospitality industry that with just a few minor adjustments, we can operate much more sustainably. It’s a journey we all need to be on, and there’s no better place for us to start than our doorstep in Bradford.”

Along with MyLahore, local cafés and restaurants that are participating in the pilot scheme include:

  • JavaJoe
  • The Canteen
  • City Hub Community Café
  • Café Liza
  • Smorgasbord
  • Café Sunflower

Director of JavaJoe, Ryan Gallagher said “We want to do what we can to try and make a positive impact on the city that we serve and love. Green Street are bringing a positive change to our city and it was an easy choice for us to be involved.”

Green Street are keen to know if there is demand outside of the city centre and are encouraging more businesses to get involved. District wide Bradford-based businesses interested in joining the scheme should email for more details.


News & Updates

The consumer is the key to unlocking the circular economy – we must listen to their needs

This Saturday, we will celebrate Earth Day 2023, an annual event on 22 April to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Any discussion on protecting the environment would not be complete without mentioning the circular economy – a system in which products, services and systems are designed to maximise their value and minimise waste[1] – something we must strive for if we have the planet’s best interests at heart.

The key to achieving a circular economy is the consumer.

Consumer engagement plays an integral role in facilitating this, and those policies that promote the circular economy will be most effective if they account for the factors shaping individual behaviour and consider their demands closely. On the whole, consumers want to do the right thing, but legislators and businesses must first provide the platform to enable them to act.

We have seen this dynamic play out following the European Commission’s proposal to amend the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), which focused on the implementation of reusable packaging. While the objectives of the proposal are well-meaning, and there are sound arguments for reusable packaging as a driver of the circular economy, the bigger picture is more complex. A new report by McKinsey titled ‘The potential impact of reusable packaging’ has found that imposing strict reusable packaging targets by 2030 will severely impact the EU’s environmental footprint, the competitiveness and resilience of the European economy, and crucially, raises question marks around the level of compliance by consumers.

As with any circular economy model, consumer acceptance is pivotal. But by advocating for the reusable model, there is a risk that consumers will be alienated, with a number of societal considerations. Firstly, a habit change is being asked of them. For example, in Germany, fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King, have installed reusable packaging deposit systems in response to the proposal, which requires consumers to store, rinse and return reusable containers to the store in order to redeem their deposit. This poses the question of whether reusable packaging is truly the best solution for all take-out food in Germany.

Secondly, the addition of a deposit might put consumers off by upping the price of a value meal. Thirdly, it creates uncertainty around food hygiene – a non-negotiable. Can consumers be confident that their reusable packaging will be washed effectively, including the one which was returned uncleaned after many days of storage at home or in the car?

Consumers also want to be safe in the knowledge that new policies are actually better for the environment, and economically viable, in the long run. McKinsey’s report, however, would suggest this is not the case for the reusable model, predicting CO2 emission rises of between 140-160% and potential cost increases of 80-130%, owing largely to transport and cleaning.

The truth is, there is lots of evidence to suggest the single-use system is winning over the hearts and minds of consumers. Among the conclusions of our 2022 consumer research, which benchmarked the attitudes towards the environment and packaging of over 5,000 European consumers, was that ‘easy to recycle’ (85%), and ‘made from renewable materials’ (81%) were the top two packaging considerations. This would explain consumers’ preference rating of cartonboard of 86%, up from 81% in 2019, over plastic. The economically and ecologically balanced packaging medium boasts an impressive 82% recycling rate[2], and together with its origin from sustainably managed forests, cements its credentials as the true circularity leader, and most desirable packaging material in the eyes of the consumer.

The study also shows a high level of trust consumers put on packaging material producers and brand owners to secure a future of circular packaging solutions. 92% of consumers in Europe see the responsibility with packaging suppliers and brand-owners, and only 8% with the government. Forcing a mandatory re-use system undermines the ability of the stakeholders to innovate the way out to circularity.

If we are to achieve circularity, it is vital we listen to the consumer. Single-use packaging materials, given their preference by consumers, will play a crucial role alongside the reusable system. Complementary, not exclusive. The European Commission would do well to acknowledge that.


News & Updates

Simpac launches the Lift Liner

A self-funding cost effective sustainable paper packaging solution for use with delivery crates/totes, reducing home delivery and Click & Collect times, while giving customers a much-improved shopping experience

Simpac’s Lift Liner solves many of today’s e-Commerce challenges. The Lift Liner is designed to sit within the delivery tote, up to 20 kilos of goods can be decanted in a second. The liner is left with the customer and is recyclable, re-usable and is biodegradable.


Demand for delivery and Click & Collect services are steadily increasing. Goods are placed either loose in the tote or in plastic bags. These are taken to the recipient’s doorstep/car where the recipient must immediately decant all items. Feedback suggests that the average delivery/pick up consists of 4 full totes.

Examples Lift Liner advantages

  • 20 kilo shopping can be decanted in a second.
  • Reduced time at doorstep.
  • Increases the number of deliveries a driver can make.
  • Fewer delivery vehicles and drivers needed to achieve same number of deliveries.
  • Reduces costs and has a positive environmental impact.
  • Improved customer convenience/ experience
  • Faster collection at Click & Collect points:
  • more available collection slots
  • reduced waiting times
  • less personnel required
  • less parking space needed
  • fewer running cars has positive environmental impact.
  • Reduces the need for plastics, reducing environmental impact.
  • Easier access to home delivery for elderly/disabled people as goods do not have to be decanted immediately, less driver help needed, cutting time spent.
  • The liner will prevent shopping from spilling, falling, breaking or rolling around.
  • Hygienic as loose foodstuffs will not be in contact with a re-used delivery crate that is not cleaned between deliveries, less contamination, no need to use plastic bags to pack food items.
  • Recipients’ privacy increases as sensitive goods do not have to be decanted in front of the driver.

Simpac’s Lift Liners are made in the UK and are suitable for ambient, chill and frozen deliveries, and is a leading manufacturer of sustainable packaging operating three manufacturing sites in the UK.

For further information contact: Tel : 0141 571 0220 or

* Patent application number GB2219832.1 & EP23164020.2. Registered Design number 6237037.


News & Updates

McKinsey and NielsenIQ reveal broad correlation between on-pack sustainability claims and consumer spending

McKinsey and NielsenIQ have undertaken a joint study examining the relationship between ESG-related claims made on product packaging and consumer spending habits in a bid to identify the ways in which companies can balance sustainability-minded progress with commercial success – revealing that multiple claims can encourage uptake in sales.

Consumers seem to be expressing their own interests in sustainability; a US consumer sentiment survey conducted by McKinsey in 2020 saw over 60% of respondents claim that they would pay a higher price for a product packaged in sustainable materials, while NielsenIQ’s more recent survey saw 78% of US consumers state that a sustainable lifestyle is important to them.

Apparently, CPG executives tell a different story. Many report that their ESG initiatives have not been able to generate sufficient consumer demand, and that new products launched in line with their sustainability goals are not selling as well as initially anticipated.

In an effort to reconcile these conflicting accounts, McKinsey and NielsenIQ took to examining consumers’ spending behaviour – aiming to provide CPG companies with the relevant statistics for bringing ‘environmentally and socially responsible products’ to market in line with their ESG strategies and commitments.

The process

From the outset, the study clarifies that the statistics of products’ sales growth do not inherently reflect the motivation behind consumers’ spending decisions. For instance, although products making ESG-related claims apparently averaged a 28% cumulative growth over the past five years, as opposed to the 20% growth for products that do not make such claims, there is no way of knowing whether consumers chose to buy a product for its reported sustainability benefits or another reason entirely.

McKinsey also stresses that the ESG-related claims in question were not independently verified for the purposes of this study. While both companies state that ‘greenwashing’ impacts consumers’ view of and engagement with businesses, potentially putting companies at risk, the goal of the study is not dependent on the validity of the claims; it examines their correlation with purchasing behaviour and sales performance, and does not control marketing investments, distribution, promotional activity, or other such factors. The social and environmental benefits of putting the claims into action were not considered, nor were the incremental costs of such implementation.

To generate the results, McKinsey and NielsenIQ worked together to analyse five years of US sales data between 2017 and June 2022, comparing the growth rates of products that made ESG-related claims and those that did not. The data covered600,000 individual product SKUs representing $400 billion in annual retail revenues from 44,000 brands across 32 food, beverage, personal care, and household categories.It was occasionally paired with a household panel conducted by NielsenIQ, which tracks the purchasing behaviour of consumers in over 100,000 US households.

Ninety-three ESG-related claims – the likes of‘cage-free’, ‘vegan’, ‘eco-friendly’, and ‘biodegradable’ – were divided into six classifications: animal welfare, environmental sustainability, organic farming methods, plant-based ingredients, social responsibility, and sustainable packaging. Factors such as brand size, price tier, and the age of the product – i.e., whether it was new to the market or previously established – were controlled during the study.

It is believed that the results provide insight as to whether ESG-related claims have a positive effect on growth, and if so, by how much; additionally, it compares the performance of different types of products and claims in relation to each other.

The results

Generally speaking, there was a ‘clear and material link’ between sustainability claims and consumer spending. Although ESG-related claims did not always equate to uptake in sales, the results of the study reveal that, in the cases studied, consumers were transitioning their spending towards products making such claims; that growth was not generally affected by the size of a brand, but that smaller brands may be considered more trustworthy or worthy of investment; that less common ESG-related claims tended to see a larger impact, but consumers are not displaying a preference towards any one claim; and that a combination of claims could create the impression of authenticity amongst consumers.

Each product’s initial share of sales in its category over the five-year period was noted, as well as its five-year growth rate relative to that share. This revealed that, overall, products making one or multiple ESG-related claims on their packaging were outperforming products that did not, suggesting that claims to sustainability were, at least in part, influencing consumer uptake.

It is thought that, within the five-year period, ESG claims have influenced 56% of all growth, which is reportedly an 18% increase from the beginning of the timespan. Furthermore, products making ESG-related claims are said to have a 1.7 percentage-point advantage in CAGR over products without them, with the ‘sustainable’ products accounting for almost half of all retail sales in the categories examined.

Even so, the growth varied between categories. In eleven out of fifteen food categories and three out of four personal care categories, products making ESG-related claims generated outsize growth. For beverage categories, only two out of nine saw such growth. The report emphasises that the data alone cannot fully explain the variation in purchasing decisions, which could have external explanations that vary on a case-by-case basis; for instance, variation in children’s formula and nutritional beverage purchases could be influenced by medical advice.

Regardless, two-thirds of categories saw faster growth in products that made ESG-related claims. According to NielsenIQ’s household panel, demographics such as higher-income households, households with children, and urban and suburban residents are more likely to invest in products making claims to sustainability, yet the research sees an average of plus or minus 15 percent deviation across demographic groups such as age, race, incomes, life stages, and geographies in the purchase of products bearing ESG-related labels.

Nor was growth limited to brands of a particular size; 59% of all the categories studied saw the smallest brands making ESG-related claims undergo disproportionate growth – yet this was also true of the largest brands in 50% of categories. The underperformance of medium-sized brands cannot be explained by the data, according to the companies, but it is speculated that these brands do not match the perceived trustworthiness of smaller companies while lacking the marketing and wide-scale distribution of their larger counterparts.

The report also notes variance within categories – namely, that smaller brands grew more quickly for sports drinks and hair care products, whereas larger brands saw faster growth in fruit juice and sweet snacks products.

Another discrepancy that the data cannot explain is the fact that newer products making claims outperformed newer products that didn’t in only 32% of categories, while 68% of established products making claims outperformed their non-claiming counterparts. The study presents the theory that consumers are pleasantly surprised by existing brands making sustainable progress, although they may have come to expect such claims from up-and-coming brands.

It is also noted that established products making claims saw a slower decline in sales than established products that did not.

Performance rates of products making ESG-related claims did not seem to vary across price tiers. Once again, McKinsey suggests that the less expensive price tiers may have achieved success due to the recurrence of private-label products making claims, seizing more than their expected share of growth in 88% of categories.

These results indicate that sustainability-minded consumers may not always opt for the cheapest available item but may rather choose to support affordable products making ESG-related claims.Therefore, the companies suggest that brands could offer more ESG-friendly products at lower price points to meet this demand.

There is no evidence to suggest that any individual claim was favoured by consumers, with no specific word or phrase correlating with outsize growth. What the study did reveal was that the less prevalent claims, such as ‘vegan’ or ‘carbon zero’, grew 8.5% more than the equivalent products not making a claim; on the other hand, claims like ‘sustainable packaging’ and ‘plant-based’ saw a 4.7% growth differential, and the most common claims such as ‘environmentally sustainable’ saw a 2% growth.

While all the ESG-related claims studied led to an uptake in sales, the difference seems to have been greater in less frequent claims – implying that unique claims can differentiate a product, especially if it has a disproportionate impact on a company’s ESG goals and commitments. Further still, an analysis of NielsenIQ’s household panel data indicates that the depth of a brand’s ESG-related claims has a positive association with consumer loyalty.

Customers also appear to return more frequently if the ESG-related claims are consistent across a brand’s portfolio. Brands that receive under 50% of their sales from products making such claims saw repeat rates of under 30%, whereas those making claims on over half of their products saw repeat rates of between 23% and 34% – meaning that each customer purchased products from the same brand three or more times a year. McKinsey points out that this is still not direct proof that customers are purchasing the products because of their ESG claims, but it suggests that consistency across portfolios enhances overall brand loyalty.

If a product’s packaging made multiple ESG-related claims, it generally saw faster growth than other products – those making multiple claims grew around twice as fast as those only making one, and this was true across the study’s six ESG classification themes. In nearly 80% of the categories, the growth rate saw a positive correlation with the number of distinct claims made.

McKinsey clarifies that brands should refrain from printing more claims and certifications onto their packaging than they can reasonably substantiate, as this would constitute as greenwashing and damage their credibility. However, consumers appear to prefer brands that make multiple ESG-related claims over just one, and McKinsey suggests that brands ‘might be wise to reflect on their commitment to ESG practices and to ensure that they are thinking holistically across the interconnected social and environmental factors that underpin their products’.

What should we take from this?

Based on these results, McKinsey outlines five potential points of consideration for brands attempting to strike a balance between differentiated growth and making advancements in their ESG commitments – the first being the establishment of an effective ESG strategy across their portfolios to match their product claims. Expanding ESG-related benefits across multiple categories and products is likely to have a bigger impact and increase a brand’s chances of achieving outsize growth, as opposed to relying heavily on a single product. Companies are therefore encouraged to identify and publicise, where appropriate, the steps they are taking that will result in the greatest ESG impact.

Moreover, they should develop a design process that embraces ESG-related claims as well as cost engineering, according to McKinsey. A disciplined design-for-sustainability approach is expected to maximise the visibility, efficacy, and cost-efficiency of ESG-related product features that will attract consumers’ attention, as will the removal of ingredients, materials, and processes that are slowing or reversing sustainable progress. Taking a wider view of a product’s sustainable impact, its quality, and the cost of investment in product design is expected to garner positive results.

Companies are also advised to build a robust portfolio featuring both established and new ESG investments, both of which are thought to be beneficial. A flagship established product in a competitive market could gain an advantage by making ‘relevant and differentiating’ claims, while new products play an outsize role in booting category growth. Environmentally and socially responsible products will advance a brand’s ESG strategy while meeting growing demand for sustainable solutions.

ESG-related dynamics are specific to categories and brands, McKinsey explains, and a thorough understanding of this will apparently enable brands to optimise their business strategies to their respective sectors. Companies are advised to consider which high-impact ESG claims garner the most consumer interest within a product’s category, correspond with the core values of their brand, and differentiate them from their competitors.

Finally, McKinsey reiterates that it may be equally as beneficial from an incremental growth standpoint to introduce a second or third ESG-related claim to a product as it is to introduce the first one, leading to twice the gain. It recommends that companies ‘embrace the holistic, interconnected nature of ESG’ and conduct category- and brand-specific assessments to identify the best method of implementing several claims, thus displaying commitment and reliability to their consumers.

Based on the data, it is believed that companies can simultaneously pursue growth and their ESG strategies. Consumers appear to be translating their interest in sustainability into their spending behaviour, and brands can use this to their advantage while also taking meaningful action towards socially and environmentally beneficial business practices.

McKinsey asserts that customers and companies share a responsibility to mitigate the social and environmental impact of producing, transporting, and discarding products, and that factual ESG-related label claims will contribute towards a more sustainable relationship with consumer goods and their packaging. It emphasises that there is no one guaranteed route to successful investment in environmentally and socially responsible products, but asserts the importance of companies making meaningful efforts to meet their ESG commitments and communicating these to their customers, which can be achieved effectively through substantiated label claims.



Exploring the key drivers of sustainable design innovation

On Earth Day, April 22nd, Pentawards caught up with members of its Sustainable Design Jury to hear about the latest innovations and collaborations they are keeping an eye on, and insights on how to design sustainably.

As an annual celebration to demonstrate support for environmental protection, Earth Day is a great opportunity for businesses, consumers and designers to share their love for the planet, and what they are doing to support it.

In 2021 we launched our Sustainable Design Jury for our competition, alongside our Sustainable Design category which is sponsored by UPM Raflatac. Today we speak with members for some insights.

Bio-based materials and collaborations

Marta Suslow, Sustainability Expert and ex-Beiersdorf

Despite my previous skepticism towards biopolymers, I am now actively seeking out Shellmer, a product created by Shellworks. Their premier product, Shellmer, seems to be the most environmentally-friendly bio-based packaging plastic that I have read about so far. It meets all the desired criteria for a perfect bio-plastic, as it can be fashioned into thin films that dissolve in hot water and can be used as fertilizer when disposed of.

I strongly believe that sharing knowledge, building communities, and forming partnerships is essential for achieving truly reusable packaging and harmonized metrics. In this regard, I recently learned that the World Economic Forum’s Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP), the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Plastics Initiative and WRAP have collaborated to exchange knowledge and promote global progress in addressing plastic pollution. This collaboration is particularly encouraging since I believe that the 2025 goals are at risk.

However, I also hope that we can establish a global venture capital and design agency in the future. Such an agency could work together with startups and established suppliers to develop global reuse standards and bring these cost-efficiently to the market. This effort could contribute to achieving truly harmonized metrics and advancing progress toward our sustainability goals.


Source: Shellworks

Key steps for sustainable design

Jenny Greenwood, Sustainability & Innovation Manager at Butterfly Cannon

When it comes to sustainable design, the first key element for brands to focus on is to make it simple. Sustainability is a minefield, and different stakeholders will have their own opinion about what the priority is. So breaking things down into easily digestible, bite-size chunks is the key.

It’s the reason we created our Conscious Design process – to bring clarity to this complexity through a simple step-by-step process with our Climatic Table at its heart – a matrix of 28 distinct sustainable elements, which allows us to visualize and discuss what the different priorities and options are with our clients.

Buttefly Canon Climatic table

Butterfly Cannon’s Climatic Table

Another key element is to be open. Make thoughtful and informed decisions from the start and be open about their implications, in order to reach agreement with all stakeholders.

Draw up a roadmap. You cannot do everything overnight. It takes time to make change.

Think systemically – you are part of a bigger picture. Do not see design as a silo, you are in a partnership with the other departments such as marketing and production. What you decide to do will have an impact not only on sales but upon your sustainable footprint.

We recently helped develop a whiskey brand using this thinking. The brand – an artisanal Indian single malt called Godawan – was built around the purpose of saving Rajasthan’s endangered Godawan bird from extinction, with every bottle sold contributing to conservation efforts.

The whisky is created in an Alliance of Water Stewardship-certified and water-positive distillery, using barley that has been sourced locally. The bottling supplier was local, the glass weight was minimised for the category, the paper labels were FSC certified with a high percentage of recycled content and the carton-board outer was produced with Diageo India’s first locally sourced FSC stock.


Godawan Artisanal Indian Single Malt Whisky, Butterfly Cannon

Whilst working on a sustainable design, it’s worth keeping an eye on recent advancements in the sustainability space too. Some of these that we are keeping an eye on include:

Biomaterial development and materials inspired by nature

Such as orange fibre and algiknit (or ‘seaweed wool’) being used as yarns within H&M clothing. Or Stella Mcartney’s use of Mylo a sustainable leather alternative made from mycelium, the root-like system of mushrooms.

AI & digital influence

Many fashion industries are making use of AI eg. 3D knitted garments which use material mapping to ensure no material is wasted in the product manufacturing process. This approach could be utilised in the packaging industry;we’re already seeing this with companies like Kurz and their digital foil.

Rental systems

We are already seeing an increase in returnable or refillable packaging, but this could go even further by taking inspiration from other industries eg. Hurr’s fashion rental, Netflix, Uber’s Lime Bike rental


Being open and honest about all elements of your brand eg. Guerlain’s ‘Bee Respect’ traceability platform.

The importance of sustainable labeling

Robert Taylor, Sustainability Director at UPM Raflatac

A product label is a critical driver of the packaging brand experience, and the sustainability of the label choice is integral to the circularity and climate performance of the package.

Companies have a lot of reasons to make their product packaging increasingly sustainable: consumer demand, regulatory pressure, and the opportunity to drive long-term brand value. But how? Label choice is often not the first question when designing new packaging, but it can have a monumental impact on overall sustainability. A label can have an impact on the whole package greater than the label on its own. Also with the high volume of consumer goods sold daily, the impact of labels builds up.

Companies have a lot of reasons to make their product packaging increasingly sustainable: consumer demand, regulatory pressure, and the opportunity to drive long-term brand value. But how? Label choice is often not the first question when designing new packaging, but it can have a monumental impact on overall sustainability. A label can have an impact on the whole package greater than the label on its own. Also with the high volume of consumer goods sold daily, the impact of labels builds up.


Rebiome’s label by UPM Raflatac

The challenges we are facing for a sustainable future are so huge that no company or industry can solve them alone. Collaboration is hence key to accelerating technology innovations in the packaging industry and is very much supported. To make consumer packages circular, design for recycling is the first step needed, and here we see many initiatives like RecyClass and 4evergreen. Packaging sorting prior to recycling is also an area where digital watermarks in the form of Holy Grail 2.0, or artificial intelligence are piloted and it’s interesting to see how these initiatives develop.

Consumer information and recyclable tubes

Silke Bochat, Head of Design, Europe Africa-Eurasia, Colgate Palmolive – Switzerland

Colgate’s breakthrough toothpaste tube won the 2022 Gold Pentaward as the world’s first recyclable tube recognized as recyclable. Here’s a walk through the process of the initiative.

An estimated 20 billion toothpaste tubes end up in the world’s landfills every year. Aluminum layers in toothpaste tubes have historically been used industry-wide yet make recycling almost impossible because most reprocessors can’t work with mixed materials. We had billions of good reasons to take action and lead the way. As a global market leader in toothpaste we knew that if we succeed, the impact would be meaningful, and others will join. It took us 5 years to develop our Recyclable Tube and to begin driving change in the market. Production was among the challenges to solve. We had to crack how to design a tube that technically fit the #2 HDPE recycling stream but was soft and squeezable.

The breakthrough came when we discovered how we could layer different grades of HDPE on top of each other, which allowed us to create a tube that was more squeezable, as Greg Corra, our Worldwide Director of Global Packaging & Sustainability explained recently in a Bloomberg article. To build momentum for global change, from the start we’ve been sharing our learnings and technology with other tube makers and companies.


Our Recyclable Tube is just the beginning, as it is part of a broader push of our company to reimagine a healthier future for all people, their pets, and our planet. Ann Tracy, our Chief Sustainability Officer, just recently shared in an interview with Reuters that we’ll soon elevate our Recyclable Tube to a new version using less plastic, which is both lighter to ship and even easier to squeeze.

Equally important as innovative technology is to engage consumers to build sustainable habits for life. How can we bring awareness to recycling, how can we educate consumers? This is when Gerard Rizzo and Kristina Karaiskos from our design team joined forces with marketing, particularly Anne-Marie Keller, our NA Marketing Associate Director. They crafted a design and communication strategy in collaboration with our design agency partner, Designbridge NY. Together, they came up with a design that turns the tube into a call to action. For a period of time, our most beloved Colgate toothpaste products were shouting out loud a “Recycle Me!” on our tube – A genius idea to build awareness among consumers and other stakeholders.

Cradle-to-cradle packaging’s future solution

Uwe Melichar – Packaging Expert & Owner, MELICHAR Bros./EPDA Vice President

Our biggest challenge is to create packages composed of monomaterials that can easily be taken apart at the end of a package’s life making it fully recyclable. 80% of the impact on sustainability depends on decisions at the beginning of the design process.

The right choice of material and a clever construction pays you back at the end. Michael Braungart, the cradle-to-cradle founder says, “Everything else is designed for you to throw away when you are finished with it. But where is ‘away‘? Of course, ‘away’ does not really exist. ‘Away‘ has gone away.” Reuse paired with cradle-to-cradle will play a major role in the future. Materials from renewable sources or even agricultural or food waste are on the rise.

The latest example of new packaging material that has the most potential is Traceless. It is a fantastic new material that fully biodegrades and has the same properties as molded plastic. The first application is a sock-packaging hook. Tiny little piece but super exciting. Another spectacular material is Papira. It is made from cellulose (wood) and can substitute styrofoam. There’s an endless list of new developments, at the ‘Rethink Material‘ conference in London many of the new players line up and showcase their work.


Source: Papira by Stora Enso

With people adopting sustainable lifestyles, consumers can learn to make more sustainable choices with the right information. Two inconvenient truths are that consumers state to have a sustainable lifestyle but if you look deeper into their behavior or check their receipts at the cash desk it’s often ‘greenwashing‘.

Furthermore, it is really difficult for consumers to identify true sustainability. Paper is a fantastic material but depending on the use case it may not always be the perfect solution. Customers and manufacturers have to have tools for orientation and measures for their decision. SUSY (sustainable score) for example is an holistic, scientific and independent evaluation method that sums up 84 dimensions to a comprehensible result. It goes far beyond a life cycle assessment.