Disruptive design and collaboration are accelerating the move to a more sustainable future, where products, and their packaging, are more easily used, disassembled, and regenerated, according to global provider of rigid & flexible packaging, Amcor.
With increasing unity, global experts in design, manufacturing, and technology describe how the linear take-make-dispose economy, where products and packaging serve one purpose before being thrown away, as flawed.
The undeniable reality that we live on a finite planet with finite resources was the inspiration for speakers at the recent Big Ideas event series, hosted by Amcor. The events were designed to call for disruptive design and increased collaboration to accelerate the move toward a circular economy, where products and packaging are designed to be recycled and repurposed, and remain useful beyond the life of the original item. Success relies on a move from a ‘throw away and replace’ culture towards a ‘return and renew’ mentality.
Embracing the circular economy
Amcor believes that to imagine a future without waste we should adopt an approach that mimics the circularity of nature, where materials continuously flow through the ‘value circle’. This means products and packaging can have multiple functions
and uses depending on the stage of their lifecycle. The waste of today becomes the resource of tomorrow.
Imagination alone is not enough however, and the company stresses that a systematic shift to a circular economy relies on a collaborative, not competitive, approach to problem solving. Several projects under way illustrate the role of partnership in putting circular thinking into practice.
The Virtuous Circle initiative in South Africa shows that it is possible to reduce food waste, improve childhood nutrition, and promote sustainability at the same time.
The project, coordinated by DuPont in close collaboration with Amcor and other partners, distributes Amcor-manufactured multilayer film pouches that contain purified water and a nutritious meal powder in one package.
The children squeeze the pouch to break the internal seal and mix the water with the dry ingredients, then drink directly from the pouch. Once used, the pouches are collected and converted into durable school desks and
Creating a post-disposable world
So how can designers support this shift in thinking and create products and packaging that take into account the larger ecosystem? As sustainability strategist Dr Leyla Acaroglu shared in her Big Ideas keynote address, it’s important to take a more systematic view at every stage of the product and packaging lifecycle, from development and manufacturing to recycling and reuse. The task is more than just designing a product and its packaging.
It requires designing for a system that will enable the product to work in a more circular way.
Commenting on the recent Big Ideas series of expert talks, many delegates said the panel discussions and presentations encouraged conversations between packaging producers, consumer trend experts, brand owners and recyclers, offering a space in which to tackle issues that the industry and its customers face today. For those aspiring to develop circular solutions, there is support. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation New Plastics Economy initiative, of which Amcor is a core member, recently announced a $2million New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize to help find solutions that keep plastics in the economy and out of the environment.
It’s possible to watch highlights from the Big Ideas event at Interpack 2017, or view videos of the discussions and download speaker presentations from Amcor’s post-event page, which enables website visitors to learn more about the circular economy and a range of innovative sustainability initiatives, as well as discover talks on consumer engagement and packaging trends, and the latest barrier materials.
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