How a Packaging Design Playbook Guides Net-Zero Emissions Goals


At a time when various initiatives and long-term targets for achieving carbon emissions neutrality have been announced at the global, policy, as well as industry levels, respectively, we came across the opportunity to help shape the future of packaging in a high plastics consumption sector. At present, plastics, and hence carbon, intensive industries are seeking out ways to counter petroleum-derived carbon emissions as well high waste volumes. Evalueserve’s team of experts guided this client project leveraging the GREEN Solution Framework to arrive at a sustainability-focussed design solution which would steer the client’s design direction towards a net-zero carbon emissions and circular economy future. 

the Challenge

Our client, among the top global consumer packaged goods (CPG) players, was looking for an intervention to guide their packaging design efforts towards an interim (for 2030) and subsequently long-term sustainability solution with the aim of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its supply chains by 2040.

Client requirements: 

  • Develop a global playbook that will help its designers design less carbon-intensive packaging, across all business units, brands, products and packaging platforms. This playbook will act as central repository of sustainable design guidelines and best practices.

  • The repository should help direct each design choice towards carbon footprint reduction across the value chain. 
  • Help the design team members comprehensively understand carbon intensity associated with various materials, availability of low carbon intensity plastic alternatives, fate of packaging waste, as well as availability of new material innovations and aligned business models for net-zero packaging. 

Our Solution

The client’s requirements led us to leverage the fundamentals of Evalueserve’s GREEN Solution Framework. Our GREEN Framework, which stands for Generate, Refine, Equip, and Engage, has been designed to create insights that support decarbonisation initiatives at each stage, from strategy formulation to market execution.


With these fundamentals in tow, our team of experts firstly divided the playbook’s direct beneficiary products, platforms, and polymers into 5 major packaging types: 

  1. All rigid packaging including bottles and containers 
  2. Flexible packaging (mono and multi-materials) 
  3. Caps/closures and pumps 
  4. Labels, sleeves and cap liners 
  5. Thermoformed blisters 

 Taking these into account, our team streamlined three primary approaches or anchors for the targeted packaging types covered in the playbook: 

  1. Optimisation 
  2. Re-design 
  3. Alternate Business Models 

Each of the three approaches was then further divided into respective levers or actionable directions, whilst also taking into consideration the Second Dimensions – targeted end-of-life scenarios, circularity, recyclability, and leakage into the environment. 

The platforms were minutely analysed leveraging Evalueserve’s mind+machine insights. For this, we analysed all the 10 levers or materials of each platform levers to understand their carbon footprint reduction potential across the lifecycle (cradle-to-grave approach), impact on packaging fate (with regional sensitivities) and associated emissions, compliance with regulations, and cost impact. We also looked at innovations and competitor developments in each space. 

Based on all these analyses and insights, our experts were able to deliver a design playbook that will direct designers towards making sustainable choices while designing packaging. The process followed research at both, the academic level as well as in consultation with top industry experts. 

Business Impact

Using this methodology and powered by the Evalueserve mind+machine™ needs-tailored process, the team delivered the sustainability playbook with the following high impact areas for our client: 

Carbon reduction 

One-stop solution for design guidelines (directional) to help reduce carbon emissions from packaging. 


Increased efficiency in taking design decisions and bringing new packaging into the market. 

Process enhancement

he playbook helps narrow down sustainable packaging options, complementing the detailed life-cycle assessment (LCA) for each alternate. 

Global application

Guidelines for all designers at a global level and across all packaging platform utilized by the client.