Designing for a circular economy - Packaging

We all face the same challenge we can't afford to ignore - how do we make the transition from linear to circular?
This text is based on the discussions from Packbridge's event - ''Trends in Circular economy'', held at Zenit Design in June 3:rd. Amongst other conclusions, it became clear that designing for a Circular Economy is a tough nut to crack.


Designing for a circular economy, opportunities and challenges

This event brought us together to discuss the real challenges of transforming the economy from linear to circular. Together with our partner Packbridge and speakers Evelina Lundqvist and Gustav Ahlblad, we focused on concrete issues and solutions regarding packaging and how to implement a circular economy from early design to finished product, producing and following stages. What is best for respective product, reusing or recycling? And how do we as designers implement these requirements in a sustainable way.

Mathias Walter

Mathias Walter, Design Strategy Lead and member of the Zenit Design Sustainability Crew, shared his insights. He talked about different methods and approaches to realisation. Since he started researching circular economy in 2016, not much has happened in society - but changes are a-coming. The question has been highlighted in the last few months and the over-all awareness amongst people has grown tremendously. The discussion will soon get the attention it deserves.

Mathias together with Stina Hallström is currently working on the Vinnova-funded project '’Circular and Bio based Economy - from theory to practice’’ (read full article). This enables highly concentrated area research. From this research and personal experiences, Mathias explains the importance of collaboration. If we don't work together towards the exact same goal, a circular economy is impossible.

Packaging Design Thinking

Designing for sustainable packaging is often not an easy task. There needs to be balance between visual presentation, sustainable materials, manufacturing, transportation and of course the primary purpose of a packaging - to protect what's inside.

Gustav Ahlblad talked about the importance of comparing. We have to compare situations and methods in order to find the better solution and to know where to put manpower. The main purpose of a circular economy is to re-use in order to extinct waste. However, when looking into certain cases the option of recycling has more advantages.

When talking about glass bottles, it can sometimes be more efficient to recycle than reuse. The individual bottle cleaning creates a huge amount of water waste and the process demands much more resources, making recycling the better option. To crush, melt down and cast new bottles actually has a lesser impact on the environment. This supports the conclusion mentioned earlier - there's never one correct answer to circular economy.

As designers, we have the power and responsibility to implement sustainability early in the design process.

Everything begins and ends with design. 
- Gustav Ahlblad, The Absolut Company

I prefer the term Zero Waste because it provides a direct answer to the question. Zero. waste. 
- EVELINA LUNDQVIST, BUSINESS CONSULTANT AND SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR, THE GOOD TRIBE

Four learnings from the event

  1. Raise the question and do it NOW
  2. Keep track on your own value chain - start today
  3. Be rational in the transition. Where do we create biggest impact?
  4. Share insights and methods - Talk about your commitment


Who are you gonna call? - The sustainability crew

The crew contains of two devoted members, both having the environmental question at heart - Mechanical designer Stina Hallström and Design Strategy lead Mathias Walter. Both Stina and Mathias has a burning interest for our planet and how to save it - together they make the ‘’Sustainability Crew’’ here at Zenit Design.

Want to know more?
Get in touch with:
Stina Hallström
Senior Surface Modeler
+46 765 42 22 07
Mathias Walter
Design Strategy Lead
+46 704 20 77 37
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