Sustainable Packaging 2.O

AI-driven, 3D-printed and whatnot: Innovations for eco-friendly packaging.


11 April, 2024

Table of contents

With the Paris Agreement 2016, the United Nations has given a deadline to decrease carbon emissions worldwide by 43% by the end of 2030. However, if we continue at this pace, it is estimated that the carbon emission will hike by 10,6%. Experts have also forecasted a 3-degree increase in global warming. On the other hand, 90% of global companies are short of attaining their sustainable missions. One of the reasons for this is the system that supports plastic usage and single-use packaging.

Here are some sustainable packaging that are innovated to support the companies.


Artificial Intelligence and machine learning come in handy in several processes of the fashion industry. It has already been incorporated into the supply chain and is being developed to enter the packaging sector. AI will be used in designing the aesthetics of packaging (i.e., limited edition of Coca-Cola Creations, Y3000).

The speed of packaging manufacturing will be fast-tracked with AI. It also allows a person to visualize their ideas for packaging in a few moments. Gerrardo Herrara from Art Center Pasadena has taken a 2D picture from Midjourney to create 3D-printed packaging in a day.

Amazon is utilizing AI to decrease its packaging waste by correctly sizing the package of each product. This strategy has reduced 36% of the packaging weight and got rid of a million tons of packaging space.

Many independent creators are using AI-powered tools to design packaging styles. Collaborating with them is an ideal option. Shay Moradi of Vital Auto and Evelio Mattos from Packaging Unboxd are some of the experts in packaging design who have shown the extreme level of design that is achievable in this sector.


33,34% of the 3D printing packaging market is accounted for by North America with the United Kingdom, France, and Germany playing the key role in the expansion of the market. Asia Pacific is the fastest-growing region with a CAGR of 21,63% with Japan and China contributing the highest.

The usage of 3D printing has increased and has diversified to various sectors including packaging. This technology can help in streamlining the plastic packaging design by reducing the use of plastic. It can come up with models in any shape. Knurls of the US has introduced KnurlPack which applies 3D-printing technology to print the packaging around the product in a compact way using metal, ceramics, and plastic. Kinetic Vision launched “retail ready print” which produces fully 3D-printed colorful models in-house.


Many companies are opting for biodegradable packaging that is affordable, sustainable, and acts as an alternative to plastic. Austeja Platukyte, a designer from Lithuania, employed algae to produce packaging with a protective foam that is biodegradable. A start-up from Kosovo, More Than Cup, has launched edible cups made from oats.

Notpla of London is producing packaging using natural materials such as seaweed. It also collaborated with Just Eat to create a seaweed-coated takeaway package. Canada-based CelluloTech developed a mono-material with the eco-friendly technique, Chromatogeny, that makes the cellulose-based containers hydrophobic. It is 50 times more affordable than the general coatings.

US’ CowPots has incorporated cow manure to create packaging for customized products. Boxtopia has introduced biodegradable packing peanuts from natural ingredients like water, herbal extracts, and maize grits. Weavebel has Eco3 Range which uses oyster paper to make swing tags and packing boxes.

Another material that can be applied is corn plastic from polylactic acid and fermented plant starch. It can be used to make packaging materials such as food bags and carry bags. There is also the plantable seed material which can be used as packaging material. It is made from biodegradable seed paper created from wild seeds and recycled paper.

Reusable and Recyclable

Brands are pivoting to materials that can be recycled for several uses rather than going with single-use packaging. Starbucks is requesting its customers to pay a small deposit that will be refunded when they give their used cups back. This will be reused for further orders.

Hey Circle from Germany has decreased 40% of its carbon emissions by recycling the packaging box for more than one use. Rema 1000 from Denmark partnered with Plastix to manufacture bottles made from recycled fishing nets for dishwashing detergent.

A refilling program is another option in sustainable packaging. This technique has helped Netherlands’ Jomi Design to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 70%, water usage by 45%, and energy consumption by 65%.

Gucci launched a sustainable packaging method. The label uses paste dye to color the box in order to facilitate easy recycling. The shopping bags are made of 100% recycled polyester and knotted at the edges to eliminate the usage of glue and to easily separate the parts. The dust bags are made from regenerated cotton with a logo and other details created with recycled polyester. The hangers are created from recycled polystyrene. Gucci’s e-commerce packaging involves reusable tote bags, recyclable outer boxes, and packaging well-fitted according to the product.

The Estee Lauder Companies Inc. is trying to urge sustainability in each place as much as they can. The organization has designed bottles without plastic that can be recycled and refilled, reducing and/or eliminating packaging depending on the product, using bioplastic instead of petroleum plastic, and raising the percentage of Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) material in packaging. It has initiated the Sustainable Packaging Initiative For Cosmetics (SPICE) along with the Association Of Plastic Recyclers (APR) and Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC).

At the 2024 Paris Packaging Week, Mondi, a packaging company from the UK, presented its portfolio of sustainable packaging that can be imposed in Luxury Brands without affecting their brand values.

Also, check out our insight on sustainable E-Commerce packaging.

Cover Image: Gucci's sustainable packaging method, courtesy Gucci Equilibirum