The basic principle of waste prevention is that by preventing the waste material from being produced in the first place, there will be less waste to manage at the end. If possible, eliminate the package altogether, provided product integrity will not be compromised.
Reduce the amount of packaging materials used. For those products that must be packaged, consider methods of reducing the amount of material used in the packaging. Minimal packaging can be accomplished through:
Product packaging design changes (e.g., concentrates, different material). Modifications to the package design (e.g., structure of the package). New or different types of packaging. Single material packaging (e.g., one package component). Development and use of consumable packaging where appropriate. (Consumable packages are those which are eliminated in the process of using the product so that no packaging material remains; an example would be the use of water soluble packets for a product that is to be mixed with water.)
Design packages that are refillable or reusable.
Refillable packages may be refilled by either the consumer, retailer, or product producer from bulk or much larger containers. To be considered refillable packaging must be refilled or reused for its original purpose rather than reused for a secondary purpose such as storing surplus material or other limited applications.
Maximise the use of reusable packaging materials, including reusable transport packaging.
Recyclable Packaging and Recycled Content
Packaging should be designed to be compatible with universally available recycling systems.
Labels, seals, tapes & closures etc should also be compatible with common recycled material processing systems.
A material should be considered recyclable only if there is a commercially viable and widely available system for collecting, processing, & marketing the material.
Use the maximum possible quantity of post consumer, recycled material in the packaging.
A package that is designed to be both recycled and constructed from recycled material is preferable.
Wherever possible, recycled content should consist of post consumer, recycled, waste material, i.e. material which has already served its intended use and has been discarded by a business or consumer.
Mark Reid works for Postpack Ltd, an online manufacturer & distributor of packaging materials throughout the UK, Ireland & Europe. They provide free samples if required, offer free delivery for orders over £100 and operate a free bespoke design service.
To speak to a packaging adviser and for a huge range of packaging materials visit http://www.postpack.co.uk