Submitted by: Bradley Leadbitter May 29, 2019
Packaging company Smurfit Kappa recently set the world’s designers a challenge: to create paper-based alternatives to plastic packaging. Here are the winners…
Around the world, business and organisations are busy working on alternatives to plastic packaging. The current need for sustainable solutions to the single-use plastic crisis has never been more urgent, with individuals, companies and governments crying out for packaging that’s just as effective but doesn’t harm the environment.
One company that’s taking positive action in this search is Smurfit Kappa. The international specialists in paper-based packaging recently set a challenge to find paper-based alternatives to everyday non-biodegradable packaging. Open to anyone, whether in the packaging industry or not, this new competition aimed to generate new thinking and solutions, with the winning designers not only receiving €8,000 in prize money, but have the opportunity of having their solution developed into a viable product.
The Smurfit Kappa Better Planet Packaging Design Challenge was split into two tasks. The first was to develop a paper-based solution to replace plastic stretch wrap around pallets, a material that’s efficient and cost-effective but creates waste that can’t be recycled.
The second challenge was to develop a paper-based parcel with thermal protection for a temperature-sensitive product. Current solutions tend to be made with multiple materials, such as EPS or cool packs, which make the final parcel almost impossible for consumers to recycle.
Both challenges have a clear focus on paper and its huge potential in creating a wide range of solutions for the worldwide packaging industry, with the winning entries demonstrating this potential to dazzling effect.
And the winners are…
After a rigorous judging process, the winners of the Better Planet Packaging Design Challenge were announced this month at a Smurfit Kappa Packaging Innovation event held in the Netherlands. The event attracted over 350 global brands to explore the future of sustainable packaging and hear which of the 300-plus entries took the two prizes.
“I loved the sustainability focus of the challenge”
The first challenge was won by Eric Haas, a freelance product and packaging designer from Germany. Eric developed a clever net-like structure made from paper that can secure pallet loads of different shapes and sizes, with the advantage of being able to be re-used rather than discarded.
“I loved the sustainability focus of the challenge,” said a jubilant Eric. “It was an iterative process of innovation and I was delighted to find out that my idea won the top prize. I’m excited about the potential that my submission has.”
The winner of the second challenge was Kerstin Fischbacher, a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Kerstin put forward an innovative idea for a thermal insulation product made from paper pulp, which is formed in a similar fashion to expanded polystyrene (EPS). While her product has similar thermal insulation properties to EPS, it’s fully recyclable and biodegradable.
“This is very exciting for me,” said Kerstin, “and the first time that I have got confirmation that all the work and research I do in my spare time has the chance to really make a difference.”
From idea to solution
As well as being €8,000 richer, Eric and Kerstin now have the satisfaction of seeing their product developed by Smurfit Kappa, working alongside the company’s innovation team to create solutions that could potentially replace a significant amount of plastic packaging and make a very real impact on the world’s environment.
The challenge has also been a great success for Smurfit Kappa, who have not only attracted a huge amount of interest in their Better Planet Packaging Initiative, but demonstrated paper’s ability to take on two of the toughest tasks in packaging.
“We got a fantastic response to the competition which caught the imagination of a lot of very talented people both inside and outside the company,” said Arco Berkenbosch, VP of Innovation and Development at Smurfit Kappa. “Both Eric and Kerstin’s ideas stood out for the versatility and innovation they offered, and we plan to cooperate with both innovators to develop their winning ideas further.”
Read the full press release from Smurfit Kappa here.
Article by Sam Upton
Image Credit © Smurfit Kappa
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