A starry success

Materials World magazine
3 Sep 2015

The 57th Starpack Awards celebrate the most innovative and functional examples of packaging design, from food and drink to industrial packaging. Natalie Daniels talks to David Wiggins about this year's entries.

How did this year’s entries compare to the previous? 

In terms of the quality of entries, they were pretty good. Having been involved with the competition for many years, what I saw this year was in line with what I have seen previously. What I would say, as a person who has been in the industry many years, is that I was a little disappointed with the level of real technical innovation. There was some interesting design work and good quality stuff, but predictable. I look at Starpack to be attracting high-end serious technological products – I got bits of that, but nothing enormous.

What would you have like to seen more of?

Technology rather than design – my appeal to the packaging industry is let’s see some more technology-led innovation rather than design-led innovation. That is very hard because technology needs to be related to consumer needs and I will admit that in years gone by, when there was more money around, they could afford to invent more products. 

What can the packaging industry be doing to encourage more technology over design? 

I believe there’s a huge opportunity that the technology providers need to grasp to better understand the need of consumers and the way in which they interact with packaging and design solutions, to improve the experience and engage with users – that is not just done by making it look nicer. 

Was there a standout winner to you? 

The packaging that got ‘Best in Show’ was a unanimous decision. It was a well-executed piece of branding and design and had a very clear market proposition. 

Were there any other designs that really stood out to you? 

I think some of the business-to-business packaging is showing some really good understanding of the supply chain. My balance of that is, let’s see that in the consumer market place. For instance, some of the cardboard engineering used to move engineering equipment from a manufacture was really well thought out and engineered and clearly understood all the hazards of the supply chain, all the needs of the users and management of cost efficiency. I am generalising here, but what I see in the consumer market place is that it has got to look really nice to the consumer to go on the shelf, but there is no additional value being added to the consumer's experience of the product.

Yes, we have to innovate to keep costs out – that is the world we live in. I would hypothesise that if you add value by improving the quality experience, cost no longer becomes the only driver in the way you design and engineer packaging. 

What advice would you give to people thinking of entering next year?

Talk more about why the pack is good from the user perspective in your entry forms, rather than just, "this is a really good design". My advice would be to talk about the users, not the producers. 

'This year’s entries were something of a mixed bag, ranging from excellent to, frankly, uninspiring. It was difficult to understand some of the decision making behind the final production, and we saw some pretty basic mistakes. However, the winners really picked themselves. It was reassuring to see a few examples of structures that met the brief, were beautifully produced, and everything about them just felt right.'

David Harding-Brown,Technical Director and Head of Sustainability, 1HQ, shares his thoughts on this year’s awards.

Here are some of our favourites from this year's categories:

Materials innovation

SprayPET Reveal by Plastipak Packaging – the world's first transparent bag-on-valve aerosol system.

Nordictan is packaged in a plastic aerosol, to lower carbon footprint over a typical aluminium aerosol. The judges said its design was ‘technically innovative, a sound solution and delivers consumer benefits.’ 

Industrial packaging

Glazed Roof Lights by D S Smith Packaging

The entrant said this is an ‘adaptable, scalable and 100% recyclable design and can replace presswood board and non recyclable branded vinyl tape.’ The judges were impressed with the efficient use of materials and graphics. 

Luxury packaging

Cadbury Glow by Mondelez International 

In its entry statement, Mondelez said, ‘Cadbury Glow offers an expressive chocolate gift brand that is as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside.’ Shortlisted for the Luxury Packaging award, the design exhibits beautiful presentation, unique to the Indian market. Recognised as a great collaboration between graphic designers at Pearlfisher, structural designers from AIR Innovation, and technical designers at Multi Packaging Solutions.

The greenstar sustainable award 

H-PET Hydrozorb by Waddington Europe

This is a low-carbon lightweight rPET material with organic and inorganic fillers, which has all the advantages of styrene, but none of the environmental consequences. This was praised as ‘a significant merit in a material, which both extends shelf life
and has the potential to significantly reduce food waste.’ 

Best supermarket own label pack/and or range

Waitrose Beach Hut Facial Tissues by Consuma

This is part of a big drive forward in niche products for this sector. The judges said, ‘the shape differentiates from any others in the category. It is a cleverly engineered carton.’ 

Transit – business to consumer 

Husqvarna 320/330 Automower by SAICA Packaging

The pack carries a large automatic lawn mower and is designed to save the customer 40% on packaging costs, while improving the overall protection. The judges thought it reflects an impressive reduction and efficiency in materials, excellent print quality and good design. 

All of the 2015 winners will be announced on 10 September. To find out which design received either Gold, Silver or Bronze awards, visit www.iom3.org/starpack