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Sustainability in Branding & Packaging: Insights from the studio

9 Dec 2021

A lot of us can admit, when it comes to taking the most environmentally friendly option, we’re not perfect. In our personal lives, we’re constantly weighing the balance between practicality, relative cost and our moral conscience, this is also something we have to do when building brands.

We’ve noticed conversations around ‘sustainability’ develop from novelty feature to fundamental requirement in the last decade, and we’re now approaching a point where sustainable brands and packaging is the norm. Packaging suppliers now offer a minimum of around 30%PCR plastics as standard, and you’d now be hard pressed to find a paper stock that isn’t FSC certified. Inks used in printing are less toxic, and new short run technology in printing means less waste and more affordable packaging solutions for independent brands.

But what does it mean to be sustainable?

True sustainability is to meet our own needs without compromising future generations to meet theirs, but from our perspective, we use the term to refer to any concerted effort by a company to reduce their footprint through reducing, recycling or reusing materials where possible, especially as it can be difficult to fully understand some of the complexities of using different materials…

Sustainable packaging, Photo via Unsplash, Annie Spratt

What's so complicated?

From what we’ve learnt in the industry, it’s never quite as simple as you think, especially with products travelling as far and wide as they do. Generally speaking, best practice is always to use as little packaging as possible, without compromising its function.

When considering more eco alternatives in print and packaging, it’s really only effective if you’ve done your research, and you can be sure that the material is a part of a closed loop, I.e. it’s made from recycled material, and can be recycled or re-used effectively again and again.

Sustainable Materials, Photo via Unsplash, Annie Spratt

Can you be premium AND sustainable?

In our opinion, sustainability and premium go hand in hand, as it’s another layer of consideration and quality consumers value. However, there are different ways to approach this, and finding one that sits comfortably with the brand is key, whether it’s making a feature of the imperfections from reformed materials, or making the quality and consideration shine through the design, where the sustainability credentials are a pleasing discoverable detail.

What do you do as a business to reduce your footprint?

We use energy efficient tech, and second-hand/ refurbished electronics where possible and reduce our printing and paper usage by using predominantly digital design and communications. We use offcuts and industrial paper waste from the print-works in our building to create make-shift note-pads, and for packaging/shipping items. When travelling, we often encourage walking and cycling to and from work in warmer months, and use trains and public transport for visits further a-field. In the studio, we recycle and even compost all our coffee grounds and organic waste… it’s not much, but it’s a start towards becoming a more sustainable business.

A section of our studio’s mood board of natural and PCW paper textures against a pressed Ginkgo leaf to inspire a premium spirit brand.

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