The Montreal Design Declaration defines design as “the application of intent: the process through which we create the material, spatial, visual and experiential environments in a world made ever more malleable by advances in technology and materials, and increasingly vulnerable to the effects of unleashed global development.”
In this article, we will guide you through four steps to apply the circular design and use of glass containers.
1) Recover: before recycling, it is necessary to recover.
To prevent packages from accumulating in landfills, it is essential to deposit them in the right places.
If the consumer mixes recyclable glass packaging with other kinds of waste, it will be lost the possibility of recycling the glass. That is why it is essential to deposit them in the correct containers. For this, consumers can discard them in the boxes (usually in green color) that often are close to the yellow boxes (where should be dropped the plastic packaging).
Do you want to know more about recycling systems in Germany? See our article Recycling in Germany.
Another alternative is to check if there is a “bottle bill” in your country and city.
Bottle bill is also known as container-deposit, deposit-return system, or Deposit-refund system (DRS).
The operation of these used glass bottle return systems is effortless and accessible. Several countries adopt this type of system.
Learn more about the Deposit-refund system (DRS) here!
By the financial incentive to return specific products, this system is a circular economy practice that avoids the waste of glass containers in good conditions.
In the case of reusable packaging, the returned glass bottles can be refilled by the supplier. When this is not the case, they are sent for recycling.
Many companies have offered direct alternatives for the return of part of the components of their products to consumers. This is the case of Hello-Pearl.
Our glass, stainless steel, and unique TPE ring of Pearl components are each 100% recyclable. While glass and stainless-steel recycling are usually globally available with no issues, we understand that TPE recycling may not yet be widely available.
That’s why we offer the consumer the choice to return their TPE rings directly to us, allowing us to do the recycling for the consumer!
2)Rethink: being creative with glass waste
Once recovered and before returned or sent for recycling, it is important to rethink what else can be done with the empty glass bottles.
The answer to this provocation has come through the eyes of artists, designers, and architects who, employing upcycling techniques, have given new life to discarded glass bottles.
An example of this is the work being carried out by the #RocaRecicla project through the hands of the talented Elena Portillo, who converts used glass bottles into beautiful pieces.
Brands should search for the circular design and nonlinear life cycle of their products. The transformation of used bottles into decorative objects and utensils for bars and restaurants is a smart initiative that extends their life cycle.
In 2016 only 53.3% of the waste generated in the EU-28 was treated in recovery operations. Of this, 37% was recycled.
In that year, the most common types of packaging waste in the EU-28 was paper and cardboard (41 %), plastic (19 %), glass (19 %), wood (16 %), and metal (5 %).
Brands should not be concerned with recycling only at the end of product life. It is necessary to think the recycling from the first design ideas.
For example, we prepare all Pearl materials for recycling. Our Pearls can be easily recycled because the materials can all be separated and are fully recyclable. Moreover, all materials have an exciting use in other markets and can, therefore, quickly enter new life cycles.
4) Share information and contribute to environmental education
There is no digital marketing without content creation. That is why today, many brands are transforming their companies marketing departments into authentic editorials that sell not only products and services but also “stories”.
These stories can be written in an attempt to educate consumers about circular design with relevance to them and society as a whole.
For example, Whole Foods Market is educating consumers about local and fresh production of fruits and vegetables, as well as the types and amounts of vitamins needed to maintain the health of adults and children.
Pearl is sharing salad recipes with natural ingredients that can be easily stored in the different jar formats the brand offers.
Hello-Bottle is educating consumers on the sustainable production of glass bottles and container return, circular design and recycling systems.
These are simple tips that can contribute substantially to improve the sustainable use and production of glass packaging. Which of these are already in place in your company? Could you share with us?