21. Packaging

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Packaging and the environment


  • Too much packaging is used, but the top two purposes of packaging-to protect & promote.
  • 70% of packaging ends in landfill.

Primary packaging- protects the product and gives key information. Secondary packaging- contains actual product, gives detailed information, usually made from card or plastic and has nice graphics on.

The designer should think-what material should it be made of? What eventually happens to the packaging? Easily recycles/reused? Is product over-packaged?

  •  biodegradeable packaging materials made from potato starch-PaperFoam and PotatoPak, as well as following this waste hierarchy pyramid on the next page:


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Waste Hierarchy pyramid

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Uses of Packaging


  • Stacking and storage, Information, Protect, Preserve and Promote

Nearly everly product is packaged so it's easily stored and stack up on each other.
Overpackaging=too much packaging, underpackaging=too little.
Deceptive packaging: where the package gives a false impression of the product.

  • Bar codes:
    1. First 2 numbers-shows products' country of origin
    2. Next 5 numbers-manufacturer's reference number.
    3. Last 5/6 numbers-specific product number.
  • RFID tags- Radio frequency identification.
    -Microchip combined win an antenna in a compact package, allowing object to be tracked.
    -Tag's antenna picks up signals from an RIFD reader or scanner then returns the signal, usually with additional data, like a unique serial number.


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Uses of Packaging 2

  • Information
    • it is a legal requirement to inform the customer of the product.
    • Ingredients, weights, safety requirements, best before dates, etc.
  • Protect
    • Main materials:
      • Corrugated cardboard
      • Expanded polystyrene
      • Bubble wrap.
  • Preserve
    • Packaging might be a barrier against air, so an airtight seal would be needed.
  • Promote
    • eye-catching graphics, and brand names often have a certain style.


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Packaging materials

  • Material- Advantages - Disadvantages - Uses


  • Paper/card - cheap, light, easy to print on - quite weak, not waterproof - games, cereal boxes.
  • Thermoplastics - waterproof, light, transparent, complex shapes easily made - least environmentally friendly - drinks, bags, insulation, protection.
  • Metals-steel & aluminium - Strong, waterproof - expensive - tin cans, fizzy drinks
  • Glass - waterproof, transparent - breaks, expensive - bottles.
  • Softwoods like pine- cheap, strong, re-usable - none - pallets
  • Engineering materials-plywood- very strong - one-off use - packing cases for transport of machinery
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