After the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding last year, the World Packaging Organisation (WPO) and World Design Organization (WDO) have announced their first joint initiative, with both organisations planning to host a two-week virtual World Design Challenge on Sustainable Packaging.

The initiative aims to identify sustainable solutions in packaging design from 24 May to 4 June.

It will work in alignment with the UN Sustainable Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production to address internationally relevant topics, including food waste and safety, sustainable packaging, circularity, and education to help spur meaningful change at both the individual and industry level.

“The WPO is thrilled to be involved in this first ever joint venture with WDO,” says Pierre Pienaar, WPO president.

“Design, and even more so sustainable design, is a key element to the future development of packaging that at this critical time, we must ensure the impact on our global natural resources and our environment is minimally affected.

“We therefore enthusiastically approach this opportunity and anticipate innovative outcomes to the benefit of multiple communities and generations.”

The World Design Challenge on Sustainable Packaging aims to bring together professionals and researchers in the fields of sustainability and packaging design across different industries.

“Since its inception in 2020, WDO’s World Design Challenge concept has empowered hundreds of designers who all volunteer their expertise to examine issues and validate ideas towards quick and tangible resolutions on a number of significant social problems,” explains Srini Srinivasan, WDO president.

“What our international design community can accomplish remotely within this two-week period without ever even meeting in-person is nothing short of amazing.

“Under the guidance of subject matter experts, we collectively map out the problem, generate ideas, make quick decisions and develop tangible prototypes that are then ready to be tested prior to implementation.”

Seven international teams will be appointed to develop creative solutions that best address the following key challenge statements:

  • How can we design sustainable packaging solutions for e-commerce?
  • How can we redesign packaging that reduces consumer food waste?
  • How can we develop sustainable solutions to food service delivery packages, such as Uber Eats, as well as meal kit providers like Hello Fresh?
  • How do we design sustainable packaging for healthy and on-the-go lifestyles?
  • How can we improve packaging sustainability in communities where no collection systems are in place?
  • How can we develop packaging that is child proof but easy to open for the elderly and those with physical vulnerabilities?
  • How can we change/engage consumer behaviour to help increase sustainable habits, such as recycling, reusing, upcycling, composting, and reducing food waste?

“Packaging is an indispensable part of everyday life, which is why its design is so important,” Srinivasan adds.

“Designers can play a critical role not only in furthering the development of innovative, sustainable packaging, but also in fostering important conversations around the value and impact that packaging has on society.

“We are looking forward to this collaboration with WPO and hope to leverage this opportunity to rethink standards around packaging.”

Expected outcomes of this initiative include shareable design-led solutions that can be extended to both packaging industries and other sectors, as a way to encourage waste prevention, engage and educate consumers, and foster more sustainable business models.

Designers and other professionals with experience and/or interest in sustainable packaging design are invited to apply as participants and facilitators on or before midday 30 April.

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