The golden rule of eco-design: protect the product first
Eco-design optimizes packaging in a way that minimizes the total environmental impact of a product/packaging combination.
Research therefore needs to be done on identifying the best packaging, offering sufficient product protection, while at the same time minimizing the environmental impact of the product/packaging combination. The ecological impact related to the production of a product in the broad sense (agricuiture, livestock farming, assembly, etc.) is generally much greater than that of its packaging. In the case of food products, the packaging only accounts for 5% of the CO2 emissions. Therefore, any new production of a damaged or wasted product has much greater environmental consequences than the presence of appropriate or slightly excessive packaging.
Once the integrity of the product is ensured, the packaging can then be optimized to reduce its impact and/or that of its contents on the environment. To get to this stage, Fost Plus has developed a series of tools and services available to its members.
The eco-design approach, step by step
1. Start from the complete life cycle
Packaging prevention concerns the entire product life cycle, from design to waste. During the design of packaging, all stages of the life cycle of the product/packaging combination must be taken into account: manufacturing, transport, use, and final processing.
2. Avoid impact transfers
An impact transfer occurs, for instance, when a reduction in the protective quality of a packaging entails product waste. Or when a new form of packaging takes up more space during transport. Impact transfers can occur between the various stages of a packaging life cycle, between a product and its packaging, and/or between the various packaging levels (primary packaging, secondary packaging, transport packaging). They must be avoided.
3. Take corporate goals into account
What is the main environmental goal of the company? Many eco-design actions exist, with varying impacts on the environment. As the diagram below shows, these actions can relate to a reduction in energy consumption, a reduction in waste, and the use of recycled materials, among others. Choices will need to be made between these various actions because one might have a positive effect on certain environmental impacts, and less on others. Some of the actions may not even be compatible.