Developing more sustainable appliance packaging

We are reducing the environmental impact of our packaging while ensuring that appliances are fully protected throughout their journey to the consumer.

The Electrolux Group global packaging working group is developing packaging that is both more sustainable and fulfils its primary function – to contain, protect and market products. In 2022, the team developed global procedures and tools that will consistently support the design and development of packaging solutions in all Electrolux Group product lines and business areas.

“The balance between packaging sustainability and functionality is complex,” says Maria Chiara Frijia, Sustainable Materials Innovation Expert working mainly with packaging. “We are looking into more sustainable packaging solutions that are cost-effective and provide excellent protection, while reducing environmental impact, promoting circularity and decreasing carbon emissions.”

Reimagining sustainable packaging for large appliances

The team first focused on replacing Expanded PolyStyrene (EPS) with paper-based materials but found that this actually increased environmental impact in some cases – such as for heavy and fragile products.

“Packaging large appliances with only paper-based materials requires a lot of cardboard and we found that the carbon footprint and the quantity of waste generated can actually be higher than with EPS,” explains Frijia. “Our demanding packaging simulations also concluded that paper-based materials alone did not sufficiently protect large appliances, especially in certain environmental conditions such as high humidity.”

The team is now working to integrate more recycled content into packaging materials without compromising the protection of appliances. This includes cardboard, EPS and polyethylene film with recycled content.

“Changing to new materials with recycled content involves rigorous testing and refining the material formulations to maintain their protective qualities,” says Frijia. “We are also re-designing our packaging to reduce the total amount of packaging we use as well as building a solid supply base and sourcing materials with a lower carbon footprint.”

More sustainable packaging for small appliances

Developing EPS-free paper-based packaging solutions for small appliances has proved easier due to their lower weight and smaller size. In 2022, Electrolux Group worked to develop more sustainable packaging for small appliances based on brown cardboard box packaging with a four-color print.

“The packaging uses over 70% less ink, includes Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification and has significantly reduced costs,” says Ella Rudebeck, Global Packaging Manager.

The team has also more than halved the number of packaging variations by using stickers to differentiate between different products in the same range. This helps to avoid waste packaging as the same box can be used for multiple products. The new packaging was launched in March 2023.

“We know that consumers want sustainable packaging that can be recycled,” says Rudebeck. “Shifting to more sustainable packaging will be a must in the future and means we keep ahead of any stricter legislation that may be introduced on non-sustainable packaging in the future.”

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