How companies are transitioning to sustainable packaging


Mis à jour le 18 November 2022.

Packaging is ubiquitous in our daily lives as it comes with every single product we purchase. Unfortunately, widespread usage of single-use packaging has resulted in a heavy burden on the environment. When landfilled or incinerated, this waste is harmful and causes pollution.

Sony has revealed a brand-new sustainable material used to create the packaging for its latest True Wireless in-ear monitors.

A new eco-friendly material

To counter this phenomenon, some companies are beginning to look into new ways of packaging their products, with less waste and biodegradable materials. One of these companies is Sony, who has developed a sustainable and eco-friendly packaging material made from a mixture of bamboo, sugar cane fiber, and recycled paper.

Sony has developed this material specifically for the packaging of its True Wireless in-ear monitors, but it will soon be used for a wider range of equipment. This “original blended material” uses bamboo that is cultivated in China’s Guizhou Province, with only the necessary amount sorted and cut down to ensure a sustainable growing cycle and reduce the impact on the planet.

The new eco-friendly material created by Sony uses a blend of bamboo and recycled paper and does not include any ink.

The cases, boxes and protection pads for Sony’s earphones can be entirely made of this “original blended material”, which is recyclable and durable, and is produced without plastic and coloring. It can be transformed into multiple shapes guaranteeing a broad variety of uses, while characters and logos can be embossed to avoid using ink, which can also have a negative impact on the environment.

From April 1, 2023, all of the Japanese manufacturer’s equipment weighing less than a kilogram, such as smartphones, cameras and earbuds, will benefit from packaging using this composite material. Sony also plans to eliminate plastic packaging for larger devices, including LED televisions and OLED televisions. But for now, it’s difficult to completely eliminate polystyrene from TV packaging.

The old (left) and new (right) packaging of the Sony MDR-EX15AP IEMs. The new version uses less than 5% plastic.

In addition, the Japanese manufacturer wants to reduce the use of plastic derived from crude oil and introduce recycled plastic in the manufacturing process of its equipment. Sony also recently launched a new version of the Sony LinkBuds S True Wireless earbuds made from recycled water bottles. Thanks to this recycled material, each pair of LinkBuds S “Earth Blue” earbuds has a unique pattern. With all these initiatives, Sony is well on its way to achieving a near-zero carbon footprint by 2050.

Less is more

Founded by Joseph Grado in New York in 1953, the hi-fi manufacturer Grado has a sound-first philosophy, preferring to let the quality of its products speak for itself. Consequently, the brand famous for its hi-fi headphones and turntable cartridges has used very minimalist cardboard packaging for many years now and didn’t even have a logo up until the recent redesign of the brand’s visual identity.

Eliminating plastic and opting for paper

The packaging for the Sonos Roam portable Bluetooth speaker sets new standards for sustainable packaging while maintaining a premium aesthetic. Sonos is always looking for ways to support sustainability, and the launch of the Roam speaker represents the culmination of many years of work to perfect the design, materials and manufacturing processes of the brand’s packaging.

Head of Packaging Experience Michelle Enright explains, “We always design with sustainability in mind. When I joined Sonos, we had one product which was packaged in paper pulp rather than less sustainable materials. But that created a precedent. We’d done it once, and it worked, so we knew we could do more.”

Always keen to support sustainability, Sonos has created new packaging made from 96.5% paper for the Sonos Roam portable Bluetooth speaker.

“For Roam, we wanted to set the bar higher and have as much of the packaging made from paper as possible. From the beginning, we wanted to find a paper that we didn’t have to laminate. Most packaging that you’ll see in stores will have a plastic coating to prevent scuffs and fingerprints. It also makes those materials far less recyclable. We tested a number of off-the-shelf papers, but we ultimately created our own, working directly with a paper mill: we developed everything from the colour and smoothness to the way the paper wraps around corners.”

For the packaging of the Sonos Roam, the brand was able to use paper from renewable sources, eliminating the need for plastic foam, a much less environmentally friendly material. Even counting the small elements inside the box that require the use of plastic, such as the bag surrounding the product, the proposed packaging system has a final composition of 96.5% paper. Michelle’s team estimates that by the end of 2021, if the new packaging is implemented across the entire catalog, 62,000kg of plastic will be eliminated from the Sonos supply chain.

By applying their new sustainable packaging to their entire catalog, Sonos will be able to eliminate 62,000kg of plastic from their supply chain by the end of 2021.

Recyclable packaging

Another manufacturer striving to use more eco-friendly packaging is Samsung. Since 2020, the Korean company has used cardboard packaging that can be recycled to make furniture and even a cat house!

Samsung’s recyclable boxes can be made into different objects, including this house for your feline friends!

Initially developed for the The Serif, The Sero and The Frame lifestyle TV ranges, Samsung’s environmentally conscious packaging is now being applied across the company’s entire 2021 TV lineup. The employees involved in developing the eco-packaging hope that it will eventually encourage consumers to contribute to environmental conservation in any way they can. “Samsung is known for producing technologically advanced products, but I want others to know that Samsung also believes that little things like these matter, and we are working on them as well,” said Samsung designer Sungdo Son.

Samsung’s sustainable packaging isn’t limited to their TV catalog. In fact, since the launch of the Galaxy S7 smartphone in 2016, the brand has developed increasingly eco-friendly packaging with each new generation of the Galaxy S line. The packaging for the latest model in the series, the Samsung Galaxy S21, contains only 4% plastic and uses 58% less paper, while the total amount of waste per unit of packaging has been reduced by 49%. As a result of these changes, the manufacturing process for the Galaxy S21 smartphone’s packaging emits half as much carbon as the Galaxy S7’s packaging. Commendable efforts…

With the fate of the planet and future generations at stake, it is now more important than ever to reduce consumption and minimise waste. Hopefully more companies will take the plunge and develop eco-friendly and sustainable packaging solutions.

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Traductrice et rédactrice avec des goûts très éclectiques en matière de musique et de cinéma. Lorsque je ne suis pas au travail, vous pouvez me retrouver en train de regarder “Lost in Translation” de Sofia Coppola pour la centième fois, ou d’écouter un disque de David Bowie, Kate Bush, Joy Division ou Daft Punk sur ma platine Rega Planar 1. Étant d’origine britannique, je suis également adepte de séries à l’humour absurde comme Monty Python’s Flying Circus et The Mighty Boosh !

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