Sustainable Design of Packaging Materials

  • Sara González-García
  • Esther Sanye-Mengual
  • Pere Llorach-Masana
  • Gumersindo Feijoo
  • Xavier Gabarrell
  • Joan Rieradevall
  • Maria Teresa MoreiraEmail author
Part of the Environmental Footprints and Eco-design of Products and Processes book series (EFEPP)


The development and production of products in a more sustainable way has received special attention in recent years. In particular, packaging products range from single materials with simple designs as well as complex ones that include different materials (cardboard, woody boards, paper, plastics, etc.). A comprehensive assessment of the environmental impacts of a product’s life cycle comprises functions from the extraction of raw materials to waste management and disposal (i.e., the life cycle-assessment perspective). Thus, the knowledge of the environmental impacts of packaging products used in a specific production sector is a factor of major importance not only with the aim of improving the environmental performance of products and/or processes but also to fulfill the requirements of the ecological/green products market. One of the most valid tools to assess and reduce the inherent environmental burdens associated with products is ecodesign or Design for the Environment (DfE). This methodology consists of applying environmental criteria to the development of a product and implies a change of how we regard that product. The assessment of environmental improvement of the product’s entire life cycle is also considered for a comprehensive analysis. To demonstrate the application of DfE in the ecodesign of packaging products, a wooden storage box was assessed. Different types of materials, such as timber, plywood, engineered woods, plastics, brads, hoods, and/or staples, can be considered in the manufacture process. This type of box is often used for packaging when mechanical resistance is required for heavy loads, long-term warehousing, or adequate rigidity. Moreover, when such a box is used in the food sector, its production chain must include fitosanitary thermal treatment. According to the assessment by means of DfE methodology, the relevance of the raw materials chosen, as well as their origin, can greatly influence the associated environmental burdens, which can also be confirmed quantitatively by LCA. Thus, a correct methodological adaptation of the concept of “eco-briefing” as a tool for communication among environmental technicians and designers, includes the simplification of the analytical tool used and the application of the life cycle-assessment methodology, which facilitates the environmental analysis, are required to obtain new formats of packaging materials designed within a sustainable perspective.


Design for environment Ecodesign Environmental performance Life cycle assessment Materials selection 



The authors (S. González-García, G. Feijoo and M.T. Moreira) belong to the Galician Competitive Research Group GRC 2013-032, programme co-funded by FEDER. Dr. Sara González-García would like to express her gratitude to the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitivity (Grant reference JCI-2012-11898) for financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara González-García
    • 1
  • Esther Sanye-Mengual
    • 2
  • Pere Llorach-Masana
    • 2
    • 3
  • Gumersindo Feijoo
    • 1
  • Xavier Gabarrell
    • 2
  • Joan Rieradevall
    • 2
    • 4
  • Maria Teresa Moreira
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering, Institute of TechnologyUniversity of Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain
  2. 2.Sostenipra (ICTA-IRTA-Inedit) (SGR1412)-Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA)Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)BellaterraSpain
  3. 3.ELISAVA Barcelona School of Design and EngineeringBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Department of Chemical Engineering (XRB)UABBellaterraSpain

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