Last week, on the 5th of April 2022, the Packathon design competition for sustainable packaging solutions at the National Test Centre Circular Plastics (NTCP) took place. This Packathon was organized by the Kennisinstituut Duurzaam Verpakken (KIDV) and was this year all about the influence that product leftovers have on the recycling stream. In total there were 27 students from 3 different universities participating in this competition, to find innovative ideas to help reduce product residue in packaging. Beside this, there were case owners presents from Unilever, Van Gilse and Upfield, who have exposed their products to a lot of brainstorming. 

The day started off with a trip to the NTCP in Heerenveen, the Netherlands, where the group of participants could see the actual influence that product leftovers have on package recycling. Product residue is both a result of consumer behavior, as well as it is more likely to occur in certain product designs, causing a for example shifted and undesired center of gravity of a package. This makes it hard for the recycling machines to correctly separate the plastic packages from other waste. 

The students worked on 3 different products, including a toothpaste, a bottle of pouring syrup, and a bottle of liquid cooking margarine. All products are dealing with the problem of unwanted residues in the package, when ending up in the recycling stream. At the end of the day, the groups had to present both a short- and long-term solution to decrease the product leftover in the packages and thereby increase their recycling efficiency. 

After a whole day of transdisciplinary collaborations and a lot of creative design thinking, many innovative solutions originated. With all solutions created, it again became very clear how versatile and complex the whole packaging industry is. 

We would like to thank the KIDV for the organization of this educative day, and the NTCP for having us! 

Rianne Leliveld
Kirsten Odenwald
Daan Voskamp (who won the first price on the best short term toothpaste solution!) 
TU Delft Students – MSc Communication Design for Innovation