Assess the improvements

Every design decision has an influence on the sustainability of packaging, and tradeoffs are often introduced when designs are changed. To ensure that design innovations achieve the desired improvements, it’s important to evaluate the results, identify the sustainability indicators that have been affected, and assess progress.

The design strategies are intended to guide changes in certain attributes of the packaging system, such as the percentage of recycled content used, the cube efficiency of the system, or the amount of material used. These attributes can often be measured directly, but a full LCA or a streamlined LCA tool needs to be used to understand how changes in packaging attributes affect changes in impacts.

It is also important to assess the benefits of the new design and compare them to the benefits of other designs under consideration. Unless a very comprehensive functional unit was used, it’s likely that LCA results will not give information to compare the benefits of different design options. Furthermore, cost considerations, unwanted social impacts, and certain environmental indicators may not be included in LCA results. Try to think as holistically as possible when evaluating different design options.

If reductions to the prioritized impacts have been achieved and the benefits of the packaging system have been maintained or enhanced, then you have successfully designed more sustainable packaging!