Designing for Re-use: The Life of Consumer Packaging

Authors: Tom Fisher and Janet Shipton

Pub: Earthscan

Price: £24.99

Designing for Re-useWe produce 10 million tonnes of packaging waste each year, but there’s generally a blithe acceptance that whatever can’t be recycled is a necessary evil. However, as we push our technological competence for reclaiming value from waste resources, attention is going to turn increasingly to the human component in the equation.

Designing for Re-use represents an admirable attempt to explore this, focusing on the psychological and sociological connection we have with domestic packaging waste – not enthralling on the face of it, but anyone working with the public and the waste it produces will benefit from exploring Fisher and Shipton’s analysis.

Well referenced and researched, this book injects energy into the problem of how to deal with packaging waste. The authors distinguish between closed and open reuse – the former is what many in the industry think of, namely using an object again for its original purpose. However, their focus is on the latter, and the processes by which people adopt packaging for other uses. But this is not another Blue Peter annual showing how to live the Good Life; rather, it is a worthy attempt at understanding how consumers relate to packaging in the privacy of their homes.

After analysing our feeling towards different types of materials and packaging, it explores how this flows through a household. The analogy of the kitchen as the engine of a household and packaging as a moving part is compelling.

The book builds to a conclusion that packaging should be made open to the possibility of reuse. For instance, being able to remove the branding makes us much more inclined to use packaging again.

Recommended for anyone interested in behavioural change. Vital for anyone involved in packaging.