Designing for packaging sustainability. The effects of appearance and a better eco-label on consumers? evaluations and choice

DS 94: Proceedings of the Design Society: 22nd International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED19)

Year: 2019
Editor: Wartzack, Sandro; Schleich, Benjamin; Gon
Author: Krah, Sophie; Todorovic, Tea; Magnier, Lise
Series: ICED
Institution: Delft University of Technology
Section: Responsible design
DOI number:
ISSN: 2220-4342


The environmental burden of packaging is huge. However, redesigning packaging to make it more sustainable without damaging its other functions is not always easy and can have a negative impact on consumers? choice. In this paper, we adopt a user-perspective and test the effects of packaging appearance and a better eco-label on consumers? responses. Based on the literature, we designed an eco-label using a traffic light system with an objective sustainability score enabling to compare the sustainability of different packages. The results of our experimental study (N=120) show that while a sustainable (vs. typical) appearance in packaging has a positive effect on perceived sustainability, it has a negative effect on perceived usability. However, we demonstrate that the presence of a high score on the eco-label positively impacts the perceived sustainability of both the sustainable and the typical packages and the choice intentions. This eco-label also enabled to mitigate the negative effects of the sustainable appearance on perceived usability. Designers and policy-makers can use the results of this paper to positively influence evaluations of and choice for sustainable packaging.

Keywords: Packaging, Sustainability, Eco-label, Ecodesign, Communication


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