Published 2 years ago.
About a 7 minute read.
Consider working with a packaging engineer the next time you release a new product or as you take steps to make your brand more sustainable. Customised packaging solutions create less waste, fewer emissions, and more savings to pass on to your customers.
Most brands know not only the branding opportunities that custom packaging
presents but also the environmental benefits.
Every species of marine
has been recorded as being stuck in plastic ocean pollution. And, while we are
we’re also using more packaging than ever before.
It’s a brand’s responsibility to address this sustainability
and use better packaging, but also less of it.
But where do the concepts of ‘better’ packaging and ‘less’ packaging cross?
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Does less always mean better?
This somewhat rhetorical problem is solved by value-engineered packaging.
Value-engineered packaging uses technical design, materials technology and
environmental policy to influence the creation of your packaging from the ground
up, specifically for your product(s).
This concept is in opposition to go-to packaging solutions that are readily
available off the shelf.
A packaging engineer is an individual with a background in physics, design and
sourcing materials — they’re responsible for creating your ideal, sustainable
packaging solutions. They look at not just the physical packaging used but also
where (and how) it’s produced, and its position in your fulfillment process and
They also take elements such as security, thermal insulation and ease of use
during the delivery process into account.
Image credit: Packhelp
A fine, real-world example of value engineered packaging is
Raylo. The British telco brand worked with a
create a single packaging solution for its iPhone subscription service — that
lowered its packaging costs by 11 percent, and its overall shipment weight by 21
The company did this simply by redesigning a standard mailing box to suit its
pre-packaged phone, while also encapsulating all the necessary accessories.
When you research “sustainable packaging,” most resources focus solely on the
Soap packaged in
Mailer bags that break down to nothing
made from previously used boxes
These are all pioneering ideas that will further shape the industry. But these
concepts focus on just the materials being used, rather than how the materials
What’s more sustainable — plant-based bubble wrap or a packaging solution that
removes the need for any form of internal cushioning?
So, as you take steps into the world of packaging sustainability, consider the
role that physical design can play, too.
Value-engineered packaging looks at all your packaging products, as well as the
in which your packaging is used. With this comprehensive approach, you can find
cost reductions but also environmental savings.
A packaging engineer looks at all of your products and packaging, and uses them
to influence a single, new packaging design. Packaging that can go from storage
to out the door as quickly as possible saves you time and spends less energy and
resources in the process.
There are several benefits to value-engineering your packaging over
Uses less: Packaging that’s designed specifically for your product only uses
the amount of material that’s necessary. While the packaging is tailored to
your products’ shape and size, security is far from compromised. Security is
built into the design of the packaging product. Internal anchor points to
hold your product in place mean that there’s no need for a second type of
packaging filler. The result is fewer materials being needed to perform the
Lower carbon footprint: As your value-engineered packaging uses only the
necessary amount of materials, it weighs less — meaning fewer emissions
created during production, delivery and shipping. Bonus tip: Another way
to lower your packaging’s carbon emissions is to use centrally or locally
located manufacturers. Furthermore, packaging designed for your specific products means that less energy is expended in delivering your orders. This type of packaging also saves money in the form of lower delivery fees — a saving that can make your brand more sustainably and financially competitive.
Less need for fillers: The power of customised packaging comes from the
number of jobs it can do, thus eliminating the need for other packaging
products. That’s one less packaging expense and one less material that needs
to be thrown away.
Better branding: Value-engineered packaging also helps your
You’re able to build a better unboxing experience and create a better first
Value-engineered packaging solutions fulfill the needs of both ecommerce and
To see the potential benefits of value-engineered packaging for your brand, look
at the solutions you’re already using and consider substitution.
Chances are you’re using the humble cardboard corrugated box. That’s not a bad
thing — corrugated mailing boxes are probably one of the most eco-friendly
packaging solutions on the market. They’re made from recycled paper pulp.
Consumers can easily recycle it.
But also consider the relationship between your packaging material and your
products. Do your shirts really need to be packaged in a durable, corrugated
box? Perhaps a mailing bag is the better option.
Compared to corrugated cardboard, mailing bags are
lightweight, take up less space, and are
just as durable. Plus, some varieties break down in home compost facilities; and
there’s no need for tape or stickers to seal your box closed.
The point is this: You can be your own packaging engineer by substituting
existing materials and reevaluating your current packaging choices.
Smaller accessories such as socks, wallets, and gloves can benefit from smaller
alternative packaging solutions, too. A paper can is entirely customizable and
small enough to save space and postage costs.
On the other hand, corrugated cardboard may be the best option if you’re selling
both online and in retail stores. Traditionally, thin-walled cardboard is used
for retail packaging. But if you’re putting that retail packaging into a mailer
box, what’s the point of using the thin-walled retail packaging at all?
Ask yourself if your packaging solution is the best option for your business and
the environment, or if it’s just the go-to solution that you opted for.
As you’ve just read, there’s a wealth of environmental savings to come from
value-engineered packaging. These environmental savings often result in
financial savings, too — and significantly lower the number of packaging SKUs
you need. Your packaging engineer can create a single packaging solution for
every product that you sell.
Of course, if you’re selling camping fridges and t-shirts, this may not be a
practical option. But a packaging engineer can take products of a similar size
and create a single, unified solution.
This is a powerful tool if your brand is scaling, as you can now access
volume-based discounts as you can buy more of a single packaging product. With
fewer packaging SKUs, you’re also able to save more space in your warehouse,
leading to more fulfillment efficiencies.
Consider working with a packaging engineer the next time you release a new
product or as you take steps to make your brand more sustainable. By creating
customised packaging solutions specifically for your brand from the ground up,
you benefit the environment and your business. There’s less waste, fewer carbon
emissions, and more savings to pass on to your customers.
Published Mar 30, 2021 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST
Phil is a bearded Australian living in Warsaw, Poland. When he’s not taking Packhelp’s custom packaging to the world, he can be found trying not to kill his plants; reading about dinosaurs; or writing for his blog, expatspoland.