IS NEW EU FOREST STRATEGY A GAME CHANGER? THE RISE AND RISE OF THE ASIAN INFLUENCER RETHINKING SUSTAINABILITY, RIGHT FROM DESIGN
WOOD JOINS THE SPACE RACE
ED I TOR I AL
An increasing number of consumers want to make responsible choices and drive change through their purchasing decisions. There’s a lot of talk about sustainable investing and consumption – and that’s a good thing! Consumer expectations and purchasing patterns can greatly shape how companies work and develop their services. That iswhywe decided to look into the importance of sustainable design on page 16 of this magazine. Responsibility aspects must be considered early in the design process – poor choices and their implications can be hard to repair further down the line. Designers have a variety of important questions to consider when looking at sustainability, whether it be about using renewable materials or increasing recyclability. Consumer choices are often driven by packaging and label design, both of which have a significant impact on the product’s attractiveness and responsibility. The significance of sustainable packaging is even greater these days due to the rapid growth of e-commerce. Peopleareconsumingmoreonline, andtheconsumerbehaviourof youngpeople inparticular is being guided by social media influencers. For many of them, responsibility is an important value. Even small children get excited by responsible choices when they learn about the topic in a manner suitable for their age. You will see a wonderful example in our story on a recycling guide developed for preschoolers. After all, it is often the children who teach their parents how to recyclemore efficiently. According to experts, reducing the use of fossil fuels and fossil-based materials is the most impactfulwaytotackleclimatechange. It is importantthatwedevelopnewmaterial innovations that enable consumers to make more responsible choices. In this magazine, you’ll get a first hand look at the new biorefinery we are building in Leuna, Germany. Once operational, it will be the first of its kind tomanufacture wood-based biochemicals. These biochemicals will make
WE CREATE A FUTURE BEYOND FOSSILS
it possible to replace fossil raw materials in many types of products. The current and potential uses of wood as a material will be addressed in several of the magazine’s stories – and somemay surprise you! UPM aspires to create a future beyond fossils. It’s a purpose that enables us to lead a bold, forward-looking and responsible everyday life. From a personal point of view, I’m immensely proud we are working towards this goal together with our colleagues and stakeholders. Hanna Maula , Editor-in-Chief
Editor-In-Chief Hanna Maula Managing Editor Sini Paloheimo Editorial Team Kristiina Jaaranen, Tommi Vanha, Päivi Vistala-Palonen Content & Design Spoon Agency Cover photo Carlos Pazos Printing Punamusta Cover UPMFinesse Silk 200 g/m² Pages UPM Star 1.2 matt 100 g/m² Address UPM-Kymmene Corporation, PO Box 380, FIN-00101 Helsinki, Finland Tel. +358 (0)204 15 111 upm.com We deliver renewable and responsible solutions and innovate for a future beyond fossils across six business areas: UPMBiorefining, UPMEnergy, UPMRaflatac, UPM Specialty Papers, UPMCommunication Papers and UPMPlywood. As the industry leader in responsibility we are committed to the UN Business Ambition for 1.5°C and the science-based targets to mitigate climate change. We employ 18,000 people worldwide and our annual sales are approximately EUR 8.6 billion. Our shares are listed on Nasdaq Helsinki Ltd. UPMBiofore – Beyond fossils.
What impact will the EU’s new forest strategy have on the continent?We ask those in the know. 36 THROUGH THE L ENS HomeroMartínez doesn’t do 9-5. Join himas he embarks on a workday like no other. 42 FEATURE Meet the Finnish researchers motivated by making the world a better place. 44 FEATURE See how a next-gen biorefinery is transforming a former mining region into a hub for the circular economy. 47 OP INION Could a deeper understanding of the forest ecosystemunleash new opportunities? 48 FEATURE With cities getting heavier, we ask whether wood could be a better building material for our urban sprawls.
12 NEWS IN BR I EF Catch up on what’s been happening at UPM. 13 AROUND THE WOR LD FromGermany to New Zealand, get the latest UPMnews fromaround the world. 14 SNAPSHOT Stunning 3D furniture made sustainably? The future is now. 16 B IG P ICTURE Is sustainable designmore than just a buzzword? We find out. 22 FEATURE Designing a product with sustainability inmind can be tricky. We speak to a design agency that may have cracked the code. 26 FEATURE With e-commerce on the rise, influencers in China are finding they have a moral responsibility.
50 TECH HUB
With satellites made from wood, spacemay no longer be the final frontier! 53 MONEY TALKS Kenneth Råman explains how green bonds are helping tomitigate climate change. 54 FEATURE Meet the people behind the book encouraging preschoolers to join the circular economy. 56 FEATURE Immerse yourself in the wonderful world of Danish trolls. 62 TODAY, I . . . Three UPMemployees show how the small steps they take every day can make a big difference.
6 FACTS AND F IGURES Social media is often criticised, but how can we use it as a force for good? 8 HI STORY OF THE . . . Trace the history of plastic and how it can be considered a future-proof material. 10 IN THE SPOT L IGHT Find out what forestry specialist Peter Holmgren makes of the EU’s forest strategy for 2030.
When it comes to recycling, is there such a thing as “too young”?
By Maria Stambler Photography Getty Images
FACTS AND F IGURES
Breaking down our online habits
We spoke to consumers from around the world to find out how social media impacts their purchasing decisions. Harnessing social media for good
WHO ARE WE?
WHO IS NEXT?
A recent report by Deloitte revealed that social media has a significant influence on people’s purchasing behaviour: consumers who are influenced by social media are four times more likely to spend more on purchases, while nearly a third of consumers are more likely to make a purchase on the same day they are influenced by a social media post. But such levels of consumption leave behind a sizeable carbon and environmental footprint. So, what exactly is the link between social media use and consumption and how can social media in stead help to create amore sustainable environment? Instant gratification Consumers of all ages admit to having their consumption behav iours shaped by social media platforms. Miami-based real estate agent Elina Kislyanskaya , 32, is an avid Instagram user who recognises the impact social media has on her consumption habits. “The content is curated towards what I would find appealing and it’s all very easy: with a click of a button, you can buy some thing. It doesn’t feel like you’re spending real money, and some thing arrives at your door almost instantly. I know this is bad for the environment, and buying more means more packages are be ing delivered tome,” Kislyanskaya says. She adds that social media further contributes to overcon sumption by encouraging users to follow and keep upwith trends that come and go very quickly. On the other side of the world, the power of influencers is get ting bigger. “Of course the power of influencers also impacts Western countries but in Asia, especially in younger age groups, this effect shows more because these are collectivist countries. Asian coun tries' younger generations admire someonewho theywant to be,” says Hyun Min Kong , visiting professor at Hongik University. The researcher adds that SouthKoreahas thehighest active so cialmedia users, andEasternAsian countries have the highest so cial media penetration rate in the world. In South Korea, people of all ages mostly use a social media app called KakaoTalk, while YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and BAND are also popular with younger people. So, when they see products that their influencer wears, they purchase the product instantly, Kong says. Making smarter choices Nir Eyal , an expert on behavioural design and a best selling author, believes that the influence social media have on people’s buying behaviour is not completely negative.
“Before social media, we had models on TV telling us to buy something,” Eyal says. “We still have that, but now we have a bunch of comments from other users warning us against buying it if this product is bad or if it’s a scam. So, in a way, social media is actually better at helping people not buy stuff because it’s in teractive.” This has been the case for Christian Napolitano , 31, an asso ciate creative director at an ad agency inNewYork. “Instagram has become a way for me to keep current with the brands, bands and shops I want to support. Instead of wasting time browsing the web to randomly shop, I can open it and find a new post about a product from a smaller boutique and make a purchase withinminutes,” Napolitano says. The platformhas also enabled himto discover brands with sus tainability or altruistic purpose as their core values. The same can be seen in Asia, Kong adds. “Generation Z is paying attention to social issues and trying to make a change. They use social media themost and are starting to make smarter purchase choices. Channels such as Instagramand YouTube are their information sources at the point of purchase,” Kong explains. Living more sustainably Marnie Carroll and Lauren Callaghan , the couple behind the @better_human_project Instagramaccount andwho live in Bris bane, Australia, admit to being influenced by what they see on so cialmedia. However, they are using their own account to promote sustainable consumption. “As a family that has been trying to live more sustainably and reduce our consumption for a few years, we find that sponsored adverts on social media usually do not influence our buying habits – unless the advert is completely on point with our values and lifestyle,” Carroll says. In their view, their approach sharing their experiences and thoughts about living more sustainably on social media has at least somewhat influenced their family, friends and followers to becomemore conscientious consumers. “To the extent we are ‘eco-influencers’, we try to be very trans parent and only share products that we love,” Carroll concludes. “Generation Z is paying attention to social issues and trying to make a change. They use social media the most and are starting to make smarter purchase choices.”
Boomers Born between 1946 and 1964
Gen X Born between 1965 and 1980
Millennials Born between 1981 and 1996
Gen Z Born between 1997 and 2012
Gen Alpha from 2012 onwards
HOW WE CONSUME? %within the group
Exposed to brand ads on social media
Exposed to brand ads on TV
Get brand recommendations through word of mouth
Use social media to research a particular brand
Use search engines to research a particular brand
Get brand recommendations through social media
WHAT ARE OUR FAVOURITE APPS? %within the group
WHO ARE WE LISTENING TO? %within the group
Actors, comedians, performers
Gaming experts or studios
Source: Global Web Index
By Lara McCoy Photography Getty Images, maufacturers & UPM
HI STORY OF THE . . .
Can plastic be fantastic?
Biochemicals UPM’s innovative wood-based biochemicals and naphtha enable designers to move away from fossil-based raw materials for a variety of consumer applications. They can be used in creating sustainable packaging, PET bottles and even to replace rubber in certain products.
Once considered the material of the future, plastic has played an outsized role in modern culture. Now, innovations in biopolymers may ensure that the next generation of plastics are both flexible and sustainable.
Biocomposites The development of cellulose-fibre reinforced composites allowed for products to be designed with a larger percentage of materials derived from renewable sources .
Bakelite Invented by Leo
Plastic bag Sten Gustaf Thulin, an employee of Swedish firm Celloplast, invented the now ubiquitous one-piece polythene shopping bag.
LP record RCA Victor debuted the first long-playing vinyl record. Earlier records had been made from rubber.
Baekeland, it was first used as an electrical insulator, but could be shaped into almost anything.
Celluloid The first synthetic polymer is created in New York by John Wesley Hyatt, who was looking for a substitute for ivory for billiard balls.
Plastic tableware The London department store Harrod’s hosts the first display of dishes made by thermosetting moulding powder.
Nylon During World War II, nylon was critical for the war effort. It was used in parachutes, ropes, and body armour.
3D printing PLA was the first commercially viable biodegradable material and is often used in surgical procedures.
By Asa Butcher Photography Henrik Gustafsson Nicander
IN THE SPOT L IGHT
Forestry specialist Peter Holmgren shares his views of the EU forest strategy for 2030 and the differences between a fossil-based and bio-based economy. EU forest strategy creating confusion and conflict” “
How do you assess the EU’s new forest strategy? If you look at the strategy on its own, it’s a stark deviation from the principle that forest management and policy is a national competence. The strategy proposed sets out the central re quirements on forestry, so there’s nowamismatchbetweenhow forest policies are supposed to be handled in the EU. Zooming out, you see it’s part of the wider Fit for 55 climate package. If your starting point is to define climate change pol icies that relate to the forest, you’re obviously going to clash with other policy contexts. It would have been better if climate
change issues related to the forest had been under a broader forest strategy, rather than the other way around. It’s creating
confusion and conflict in the forest policy arena. So, how should we approach this strategy?
Froma forest perspective, Europe is not homogenous. You have large ecological and economic differences between the forests in Finland and those in Greece, so it’s important to continue building upon the specifics of each country’s situation. At best, the strategy could be a guidance for national policies, aswell as a link to the climate change and Fit-for-55 policies. How do the fossil-based and bio-based economies differ? We try to describe the bio-based economy as circular in the sense that products are based on biological material. Those products are eventually recycled through the atmosphere and back to the forest again. If we have an efficient value chain and good forest management, then it ensures stable and increasing carbon storage in the forest, as well as a positive climate impact when wood-based products replace fossil-based. In Sweden, the net carbon sink in the forests has been 1.8 Gt of carbon dioxide equivalents over the past 40 years, which is a lot. At the same time, we have delivered large quantities of re newable wood-based products. We’re not adding any carbon to the atmosphere and biosphere, whereas the fossil-based econ omy uses carbon from below and emits it into the atmosphere. It’s circularity versus one way. What challenges does the bioeconomy face? The challenge on the forest side is to invest in forest manage ment so as to secure long-term growth and wood supply, while also undertaking the required nature conservation measures. It’s already done in Finland and Sweden, but sometimes forests aremanaged in amore exploitative way. On the value-chain side, it’s important to efficiently use the valuable wood material. One part is to promote long-lived wood products. But even more important is to make good use of all harvested biomass. We often hear that we shouldn’t use bioenergy because it’s short lived, causes emissions and takes time to regrow. If trees grew in square shapes, without bark, and couldbe splitwithout creating sawdust, thenwewouldhave less bioenergy. The reality calls for an integrated value chain where we use different parts of the tree. Once products reach end-use, they should also become bioenergy – although we still see houses torn down and put into landfills. What calculations are needed when it comes to bio-based versus fossil products? To remove fossil emissions, we can reduce overall consumption but that can be politically difficult because people often don’t want it. We can also utilise fossil energy and materials more ef ficiently – this is, of course, very important. But we can also re place fossil-based material and energy with renewables, which is where wood-based products have great potential. To analyse the advantages of the forest bioeconomy, we must be able to quantify fossil emissions that are eliminated when wood-based materials and energy are used instead. It is prob lematic to get a complete picture, as wood-based products are divided into different sectors where it can be difficult to extract the benefits of renewable wood. For example, the construction sector reports its own emissions, but normally without specify ing reduced emissions by buildingmore in wood.
MEET PETER HOLMGREN Peter Holmgren was the Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and has 30 years’ experience in international forestry and agriculture. In 2013, he launched the Global Landscapes Forum, which is now the world’s
largest conference on integrated land use.
NEWS IN BR I EF
Poland UPM Raflatac is
strengthening its position in the fast-growing linerless labelstock market by scaling up production capacity and building a new production line in Nowa Wies.
Finland Glasshouse Helsinki is a home for sustainable
innovation and ethical art, design, fashion and industry brands. It brings design and corporate innovation together, in order to highlight sustainability.
Germany Construction of the biorefinery at Leuna is proceeding at full speed. The Federal President of Germany, Frank Walter Steinmeier, recently visited the site to show his support for the region’s economic development and the generation of the green chemistry excellence cluster.
E U R O P E
N O R T H A M E R I C A
A S I A
Biofuelling the future
The basic engineering phase of UPM’s next-generation biorefinery is progressing. High quality renewable fuels, including sustainable jet fuel, would significantly reduce the carbon footprint of road transport and aviation, while replacing fossil raw materials with renewable chemical and bioplastic alternatives. During the study, UPM will also review the ideal location for the biorefinery, which will be built in either Kotka, Finland, or the Dutch city of Rotterdam.
A F R I C A
S O U T H A M E R I C A
A U S T R A L I A
Uruguay The work at the Paso de los Toros construction site and Montevideo port terminal are both on budget and on schedule. Approximately 6,000 people are currently working on the project at various construction sites.
UPM around the world NEWS AND INSIGHTS FROM OUR GLOBAL NETWORK OF OPERATIONS
New Zealand WISA Woodsat, made of WISA Birch plywood, will be launched into space from the Mahia Peninsula. It is the world’s first satellite that uses wood as its primary structure.
We are the first forest industry company invited to join The Climate Pledge, co-founded by Amazon and Global Optimism. The companies participating are committed to reaching the targets set by the Paris Agreement by 2040 – a full decade in advance. UPM JOINS CLIMATE PLEDGE
No fossil energy sources are used in the production process at any of UPM’s four sawmills. Fossil-free production enables UPM to produce even more sustainable timber products with the smallest possible carbon footprint, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation. CLEAN, GREEN SAWING MACHINES
EQUAL PAY FOR ALL GUARANTEED
UPM will close the unexplained gender pay gap that cannot be explained by performance, work experience or job grade, i.e., the factors that typically determine a person’s salary. The review applies to all of UPM’s operating countries and is part of UPM’s fair remuneration policy.
MAKING MONEY GREEN
The Green Finance Framework and two Green Bonds totalling EUR 1.25bn are an important part of our financing and Biofore strategy. The proceeds of the first EUR 750m Green Bond were allocated to sustainable forest manage ment and climate positive products and solu tions.
Photography Mike Karlsson Lundgren
The future is here Who says sustainable can’t be beautiful? Reform Design Lab’s Reform Lounge Chair is a snapshot of the modern world. It has been created using 3D printing and is made from cellulose reinforced biocomposite supplied by UPM Formi. Not only is it innovative, but the entire product is incredibly sustainable. Using the material can reduce a product’s carbon footprint by as much as 80% compared to similar fossil-based counterparts. By utilising 3D printing, the carbon footprint is further reduced due to a complete absence of waste and minimal transportation costs. This is the future of sustainable furniture manufacturing and it’s ready now.
By Jessica Bateman Photography UPM & Lumene
B IG P ICTURE
A design of the times
Sustainability has been one of the biggest consumer buzzwords of recent years, but what does this word really mean, particularly when it comes to product design?
Renewable materials are helping unleash the full potential of sustainable design.
B IG P ICTURE
T he demand for sustainable products has exploded in recent years, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. As more sectors seek to increase their sustain ability, really considering what the word means, and incorporating this thinking in the design phase of product development, has taken on new importance. “The idea of sustainability, and phrases such as re duce, reuse, recycle, have been gaining momentum for years now – and interest hasn’t plateaued,” says Drew Felty , co-founder and CEO of the US-based Packaging School. “But it can mean so many things. I don’t think there can be one succinct defini tion right now.” Felty adds that, when it comes to design, the issue of sustainability shouldn’t be raised as its own separate point, “but at manydifferent points all through theproduction cycle.”
to sustainability specifically, then I really think it’s understanding that human part of the system,” she explains. “Since sustainability is such a huge area, it’s about identifying all the different stakeholders, helping to concretise and visualise those systems so we can have a discussion over where bottlenecks and opportunities could be, and facilitating this discussion between very diverse professional groups. It’s such a huge area, that no professional can tackle it on their own.” In terms of what these solutions might actually look like, Björklund explains that there’s currently a lot of discussion around lifecycles – “thinking about energy consumption, material consumption, and fig uring out what designers can do in these areas – for example, by advo cating for the use of new eco-materials.” She uses a pair of scissors as an example of how to approach design ing sustainable lifecycles. “Can we replace the plastic in those scis sors for something else, whilst maintaining functionality? Howmany pieces are in the scissors?Will they last for 50 years, or 100 years? Can they be recycled? Should we be looking at the material? Should we be looking at how families are able to use these household products?” The next step is to scout the environment for potential solutions
to these challenges, thinking outside the box to draw from a range of materials. “The design can be the force that pushes us to start scouting,” she says, adding that designers must also challenge themselves to avoid “greenwashing” – the practice of presenting a product or service as more environmentally friendly than it really is. “Even if you come up with a solution you need to ask, is this really the most impactful thing we could be doing? If you’re not looking at the bigger picture, you might havemissed amuch bigger opportunity that’s out there.” Choosing the right material One company that’s fully invested in sustainable product life cycles is the Finnish beauty brand Lumene. Kerttu Ylipoti , packaging R&D manager at Lumene, says that sustainability guides the entire design process. “It’s a really big part of what we do,” she says. “Our brand values are very close to nature, and we use a lot of Nordic ingredients in our for mulations. So, it’s one of the core values we need to constantly keep in mind.”
“It’s not, for example, just environmental sustainability, but also so cial sustainability and economical sustainability, and designing solu tions that touch on all of these,” Björklund says. “With this kind of holistic sustainability, the way I approach it is really through the humans connected to it,” she continues. “So, with any kind of change effort, if you’re trying to create sustainable solu tions, then there are people who will be affected by that solution.” According to Björklund, involving your customers, your supply chain or the employees producing the products in the change process and understanding their needs helps identify opportunities for improve ments in sustainability that would otherwise be missed – as well as locating bottlenecks. “If I think about what the ‘secret sauce’ is that designers can bring
Tua Björklund , a professor at Aalto Univer sity Design Factory, echoes this, saying that sus tainable design should be about taking a “holis tic perspective.”
“If you’re trying to create sustainable solutions, then there are people who will be affected by that solution.”
UPM Formi EcoAce biocomposite is an excellent alternative to fossil-based plastics as it is almost 100% derived from renewable resources. Side streams and other wood processing residues are used in its production.
B IG P ICTURE
For Ylipoti, important lifecycle aspects to consider include the material a product’s packaging is made from, the volume of materials used, the product safety and what will happen to the product once the consumer has finished with it. “We always keep our sustainability targets closely in mind. Firstly, one of our targets for 2025 is to reduce plastic use by 20%,” she says. “By then we also aim to use 80% of PCR plastics (plastic made from post-consumer recycled materials) and bio-based materials. We also use widely recyclable materials in all packaging applications we can. If you have two different packaging components, you also really have to think about how they will be recycled together, and if they can be separated.” However, making something more sustainable can sometimes im pact the visual design of a product, which can matter a lot to other stakeholders in themanufacturing process. “Purewhite colour is difficult to achievewithmechanically recycled PCR plastic,” she says. “So, we have to communicate with our design team from the very beginning on which colours would best work with the selected packaging type.” Byworking together closely fromthe be ginning, the teams can try to ensure that the final products retain the high-quality feel that many consumers want. “If we keep packaging sustainability targets in mind from the very beginning, we can come up with something new. For example, if we can’t achieve a white colour, could we use a pale pink instead?” The label materials can also affect a product’s sustainability, as choosing the wrong material for the labelling can cause the container to be sorted to the wrongmaterial stream in the recycling plant. One solution to this problem has been UPM Raflatac’s wood-based Forest FilmPP label material, which ismade fromsustainable sources and has been used in the packaging for Lumene Group’s Cutrin hair mask, which is packed into a PP jar. “UPM suggested this material, and it was a really good choice be cause not only is it bio-based, but we could match the label to the jar,”
UPM and Aalto Design Factory take sustainable design to the next level The aim of research project, is to study how sustainability can be promoted from the earliest stages of product and service design and development. The project is part of UPM’s Share and Care programme, and the results of the study will be shared to advance co-creation and innovation in sustainable design. UPM is already a frontrunner in this space with many of its solutions being used by designers to replace fossil-based materials used in products. For instance, UPM Raflatac is the second-largest producer of self-adhesive label materials worldwide. It offers innovative and sustainable self-adhesive label materials for branding and promotion and information labelling in the food, beverage, personal care, pharmaceutical and logistic segments. Meanwhile, with paper mills in China, Finland and Germany, UPM Specialty Papers offers labelling and packaging materials for labelling, commercial siliconising, packaging and printing. The wood raw material comes from sustainably managed forests, helping improve recyclability across a variety of end-uses. Design+Sustainability, Aalto Design Factory’s
Ylipoti says. “So, once the packaging materials are being sorted in the plastic recycling plant and it is being placed in the recycling streams, the correct streamwill have already been detect ed from the label.” Lastly, Ylipoti notes that it’s important to make it as easy as possible for the consumer to recycle the product, so detailed recycling guides are available for every single product available on the Lumene eComwebsite. “Our number-one thing is that we want to support the circular economy,” she says. “We really feel that packag ing should have a second life after us.” Overall, she believes the industry needs to move towards using modern, sustainable ma
“As designers, we can communicate to the consumer what materials are and what sustainability means.”
terials, and creating lighter packaging. “For example, it’s always been standard that weights are added to lipstick packs,” she says. “But I think that’s something we’re moving away from, as we all know we shouldn’t be using excess materials anymore.” Creating demand for sustainability So, howdo the experts expect our understanding of sustainable design to evolve in the future? “You’ve got the obvious aspects, such as ma terials, efficiency, shipping and distribution,” says Felty. “But another definition is that effective design is sustainable design. The last thing we want is to produce designs that don’t sell and just go in the bin.” Fortunately, consumers are becoming more aware of the need to makemore sustainable purchases, so it’s likely that in the future, com panies canmarket their sustainability aspects as a selling point.
Björklund, for her part, says that the concept of sustainability needs to expand to be part of all the products a companymakes. “In a lot of companies, there is a special product line that is sustain able, or maybe they have a responsibility initiative. But it’s not baked into every product, every service, yet,” Björklund says. She adds that, instead of waiting for consumer demand to drive this transformation, designers and suppliers can help push this forward internally. According toBjörklund, UPM, which is partneringwith her faculty, is helping with this process not just by developing sustainable materials, but also by taking an interest in the entire life cycle of the products they become. “As designers, we can communicate to the consumer what mater ials are andwhat sustainabilitymeans,” she says. “And this way, we can help create that demand ourselves.”
Packaging needs to be both sustainable and beautiful.
By Maria Stambler Illustration Butterfly Cannon Photography Getty Images
Butterfly Cannon’s Climatic Table™ is part of its Conscious Design™ process.
Sustainability, it’s elementary
Negotiating the sustainability minefield “If you’re a small brand and you’re stepping into the realm of sustain ability, where do you start? Just putting your foot forward can be a minefield. The idea was to make something that was easy to digest, clearly designed and incorporated the thinking across the entire sup ply chain,” begins Jenny Greenwood , Innovation and Sustainability Manager at Butterfly Cannon. As head of the in-house sustainability team at Butterfly Cannon, an award-winning design agency that specialises in aspirational brands, Greenwood worked with her colleagues for almost a year on
the challenge. They wanted to develop a simple step-by-step method that would dispel any confusion among both clients and their internal teamwhen selecting themost sustainable design choice. The result was the Conscious Design™ process that begins by clar ifying a brand’s purpose, followed by a definition of its sustainability goals and finally understanding the context within which they are working. This is supportedby their innovativeClimaticTable™, which has 28 sustainable design elements across four areas: Resources,Man ufacturing, Distribution and Closing the Loop. “Our Climatic Table™ makes no apology for its similarity to the
he world of sustainability can be complex. Whether it is trying to understand the difference between composta ble vs biodegradable or carbon footprint vs renewable resources, the available information is oftenmany pages long and difficult to grasp. However, a London-based brand design agency has developed an innovative approach that allows both cus
Taking the first steps towards sustainable design can be overwhelming, which is why one design agency has developed an innovative approach.
tomers and creatives to easily navigate the sustainable design land scape. What are these elements, how are they used to create sustaina ble packaging solutions and how can labels play a role?
Small changes, positive impacts The packaging industry’s pivotal role is often overlooked when it comes to finding eco-conscious packaging solutions. This is an area that ButterflyCannon’s ConsciousDesign™process aims to change by ensuring that the right people are involved and are always communi cating. “It shouldn’t only be a marketeer and creative director involved. Youmust include the whole supply chain and visit the production line to understand how they operate. Howoften do you hear, sadly too late, a line manager say. ‘If only you had made the label two centimetres shorter, we wouldn’t be having this issue,’” explains Greenwood. She believes that there are small changes that can bemade by every one in the packaging industry that can make a massive impact, but it often comes down to making sure you're working hand in hand to gether: “From materials and resources, manufacturing, distribution to end of life, it should be all the way through rather than just thinking in silos, focusing only on your section of the job.” Given time, this approach could make a positive impact and allevi ate some of the negativity directed at the packaging industry. “Sustain ability has always been in the background but was often overlooked due to cost or aesthetic which, to be fair, the design industry has con tributed to in the past,” saysGreenwood. “Today, however, sustainabil ity is such a major consideration in everything we do that design has a massive role to play, now and in the future.” When it comes to sustainability, Taylor’s final view is that we should be heading into the world of regenerative design: “Whether it’s the cli mate, circularity or biodiversity, we need to be putting products on the market that have a positive or net positive impact going forward. It’s no longer enough to be technically sustainable because we’ve taken so much out of the bank that something needs to be put back in.”
iconic periodic table. Once coupled with our step-by-step Conscious Design™Process, our clients and creatives get a clear roadmaponhow to proceed in themost effectively sustainable way,” states Greenwood. Outsized impact of labels on recyclability A supporter of Butterfly Cannon’s Climatic Table™ is Robert Taylor , Sustainability Director at UPM Raflatac. “They communicated the multitude of elements in a really powerful way,” he says, “and their thinking is in line with what our team calls ‘sustainability with a 360° life cycle approach’. When you want to be more sustainable, you must identify the elements that have the highest impact and start the reduc tion journey with them.” Using labels as an example, he says that the greatest impact comes from the sourcing and the choice of rawmaterials – the Resources ele ment of the Climatic Table™. “Our manufacturing impact is relatively small but because a label is part of a package, what happens to the la bel at the end of its life is significant and defines a huge part of the im pact. If we can close the loop and get label waste back into the system through, for example, ourRafcycle service, then that’s also important,” he adds. As a physically small component of the package, labels are often overlooked during the design phase and while mapping out sustain able alternatives. Nevertheless, they can have an outsized impact on the recyclability of packaging if thewrong label is chosen, which iswhy UPMRaflatac continues to emphasise their importance. Over 18months ago, they launched a new spearhead product across Europe in the form of RAFNXT+, the world’s first label material veri fied by the Carbon Trust to help mitigate climate change. Sourced ex
clusively from well-managed FSC-certified forests, it uses fewer raw materials, less energy and water, and generates less waste during its life cycle compared to standard labels. “What has been important for UPM is being able to verify that it’s credible, fact-based data on that package thanks to our work with the Carbon Trust, one of the world’s leading verification bodies that can confirm whether you're calculating according to its standards,” notes Taylor. Earlier this year, together with Greenwood, he was a jury member at the 2021 Pentawards, an annual competition that recognises global excellence in packaging design. “I would say that the majority of the sustainability claims made by the designers were totally unverified. The ones with verified claims stand out; they know what they’re talk ing about,” he adds. “Verification requires money, time and effort, which is why com panies like UPM are excelling thanks to their experts and investment over the last 20 years. For those just starting out, proving traceability
or a footprint reduction is not that easy. One needs to ask if the claim stands up to scrutiny. You must have that third-party verification be hind the data to avoid accusations of greenwashing or green market ing. Misleading claims can have legal consequences nowadays,” warns Taylor. Shifting opinions towards recycled packaging With packaging and its recyclability regularly making headlines and debated on social media, there is far more awareness around the issue than a decade ago. Where we once consumed and thoughtlessly dropped rubbish into a single bin, public attitudes are changing. There is more thought being given to howmaterials should be separated and recycled, as well as their aesthetics. Froma consumer point of view, opinions are shifting when it comes to the appearance of sustainable packaging. Taylor believes that prod ucts and packaging don’t have to look pure, white and bleached any more because there is an educated, younger demographic who are buying products basedmore on perceived sustainability credentials. “I have spoken to many designers and sustainability is absolutely one of the critical features now. There are dinosaurs who still think in the old way, but the change is happening – especially in many of the critical end-uses like wine and food. When it comes to luxury brands where look and feel are important, in the past they have been a bit fur ther behind,” observes Taylor. However, during his time judging the Pentawards, he did see several good examples from luxury brands, such as Air Co. Vodka, which aims to be the most sustainable alcohol brand in the world. It has a packag ing programme that is 100%reusable and recyclable, plus it encourag es the repurposing of its glass bottle for other purposes. Elsewhere, fashion designer Thierry Mugler has been making re cyclable and refillable perfume bottles since 1992, which is now be ing done by the likes of Armani and Gucci. Champagne house Maison Ruinart has also launched a second skin that envelops the bottle in a pulp paper sleevewithout the need for additional fasteners or glue and is 100%recyclable, highlights Greenwood, adding that it is an amazing step. “This is a real game changer in the luxury category that shows how brands and consumers are changingmindsets,” she adds.
“Sustainability has always been in the background but was often overlooked due to cost or aesthetic.”
By Lorelei Yang Photography Getty Images & Florence Leung
China’s influencers shape buying trends for
billions The Chinese consumer has emerged as a powerful force with the potential to influence global consumption trends and sustainable design. Key Opinion Leaders or KOLs are an effective strategy for brands to engage with this market.
A new generation of Chinese consumers are learning to engage with and influence global brands.
panies, industry stakeholders, and consumers taking action to ward environmental sustainability. More than ever, I noticed a collective consciousness emerging.” However, experts such as Steven Proud , Global Marketing Director at Brandigo, says it will take KOLs a while yet to be able to influencemore sustainable forms of consumption. “Froma consumer point of view, sustainability isn’t a huge con sideration in China. That might change. At the moment, it’s more that you’ll see a lot of electric vehicles – but it’s not consumer-led. It comes from tax breaks and government intervention and be cause it’s not consumer-led, KOLs aren’t in the space,” says Proud. The absence of sustainability discourse among influencers in China today does not preclude the possibility of Chinese con sumers – and therefore KOLs – becomingmore conscious of sus tainability in future. For now, Proud advises consumer-focused brands to lead on consumer benefit rather than sustainability. “If you’re a wellness brand or a lifestyle brand, it’s the positive impact you’ll have on the consumer’s brand or family that will resonate rather than messages about sustainability. Sustainabil ity is a super-niche angle at the moment. In the future, I think it will grow as China’s youth become more globally aware and so cially conscious,” he concludes.
can go to one source of information to help themreduce the time needed to compare and search quality of products – that’s where KOLs come in as a trusted source of information.” In her interviews with KOLs, Leong found that they empha sised their commitments to recommending quality products to their audiences. “The KOLs said, if during a live stream they found that a prod uct didn’t work well – such as if amask doesn’t wipe offwell after 10 minutes – they would have to tell the users honestly, ‘I prob ably won’t recommend this product to you,’ because they can’t hide it and because they want to build a long-term reputation for themselves,” she adds. Heading towards sustainability While the Chinesemarket is well known for a seemingly bottom less appetite for luxury goods, pandemic-induced anxiety and introspection seemto havemade someChinese consumersmore aware of the impact of their personal consumption. The beginnings of this shift were noticeable even pre-pan demic. Writing for Vogue during Shanghai Fashion Week 2019, Yu Holdings founder Wendy Yu observed, “In the space of just a season or two, themomentumhas picked up with fashion com
Influencers are helping create trust in the e-commerce market, which consumers have historically been wary of.
What makes Asian influencers tick? Brands are quickly realising that they need to adopt entirely new influencer-led strategies to tap into Asia. Florence Leung is an influencer and runs a digital marketing agency that helps brands connect with KOLs. With 13 years of experience under her belt, she shares her insights. Why must global brands take note of the rising importance of Asian KOLs? The Asian audience market is vast and growing ever stronger. I think across Asia, and more specifically in China, followers tend to have a stronger connection to KOLs. Tactics used on social media platforms elsewhere in the world don’t work as effectively on regional social media platforms such as RED, WeChat, Bili Bili, YouTube, Douyin, Weibo and more. Influencers know how to work within this system and can help brands both shape and deliver their message directly to the right target audience. It depends on the social platform. For Western brands, my work is on Instagram. For Asian brands, my work is on Little Red Book (aka RED) and WeChat. Communication style and content format really depends on the platform. On RED it’s all about sharing authentic experiences and speaking to your followers like they are your friends. Especially in China, when it comes to the style and tonality of Mandarin used, KOLs use a more casual and approachable tone. You can see examples of this on Douyin, which is the original TikTok, where you see short videos that are snappy, quick and relatable. How are Asian influencers helping promote sustainability among their audiences? Sustainability hasn’t become the biggest trend in markets like China yet. However, influencers and just the general public in China are giving more thought to the brands that they buy and consume – in terms of they care about what the brands stand for. Could China help set the stage for sustainability? Possibly, because of the sheer size of their social media platforms and audience. If Chinese consumers started demanding more environmentally friendly goods and services, I think brands would respond and increase their commitment to sustainability. That said, brands are trying to promote sustainability and are working with KOLs to amplify this message. You are an influencer who works with both Western and Asian markets. How do you effectively communicate with these different audiences?
A s a newgeneration of consumers inChina come of age, they are opening their wallets and exploring different products, services, experiences andbrands. It’s a trend that is expected to have significant implications for the global economy. Data from a McKinsey report on the Chinese luxury market indicates that Chinese born from the late 1980s to the late 1990s are increasingly spendingmore to “demonstrate individualismin theworld’smost populous urban landscape”. Theirwillingness to spend anywhere between RMB 25,000 and 41,000 or EUR 3,300 to 5,400 per person per year on luxury goods is expected to see China cornering 40%of the global luxurymarket by 2025. “People appreciate if they can go to one source of information to help them reduce the time needed to search for products.”
Asbrands scramble toengagewith thispowerful group, whether they’re selling cars, lipstick, household goods, clothing or even professional services, they have come to rely onKOLs to affirmthe qualityof their products andnudge consumers towardspurchases. A trusted source of information Carmen Leong , a University of New South Wales lecturer who has conducted KOL research for leading Chinese e-commerce platforms such as Taobao and JD.com, says these influencers help “shape the Chinese market, which is always struggling with issues of trust”. In many cases, the country’s top influencers have larger so cial media followings than top brands. For example, Ye Si, better known as Gogoboi, is one of China’s biggest fashion influencers, with over 10million followers on Chinese social media. Compare this to top luxury brands like LV, Dior and Gucci whose follow ers range from 2 million to 4 million on the same platforms. Is it anywonder then shoppers are relying on influencer opinions and recommendations inmaking their purchasing decisions? “Consumers in China are pampered with the variety of choic es they have,” says Leong. “On Taobao and Alibaba, you can find anything. But if you’re looking at 20 or 30 merchants that offer the same product, who do you pick? People appreciate if they
Q & A with Florence Leung, Influencer
What must KOLs do to leverage their enormous influence and selling skills to promote sustainability among their followers?
KOLs must align with brands with whom they share a cause. It has to be authentic. If supporting and empowering women is their cause, they should be leveraging their following to promote this. I’ve done this for women’s causes I support. The same goes for environmental causes and more. You have to walk the talk in order to promote the cause in a way that’s believable to your followers.
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