What you need to turn packaging disposal into an experience

Making customers feel good about packaging disposal

With the EU on the verge of further packaging reform, packaging is a topic that is at the top of most retailers’ agendas.

But there is another reason why it is becoming ever more important to consider your packaging. Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of their purchasing decisions, with 60% saying that recyclability instructions and sustainability logos positively influence their purchasing decisions.

We have all got used to how important the unboxing experience has become for retailers, but now that needs to be matched with a superior end-of-life experience that leaves consumers satisfied that they are doing their best for the environment.

What’s more, consumers are looking to retailers to lead the way. 84% of European consumers are actively seeking recycling instructions on packaged products.

Here is what you need to start considering turning packaging disposal into an experience that rivals the delight of receiving your products:

Consider end of life destinations

If you have not given much thought to what happens to your packaging once it’s in the hands of your consumer, then here are some ideas that may offer inspiration and different approaches.

Re-use or re-purpose your packaging

Could your packaging have another use, beyond its initial purpose? Back in 2010, Puma designed the Clever Little Bag alongside Fuseproject, using a cardboard shell for structure but a re-usable bag for coverage. It helped Puma to reduce water, energy and diesel consumption at a manufacturing level by more than 60% per year. It also eliminated 275 tonnes of plastic waste from landfill.

You could film a set of instructional videos, showing your customers how to re-purpose or recycle their packaging. Helsinki-based Repack offers a reusable packaging service has a great example of how this works. You could even team up with an influencer to film a video for you, explaining how to recycle or repurpose your packaging and the benefits of doing so.


If your packaging is recyclable, then make it clear where it can be sent, or taken, to be recycled. Make it easy for customers. Can they put the waste packaging in their home recycle bin for collection, or bury it in the garden if it’s compostable? The key thing is that you need to show people how to dispose of it responsibly, because they are looking for that information.

Portuguese retailer, Continente, has recycling instructions on all of its private-label packaging and aims to make all its packaging recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025. Sociedade Ponto Verde CEO and managing director, Ana Isabel Trigo Morais said it "gives packaging a greater potential for recyclability and also makes all the iconography related to selective separation simpler, more perceptible and clearer to the consumer."

Return to retailer

It is worth considering how much of your packaging can be used again, not by your consumer, but by you. Re-using your own packaging and offering rewards to customers that give it back makes people feel great about removing waste from the environment.

British-based beauty retailer, Lush, offers recycling rewards to its customers that bring back certain packaging to be used again. For every eligible item, the consumer receives 50 pence off a future purchase. In addition to feeling good about reducing environmental impact, they also get a perk that makes them feel good about future purchases.

Reduce or remove as much packaging as possible

Of course, there are ways to eliminate packaging altogether – or at least significantly reduce the amount that you are using.

That way, you don’t burden the consumer with the responsibility of disposing of it. If they must dispose of it, you will get a thumbs up from them if they know that you have done the hard work to make it as sustainable as possible.

Where can you make changes to your packaging?

It is worth evaluating your packaged items and considering these questions:

- Do you need all your products to be packaged?
- Do the benefits of the packaging outweigh the negatives?

Using less packaging is listed by global consultancy firm, McKinsey & Company, as one of their key levers to drive impact within packaging.

Berlin-based package-free supermarket, Original Unverpackt, bases its business model on the concept of zero packaging. Other supermarkets have followed suit by significantly reducing the amount of packaging, particularly in their fresh fruit and vegetable ranges.

It is worth considering what swaps you can make or whether there are alternatives that you haven’t considered. In France, many brands have been forced to make swaps through legislation, which provides some powerful learning lessons on how to make changes that are viable. McDonald’s in France has experienced some teething problems with its re-usable packaging, with customers loving it so much they have been stealing it.

But for French salad bar chain, EatSalad, it has been an opportunity to expand its already sustainable approach to food packaging by finding sustainable soup and dessert packaging.

Using less packaging is one of the best ways to immediately make a difference. During the last three years, here at Worldpack, we have made a commitment to reduce the amount of empty space in boxes, and using the right size box for the products we are shipping, removing the need to fill the empty space with bubble wrap or paper padding. This switch helps us to reduce carbon emissions during transport and prevents excess waste heading to landfill.

We have also helped our customers achieve their goals of creating beautiful retail packaging enabling them to achieve their sustainability goals while reducing their waste. In partnership with them, we’ve focused on their customer needs, while also considering the full life cycle of product and packaging, which has been an interesting and creative exercise.

One thing is important for all retailers that are making changes to their packaging – be transparent and upfront with consumers on the choices you are making with your packaging and why. Speak to your packaging partners. We can look for alternatives and suggest new approaches.

If you want help to make smart sustainable switches with your packaging, then our team is ready to help you. Call us on +31 (0) 88 494 20 80 or email us at online@worldpack.eu

David Mines
Business Development Director

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