Life for us designers was simple during the innocent age of toy packaging, when an enormously exaggerated illustration and a simple ‘box’ just large enough to house the product was sufficient to win the hearts and minds of its lustful audience.

We’ve all, well most, learnt a few lessons since then and the advancements in materials and technology made during the last 30 years in plastic Vacform moulds, cut-outs, and Try Me buttons are all-important and now fill toy shelves to bursting point. With a significantly more savvy audience, with high expectations. A hugely competitive cutthroat marketplace a two-colour box just won’t do.

While our toy packaging today is rarely less than state-of-the-art, the industries ‘accolades’ for excess and waste would fill a premiership trophy cabinet or two.
The inevitable crackdown on excessive packaging is continuing to gain momentum. Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, shifting up a gear with plans to extend the ‘voluntary’ Courtauld Commitment on grocery packaging to toys and other sectors of the leisure and entertainment industries. Our global need to reduce the volume of packaging waste. Six million tons being hauled away to landfills each year in the UK alone. It is an issue that just can’t be ignored.

As organisations we all need to persist in improving our relationship with the planet. We, as designers, are continually being tasked by Toy Manufacturers and Brand Licensors to help them deliver this. These ‘eco’ policies are not without issue and we have our work cut out ensuring their packs are no less eye grabbing than the less conscious packaging it’s competing with on shelf.

We know the shelves of the future will challenge the full breadth of our creative skills and require some truly ‘out of the box’ thinking.

Innovation remains the name of our game.
We are working on ways to maintain our jaw dropping shelf stand out and requirement for sensible unit production costs. As well as reduce the materials involved and improve upon their recycled content. Delivering sustainability whilst bringing down the carbon footprint.

To ensure we as agency are staying at the forefront of this challenge we employ the finest packaging designers. We continually stretch them to deliver impactful, cost effective and confident solutions. Whilst working in harmony with the developments in materials. It is important to make the most of the difficulties and restrictions imposed by this ‘eco’ drive.
We are utilising the breadth skills of our cardboard engineers to continual ‘hone’ pack design reducing the materials required and improve on production methods. Along with placing a great deal of value on developing relationships with local manufacturers. To significantly reduce the carbon footprint of delivery costs.

Our knowledge of the packaging lifecycle is being put to work helping our clients in their goal for Just in Time packaging solutions.
As a spin off from recently winning a pitch for the development of a bucking based Bio resins companies brand and associated marketing materials. We are now working with this leader in the field to develop a ‘Home Compostable’ and sustainable alternative to traditional oil based plastic used in packaging. This new development will be put to use creating an all-new ‘eco’ blister pack.

Unlike more traditional plastics, this PHA resin, the plastic film is completely biodegradable in every day soil and will dissolve in salt water. Making it a truly green alternative. Incredibly a normal blister pack thickness of this new PHA material will take just 180 days to biodegrade by 90%. Current degradable plastics only really break up into very small a piece (PLA’s). They don’t fully biodegrade, and so do not truly solve the problem.

If you want to know the boring technical details it is derived from GM-free maize starch. It can be processed similarly to polyethylene (except for using energy saving lower temperatures – even more green credentials) in conventional film blowing, sheeting, injection molding and thermoforming methods. As you can see an extremely versatile product. It will also help to reduce ecological contaminations like the much-publicized ‘plastic islands’ awash in our oceans.

With innovations like this Toy Manufacturers, clearly with the skills of talented creative, will continue to pull the strings of desire, even if it will be in smaller, smarter and planet friendly ‘boxes’.

Designers of the future need to be concerned with the ‘welfare’ of packaging design. And promote a sensible attitude towards our planet… however in this case long live the truly ‘home compostable’ blister pack, perforated for easy opening of course!