1.2.3 Developing Circular Product-Packaging Combinations

Course subject(s) Module 1. Packaging in a Circular Economy

As we’ve seen earlier, packaging can be crucial in order to use and distribute a product effectively. Whenever a product depends on its packaging in order to be used they are considered a Product-Packaging Combination (PPC). Especially for fast moving consumer goods the packaging is often an integral part of the product. For example: a hand soap dispenser and the soap that it contains.

Developing Product-Packaging Combinations (PPCs) in the context of a circular economy requires a systems thinking approach. To do so manufacturers and designers need to consider the following [1]:

  • Integrate the development of the product and its packaging.
    Develop the packaging while you are designing the product. How do they depend on each other? Perhaps the product can be re-imagined in such a way that its packaging becomes obsolete.
  • Consider sustainability aspects at the beginning of a new PPC development process.
    Does the packaging increase the product’s lifespan (in order to prevent food waste)? Can the packaging help users use the correct amount of product? What happens at the PPC’s end-of-life?
  • Involve all stakeholders that are part of the PPC’s value chain.
    In addition to engineers and designers, bring in other stakeholders that interact with the PPC during its lifecycle (such as consumers, suppliers, waste collectors or recyclers) to take part in the development process.


Further reading:

[1] Koeijer, B., Wever, R., & Henseler, J. (2017). Realizing Product‐Packaging Combinations in Circular Systems: Shaping the Research Agenda. Packaging technology and science, 30(8), 443-460.

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Sustainable Packaging in a Circular Economy by TU Delft OpenCourseWare is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://online-learning.tudelft.nl/courses/sustainable-packaging-in-a-circular-economy/.
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