Reflection and Review: Giving Packaging New Life (2001) & How it is Made (2006)
Giving these video are directly about the manufacture of packaging designer need to design within the constraints of these machines, their processes. Designers should also be able to acknowledge and understand the current infrastructure around these matter’s, as well as what the future of these are: whether it be conceptual or something within motion.
One thing to keep in context while the video are being viewed is their respective periods in which they were made (2001, 2006). In today’s age technology’s advancements are rapid, and a lot can happen within 6 and 11 years.
The use of Plastic’s within the packaging industries is obviously growing as it’s lighter for transportation, cheaper, allows automation within the production process, but also has it benefits over more traditional materials such as glass (plastic packaging is less likely to shatter like glass), Aluminium (no coating is needed to prevent contamination in taste, or corrosion due to contents) and Paper based packaging’s (needs addition processes for food related goods). However the down side is the recyclability compared to others is less than impressive. Consumer recycled plastics are almost never used is food packaging products, sorting in the recycling process is a large step due the large variety and the use of mixed plastic’s is limited to other industries away from food goods.
Aluminium is used in many packaging products such as tetra packs, cans and packaging tubes. Although is holds a high embodied energy, the ease of recycling due to less processes and the infinitely recycle nature of the material (with no loss in the materials properties) make’s it appealing. The drawback though, is that it requires quite a few process and other substances to make it fit for its purpose which all have their environmental impact and can affect the recycling process. The use of water soluble vanishes and based inks aid ease of recycling, and reduces the amount of hydrocarbon based solvents used which aren’t super awesome for the environment.
Glass is like aluminium in that it is, infinitely recyclable given the right processes – with no loss in quality like most plastics (PET being an exception). Glass is also pretty cool in the fact that, it is made from some of the most abundant sources on earth so we probably won’t run out anytime soon. It also requires less energy in its production then plastics and metal. Recycling is clearly a benefit, while colour additives in the glass can cause some problems within the process, namely for the colourless glass, there is some tolerance as long as the coloured glass content doesn’t exceed 10%. It’s also interesting to note that the recycled glass requires less energy to melt down then creating new glass.
The usage of Cardboard/paper products are pretty evident within packaging, if the products themselves aren’t packaged within a cardboard substrate or skin you can all but guarantee that the packets themselves arrive with cardboard box. We’re all fairly familiar with the cardboards recyclable nature, but the main appeal for companies employing it within their packaging must be the absence of restriction in colour printing due lithographic and flexigraphic printing processes – tetra packs such as ‘poppas/juice boxes’ which market would mainly be children – who seem to be unable to resist bright colourful things.
Industrial designers need to understand the material used in the packaging, and the physical properties associated with the material not so they can just implement them for the purpose of containing the contents of what the packaging holds, but for what the packaging contents are. The understanding on how the contents are used and why – but also on how they are transported and to where. There’s no point using something that is recyclable but expensive and heavy if it’s likely to transported across the world 5 times over, end up in land fill because there is no recycling infrastructure and is in high consumption.
This would lead to my three take home messages from these videos:
- Understanding what you do, is the key to improving what you do.
- Not everything is as it seems and this can affect everything.
- Technology within manufacture and recycling processes needs to be seen to be believed.