Week 15

Calls with sustainable manufacturers

Aylesbury Box Company

Luke Jamieson, director of Aylesbury box company has given me insight into the companies design process as it currently stands, and how they approach sustainability. Surprisingly, Jamieson stated that only 20% of clients request sustainable alternatives to packaging. One of the most interesting insights from our discussion is that the remaining 80% of customers are either unaware of the sustainable material and methods available, or simply haven’t considered or factored it into their requirements. In fact, due to Aylesbury box company making the conscious decision to use FSC certified paper/cardboard throughout the whole company (at a worthwhile additional cost – meaning this is also factored into the price the customers pay and is often higher priced than competitors), 80% of clients are choosing the sustainable option regardless. This tells me that given the option, clients will consider sustainable packaging alternatives.

I have been informed that currently, the process for manufactured packaging is split into two – industrial and retail packaging. Industrial packaging involves the shipping, factory and general manufacturing processes involved to protect products, whereas the retail packaging is customer facing. The difference between the two is interesting and highlights the differences required when brands advertise. Industrial packaging is often very basic with instructions on how to handle boxes, whereas retail packaging is all singing and dancing – often designed to lure the customer to the product. As the retail package is what sits on shelves this is where the overall design of colours, slogans, logos and package functionality is considered.

Unfortunately, this also means this is where greenwashing is introduced (along with the digital and printed marketing and advertisement of the product).

Additional information that could be useful in writing my report –

  • There’s 3 elements of a box design. 1) the graphics, 2) the engineering and 3) the manufacturing
  • External designers may be used if the customer requesting the packaging does not have their own in-house designers
  • The design process comes after the manufacturing of the box and cannot be done before this has happened

From my discussion with Aylesbury’s director, there were some key things identified:

  • I need to investigate FSC further as although they are sustainable and a huge advocate for ethical forestation practice, are they doing anything to prevent companies which do not use certified sustainable materials? What are they doing to tackle the big picture?
  • Customers love to see logos that promote sustainability like the FSC logo and recycling emblem. This has me thinking, in order for me to have leverage over other companies through Eco-Collective, can I offer certification? This could also act as incentive for people to collaborate with Eco-Collective, but also be something that gives the ‘edge’ over other competitors. It could also be an olive branch for Eco-Collective to be calling out other companies and be a truly 100% certified sustainable logo that earns a reputation for being genuine. An accreditation system for sustainability.

FSC: Forest Stewardship Council

Home page and navigation

Label and recognition

What are FSC doing to call out greenwashing?

Article 1 – “Simon Counsell, executive director of Rainforest Foundation UK and an early proponent of the forest certification idea, argues that the opposite is true. His frustration with FSC led him to co-found the website FSC-Watch.com, “where you can see many, many scores of examples right across the span of FSC’s life, and all types of forests and plantations, that suggest there are still some very serious systemic problems in the FSC. One of them is that the FSC secretariat is unable and arguably unwilling to control the certifying bodies that are responsible for issuing certifications in FSC’s name.” These certifying agencies often display a lack of expertise on visits to logging operations, says Counsell, along with “the systematic downplaying of problems that are identified, and inadequate attention to fraud and misreporting of information.” That leniency may result partly from being paid directly by the companies they are supposed to audit. The certifiers also “know they can get away with issuing certificates even to companies that are flagrantly breaking the law, without any major repercussions from FSC,” he says. Carstensen counters that FSC takes action based on independent audits of its certifying companies, and that the payment setup is no different from a corporation paying an accounting firms to audit its finances.”

Article 2 – “After three decades of certification schemes and the failure to reach the 2020 deadline, the report takes stock. Based on extensive literature review, certification schemes’ publicly available data, and certification experts’ views, it offers a comprehensive critical review of the effectiveness of certification schemes. This is supplemented by an assessment of nine major certification schemes, including FSC, RTRS and RSPO. “Protecting forests and human rights shouldn’t be a choice,” said Rosoman. “However, certification pushes the responsibility to assess the quality of a certified product onto the consumer. Instead, governments must step up to protect our planet and its people from these unacceptable harms and set rules that guarantee that no product produced and sold comes from ecosystem destruction or human rights abuses.”  Greenpeace is calling on governments to develop a comprehensive set of measures to address the issues in supply chains as well as the wider biodiversity and climate crises; including new legislation on production and consumption, and policies that enable the shift towards trade that favours people and planet, ecological agriculture and a consumption reduction, especially of meat and dairy. “

Both the articles above are looking at the troubling issues with FSC certification; it seems to have got out of hand – to the point that FSC cannot control their certification process with suppliers. This does not seem right – if a company cannot control their business surely something needs to change.

In relation to Eco-Collective, the FSC articles are backing up my argument that the manufacturing industry needs to improve as greenwashing is a huge issue. I hope that this project begins to scratch the surface of what could be a huge olive branch in the consumer industry.

Customer incentives mapping

  • Benefits of working with Eco-Collective from a customer perspective of packaging and also from a manufacturer/graphic designer perspective of developing the packaging