How can ecodesign principles be applied to packaging to reduce raw material costs?

March 2, 2023

Sustainability is currently a hot topic across all industries in Spain, particularly since the Contaminated Land Act was passed. Given inflation and the rising costs of raw materials, how can sustainability and cost reductions in packaging manufacturing go hand in hand? Ecodesign may be the answer.

What is eco-friendly packaging design?

Ecodesign tries to prolong a product’s useful life by making it part of the circular economy and boosting its sustainability. The product should have the lowest possible environmental impact throughout its life cycle.

A product should be sustainable from its conception and all the way through its life cycle. Once it ceases to be useful, it should be wholly or partly recycled or reused.

Ecodesign is a crucial factor in achieving a circular economy  and brings added value to product production and consumption, therefore extending its useful life. The overarching goal of the circular economy is to reduce the total amount of waste we produce to a minimum.

Ecodesign advantages: saving more on raw materials

You may think the ecodesign model is all about incentivising the recycling and reuse of a specific product. However, ecodesign has a number of additional advantages. From a business perspective, the most interesting of these comprises savings on raw materials. Several sources claim that ecodesign saved the packaging industry more than 60,000 tonnes of raw materials in 2021. This translates into significant cost savings for businesses.

What does ecodesign mean for packaging?

The biggest impact resulting from applying ecodesign principles to packaging is a boost in sustainability, since the materials used to manufacture the packaging will already be sustainable and recycled. The use of monomaterials means eco-friendly packaging is relatively easy to recycle.

Industry is currently transitioning towards production models based on ecodesign. Businesses that are early adopters of ecodesign will therefore have a competitive edge in an area that increasingly bears resemblance to the circular economy. At SP Group, we firmly believe in the benefits of this model, and that’s why it is already part of our product development.

Ecodesign has no functional downsides, but it is usually more expensive at the production stage – think innovation and the search for new materials which are more circular and sustainable.

Eco-friendly packaging is just as functional and efficient as its non-eco alternatives. Take the food industry, which has some the toughest packaging regulations around. Eco-friendly packaging in this sector produces no loss of preservation or protection of the product, and no drop-off in a food’s useful life. The same can be said of other sectors too.

How can ecodesign reduce the amount of raw materials needed to manufacture packaging?

Ecodesign has already saved the packaging industry thousands of tonnes of raw materials. Key to this is the packaging design stage – practically all raw material savings stem from the decisions made here. The design process looks specifically at how to reduce the amount of raw materials needed at the manufacturing stage.

The first step: downgauging to reduce packaging weight

Lighter packaging requires less raw material input. But lighter packaging does not imply poorer performance. In fact, the packaging retains all its features and remains just as efficient.

Getting back to packaging basics

Stripping away unnecessary adornments and introducing recycled materials into the manufacturing process also leads to a significant reduction in raw material input, and in turn brings costs down. Other measures, such as reusing wastage from the manufacturing process, also have an impact on economic sustainability.

All these measures not only reduce the use of raw materials in manufacturing but lead to water and energy savings too. This means that packaging is produced more efficiently and sustainably, in turn bringing production costs down.

At SP Group, we are all about packaging efficiency and sustainability. That’s why we support innovation in new and more sustainable materials, and the implementation of manufacturing processes that reduce our waste to zero.

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