Packaging eco design: what it is and how it can benefit your business

A shift in consumer behavior and national and international legislation has put packaging eco design at the front of packaging trends. With sustainability becoming a key strategic decision across different industries, ecologic packaging is now one of the most important points that companies can make in order to show their commitment towards environmentally responsible practices.  

Today, packaging eco design is no longer regarded as an inconvenience as, in fact, implementing it becomes a solid competitive advantage. We analyze why.

What does packaging eco design mean?

Packaging eco design is the process of designing a packaging system that is sustainable. While sustainability is a broad concept that accommodates many practices, its ultimate goal is clear: to make sure that a product doesn’t harm the environment.

A company that seeks to adopt ecologic packaging will have to take a look at a wide range of their processes: from packaging production and energy to raw material extraction, transportation, and recycling and reusing possibilities. 

This can translate into a number of actions towards packaging: 

  • Redesign to use fewer packaging materials maintaining all the properties and specifications, which has an impact on optimizing transportation space, cutting down carbon dioxide emissions as a final result.
  • Employing recycled materials.
  • Use sustainable, plant-based materials. These alternatives are not more sustainable per se and must also be scrutinized at the production level (for instance, companies must make sure raw materials are sourced sustainably, using food waste and not endangering protected areas).
  • Employ reusable packaging options.


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Why is ecological packaging important for your business?

Implementing a packaging eco design process translates into a reduced carbon footprint for any business (that is, reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere). In today’s context, this means a competitive advantage in many ways: 


-Branding and improved earnings: according to a study by McKinsey, over 70% of customers are willing to pay more for products that use ecological packaging. As consumers increasingly see sustainability as an important issue, brands that adjust to sustainable practices attract more customers. For instance, 87% of consumers in the United States say they are more likely to buy from brands committed to sustainability.

These figures highlight the relevance of sustainable packaging, which in turn is already acknowledged by brands: 90% of CEOs find that adopting sustainable policies is essential for success.

-Comply with new regulations. International and national legislations are being enforced to push companies into circular economy models. Adopting packaging eco design ensures companies comply with these new regulations.

-Cost optimization: in search of more sustainable options, a packaging eco design process typically reduces packaging materials. This, in turn, translates into less spending on raw materials, as well as less transportation and storage costs, as the packaging weight and space are reduced.

Expanded foam packaging eco design

How Knauf Appliances makes eco designed packaging

Knauf Appliances has committed to putting sustainability at the core of our practices, helping our clients find sustainable packaging that is also cost-efficient.

In order to do so, we’ve developed a methodology for packaging eco design, and a number of sustainable packaging materials:

1. Packaging eco design: the process

At Knauf Industries, we make sure eco design is integrated at every stage of our projects. In order to do so, we work on a six-axis methodology: 

  • Integrate all internal and external stakeholders concerned with the product
  • Look into consumer preferences and uses
  • Reasoning on the complete system of the product to avoid any impact transfer
  • Optimize the weight and/or the volume for a defined use-value of the product
  • Optimize the use of resources and flows during production
  • Take into account the product’s end of life 

Once this firm base is established, we take a step-by-step approach through our IDlab methodology. 

In the end, our goal is to put our expertise into selecting the materials with the lowest environmental impact without compromising the required technical performance. At the same time, we optimize the packaging design and the quantity of material used, favoring single-material solutions.

Materials for packaging eco design

EPP: Expanded Polypropylene is a trustworthy and well-tested material used in a wide variety of industrial applications that is made of 98% air. This is a highly versatile closed-cell bead foam that offers a unique range of extraordinary properties that make it a sustainable option:

  • Lightweight
  • Great mechanical performance and protection capabilities
  • Thermal insulation
  • 100% recyclable
  • Allows for the creation of reusable packaging units.
  • EPS: Expanded Polystyrene is a plastic material also made of 98% air that coincides with many of EPP’s s extraordinary sustainable features:
  • It’s an extremely lightweight option. It provides a 62% weight reduction compared with other alternatives such as plastic, and an 82% weight reduction compared to wood packaging alternatives.
  • Excellent shock absorption, offering protection for safe packaging.
  • A 100% recyclable packaging option, which also presents a more sustainable carbon footprint than other materials with a fossil origin and even some with a plant origin 


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-NEOPS®: a bio-sourced material developed by Knauf Industries, it’s made from an expandable plastic resin of vegetable biomass, sustainably sourced (cereal, and waste, as well as tree branches and leaves, all of them from non-agricultural origins).

At the same time, NEOPS® presents an identical performance to EPS and is 100% recyclable too, while also reducing CO2 emissions by 30% during its production process, compared to traditional EPS. 

NEOPS®  is certified by the new biomass standard REDcert².

-CELOOPS®: an expandable plastic resin from post-consumer recycled plastic whose basic chemical composition is styrene. It helps to reduce plastic waste providing your products with a very low carbon footprint.

CELOOPS® is also certified by the new biomass standard REDcert² and can be recycled using any existing recycling channels and local waste facilities. At the same time, this material presents similar properties to EPS packaging solutions.

Ecologic packaging: Circular economy, recycling, and sustainability

Packaging eco-design must extend beyond the production phases, and look into what is done after the packaging solutions are used and they reach the end of their life cycle.

Knauf Circular® is an initiative that speaks of our commitment to the recycling of EPS products. By developing this program, we coordinate with different sectors that use EPS packaging solutions – industrial firms, retail sector, insulation installation contractors, recycling centers, etc. – in order to provide them with an on-site collection service of their EPS waste from packaging.

This provides a guarantee for all users that their EPS waste will be recycled in a responsible program and incorporated into new polystyrene products, generating a circular economy model that helps to position EPS as a sustainable material. This program, thus, gives a new life to expanded polystyrene waste.

Then, Knauf ensures that the EPS recycling process takes place responsibly in the following four steps:

  • First of all, EPS needs to be separated from other materials, as it will be processed alone. It can only be collected with PS because they are made from the same molecules.
  • EPS is then transported to specific processing plants.
  • Systems such as EPS compressing machines allow companies to optimize space, reducing the EPS pieces’ volume. 
  • At the same time, EPS densifiers allow for the processing and recycling of EPS waste. In order to do so, they crush EPS into tiny pieces and then melt them. The goal is to reduce the pieces’ volume and generate EPS bricks that are easily transported to new facilities, where they can be incorporated into new products.

If you want to make your business more sustainable and reduce your carbon footprint don’t hesitate to contact us!

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