Product protection

For most product-packaging combinations, less than 10% of their environmental impact can be attributed to the packaging. The product usually has a far greater environmental impact than its packaging.

When developing sustainable product-packaging combinations, it is about finding the right balance between protecting the product and the packaging method. From a sustainability perspective, it is better to protect a product too much, rather than not enough.

The image shows that the environmental impact usually increases more rapidly for under-designed packaging (left-hand side of the diagram) than for over-designed packaging (right-hand side of the diagram). It is therefore important to find the right balance between product protection and material usage. This goes for both food products, where spoilage must be prevented, and non-food products, where damage during transport and logistics must be avoided.

It is important to properly fit the product and its packaging. In some cases, a minor modification of the product can make it easier to package. One example is IKEA. For many pieces of IKEA furniture, the question of how the disassembled products can be packaged efficiently is taken into account during the design stage. Using optimised product-packaging combinations, complex products can be delivered to consumers without any damage and with the use of minimal packaging and simple materials.


More information

Product losses and packaging

More and better packaging can help reduce product losses, particularly for food products. On the other hand, this leads to an increase in the volume of packaging materials used. In 2016, the KIDV organised an international round-table session with scientists about the theme of “Product losses and packaging.” The focus was on two key issues:

  • The packaging and the consumer: how can you make the packaging attractive and easy to use, while keeping it as circular as possible?
  • Packaging optimisation: how can you minimise product losses – for example through improved protection and a longer shelf life for the product – while keeping the packaging as circular as possible?

You can read the report on the “Product losses and packaging” round-table session here.