“Sustainability first” is a demand driven by my generation (the Millennials). Labeling your brand as “eco-friendly” is no longer a choice but a requirement if you are to appeal to the modern consumer. How the product is packaged is viewed through a critical lens: is it constructed from recycled materials? Is it multifunctional? Is the packaging you chose to transport the product in planet-respecting? Searching for ways to reduce your brand’s carbon footprint no longer earns you a pat on the back; rather, it is expected. Unremitting creativity is essential to the design process, but unremitting creativity without a conscience is unacceptable to the Millennial client.
So, how are businesses evolving their design strategies to stay relevant and give the modern consumer a product that exceeds expectations? Through innovation driven by interdisciplinary, multigenerational design teams that aim to unite style and sustainability. Billerudkorsnäs, a Swedish company known for its emphasis on paper and rejection of all things plastic, is doing exactly that. I had the opportunity to sit down with Inger Heinke, the business development director of Billerudkorsnäs, at LuxePack to discuss how her firm is leading the corporate response to climate change.
Billerudkorsnäs stresses the importance of a responsible value chain. A brand must know the origins of their raw material supply and the chain of custody throughout the entire journey. Inger’s company achieves this by practicing sustainable forestry to create engineered multi-ply cartonboard that is lightweight. This lighter-weight paper material decreases CO2 emissions and cost: a win-win for both the planet and the company. While this is excellent, I find that US society is not as focused on the importance of a small CO2 footprint as our European counterparts. Heinke believes that US consumers “are growing more aware, and to perpetuate this increasing consciousness, brands must communicate in meaningful numbers. For example, if a company produces 1 million perfume boxes, this equates to flying a few seconds in an airplane.” She continues, “Coming up with numbers that mean something to people in order to paint an effective image is key.”
This Swedish establishment dedicated to lightweight paper products has truly united sophistication and sustainability. They understand that aesthetics and sustainability are not mutually exclusive—and the proof is in the pudding, as their lightweight, sleek cartonboard packaging is successfully appealing to the modern consumer from a moral high ground other businesses should strive to reach.
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