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How high-tech product packaging is going green

Christel Trinquier

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How high-tech product packaging is going green

Plain paperboard, recycled (and recyclable) materials, and a new demand for mono-material cases... Originally published in the spring issue of our sister publication Formes de Luxe, we explore how technology packaging is headed towards more environmental responsibility.

Bloom Farms: cannabis electronics
Reputed for the purity of its products, transparency in production, and responsible sourcing, California-based Bloom Farms, which sells cannabis oils and vapor pens, has been a benchmark of the legal cannabis market since 2014. Two years ago, the company overhauled its packaging, jettisoning the sheaths used to adorn its products in favor of simple cases. The result is a waste bill that fell by 30%.

The approach mirrors Bloom Farms’ premium craft brand image. Standard boxes with double-walled lids are manufactured by Neenah Paper in recycled kraft paper—Neenah Environment Grocer Kraft 130, an FSC certified, single-layer paper; Green-e and Green Seal, which use 30% post-consumer fibers—embellished with embossed patterns. Instructions specific to each product—overprinted in white or black ink on a different color background for each cannabis variety—appear on Fasson Lightweight Litho 40 # adhesive labels coated with matte varnish.


Samsung Electronics: a glorifier for Exynos Systems  
In collaboration with South Korean design agency Minimalist, Samsung developed a portable, universal high-tech coffret that functions as a display for its Exynos solutions. “The coffret had to accommodate different models of smartphones with the Exynos system. We went with a display-style design with integrated panels that unfold at an angle inferior to 135° for optimal visibility/legibility of the different elements in the case without the risk of any components sliding or falling out,” explains Artistic Director Wochan Lee.

Secured by magnets inserted inside its edge, the case, which is made of silver ABS (CNC machining) and presented in a monochrome wedge sheath. Samsung’s logo appears just once, hot stamped in silver on the secondary pack, which is made of rigid, paper-lined cardstock.


Millo Appliances: Futuristic blender
Startup Millo Appliances is showing its colors with an eco-designed futuristic blender. Minimalist in design, it needed packaging to match. Juozas Baranauskas, head of sustainable development for the company, and designer Džiugas Valan?auskas set themselves the primary goal of getting rid of plastic components. For the box, they opted for a premium, 100% recycled rigid board by ESKA, wrapped in Wibalin Buckram White paperboard by Winter & Company (FSC and REACH-certified vegan paper). The paper is laminated with Gluecom, a microplastics-free glue made from colloidal aqueous gelatin.

To facilitate recycling, the ribbon that helps open the coffret was made from the same paper in a different color and grammage. For the inserts, Millo opted for black, virgin-fiber, corrugated cardboard platforms (Dotpack). The components can all be separated, and the box (produced by Bigso Packaging and printed by Gars? Pasaulis/Tygelis with glossy varnish effects) includes recycling instructions.


Paralenz: image divers
Denmark-based Paralenz’s underwater cameras are developed in collaboration with scientists, and are designed for and by professional divers. The objective is to optimize the process of taking and sharing images in real time so that each dive becomes an opportunity to enrich international oceanic databases, which are vital for preserving the ocean floor. Paralenz asked Copenhagen-based agency Everland to design the packaging for its Vaquita model, launched last year. The agency chose natural, unprinted cases with simple, colorful sheaths cut to resemble waves. The inserts are made from the same recycled, single-layer paperboard.


Robodo: electronic components
For Indian electronics company Robodo, The Dallas Company designed minimalist boxes in plain cardboard free of coating or inserts, manufactured and offset printed by the local OM Packaging factory. This exercise in simplicity puts typography to ingenious use in images suggestive of Robodo products: electronic components that serve as essential pieces in the technological puzzles designed by the brand’s clients, be they geeks or large companies.


Makermark: cell phone support
British designer Makermark lets nothing go to waste—everything gets a second life. And that is how its portable phone stand Phone Home, made from workshop offcuts, came to be. Constructed entirely of Valchromat (DHH Timber), a material made from recycled wood waste and tinted with organic dyes, the phone stand is presented on a simple piece of gray, recycled cardstock (Papercutz) designed by Southerly Studio. The recto verso screen-printing was done by Make Ready Studio, and the only component not made of cardboard is a rubber band that attaches the object to the card.

Lora DiCarlo: Assertive sex toys
For American company Lora DiCarlo, a pioneer in the sexual wellness segment, the challenge was to redefine the image of a changing industry through its packaging. The mission was entrusted to ZenPack, and the company’s redesigned lines were presented at CES 2020 where the latest models—Baci and Onda—won an innovation award. ZenPack developed coffrets with magnetic closures that unfold like books to present, on one side, the devices nestled in a molded platform (an insert made of soft-touch polystyrene) and on the other, accessories in a column of drawers, also lined with soft-touch paper.

The box fronts are lined with (washable) kraft paper by Neenah Paper, and the polyester travel bag is made from recycled plastic bottles recovered from the ocean (UNIFI). Special attention was paid to the color palette, which is mostly yellow, a particularly difficult shade to work with. The coffrets combine screenprinting, glossy varnish, and lithography. 

Talsam: connected jewelry
Unlike most wearables, Charm by Talsam is a connected object that conceals its true nature. “There’s no screen or other outward indicator of technology; we wanted Charm to look just like a piece of jewelry,” explains Jordan Diatlo, artistic director for Leadoff Studio (New York), which designed both product and pack. The charm, made of stainless steel and semi-precious stones, is encrusted with Swarovski crystals that light up each time a message is received. “By rendering technology invisible, connected objects will gradually become part of our wardrobes as fashion accessories.” Charm is presented in a recyclable case-drawer resembling a jewelry box.

The cardboard coffret (ZenPack) is lined with personalized textured paper and the inside of the drawer, which has three compartments, is covered in velvet-flocked paper. The case includes a presentation tray also covered in velvet, with a space to insert the Charm. Various details (an embossed central logo, geometric motifs in selective glossy varnish, and hot stamping) round out the coffret’s visual and tactile identity. The shipping boxes were designed in the same spirit: made of corrugated, recyclable cardboard, they are personalized (a monochrome negative image of the constellation Lyra) and lined with tissue paper.

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