Designing package for anything but the marketing and branding needs is not a straightforward and intuitive process. This is because designing for recovery (DfR) at the end of the useful life of a package, or design for environmental performance (DfE) requires additional information from designing for branding or marketing. This type of information is not generally available at the designer’s fingertips.
Let’s look at the considerations we’d need to account for implement DfE or DfR strategy for a package. First we need to understand what happens to materials after consumers discard them. In 2012, packaging and containers made up 30% of the total waste, and the overall recovery of packaging material was at approximately 51% with corrugated board and steel leading the charge with the highest material recovery. The overall rate is deceiving because the highly recovered materials such as steel and corrugated board skew the average, while plastics overall are among the least recovered material at a rate of about 14 percent. See graphs below and an informative infographic from the U.S. EPA.
Source: U.S. EPA. 2012 Facts and Figures Fact Sheet http://www3.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/2012_msw_fs.pdf
environment, and a view that helps the packaging department implement the corporate sustainability priorities.
Trayak’s COMPASS® (comparative packaging assessment), a LCA tool tailored for packaging design evaluation and improvement, applies a coSo designing for recovery requires some additional information that the design professional often does not have handy. Enter COMPASS (Comparative Packaging Assessment). COMPASS expands the designer’s tool kit to meet the additional design criteria of ensuring recovery of the package and its components at its end of life. COMPASS provides a different view of the package from that which is seen in the computer aided drafting (CAD) system which captures the bill of materials (BOM) and all the structural parameters. COMPASS takes the BOM, and with the addition of a few more specifics, creates an environmental profile of the design and a solid waste outcome at the end of the useful life of the package. This additional information becomes the keys to drawing a fuller picture of the package in the comprehensive model based on life cycle assessment (LCA) to quantify the environmental burdens associated with the entire packaging system needed to deliver a product to the retail shelf including all the intermediate steps.