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Sustainable Packaging Design

Sustainable packaging is the future. Plastic belongs in the dark ages.

Plastic is so last year.

Generally, if plastic is thin enough to easily put your finger through or so thick that you cannot crush it in your hands, it would not be considered recyclable. Even detergent bottles can only be recycled twice, and so will end up in landfill no matter how good your intentions. Water bottles alone add up to a whopping 38 billion being disposed of to landfill a year. That is enough to wrap around the world 150 times! So… if we are no longer using plastic and non-sustainable materials, what do we use?

Porous Materials

The National Institute of Health found that porous materials are best for more covid safe packaging as it only holds a virus on its surface for 24 hours compared to 72 hours on other surfaces. Naturally, this has made porous packaging a trend in 2021. There are so many materials you can use to meet the purpose of being porous, sustainable, safe, and trendy.

Cardboard/ Paper/ Brown Paper

These materials are all standard, recyclable options for porous packaging. However, they are not particularly sustainable as they are not good for our forests. Plant-based, vegetative, and natural materials provide sustainable alternatives that are porous, safe, and eco-friendly packaging design options.

Mycelium Mushroom Packaging

Mushroom packaging is a sustainable and porous alternative to polystyrene. It is a growing vegetative part of a fungus that forms a sturdy and biodegradable material.


Bagasse is much the same to mycelium mushroom as a vegetative polystyrene alternative. It is made from very sticky and malleable sugarcane. Nutrients have been removed so not to attract any pests.

Seaweed Water Bubbles

An ingenious, edible membrane, seaweed water bubbles hold water and can be eaten or just biodegrade at the same rate as fruit. They are also cheaper to produce than plastic and can be flavoured. Hygiene can be a concern for the storage of this, but it can be double wrapped with seaweed material, with the outside layer acting as the protectant.

Corn Starch and Sorghum

Another polystyrene alternative that is natural, non- toxic, and 100% compostable.

Barley and Wheat Remnants

By-products from the beer brewing process can make edible beer six-pack rings that are incredibly beneficial to sea wildlife instead of dangerous like single use plastics.

Biodegradable Packing Peanuts

Made from naturally derived starches and plant-based ingredients, biodegradable packing peanuts are invaluable in protecting fragile goods and are completely biodegradable and non-toxic.

Calcium Carbonate (stone)

This naturally abundant material can now, remarkably, be made into food grade paper and plastic. This process has an incredibly low carbon footprint and is energy efficient. This material has been used to create greaseproof paper, zip lock bags, cartons and more.

Biodegradable Wool

Coarse wool is now being used for the insulation of food products. Wool is the natural alternative to man-made insulation such as polythene. It is sustainable, natural and really useful as outdoor tap insulation. These wools are sourced from the coarse ‘wool waste’ that makes up 75% of the wool Britain produces.

Eco-friendly Waterproof/ Durable Materials


Bio-plastics are made from corn broken down with polylactic acid (PLA). These are now being used as a plastic alternative for bottles and food grade containers. These are incredibly sustainable and biodegradable, whilst being durable enough to be watertight.

Paper and Clay Mixtures

These mixtures create waterproof paper packaging that has been deemed appropriate for food and cosmetic companies.


This metallised paper is completely recyclable and free from plastic. They are often found in use for cosmetics, labelling, and promotional packaging. It essentially covers paper with a microscopic layer of metal that safely evaporates into nature.

Palm Leaves

Palm leaves can be pressed to produce packaging that has a wood like appearance. These are incredibly durable, free from chemicals and even microwavable. They would need to be sent to an industrial composting site if you wanted to sustainably dispose of them, however. They do not naturally decompose.

Beeswax wrap

Reusable, washable, and durable. One quick wipe down and beeswax wrap can be used again and again as an alternative to clingfilm. This material is usually made from cotton coated in pine resin, coconut oil and beeswax. They are compostable or incredible firelighters when you want to dispose of them.

Nothing is infinite, and so, sustainable packaging is an investment that just makes sense. At Ergo, we provide a diverse range of industrial design services that can help you to take your products and packaging to the next level. Click **here **to learn more or contact us to find out how we can help you to achieve eco-friendly packaging.