As companies across the globe seek ways to minimise their packaging to support their ECG goals, how can premium brands embrace sustainability whilst still maximising the luxury experience for the consumer?

Maintaining the luxury experience

Gifting beautifully packaged gifts is a tradition that has happened all around the world for thousands of years. The unboxing experience gives that warm ‘fuzzy’ feeling and adds value to the consumer, enabling a brand to highlight their differentiation, personal information, authenticity and shelf appeal. Put simply, unique packaging is everything that makes a brand stand out amongst its competitors.

But does sustainability mean that this will have to be compromised? The short answer is, no!

To remove packaging completely would risk consumers losing everything they have come to love and associate with their favourite premium brands.  For example, would Moët and Chandon Champagne even be Moet without its elegant neck label and sheer opulence?!.

What we can do instead is ensure that the packaging we have use, has minimal impact on the environment. The key is to work with partners that have in-depth knowledge of materials and the manufacturing process so they can work with you to design, create and produce packaging that is both luxurious and sustainable to support your brands’ ECG goals.

The concept of sustainability has become incredibly nuanced, the sheer size of the subject opens itself for multiple priorities and perhaps a little confusion too.

Let’s give you a quick overview of some top-level considerations to help guide your thinking.

Sustainable embellishments and labelling

It’s probably the first thing we think about when discussions start around sustainable packaging. Here you will want to explore implementing renewable, recyclable, recycled, biodegradeable, compostable materials (and everything in between) into your design.

There are also triggering materials that is worth noting – plastic being an excellent example. Plastic pollution has induced an important movement across industries to take a responsible approach to employing single-use plastic in all aspects of operations.

It’s important to note that there are hundreds of types of plastic (also called polymers) but we should be realistic in acknowledging that in very specific circumstances, plastic offers benefits that can’t be ignored. It is a necessity for you to understand the properties of the different types of polymers out there, their recyclability, health hazards and alternatives, including consideration of using recycled plastic and biodegradable options so you can take a full view of your design priorities.

Whilst we are reviewing attributes of materials, don’t forget to think about lighter alternatives. If you’re looking at metallic labelling, for example, you may prefer using aluminium to heavier materials like pewter, as it will significantly contribute to reduced fuel consumption and carbon emissions in transport.

We helped Glengoyne launch its first 100% recyclable and locally sourced packaging without compromised consumer perception of their prestige.  Isle of Barra Distillers have recently re-branded and re-launched Barra Atlantic Gin with bottles made from recycled glass, 100% plastic free and 100% recyclable. For Isle of Barra, this is a statement move that firmly supports their brand. Due to the percentage of recycled glass, each bottle is vastly different which serves to reflect the different characters from their island home – a great example of how product changes can be adapted through immersive storytelling whilst remaining supportive of the brand in its entirety.

Work with responsible suppliers

At some point in your journey, your company may look to assess its scope 1, 2 and 3. If you’re unfamiliar with what this is, then here’s a great recap. Having a responsible supplier that works with you to achieve your long term sustainability goals is critical to your success – they’ll actively look to improve their status so you can incorporate this into your credentials, and as innovators in their space, they’ll actively look to offer solutions that align with your objectives and timeline.

It’s also important to acknowledge the advantages of proximity of production sites. For example, basing production within Europe as opposed to the Far East, can offer around 60% reduction in emissions purely from distance alone.

When looking at your suppliers, what is your confidence in their approach to quality? We’ve unfortunately had a few clients approach us for help because they’ve seen defects in their embellishments – due a variety of errors and missteps. Mistakes can happen, for some of our clients, this has led to having to either use sub-standard embellishments in their bottle design or having to reorder large quantities of an improved iteration (leading to thousands of product wastage). Don’t let that happen, and work with a supplier that prises quality and attention to detail – the assurance is invaluable.

Educating your consumers

Our proactive actions to be more responsible citizens and businesses are collective. If your efforts don’t provoke improved and positive behaviour in your consumers… you’re missing a vital component for change.

How are you engaging your customer? How are you educating them on how to recycle the components of your bottle? Don’t forget that there is also important societal responsibilities with regards to Drinks Awareness or other issues that your brand may be taking a strong stance on. How can your packaging decisions help achieve this objective?

Reuse. Reuse. Reuse.

One of the most notable initiatives of recent news, is the DRS (Depost Return Scheme) that Scotland has initially implemented as a trial for future UK rollout. The point of how effective this has been so far is a conversation for another day, but the ‘thirst’ for reuse in industry is an important consideration that you may want to think about when it comes to the design of your bottle.

A project by luxury brand group Kering highlighted that the consumer end of life phase only accounts for 8% of a products impact. In fact, the remaining 92% is made up of raw material processing, production, manufacturing, processing, shipping and so forth. There is, therefore, opportunity for in making your bottle being used long after its initial intent. Is there a way your brand can capitalise on this?

We’ll be sold bold to say that reusability does go hand in hand with how the look and feel of your bottle fits with a sense of luxury aesthetic. Cheaper throwaway items in this case may carry a much greater cost overall than high-quality embellishments and labelling.

So where does that leave us?

While there are many companies taking large strides towards offering sustainable options, luxury packaging is always going to remain an integral aspect of a premium beverage.

Sustainability remains firmly on the agenda, but it continues to be highly challenging as the very heart of luxury requires expensive looking products that offer better value for money. The fear is “if packaging is made to be thinner and lighter, the value is instantly lost”.

Our answer is, not if you’ve done it right.

As expert creators of bespoke embellishments and labels, we’re committed to taking sustainable action and making positive sustainability impacts throughout our business.

If you’re ready, we’re ready to chat through some ideas with you. Just say when.


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