This year's Core77 Design Awards included our very first edition of the Editor's Choice Prize. Our team of editors ultimately chose Liquidplant as the winner, a progressive materials project that directly tackles the issue of microplastics—but there were many excellent projects we considered as finalists. In a series of upcoming articles, we will explore these projects and what makes them an outstanding example of design in 2023.
A researcher at the University of Arts London has created a product concept called [rebox.eco] that might suggest the power a simple redesign has to positively affect the environmental impact of a large industrial ecosystem.
Designer Filip Harding's ultimate aim for this project was to reduce paper waste in the shipping industry by focusing on reducing cardboard box waste. Research shows that though cardboard is a eco-friendly material if reused, a large portion of it around the world is exported rather than recycled. His solution to the problem? To create a new box design that allows consumers to create sturdy new boxes out of old ones, overall minimizing resource extraction and waste.
And Harding's research seems to back his hypothesis. He writes that "conservative estimates suggest the holistic saving across 10,000 [rebox.eco] boxes would equate to 5 trees, 500 Kg of Co2e, 21,000 litres of water and 4,000 Kilowatt Hours of energy."
By converting used, large corrugated logistics boxes into smaller e-commerce boxes, [rebox.eco] captures value in materials that are often too early discarded.
A focus on consumer behavior
For the Core77 editorial team, an intriguing aspect of [rebox.eco]'s approach was its focus on changing consumer behavior to reduce greenhouse emissions caused by cardboard box waste. As Harding mentions in their Core77 Design Award-winning entry, "Research shows that when the circularity of a product is accentuated and not hidden, the benefit is amplified and consumers can understand the simplicity of reuse through overt communication. [rebox.eco] wants to advocate for this consumer phenomenon through the brands that are sending parcels, allowing them to be proud and support such sustainable initiatives."
Through these efforts, [rebox.eco] not only captures value from waste paper boxes but also drives lasting change in consumer behavior. By promoting pride and support for sustainability, [rebox.eco] is working to establish a new norm in ecommerce, veering away from greenwashing tactics into design solutions that are seemingly small but promise significant sustainable impact.