Eco-Friendly Packaging and Sustainability Issues

Deliverable A: Process

Introduction

The concept of sustainability has become the central focus of many entities because of the need to protect the environment. Global warming and climate change were considered theories that meant very little to the business society about five decades ago. Developed countries were keen on promoting industrialization as a way of creating jobs, boosting their economy, and competing against other countries in science and technology.

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However, climate change has become a reality in modern society. Ice caps are melting, resulting in the rise of seawater levels. Some islands are chocking as the water level rises. Seawater temperatures are getting high, leading to the destruction of coral reefs and other critical aspects of the ecosystem within the sea. Prolonged cases of droughts are becoming a major phenomenon not only in the developing countries of Sub-Sahara Africa but also in developed countries such as parts of the United States.

Unpredictable deadly cyclones have also become common in various parts of the world, killing many people and destroying properties (Best 2015). Time has come when everyone has to play a role in protecting the environment. Companies must ensure that their activities do not pose any threat to the environment. Plastic menace and other non-biodegradable substances must be eliminated from the environment as a way of enhancing sustainability.

According to Muthu (2016), it is estimated that the United Kingdom alone produces 1.5 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, out of which only 500,000 tonnes are recycled. Plastic and foil have become the main packaging materials primarily because they are cheap. Most of the plastic materials used for wrapping and carrying items from grocery stores are neither reused nor recycled. They compile in the environment, causing huge plastic waste that becomes a threat to the ecosystem.

It has become necessary for stakeholders in the business environment to consider coming up with eco-friendly packaging to enhance the sustainability of the natural environment. It is the responsibility of the current generation to ensure that the environment is conserved for the current and future generations (Natarajan, Govindarajan & Kumar 2015). Different stakeholders should play different roles in their respective fields to ensure that environmental pollution is eliminated. In the packaging industry, a concerted effort must be seen from the stakeholders to eliminate plastic waste and ensure that packaging is done in an eco-friendly manner. That is why in this project, the focus is to come up with reusable bottles, which will significantly reduce plastic waste in the country.

Research Question

Sustainability has become a major principle in the business and environmental conservation worlds. Current stakeholders in the business arena and environmental conservation sphere have to deal with the pressure of being able to operate successfully today and in the future (Berk 2013). It means that the current success must be achieved without jeopardizing the ability of the same entity to achieve success in the future. This also means that the current success must be achieved in a way that does not jeopardize one’s ability to achieve success tomorrow. That is why this project focuses on finding innovative ways, which can ensure that the current packaging methods and materials do not pose a threat to the future generation. The following questions are critical in achieving success in this project:

  1. What are the current trends in packaging?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of eco-friendly packaging?
  3. How can companies shift from traditional to eco-friendly packaging?

The rationale of the Project

The project focuses on an issue that is of major concern not only in the British community but also at the global level. In the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21 that was held in Paris, France, one of the issues that came out strongly was managing plastic waste (Muthu 2016). Plastic waste is becoming a menace in both developed and developing countries. Shoppers around the world find the use of plastic bags to be the most convenient way of carrying their purchases.

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They do not have to carry bags when going to supermarkets and shops anymore because they will always be given plastic bags. The business community also considers the use of plastic bags appropriate because it is cheap (Rumsey 2008). However, the environment feels the burden of this constant pollution. The trend must change to ensure that our environment becomes sustainable for current and future generations.

The contemporary design management practices must be open to the realities of environmental pollution. The local and global societies deserve a safe environment, and this paper focuses on creating it for them. When properly implemented, this project will eliminate millions of plastic bottles that are released into the environment as waste every year. An alternative bottle that is reusable, recyclable, and eco-friendly will replace the plastic bottles currently in use as a way of protecting the environment. If the concept can be replicated in other countries across the world, then the global society will move closer to having a sustainable environment.

Research Methodologies

When coming up with an idea to develop a new product, Ambrose (2015) says that thorough research is critical. In this particular project, the idea for a new product had to focus on two main factors. The first factor was the ability of this product to meet the needs of the target market. The new bottle must be trendy and capable of achieving popularity among youths and young adults who are often very keen on the issue of fashion and design.

The second factor was the need for the product to be eco-friendly. As such, the issues of functionality, trendiness, and environmental consciousness had to be determined in the research. Reliable and adequate data had to be collected from various sources to inform the study. Books, journal articles, blogs, newspapers, blogs, and other reliable online data sources were considered critical in collecting secondary data. Plastic waste menace has been a major concern in the country for years and scholars and environmental conservationists have focused on the issue in their studies for a very long time. It was easy to collect data from them to help understand the current trends in packaging.

It was also important for the researcher to collect primary data to come up with an informed idea based on current needs and emerging trends (Kimbell 2015). The first activity when it came to primary data collection was to visit the retail outlets to observe the emerging designs and the nature of packaging that is currently available. The researcher then interviewed random shoppers to get their views about the current packaging materials. Their idea about the possible new design of eco-friendly re-usable bottles was also collected to ensure that the new product would be in line with the expectations of the customers. The surveys were important in ensuring that the new design is not only eco-friendly but also capable of attracting sales once it is introduced in the market based on the emerging cultures.

Findings and Analyses

In this section, the researcher used the data collected from primary and secondary sources to respond to the research questions that were set. The first question below focused on determining the current trends in packaging.

  1. What are the current trends in packaging?

The observations that the researcher made, information available in books, journal articles, and blogs, and knowledge gained from the interview show that majority of people in the United Kingdom are aware of the dangers of plastic waste to the environment, but they still consider it the most convenient packaging material. It remains the most commonly used packaging material in the country despite its obvious negative impacts on the ecosystem. The following graph shows the increasing amounts of plastic waste collected in the country regularly each year from 1994 to 2014.

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Plastic materials collected in the United Kingdom.
Figure 1: Plastic materials collected in the United Kingdom.

There has been a consistent increase in the amount of plastic waste in the country, which is a very worrying trend. The researcher wanted to determine further the main sources of plastic materials in the country. The figure below shows the main sources of plastic waste in the country.

Sources of plastic waste in the United Kingdom.
Figure 2: Sources of plastic waste in the United Kingdom.

It is clear from the statistics above that packaging alone accounts for almost half (44.3%) of all plastic waste collected in the country every year. Given that this project targets this industry, it is expected that it will play a significant role in cutting down the amounts of plastic waste in the United Kingdom. The following question focused on determining the advantages and disadvantages of eco-friendly packaging.

  1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of eco-friendly packaging?

One of the biggest advantages of eco-friendly packaging as determined by the information collected is its role in conserving the environment. Plastic waste is very dangerous to the environment and the efforts put in place to fight it helps in conserving the ecosystem. It is also clear that re-usable bottles reduce the cost of production for bottling companies. When customers come with their packaging materials, these companies will not have to incur such a cost. However, it came out that sometimes the eco-friendly packaging may be costly, making it undesirable among the companies that are keen on increasing their profitability.

  1. How can companies shift from traditional to eco-friendly packaging?

Companies need to shift from traditional to eco-friendly packaging to ensure that their operations are sustainable. Innovation came out as one of the main ways through which companies can remain sustainable in the current delicate environment. According to Muthu (2016), shifting from traditional to eco-friendly requires a firm to come up with a new idea that will meet the current packaging needs but in a way that is friendly to the environment. Creatively using emerging technologies may help in coming up with unique packaging materials.

Research Ethics

The researcher was keen on observing ethics during data collection and analysis. Participants who were involved in the research were adequately informed of the relevance of the study and their role in it. The researcher also gained permission from the managers of the retail outlets where observation of the packaging patterns was made. Any form of bias was avoided in the entire process of the research process. All the borrowed ideas are cited appropriately.

Idea Generation

The research process was conducted to come up with an idea of a new product that is not yet available in the market. The project focused on coming up with a unique eco-friendly bottle that can be used to package bottled water. This decision was made because it was observed that beverage packaging accounted for the highest volume of plastic packaging. The eco-friendly bottle must meet the current needs of the targeted population in the best way possible without posing any threat to the environment.

Collaborations, Co-Design, and Design Development

The collaboration was considered critical when designing the bottle because the idea is to ensure that each of the beverage companies in this country uses the new eco-friendly bottles (Young 2010). As such, the process of design development will involve making consultations with the relevant companies to ensure that the bottle sold to them meets their specific needs. Although the material remains the same, the shape and size of the bottle will differ depending on the tastes and preferences of the clients.

Branding and Marketing Activities

Branding is a very important asset of a company that enables it to distinguish its products from that of the rival companies in the market. As such, branding and brand promotion will be very critical for marketing activities. Using the brand name ‘Eco-Bottle’ the company will use both the mass and social media to market this product. This branding strategy and the platforms chosen will ensure that this brand name is popularized in the market as soon as it is ready for commercialization. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and WhatsApp will be important platforms through which the brand will be promoted in the market. Radio and television marketing will also be used occasionally.

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Prototyping and Testing Process

The proposed bottle will be largely made of paper as its main material and other components that will ensure that it can hold liquid substances for as long as it takes and without posing a health threat to the users or getting soaked up. As such, a prototype will be developed and tested in a laboratory setting. The prototype must be of shape and size required by the clients. The testing process will involve checking the functionality of the bottle. Each size of the bottle must hold the required amount of liquid without losing its shape. It should also retain its shape when being handled normally. The bottle must pass all these tests before it can be commercialized.

Exhibition Planning

When prototyping and testing are complete, the next stage will be an exhibition. It will form part of marketing this product and its brand. The company will visit the leading beverage companies and demonstrate to them the benefits of this bottle. They will be informed about how it can be used and re-used to help them in cutting down their costs of operation and play a significant role in protecting the environment. Through the exhibition forum, the clients will get to ask any question about the product so that their issues can be addressed. It will involve the use of visual tools to demonstrate the capability of the product. It will demonstrate the eco-friendliness of the product. Using tables and graphs will make it possible to explain its benefits to the environment.

Deliverable B: Project Management

Project Definition

The project focuses on coming up with a new idea of packaging that is eco-friendly and capable of meeting the needs of customers in the market. The project aims at coming up with a water bottle that is primarily made of paper. The bottle is reusable and poses no significant threat to the environment because it is biodegradable. The product must be functional despite the uniqueness of the material used. To come up with a viable product, detailed research will be conducted using various sources of data as discussed in Deliverable A.

Scope and Objectives

In this project, the scope goes beyond primary and secondary data collection, analysis, and presentation. The research that will be conducted will help in the next step of creating an eco-friendly water bottle. As Berk (2013) advises, coming up with a new product requires more than just creativity. One must be able to understand the current trends in the market and determine what the customers need. The new product must meet the current and future needs of its customers. It is illogical to spend time and resources in developing a new product that customers do not need (Sharp, Peters & Howard 2002). The research will, therefore, provide important information that will be used when coming up with the new product. The following are the specific objectives for the research.

  • To conduct comprehensive research to understand the current trends in packaging;
  • To investigate the major advantages and disadvantages of eco-friendly packaging;
  • To determine how companies can shift from traditional to eco-friendly packaging;
  • To come up with a new eco-friendly water bottle that meets the demand of customers.

Project Functional Brief

It is important to discuss the functional specifications of our new product that is being developed (Sherin 2013). The new product is a water bottle that is made using paper and other eco-friendly materials. The product will be sold to the beverage companies that specialize in processing, packaging, and selling bottled water. It will come in different shapes and sizes depending on the specifications of the customer.

The product will be more durable than the currently used plastics and it will be reusable after going through a cleaning process. It means that the material will be capable of withstanding the cleaning process several times, as it is put in use several times before it can finally be disposed of.

The product will be beneficial to the environment and the water companies. The processes of developing this new product match the organization’s policies of coming up with eco-friendly packaging that meets the needs of the customers. Users of this bottle will be advised on how to dispose of it once they consume the content. Just like the concept that has been used with the glass bottle for soda, clients will be requested to deliver this bottle back to the shopkeepers so that it can be taken back to the manufacturer for cleaning and reuse.

Design Brief

The design for this product in terms of shape and size will vary based on the specification of the customers. The product’s target customers will be bottled water companies. They will be involved when it comes to designing the shape and size. That will be simple because it will involve coming up with a mold that fits the specified shape and size. The main component of the bottle will be paper. Given that paper can easily be soaked and destroyed when it is exposed to water, special materials will be included to ensure that it can withstand water and wear and tear. The following figure is a prototype of the design of this unique bottle.

Prototype of the bottle.
Figure 3: Prototype of the bottle.

Audiences

The audience in this project will be three categories of individuals. The first category will be fellow students who will play a critical role in peer-review and positive criticism to help ensure that the final product meets the expectations. They can help in identifying the areas of weaknesses and determine what can be done to ensure that the project is a success (Silva et al. 2015). The second category of the audience will be teachers and other technical experts who will help in ensuring that this innovative product is functional and can be taken through an industrial process.

They will help in identifying the technical issues that should be addressed to change it from an idea to a real product. The third category of the audience will be the business society. These entrepreneurs and managers will be needed not only to sell the idea to them but to ensure that they can give their input about the ability to introduce the product in the market in a way that meets the current needs better than any other product that currently exists in the market.

Stakeholders- Roles and Responsibilities, Team-Working

As mentioned above, achieving success in this project will require a multi-stakeholder approach. Different stakeholders will play different roles as discussed above to ensure that the final product is functional, economically viable, and environmentally friendly. Teamwork will be needed in the design, especially because different companies may want different shapes and sizes for their bottles to ensure that their products remain identifiable in the market (Creswell 2013). As explained in the above section, different stakeholders will have different responsibilities to enhance success. Sharing of ideas will be critical, especially because the aim is not only to have a functional but also an eco-friendly product that stands out from the rest in the market (McNeill 2005).

Timeline, Resources, and Budget

To achieve success in a project, it is important to define the timeline, resources needed, and the budget (Brett 2007). At this stage, the focus will only be on the entire process of collecting data from primary and secondary sources, processing the data, conducting analysis, and writing the report. The following table breaks down the timeline for the project.

Project timeline.
Table 1: Project timeline.

The resources needed in this project are time and money. As shown in the table above, the entire project will take six weeks. The researcher will need money to meet the cost of travels and to engage in various other activities that will make this project a reality. The estimated budget for the project is £ 1,100.

Management Tools and Communication

During the primary data collection process, several tools will be used to collect information from the field. During the observation processes, a camera will be used to capture photos of the current bottles, which are in use, and the impact they have on the environment. Video cameras will also be necessary for recording both audio and video information. Most of the information will be captured in writing for analysis. Microsoft Word and Excel, as well as Adobe Photoshop, will be useful in this project. The information will need to be shared with the audience discussed above. Video and audio clips will be critical when communicating with them.

Risks and Feasibility

The project can only be considered a success if the product can be commercialized to eliminate the use of plastic bottles in the country. As such, issues such as risks and feasibility are critical. Failing to find the needed critical up-to-date information was a major risk that was perfectly handled in the project during the research development stage. As we approach the exhibition stage, the biggest risk is failing to present vital facts to the audience that may convince them about the feasibility of the project. The feasibility of the project will be determined by calculating the cost per unit of the bottle and the selling price to determine its profitability.

Future Plans for the Project

It is in the interest of the researcher to ensure that this project becomes a major solution to the problem of plastic pollution in the country. As such, when the academic work is complete, the plan is to find a way of collaborating with the investors to actualize the idea.

Critical Success Criteria

It will be necessary to measure the level of success of the project. The basic measure of success of the project is to determine if the set questions are fully answered and the objectives met. The project should come up with a practical way of creating a paper water bottle feasibly. During the exhibition, all critical issues should be outlined to the satisfaction of the audience.

Deliverable C: Design Practice

During the exhibition, the primary focus will be to convince the audience that our new product, going by the brand name Eco-Bottle, is functional, easily recyclable, cost-effective, highly flexible, and mechanically strong. The idea is to evoke positive criticism and support from the audience. As such, the presentation must be done in a way that is not only captivating but also informing and interactive. A section of the audience may come with negativities in their mind believing that it is not possible to achieve success with this project. The exhibition must demonstrate to them that it is possible to achieve success. The first step after collecting data will be to store them in the form of videos, photos, and other visuals that will help in demonstrating the information.

The researcher will undertake the presentation of the idea in a very consistent manner, starting with a short video clip of how our country is choking up with plastic waste. At the end of the clip, the researcher will explain to them the environmental consequences of plastic pollution. The researcher will then explain to them why the idea of Eco-Bottle was founded, and how it is going to solve the problem of environmental degradation.

The researcher will then use a projector to show the audience the prototype, its unique materials, and functionality. The Cost-effectiveness of the bottle and its ability to meet the needs of customers will be explained. The presentation will end with an explanation of how vulnerable the environment is and why the action is needed to ensure that environmental sustainability is achieved.

Conclusion

The use of plastic as a wrapping and packaging material is very popular not only in the United Kingdom but also in many other countries around the world. However, the practice has caused massive environmental pollution primarily because the material is non-biodegradable. That is why in this project, an idea of developing an eco-friendly packaging has been explored to ensure that the current business practices are sustainable. The idea focuses on developing a paper water bottle that is reusable and recyclable. The material used is also biodegradable, which means that when disposed it poses no environmental threats. If implemented, this idea will transform packaging in the country and the world, a move that will help in conserving the global environment.

Reference List

Ambrose, G 2015, Basics design: design thinking, AVA, London.

Berk, Z 2013, Food process engineering and technology, Academic Press, London.

Best, K 2015, Design management: managing design strategy, process and implementation, Bloomsbury Academic, London.

Brett, M 2007, Doing a successful research project: using qualitative or quantitative methods, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.

British Plastic Federation, 2017, Plastics recycling. Web.

Creswell, J 2013, Research design: qualitative, quantitative, SAGE Publications, London.

Kimbell, L 2015, The service innovation handbook: action-oriented creative thinking toolkit for service organizations, BIS Publishers BV, Netherlands.

McNeill, P 2005, Research methods, Routledge, London.

Muthu, S 2016, Environmental footprints of packaging, Springer Science +Business Media, Singapore.

Natarajan, S, Govindarajan, M & Kumar, B 2015, Fundamentals of packaging technology, PHI Learning, Delhi.

Rumsey, S 2008, How to find information: a guide for researchers, Open University Press, Berkshire.

Sharp, J, Peters, J & Howard, K 2002, The management of a student research project, Gower, Aldershot.

Sherin, A 2013, Sustainable thinking: ethical approaches to design and design management, Bloomsbury USA Academic, Lausanne.

Silva, E, Healey, P, Harris, N & Broeck, P 2015, The Routledge handbook of planning research methods, Routledge, New York.

Young, G 2010, Design thinking and sustainability, Zumio, Sydney.

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