When it comes to packaging design, there are numerous steps you should follow, from the initial brainstorming to the mockup. One often overlooked step is to visit a recycling plant. At first, this may seem as if it is simply a waste of time, but it can make a dramatic difference in terms of the sustainability of your product packaging.
You Will Better Understand What Is Recyclable
All of the various reasons to visit a recycling plant when designing product packaging come down to understanding what materials are actually recyclable and the process of recycling. With that knowledge, you can make adjustments to your packaging design to improve the ease with which it is sorted at recycling facilities. Or you can use the information to ensure that your product packaging truly is recyclable instead of just believing it.
You Can Choose the Materials That Are Easiest to Recycle
Even if you are already using recyclable materials and your visit to a recycling plant confirms that, there is still more to learn from a trip to one. You will, for example, learn which materials are the easiest to recycle or require the least resources to do so. Or perhaps which materials can be recycled to a greater extent. This way, you could swap from a material of which only a small portion is recyclable to one that is almost all recyclable.
You Can Be Aware of Which Recyclable Materials Are Harder to Process
Thanks to a tour of a recycling plant, you will also gain an awareness of certain recyclable materials that are more time-consuming or difficult to process. Plastic film, for example, is recyclable, but it can cause problems when recycled with other home recycling. When tossed in with the rest of the items, it can require cutting out of the sorting machinery with a boxcutter, dramatically reducing efficiency.
You Will Understand That Recycling Still Uses Resources
Some people feel good about recycling because they think of it as an immediate process that does not use too many more resources and instantly turns consumed materials into new ones. By visiting a recycling plant, you will gain an appreciation for how many resources, including time and energy, are involved in sorting and processing recycling. You may realize that while making your product packaging recyclable helps, it does not do so to the same extent that you thought. This can help encourage you to supplement recyclable materials with other sustainable practices.
You Will Be Inspired to Reduce Materials If Possible
Additionally, a visit to a recycling plant will show you just how much is involved in sorting out recyclable materials before actually processing them. The intricacies of this process may encourage packaging designers to do what they can to minimize the amount of material that has to be recycled and do so sustainably. This would mean reducing the amount of material used in packaging. This is not always possible, but a reduction in packaging materials can save money on packaging manufacturing and will help the planet. It also reduces the amount of material needed to be recycled.