Packaging that makes a real difference

When the BBC’s Blue Planet II aired at the end of last year it caused an outcry that still reverberates today. With footage of oceans awash with waste, the public demanded action. Packaging was placed squarely in the firing line.

Seven years ago, Parkside took a decision to lead on the development of sustainable packaging solutions. Now it is one of the only companies in the world with a fully tested compostable packaging solution that breaks down to nothing in seawater.

Parkside is one of the only companies in the world with a fully tested compostable packaging solution that breaks down to nothing in seawater

Nick Smith, managing director of Parkside, says: “Innovation in packaging matters. It might not be obvious to consumers, but packaging plays an environmental role – it protects goods from damage and extends the shelf life of many products. But by innovating we can make packaging more sustainable, which clearly matters to ecosystems, consumers and brands alike.”

Parkside offers a portfolio of sustainable packaging solutions. It produces the only packaging in Europe and Australia accredited for home composting. Consumers eat the product and dispose of the packet in their organic waste bin, and nature takes its course in under 26 weeks.

Parkside produces sustainable packaging for a range of goods, from coffee to snacks, helping a growing number of brands reinforce environmentally responsible credentials. When Australian coffee company SIPP wanted packaging to reflect the sustainable nature of its product and process, Parkside provided the solution.

“None of this comes easy,” says Mr Smith. “It takes years of development to create sustainable packaging, given that every part of that wrapper, from the barrier materials to ink and the adhesive that binds everything together, has to meet the most stringent assessment criteria.”

But consumers want more than just credible green credentials. They want packs and wrappers that suit changing lifestyles. Brands now have to wrestle with the obvious need to keep products safe and fresh, while also acknowledging increasing consumer demands for convenience, portability and portion control.

Mr Smith says: “Consumers want convenience foods that can be reclosed and saved for future use. They want products that are easy to open and easy to share.”

Creating a reclosable film lid for a pot of on-the-go cherry tomatoes has taken the product into a new market, providing consumers with a healthy snacking option in a convenient format. Inventing a pack that makes crisps easy to share enhances the consumer experience, driving brand loyalty and sales.

Meanwhile, designing a sealed zip pack for humid climates enables brands to expand into new global markets. All are challenges of packaging innovation. All have been overcome by Parkside.

Great ideas come from great insight. Parkside finds out how consumers interact with packaging by filming ordinary people at home opening it, using the product and attempting to store unused food. Researchers also trawl social media for advocacy or complaints. Together, these exercises gain valuable understanding of the real experience of consumers, and the waste and storage challenges that poor packaging design can create.

Armed with this insight, Parkside combines technology and inspiration in its Innovation Centre, a connected high-tech suite where experts in everything from materials to graphic design gather to create and fine-tune ideas. Designs always have manufacture in mind.

“We can produce fully functioning prototypes on site that replicate the look and feel of the final product, complete with client’s logo and graphics,” says Mr Smith. “A prototype can be produced in the course of a day, with clients on site helping to guide the process.”

The company has won 33 innovation awards since 2015. It has launched 45 innovative packaging solutions in
that time.

But this is not innovation for the sake of it. Packaging has to tap into changing consumer tastes, engaging the senses of touch, hearing and smell as well as sight. Products are given the look, feel and sound congruent to a brand’s values. Packaging becomes an integral part of a complete brand experience, engaging consumers and driving sales.

Parkside provides packaging for internationally recognised brands and blue-chip corporations as well as ambitious food startups. The company recognises that changing consumer behaviour and rapid advances in technology make packaging an increasingly vital part of brand differentiation. A mindset of innovation means it is already ahead of the curve.

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