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Packaging systems

A product-packaging combination is always part of a larger packaging system. Systems differ per situation, but the image below represents a common configuration.


The various packaging layers each offer functionality during a different phase of the product-packaging combination’s lifecycle. As a result, they are disposed of in various locations and under various conditions. If you take the available waste streams into account as much as possible for each packaging layer, it becomes easier to separate materials for reuse or recycling.

It is a smart idea to look at the system as a whole at an early stage of the packaging’s development process and ask yourself whether you can eliminate or optimise a given layer. Sometimes, it is possible to optimise the coordination between the different layers:

  • The image shows a multipack that is, in turn, packaged in a box. By making the product-packaging combination or the multipack sturdy enough, it may be possible to eliminate the box altogether and stack the multipacks directly on a pallet. It may also be possible to realise savings on labels and specific printing on the boxes by printing directly onto the multipack with an inkjet or laser printer.
  • Depending on the logistical process, it is sometimes possible to use reusable plastic crates as a secondary or transport packaging. There are examples of foldable crates that are folded after transport and returned to the supplier in empty form. The supplier can then refill the crates and reuse them. This is often also an efficient way to deliver packaging materials to the packager.
  • It is also useful to determine whether you can further optimise packaging components by using recycled materials or reducing the amount of material used for their production.