Department

Graphic Communication Department

Degree Name

BS in Graphic Communication

Date

12-2009

Advisor(s)

Xiaoying Rong

Abstract/Summary

The consumer packaging world has two key players, the consumer and the packaging manufacturer. And with the outside perspective of an expert on sustainability there creates the chemistry currently operating the sustainable packaging movement. But what does sustainability mean? The quick, dirty, and official definition is something which “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (www.sustainability-ed.org).

This study focused on what the consumer perceived as being sustainable as well as tested some consumer knowledge of what sustainability is. This was then contrasted with what some award winning packaging manufacturers were doing in the field of sustainable packaging, which was further looked at from the perspective of what experts believed to be the correct course of action to make packages sustainable.

Results showed that many consumers were not as well educated on the subject of sustainability and many still based their purchasing decisions not on what they believed would have the smallest affect on the environment. In contrast to this, manufacturers were doing better than expected. There was very little greenwashing and a lot of honest attempts to get as close to being sustainable as possible. The expert analysis showed that everything has an up and down as far as its environmental impact as well as proving that consumer really must think critically when popular words such as “biodegradable” are used.

In conclusion it was discovered that the problem of making packages sustainable is not black and white, but entirely a gray area. Consumers do need to become more informed, but in the interim manufacturers are becoming more and more responsible and acting in accordance with sustainability and attempting to make products that mesh with expert's opinions.

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