Debunking the top 3 myths about EcoDesign for sustainable packaging

EcoDesign is an approach to designing products that factors in the environmental impacts of a product over its entire lifecycle, with the aim of reducing its overall impact. Despite sustainability being an increasingly hot topic, there remain numerous misconceptions about EcoDesign. These myths discourage brands from incorporating these principles into their product development processes, and ultimately hold us all back from achieving our shared sustainability goals. 

In this post, we’ll debunk the top three myths about EcoDesign for sustainable packaging and show you how EcoDesign can help you achieve your sustainability targets.


Myth #1: EcoDesign is too expensive

This may be true - in the short term. After all, implementing new tools and new processes does require time and money. But numerous studies have shown that using EcoDesign has significant positive effects on economic performance, profitability, and competitiveness over the longer term. For example, a study conducted by the Institute for Product Development in Quebec and France showed that eco-friendly products had a 12% higher profit margin on average compared to conventional products.

One reason is that sustainable packaging designed to reduce waste and minimize inefficiencies that harm the environment can also help optimize business operations. 

For example, computer company HP redesigned their shipping boxes with the aim of decreasing their carbon footprint by reducing their weight. 

In the process, they also decreased shipping costs and saved substantial amounts of money. While the packaging material HP transitioned to costs roughly the same as the previous boxes, the boxes weigh 35% less, resulting in airfreight cost savings of $3 - 5 million annually.

Another reason is that consumers are increasingly mindful about sustainability. According to a report by McKinsey, 60% to 70% of US consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging. That same report found that 52% of consumers would buy more products that feature sustainable packaging if they are the same price point as conventionally packaged goods. 

Adding to the evidence that sustainability is good for business, the 100 most sustainable companies in the US (according to investment magazine Barron's) outperformed the S&P 500 Index in 2021, enjoying share price growth of 34%, compared to 29% for the S&P 500.

This is not to say that EcoDesign is a guaranteed moneymaker. Legislation can make adopting EcoDesign principles more profitable, as can market demand. Brands still need to keep their customers top-of-mind when designing eco-friendly products. They should also use established tools (such as life cycle analysis) to ensure that EcoDesign principles are being applied as effectively as possible.


Myth #2: EcoDesign has a negative impact on consumer experience

Some brands fear that sustainable packaging will have a negative impact on their brand reputation. One reason is that the packaging may look or feel different and may therefore be perceived as flimsy or of lower quality.

However, various studies have shown that consumers feel positively about sustainable packaging. In the UK, 56% of consumers choose green packaging because they want to support companies that protect the environment.

Furthermore, brands themselves have testified to the benefits of EcoDesign; in a survey of 119 European and Canadian companies, 86% listed “improved recognition and reputation” as a benefit of EcoDesign (not to mention “greater employee motivation or pride” (41%), “better customer relations” (36 %), and “greater capacity to develop new products” (32%)).

A nice example of consumers embracing sustainable packaging: for its OMO liquid laundry detergent brand, which can be diluted with water, Unilever created refill packs which use 70% less plastic and are made with 50% recycled plastic. The new product was so popular when they launched it in Brazil that they’ve since rolled it out to other countries in Europe, South America, and the Middle East.



Myth #3: Using EcoDesign is too complicated

Many companies believe that implementing EcoDesign is far too complicated. It is true that EcoDesign requires putting a new design process into place, as well as technical and organizational expertise which may not currently exist but within your company. However, outside experts can help you get started. 

At Avery Dennison, we work closely with industry experts to follow EcoDesign best practices, such as design for recycling guidelines to help enable brands to make the right sustainable choice when choosing their labels. Furthermore, we continue to innovate our portfolios so that we stay on the forefront of industry standards and make our products progressively more sustainable. 

Having incorporated EcoDesign principles into our own processes, we can say from experience that the positive outcomes far outweigh the effort required to overcome the initial learning curve. 


Want to learn more?

Get in touch with your local Avery Dennison representative or contact us here and download our “Small. Yet Significant.” guide to navigating sustainable labeling for the home and personal care segment to learn more about how you can start incorporating labeling best practices into your EcoDesign decisions.