Research on eco-friendly Reproductive Health commodity packaging…

…or optimizing the use of existing packaging

The aim of this project was to provide United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with research informed insights with which to investigate alternative materials for developing reproductive health commodity packaging. Or ways of optimizing the use of existing packaging in order to reduce the environmental impact of reproductive health commodity packaging.

This project was designed to underpin the efficacy of UNPFA’s eco-sustainable procurement framework, which is used to specify processes by which suppliers demonstrate compliance with UNFPA’s procurement frame-work throughout their value chain. All of these are relative to social, functional and cultural context in which UFPA’s user-communities experience the products, its product packaging, logistics of distribution and their environmental impact at end of their life.

Research and analysis process involved reviewing case studies where improvements have been made in the material optimisation process, in some cases with new technologies enabling better separation and sorting techniques. We compared examples where value are being retained in the tight loop of circular economies; for example a range of projects and commercial product range in East Africa and Southern America respectively, were identified as demonstrating how reusable / recovery rates packaging is achievable for ‘fast-moving consumer goods’.

The outcome of this research project will be used to incorporate net reduction in UNFPA’s procurement environmental footprint through optimal packaging. Consequently enabling a circular economy, within UNFPA’s procurement chain, that will inform cost effective ways of designing out environmental foot-print errors at the front-end.

People for whom the products are being developed who UNFPA serves and local NGOs are joining in as partners where everybody’s role in reducing the environment footprint from a users’ perspective is part of a collaborative process. This process involves stakeholders from the entire value chain. design development, manufacture, distribution, usage, reuse and recycling. This approach would enable UNFPA move beyond incremental innovation towards a systemic shift in reducing the environmental impact of reproductive health commodity packaging.

Project methodology

1. Project inception and scope review meeting with UNPFA procurement services team in Denmark

2. Evaluative and comparative research of pack formats and materials that reduce cost and/or offer additional functionality with reduced life-cycle environmental impact.

3. Engagement with relevant manufacturers experimenting with bio-degradable polymers for example, reducing, material, energy and pollution when substantially compared with the traditional disposable alternatives.

4. Recommendations (‘idea catalogue’ and ‘green procurement guide’) for future pack materials that meet quality, functional and environmental objectives of UNFPA

5. Reporting, peer review and publication of findings.

An OsanNimu + Giraffe Innovation Project

Photos courtesy of Replenish, Sou Cosmetics Brazil, Gigs 2 Go, BillerudKorsnäs, Clare Spring at SustainableBrands online, Windmoeller & Hoelscher at SustainableBrands online, Ellas’s baby dry cereals packaging design at foodbev.com and Ian Munroe/Flickr at SustainableBrands online

Project Team

Rob Holdway, Eco-Material Specialist. Ayodeji Alaka, Design Research. Mark Dowling,Technical Analysis.

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