10 top paper-based packaging designs

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Packaging material trends come and go, but cardboard and paper have been staples forever. Now more than ever, these materials are being embraced by packaging designers in new ways and for new types of products thanks to their more environmentally friendly credentials. As the world looks for ways to move beyond plastic, here are 10 top examples of paper-based packaging designs.

  1. Samsung’s reusable boxes

Big purchases mean large amounts of waste packaging. In response, Samsung has redeveloped the cardboard packaging for its Lifestyle TV range so it can be turned into other things. For example, the box could become a cat house, a magazine rack or an end table. Each box is made of a solid corrugated cardboard so that it can hold these shapes and printed with a dot matrix design to make it easy for customers to cut and put them together. A QR code on the box can be scanned to access a guide on how to make each item. Samsung is also running a competition for people to submit other designs which will be added to the guide. It’s a great example of how packaging can be more than just disposable.


  1. Educational Insights’ play scene boxes

In a similar vein, toy company Educational Insights has designed its cardboard packaging to be played with as much as the toy inside. The company’s Design & Drill range features different sets such as a rocket and a car. The inside of the box for each is printed with a different play scene that when unfolded can be used alongside the toy. In the case of the rocket there’s a moon scene. For the car, it’s a garage. The idea is that the packaging is part of the toy rather than being something to be thrown away. We love this simple mind shift, which also helps to contribute to the imaginative use of the product.

  1. Pizza Pizza’s tamper-proof box

Canadian pizza company Pizza Pizza has developed a new cardboard pizza box which is tamper proof. It’s a response to the current global situation to help reassure customers that their pizza hasn’t been touched, and potentially contaminated, by anyone else. The box has a safety locking mechanism that the customer has to break to get to their pizza. It’s therefore visually clear if it’s already been opened in the same way as jar lids. It’s an interesting example of how a challenging situation can drive innovation in areas of packaging that have been unchanged, like pizza boxes, for a long time.

  1. Proctor & Gamble’s all-paper deodorant tubes

Proctor & Gamble (P&G) is trialling a no-plastic all-paper deodorant tube for select scents in its Old Spice and Secret ranges. The tube is made of 90% recycled paper and has a push-up design. The company is testing the new design in 500 Walmart stores in the US and will analyse how customers respond to it. If it goes well, it will be rolled out more widely and to other ranges. It’s a great example of the work that’s going on globally to find alternatives to plastic. This development is especially important in the case of short lifecycle products like deodorants, which get used up and disposed of multiple times over someone’s life.

  1. KitKat paper wrappers

Last year, Nestle Japan redesigned the packaging for its popular miniature KitKats. They now come with a paper wrapper rather than a plastic one. As well as being more environmentally friendly, the new approach has given Nestle the opportunity to reimagine how customers interact with its products. The wrapper comes with instructions on how to turn it into an origami crane with the hope that it lives on longer rather than being discarded immediately as before. It’s also something that couldn’t be done with the plastic wrappers. We love how targeted this move is towards its local audience and that the brand is thinking outside the box. Nestle Japan plans to extend the paper packaging to the wider KitKat range by 2021.

  1. Sega’s cardboard game cases

The cardboard packaging trend has even reached video games with Sega and Sports Interactive announcing last year that going forward the Football Manager series of games would ditch plastic DVD cases. Instead, each game is packaged in a 100% recyclable cardboard sleeve and then wrapped in a recyclable low-density polyethylene. The sleeve is printed with the usual full artwork and is designed to meet DVD dimensions so that no changes have to be made to retail them. Although the move means the packaging does cost a bit more, this cost is somewhat offset by the fact that it can be fully recycled and reused and that it is lighter for shipping. Since then, Sega has announced that the packaging will be used on all new PC games and we expect it to be more widely adopted for other consoles in the future.

  1. Nestle’s paper milkshake pouch

Earlier this year, Nestle added a new product to its Nesquik milkshake powder range with new packaging to match. The Nesquik All Natural powder has all natural ingredients and less sugar making it a healthier option for consumers. In addition, it features Nesquik’s first recyclable paper pouch as packaging. The new design underwent rigorous testing to ensure that it could safely store the product in storage and transportation. This is particularly important as if the packaging isn’t robust enough the powder could become wet or contaminated making it unusable, as well as escape from the pouch. The fact that Nestle has been able to find a paper-based approach that works is a great step towards moving away from plastic packaging as a default for food products.

  1. Dalston’s Soda’s fun delivery boxes

Home delivery is up in these challenging times and some brands are using this as an opportunity to more deeply engage with customers. Soft drink company Dalston’s Soda has redesigned the boxes, together with B&B Studio, that its products are shipped in to make sure they reflect the ethos of the brand. With a tagline of ‘soda with a soul’, the boxes now look like boom boxes and DJ decks via fun graphics. It’s a simple change but among a sea of brown box deliveries, Dalston’s Soda is focusing on being the bright spot in its customers days. It wants its brand values to be clear at every point of the experience, which starts with the outer packaging.

  1. English Tea Shop’s compostable packaging

English Tea Shop has worked with Echo Brand Design to come up with new 100% compostable packaging for its whole-leaf tea range. When the seal is broken and the lid lifted, the cardboard box opens out flat to reveal the tea and graphics and text that tells you how to brew it and the story of where it came from. There’s no glue or tape or anything that holds the box together which makes it 100% compostable when finished with. The box can be refolded and sealed to keep the tea safe until it’s all been brewed. We like how the design adds a bit of theatre to the tea experience, but also keeps an eye on sustainability at the same time.

  1. L’Oreal’s paper-based cosmetics tubes

There’s a lot of plastic in the beauty industry which is why the co-development announced last year between L’Oreal’s and packaging firm Albéa is so interesting. The two companies have created a paper-style cosmetics tube which removes almost of the plastic normally used in this type of packaging. As a more sustainable option, the paper-based tube could be a major step forward in reducing the amount of waste in beauty. Testing is underway but the partners hope that the new packaging will be used for products later this year. It’s a great example of how collaboration can help to accelerate the usage of new materials for packaging that was traditionally the realm of plastic only.


By Cate Trotter, Head of Trends, Insider Trends, London