6 tips to support own brand retailers and manufacturers to achieve more sustainable packaging

Justin Kempson, Director of Sales and Innovation at Charpak Ltd gives his 6 top tips for retailers to adopt when addressing consumer and industry concerns around product and packaging design, and its environmental impact. The UK based packaging designer and manufacturer offers his key recommendations for own brand retailers to consider within all packaging briefs.

1) Design for recyclability

Firstly, ensure the most appropriate material is specified for the products (for both food and non-food). We support retailers at every stage of their packaging design and development process.

The 2019 Recyclability by Design guidelines from RECOUP and The British Plastics Federation are easy to understand industry guidelines for both packaging and non-packaging professionals. Charpak recommend keeping these close to hand as they explain technicalities in easy to comprehend language. Covering a diverse range of materials, the guiding principle is to support continuous environmental improvement in packaging design and materials.

Recyclability by design

2) Address consumer concerns

Consumers continue to give clear feedback of their expectations on brands, manufacturers and retailers to choose more appropriate packaging material types and formats. Consumers expect industry to take the lead and ensure packaging is easy to recycle. Following the Kantar Worldpanel research in 2018 we have seen consumer behaviour shifting to increasing confusion, to frustration, to demonisation and for many, activism.

Kantar Worldpanel Research, February 2018.

Avoiding unintended consequences of switching to alternatives that may cause other detrimental impact is crucial whilst addressing consumer concerns. This is a key element for all packaging designers. Charpak address aesthetic, technical and specific product requirements with our clients in addition to consumer acceptability.

Removing avoidable, unnecessary or problematic packaging is key, wherever it is feasible to replace with less environmentally impactful packaging, whilst remaining commercially viable. The response to Kantar Worldpanel’s 2018 survey regarding RRP reiterated consumer reticence to absorb any increase in price, which is to be expected.

Kantar 1-3 of consumers

No matter the colour, plastic packaging ought to be clearly marked as containing recycled content. It must also be identifiable as to whether it is widely recycled. This reinforces the message to the consumer on the packaging itself and addresses consumer concerns.

Twist-Loc Recycle message

3) On-pack labelling 

Applying the OPRL labelling system is best as this is highly trusted by UK consumers, local authorities and throughout the retail supply chain. In addition to the OPRL system on outer packaging we recommend the inclusion of plastic resin codes on both primary and secondary packaging, and the recycle message. Charpak incorporate these messages on our packaging. We make it easy for consumers and recommend mandatory labelling in all packaging briefs.

Applying both messages will help consumers, drive better recycling, and benefit everyone to ensure all the materials that can be recycled, are.


4) Address greenwashing

Greenwashing is the practice of making an unsubstantiated or misleading claim about the environmental credentials of a product. Unfortunately, greenwashing only confuses the issue further. Charpak do not condone greenwashing and our packaging experts and designers support retailers and product manufacturers with demystifying this. We recommend retailer packaging specifications address this in every brief.


5) Improve customer communications - Aid understanding

Helping consumers understand why certain packaging is used will help understand the complexity. Charpak have produced helpful FAQ guides for our customers and own brand retailers have an even greater opportunity with their own employees and customer communications. The development of a nationwide citizen engagement strategy in addition to own brand and retailer’s individual campaigns will go a long way to improving understanding. Promoting Recycle Now, the Recycle Locator, OPRL and The UK Plastics Pact consistent messaging will be key to cutting through consumer confusion.

The Government reforms of the waste collection and recycling industry will drive a massive step-change in assisting own brand retailers, the packaging industry and consumers alike by introducing one nationwide system. Ensuring a consistent collection, recycling and reprocessing infrastructure will go a long way to reducing the confusion. Charpak welcome the continued progress to nationwide consistency.

Own brand retailers can help with communications in-store, through consumer-facing social media channels and in customer communications such as voucher mailings and customer e-newsletters. We encourage all own brands and retailers continue to promote and ‘shout about’ their successes in making change, as it will most importantly, encourage and drive changing behaviours in consumers too.


6) Collaborate with suppliers

In our experience, the most effective solution to the challenge is delivered when we work collaboratively, bringing together each organisation’s expertise. It avoids confusion, delivers an efficient streamlined process, and ensures FMCG fast turnaround times are met. This approach is the modus operandi Charpak undertake with all clients.

We have a continual R&D and investment programme to ensure new innovations and technologies are in development. Speaking with packaging experts at the outset of any new product development, launch, product re-formulation or range review ensures packaging is thoroughly embedded in every new product development process.

Charpak is committed to driving sustainability in thermoformed plastics and is at the forefront of designing and manufacturing packaging which minimises environmental impact. We clearly present the evidence and facts as to which solution is environmentally, ethically and economically viable, and most importantly, fit-for-purpose.


We ask own brand retailers: Help us to Help You - Together We Can

The Charpak collaborative approach ensures comprehensive packaging design briefs are developed at the outset of each project with our clients to ensure all technical and functional requirements are captured. The packaging designers, engineers and production team liaise with our key account managers on a daily basis to manage the entire process in-house, from initial designs to prototypes, manufacture and distribution.

With more new technologies, packaging solutions and programmes underway, Charpak welcome the opportunity to discuss these with own brand retailers.


Collaborating to drive change

S4RB ensures collaboration between retail teams and their own brand suppliers to drive change and create successful own brands. Including content from domain experts such as Charpak in retailer-supplier communication and support helps to reinforce the ‘Why?’ behind the strategy and the ‘How?’. Supporting this with KPIs within the supplier scorecard allows retail teams to measure and drive change.

Affinity™ Engage enables communication and engagement at the scale necessary for own brands and has helped retailers achieve goals on recyclability, recycled content and other change initiations such as nutritional improvements and responsible sourcing. This is integrated with the supplier scorecard, which in turn links to further support on how to improve. For more information click here.

To see how Charpak can help you to achieve your own brand packaging and sustainability goals contact us on 01480 434 434 or

You can read more about Charpak’s progressive achievements here. 



Justin Kempson

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