Sustainable Packaging: Robots’ Top 5

Thanks in part to the work of David Attenborough and the Blue Planet II team, who brought the ocean plastic issue to a global audience, the phrase ‘sustainable packaging’ is on everyone’s radar. Innocent ocean dwelling animals are washing up with plastic inside them, increasing consumer hostility towards wasteful packaging and ensuring retailers face an ever growing demand for stronger, environmentally friendly initiatives.

Just last year, Dutch chain Ekoplaza opened the world’s first ‘plastic-free’ aisle in the Netherlands, where around 700 products will be sold without plastic packaging. Our own Robot HQ neighbourhood just got a little more eco-friendly with the welcome opening  Zero Waste Market; a refill shop and grocers where customers can buy reusable products, and fill their own containers with food, spices and cleaning products to take home, without any waste.

The UK government has pledged to eliminate plastic waste by 2042, meaning we have to rethink, rework, and redesign products and packaging. Zero Waste Markets are the ideal solution to this but, in reality, not everyone has access to such outlets and those dedicated to their favourite brands will be slow to change. With this new demand, designers can work with brands to change behaviour and brand output through new, sustainable design. Recycling, it seems, doesn’t work as well as everyone (myself included) has been led to believe. 91% of plastic doesn’t make it into a recycling bin and a quarter of what gets recycled gets taken to a landfill because of contamination.

Although this all sounds a bit doom and gloom, it’s an exciting time for designers with a need for creative thinking and solutions across all design disciplines. We’ve been collating work we admire and have compiled a list of a few of our favourites!

1. Bandit Wines

Wine. Sold in Tetra Packs. By the litre. Sound awful? Wrong. Bandit is a wine company based in the States, whose love for the great outdoors, and great wine led them to light-weight Tetra-Packed wine. That means 96% wine and only 4% packaging. Boxed wine gets a bad rep, (I immediately think of warm boxed rose being drank on the second day of a festival) but it costs less to ship, meaning a smaller carbon footprint and cartons are more likely to be recycled than glass bottles, which is a win-win. Committed to exploring and dedicated to the environment, Bandit wine gives a new meaning to drinking responsibly.

2. Phil The Bottle

We love a refillable water bottle! Leaving single-use plastic bottles behind has now never been easier and why pay for water, when you can drink it…for free? Phil The Bottle is a refillable, 100% recyclable water bottle with a twist. It’s been designed to be travel convenient and to only require one free hand to drink from. Not to mention that on the back of each bottle there is a list of the city’s drinking fountain locations, where it can be filled safely and for free! The bottles have been designed for Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, London, Milan, New York, Paris, Rome and Tokyo, and another bottle for Anywhere. Fingers crossed Glasgow gets the call too!

3. Volcano Coffee Pods


Coffee, coffee, coffee. Here at Robots HQ, we love a cup of joe (or three) to get us through a busy day. And well, we have to admit we used to use a coffee machine, and those very handy coffee pods. Americanos, caramel lattes, extra espresso shots galore…. they’re quick, easy to use and make a pretty decent cup of coffee, (George Clooney even slings them on the telly). However, the environmental impact makes for some pretty grim reading with 95% of coffee pods ending up in landfills.

Enter ‘Volcano Coffee Works’, whose coffee pod capsules, lids and bag packaging are made from 100% compostable, 100% bio-based corn-starch material. They have been designed to occupy as little space, and use as little material as possible. The branding is great and the bold identity for their coffee subscription service packs a (caffeinated) punch.

The three varieties have their own typography, illustrations and colour-ways that reflect the brands resourcefulness and distinctiveness. These colour-ways lend well to the context of the Volcano at Home name, and the packaging – small enough to be posted through letter boxes delivers convenience without a negative effect on your conscience.

4. Loop

Loop is a shopping platform that “transforms the packaging of your everyday essentials from single-use disposable to durable, feature-packed design” and they’ve teamed up with some of the world’s biggest brands. Think of Loop as the milkman, they deliver a reusable bottle and when they’re empty, Loop swoops back in to take them away, clean them, refill them and pop them right back to your door again. Some of their initial partners include PepsiCo, The Body Shop, Unilever and Nestle, with new partners continually being added. Although not biodegradable packaging, it is a step towards more sustainable and convenient packaging. The packaging is being designed to be an asset, more durable, better at performing and to look good in your home. Nestle’s Häagen-Dazs has created a double walled steel ice cream container just for Loop and get this, the ice cream melts more quickly at the top than at the bottom. This means you can enjoy scoop and no frost-bitten fingers!

5. Bite by The Kind Lab


So you brush your teeth twice a day, but that plastic toothpaste tube is not the easiest thing to recycle! Luckily The Kind Lab has launched a zero-waste toothpaste that doesn’t come in a plastic tube, but rather in a reusable glass jar. This is great news as its estimated around 1 billion tubes of toothpaste are thrown away every year.

Toothpaste tables aren’t unique to The Kind Lab, as Lush sell a very similar product, but we do rate this subscription service, where the refill of tablets comes in biodegradable cellulose, straight to your door.

These are just a few of the numerous options now available out there. Whether you want to make small steps into being sustainable, or reduce your waste significantly, there are so many great products to try!

If this has tickled your fancy, then you might enjoy checking out our recent work for AnywhereWorks, a team on a mission to change the way the world works.