New grass paper packaging for smartphones
Gigaset has moved the production of its new GS 195 smartphone model to Germany. This sustainability concept is also supposed to reflect in the packaging, true to the motto ‘Made in Bocholt’. A collaboration with Gissler & Pass led to a grass paper-based packaging solution that’s more than up to the task.
New haptics and look
As a business with headquarters in Germany, Gigaset has faced strict rules and environmental requirements right from the beginning. The subject of sustainability manifests in many different facets, from logistic issues through tech innovations to the recycling of production materials.
When it comes to packaging, Gigaset opts for corrugated board solutions to provide for maximum sustainability on the one hand and to ensure automatic packaging capabilities on the other hand. At present, more than 90% of the packaging material is recycled. On top of that, the box sizes, too, have become successively smaller over the past years in an effort to cut material usage down to a minimum.
Having moved smartphone production to Germany, Gigaset is in a position to source bulk goods from China, which helps save a lot of space compared with pre-packaged smartphones. This has had a positive effect on the CO2 footprint. It also enabled Gigaset to team up with packaging expert Gissler & Pass in a move to conceive a new, sustainable and regionally sourced packaging concept for Gigaset smartphones, which was rolled out in July 2019.
The requirement for the new grass-paper box was to amalgamate shape, functionality, and sustainability at the best possible price (design to cost), thus realising multiple goals simultaneously: reduction of CO2 emissions, promotion of local collaborations, and the standardisation of packaging materials and packaging designs.
On the marketing side, this raised fundamental questions over how far buyers would embrace the new design, i.e. the new surface feel of the box due to the use of grass paper, with its rough surface and natural, environmentally conscious looking colours. To address this, the properties of the packaging was optimised through multiple product cycles, primed by market research. The upshot has been a packaging solution which, according to the market research, is espoused by the young target audience. In other words, it actively helps secure Gigaset a younger prospective buyer structure while at the same time offering outstanding properties in terms of sustainability, stability, and mechanics.
Due to their low weight, smartphones do not require more than F-flute corrugated board. This fine material melds the mechanical advantages of corrugated board with the aspect of solid board while reducing material usage in comparison with E-flute corrugated board.
It is worthy of mention that all components of the smartphone box are made from offset-printed grass paper: interior wall and corrugation 140 g grass paper, exterior wall 170 g grass paper. Grass paper is a rapidly renewing raw material obtained from regional sources. This entails a manufacturing process with favourable environmental performance regarding the consumption of water, energy and chemicals. 30% of the cardboard, of which 90%+ is already recycling material, will now be substituted for grass paper. The remaining 70% are made up of 100% recycling material.
The grass-paper packaging solution is made up of two components: the main box including the divider, and the inlay. Both pieces are die-cut and delivered on pallets as flat blanks. The main box is set up and glued together on the automated production lines, while the divider is incorporated as a folding tray, doubling as the display unit for the smartphone which rests on top of it. This provides for an unboxing experience, because the new smartphone is the first thing to meet the eye of the end customer once the box is opened, with the accessory parts lying clearly arranged in a separate compartment.
Moreover, the tray solution, by way of two special perforations (right and left hand side), provides a means to adjust the size of the recess. This guarantees the flexibility to accommodate future smartphone generations with different shapes, without the need to change the dies.
Anti-dust flaps round out the fold above the tray and provide additional protection against accidental falling out. The space under the tray can hold the arrangement of accessory components. An energy efficient MRK robot inserts the inlay–which can also be done manually–together with the remaining accessory parts during the box loading stage. Tuck-in flaps are provided that allow for the box to be reclosed while aligning and tensioning the inlay. A glue dot is placed together with a circular perforation in-between the tuck-in flaps, and does the job of sealing the box. A broken perforation indicates that the box has been opened.
During the production of the box, either packaging component is reused several times at the same ratio on a single sheet. This approach allows for a combination of different print patterns to be realised on one sheet (mixed sheet printing), thus helping to optimise print sheet utilisation and minimise waste, which makes it cost-efficient in terms of variant diversity.
With the packaging solution made sustainable and streamlined across the board, it has been possible to completely eliminate the use of plastic from the process through multiple optimisation loops. The adhesive foil which protects the display is part of the smartphone and has no alternative for the time being. The packaging is finished with an abrasion-resistant varnish instead of the commonly used lamination foil. The box label is also made of grass paper, the user manual consists of 100% recycling paper. The packaging is FSC® certified and can be recycled.