Sustainable Packaging Tips for New Products

Written by Janine Bickerton, General Manager, Marx Design

"For all new FMCG products, packaging considerations include safety, usability, shelf life, affordability, legibility, ease of distribution and sustainability. Issues around end of life for single-use plastic packaging are at the forefront of Kiwi’s minds.

New Zealand’s two largest grocery retailers have committed to the 2025 Plastic Packaging Declaration, transitioning their in-store and private label packaging to being 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable. The challenge for New Zealand brands is to meet the requirements of the declaration and the comprehensive New Plastics Economy Global Commitment which includes: eliminating the use of problematic or unnecessary packaging; moving from single-use towards reuse; using 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging, and using recycled content by 2025 or earlier.

One of the challenges brands face is the approach to plastic recycling by district councils across New Zealand. There is no one consistent approach to inform clear recycling instructions on pack for nationwide distribution. With several councils recently announcing they will only recycle plastic resin numbers 1 and 2, we would encourage all brands to have plastic resin numbers on the base of core packaging wherever possible so the public know what to do with it.

As the landscape changes, packaging with high minimum quantities should limit what is communicated on pack. Several brands who provided soft plastic collection information on pack were blindsided by the suspension of the collection scheme and removal of the bins from retailers at the end of 2018. Instead, provide up-to-date disposal information on your website and through your social channels to prevent expensive pack changes.

Compostable packaging is rising in popularity, but it’s still early days educating the public on disposal. As public collection points for commercial composting grow along with public awareness, we will hopefully see a reduction of this packaging in general waste and recycling bins. WasteMINZ has recently published compostable packaging guidelines on its website, with the drafted best practise guidelines for the advertising of compostable products in collaboration with Plastic NZ due for publication later in April 2019.

Repurposed and reusable packaging is an area of great opportunity. The popularity of bulk refilleries like GoodFor, The Source and Bin Inn has piqued the interest of the 2 large retailers. When considering repurpose, aim to source easy remove labels. Make it simple for purchasers to remove your brand information and repurpose the container as they see fit. This is also helpful if the item is glass and eventually recycled as overly strong adhesives can be problematic to remove during the process.

When promoting reuse with a refillable option provided, ensure the pack information is going to stay legible for a longer lifetime. Printing directly onto the container or a long-life label can be good options. Ensure the refill is good value for money and therefore an attractive option for the public to make the extra effort to decant.

Working together on new solutions is the way forward. Brands providing stewardship by trialling new sustainable packaging should be applauded for their efforts."

If you wish to know more about sustainable packaging design, contact me today at