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.
Source: U.S. EPA. 2012 Facts and Figures Fact Sheet.
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