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Brands Must Choose a Sustainable Decoration Method

When designing a package, whether it’s a bottle a folded carton or paperboard, the type of substrate that is used is crucial to your brand’s sustainability message.

Many brands have set sustainability deadline goals for the years 2025, 2030 and even 2035. But it really doesn’t matter if your brand is on a set time schedule or not; you must have a sustainable decoration method that aligns with your brand’s goals and identity as it relates to your consumers – now and in the future.

Today’s consumers are far more educated about what they are putting in their shopping cart and buying than they were even just a few years ago. Millennial, Gen Y, Z and Alpha consumers will be even smarter and savvier when it comes to picking brands based on sustainability. People do not just read the ingredient label anymore, but also whether the package can be recycled or not, and even what material it is made from. Is it recyclable? Is it made from recycled content? Is it biodegradable? On and on.

When the time comes for your team to get together, why not assign a substrate design specialist or substrate design lead to find and present the various options available for your type of product packaging method? A great example is the detergent bottle. Most detergent brands on shelves today are packaged in blow-molded bottles. The decoration methods used vary from pressure sensitive labeling, IML (In-Mold Labeling), shrink sleeve, direct printing methods and more. But not all options are sustainable.

Then there are the decoration’s material options to be considered. Your brand decoration method could include regular paper, coated paper, metalized materials, various synthetic options, and even options made from stone and other natural resources. But not all are equal in how they are made or how they are recycled. Many cannot even be recycled and end up in our landfills. It is critical for the success of your brand for your team to decide what decoration method you’re going to use and then design packaging for sustainability, in addition to shelf appeal. This should be done at the beginning of the project rather than waiting until it gets to the printer, blow molder or packaging converter. Don’t let someone else decide for your brand.

Take control of your brand and decide on the front end – at the design stage!

As you may already know, many retailers are keeping score. Does your brand measure up? Does it meet all the sustainability goals and guidelines being presented and implemented now? And even more importantly, does your brand have a plan for the next few years? Your design team can help you get a head start, and will feel rewarded knowing that their design ideas will positively impact your brand and the environment. Simply being part of the decision-making process on the front end of the project can yield powerful results. Design can be more than just the creation of a brand’s look, or the artistic representation of your brand identity. Sustainability can be an integral part of the brand design when you make it part of the initial design process.

There are many organizations and associations that help companies learn about the many packaging and substrate options. They can also provide guidelines that have been tested and proven to be sustainable options.

One leader in the printing industry is SGP (Sustainable Green Printing Partnership) https://sgppartnership.org/.

“The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP) is a non-profit organization that certifies printing facilities’ sustainability best practices, including and beyond regulatory compliance. SGP advocates best practices and innovation among print community stakeholders, aligning the printing industry and its customers in the pursuit of a more accountable sustainable supply chain.”

Another organization attune with the importance of sustainability in our industry is APR (The Association of Plastic Recyclers)

https://plasticsrecycling.org/. As stated on their website:

“The Association of Plastic Recyclers is an international trade association representing the plastics recycling industry. APR member companies are committed to the success of plastics recycling. Membership spans the entire industry and through their participation APR member companies are shaping the future of our industry. APR promotes development of the plastics recycling industry by providing leadership for long-term industry growth and vitality.”

No matter the brand or type of product being produced, in the end, the goal is the same for every designer and every company. We all want to make an impact in a positive way to contribute less waste and a more sustainable future for this generation and the ones to follow. We can all make this happen by doing one thing – “deciding to choose the right decoration and packaging method in our design.”


By Bill Hewitt

Marketing Manager North and South America at Yupo Corporation America.

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