It’s now table stakes for food & beverage brands to have beautiful packaging that captures consumers attention on the shelf and on social media.
With many food & bev brands checking the “aesthetically pleasing” box, consumers — especially younger ones like Gen-Z, zillenials, and maybe even millennials — want these brands to step it up a notch and also consider the environmental impact of their packaging.
To those rolling their eyes and thinking: “These young consumers demand everything. They want to drink a pretty beverage that takes the edge off, is infused with the latest buzz-word ingredient and save the world at the same time without ever looking up from their phone.”
We say: what else would you expect from the people who came of age during the plastic straw ban?
Sarcasm aside, food & beverage products do contribute a significant amount of waste. Research conducted by the UN shows that 1.6 billion tons of food is wasted every year and 12 million tons of plastic enters the ocean every year.
This is a serious global, environmental issue that governments and people across the world are trying to solve. You probably already knew that from listening to David Attenborough’s majestic voice in his Netflix nature documentaries during quarantine.
What you may not know is that 55 percent of people surveyed in the US are extremely or very concerned about the environmental impact of product packaging, and 60 to 70 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging, according to a Mckinsey report published in October 2020.
While consumers express grievance over the current state of packaging, actually changing their individual behavior is the challenging part. Shocker, right?
This means that companies need to make it easy for consumers to be sustainable without thinking about it.
IWANNA, a CBD sparkling beverage inspired by the beach & tropical flavors, understands how to incorporate sustainability into the design & marketing of its product.
Arie Modiano, founder of IWANNA, knew that he wanted to come up with an innovative & fun solution to make IWANNA recyclable, “Our labels are made out of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). Unfortunately this means that our labels are not very friendly because they complicate recycling and can even reduce the overall recycling rate. This is why we added that cool feature on the labels that you can just peel them off and still be able to recycle the can entirely.”
These easy to peel labels make for great social media content that’s not only informative & satisfying to watch; it also creates a curiosity gap and increases the likelihood of acquiring new customers.
Arie Modiano says he hasn’t seen any other beverage brands doing the peel-able label but he says, “We invite all brands to join us in doing the little things that can help our planet.”
One of the companies that is already helping brands step up and be more sustainable is Notpla, a London-based packaging solutions company.
Pierre-Yves Paslier, cofounder of Notpla, was pursuing a degree at the School of Design Engineering at Imperial College when he realized, during a student project, that seaweed had potential to be a great packaging material.
After several iterations, Paslier and his co-founder were able to create edible packaging to hold a food or beverage like water.
To test the stickiness of their product, Paslier went to a local run and set up shop at the hydration station and it was there that he really began to realize the potential of this product: “We realized that this was capturing people’s attention. It’s edible packaging where you literally eat the packaging and can see the product. It’s not a fancy way to hide something. We took a video of the project and it went viral. We found ourselves completely overwhelmed from interest across the world!”
Among those interested were large companies like Just Eat Takeaway , who were looking for ways to curb their waste from its partner restaurants. NotPla worked with Just Eat Takeaway to create the “sacks or bubbles” for condiment sauces like ketchup, mayo, mustard etc and eventually went on to redesign takeaway boxes to be more sustainable.
However, Paslier points out that this is not a one size fits all solution, “It’s lazy design to have one material that is going to have an application for every thing. We don’t have a solution that is going to replace all packaging. Notpla is good for on-the-go consumption but not well suited for retail. We believe in new materials in the market and natural packaging. There’s a company in London called Aeropowder that uses feathers for insulation materials instead of polystyrene. We’re also excited about what people are doing with mushrooms, shrimp shells, and waste byproducts from other industries.”