Design packaging to reduce environmental impacts

How to design packaging for reuse


Once you have minimised your use of packaging, you should consider whether your packaging can be designed so that it can be reused.

Reuse of packaging which requires the end customer to return packaging to the supply chain - for example glass milk bottles - has been in decline for several years. However, it is possible to have a level of reuse within your business and design packaging that lends itself more easily to reuse. The most common form of reuse for consumer products is of strong packaging that stays with the end user - such as spice jars, biscuit tins or laundry detergent bottles.

You may also be able to reuse packaging within your own business or involve other organisations - such as other businesses in your supply chain.

You should consider whether packaging intended for reuse will actually get reused. For example, you may need to provide refills for people who already have reusable jars, bottles, tins, etc.

There are several aspects of reuse that your business should consider when designing product packaging.

Packaging durability and weight

The options your business could consider include:

  • reinforcing existing packaging designs to turn a one-use pack into a reusable system
  • ensuring the finish of the packaging can withstand several reuses
  • making the packaging lightweight yet durable by using alternative materials

Packaging use and handling

The options your business could consider include:

  • ensuring packaging is robust enough to be loaded and unloaded without any significant damage
  • making the packaging easy to collapse and stack with clear markings on how the packs should be stacked or nested
  • easy opening and secure closing
  • easy label removal and attachment to allow reuse

Packaging cleaning and refurbishment

The options your business could consider include:

  • designing the packaging so that it can easily be washed ready for reuse
  • making the packaging modular and repairable
  • ensuring the cleaning process can be completed with the minimum impact on the environment

End of use packaging which is clean and undamaged could be useful for your business or reusable as a resource for other businesses.