The trends in packaging design are moving toward a more sustainable future. The green movement has caught on, and many designers are creating packages that are recyclable and more eco-friendly. Packages using smaller amounts of material are showing up in the marketplace, and recyclability is part of the overall design process. Five designers recently discussed packaging material trends with Beverage Industry and why eco-friendly packages are here to stay. Dan Matauch is the owner and creative director of Flow Design, Northville, Mich.; Stuart Leslie co-founded 4Sight, New York City; Mark Broderick is senior graphic designer at ToolBox Studios Inc., San Antonio, Texas; Michael Osborne is the founder of Michael Osborne Design, San Francisco; and Laurent Hainaut is founder of Raison Pure, which has locations in New York and Paris.
Dan Matauch: I am starting to see a lot more aluminum bottles in the market. People are interested in using that technology, stretching the boundaries of shaping and decorating the bottle. For plastic bottles, new hot-filled bottles are being used that have moved away from the ugly support ridges in the label panel area. I see some companies moving toward glass, out of plastic. Mainly there are a few different reasons: cost of plastic build-up due to oil prices, also recyclability of the glass bottles, and you always have the upscale image of glass as well.
Stuart Leslie: In the world of bottles, PET obviously still remains the king for beverages in that we have all the right properties of clarity and pressure retention and preservation of product. And I think what’s happening is the recycling/sustainability movement has really pushed PET in the forefront. It’s one the most effectively recycled plastics and has the best refill strength. We’ve continued to see the use of PET, and I think what’s exciting about what’s going on now is how we are using the material. We’re kind of seeing this convergence of interesting needs colliding. We have the sustainability movement colliding with the demand by consumers for improved convenience and more exciting packaging. That way we can achieve a PET bottle that is lighter weight, more sustainable, less of a footprint on the planet, and yet more profitable for our clients and more exciting for our consumer.
Mark Broderick: The beverage industry, I think, has been ahead of the curve for a couple of decades on recycling and reusing. I think that they are advertising [that] more. There is a more educated consumer when it comes to sustainability. And a lot of companies make that part of their business practices, not only in how they make the product, but how they package the product … the kind of glass they use, the kind of inks they use, the kind of papers they use to make the product. Consumers will not sacrifice quality in order to make that decision, but they will pay a premium. They will pay a little bit extra to know that their product is packaged by people who are good stewards of the environment.
Michael Osborne: Wine bottle structures are based on history and heritage. Basically there are Bordeaux bottles and Burgundy bottles. There are many variations of each, but they are what they are â€” always have been, and probably always will be. There are some anomalies, like this Italian Pinot Grigio bottle I saw the other day. It was a tall, clear cylindrical shape. But basically wine structures are pretty set, with several choices of existing bottle molds to choose from. The spirits industry is a very different animal. The obvious, but certainly not only, example is the “all new and improved” vodka bottle. Every time I go to the store there’s a new vodka brand, and the newest “here's what we can do” bottle structure. It’s a category that is overly crowded and the brand teams are doing whatever they can to stand out in the crowd.
Laurent Hainaut: There are a lot of things happening now, but certainly today it is how the brands solve the question of sustainability. It is actually not a trend, but a real problem to face … The material we keep talking about is natural material like corn-based plastic, but there is not enough quantity produced today to ensure big brands [can] use it. So I think the focus now is more about reduction of material than it is change of materials. The first issue is to do lighter weight bottles with less plastic. We need to create shapes that are stronger and more resistant. We try to limit the weight of plastic in the bottles. That is a big constraint. …Today, a very small amount of the bottles are really recycled, which is a big issue, and I think a lot of plans are trying to work on that.