BETTER With less – Design challenge


Over the past three decades, more than 1 billion people have been lifted out of poverty.

Simultaneously, people have flocked into cities, in search of a better life, and the pace is accelerating. It’s a force of nature that shapes the world we live in. It means higher wealth and quality of life. The way that we live, work and especially consume is undergoing considerable shifts. For better and worse.

Our landfills are full of valuable materials. Our seas have become a plastic graveyard. Meanwhile, an evolution in values and growing environmental awareness is a global trend and a force for positive change.

Packaging plays as much a role in the consumer experience as it does in creating waste.

Smart design has the power to answer to both consumer and environmental demands by challenging conventional packaging. By replacing materials that threaten our planet, and by minimizing waste, we can influence how billions of products are wrapped and consumed every day.

Packages will continue to play an important role in protecting and promoting products in the future, but as consumption grows, it’s becoming ever more important to develop packaging solutions that enable the use of renewable, non-fossil-based, recyclable materials and a wiser use of resources.


And so, we welcome you
to the Better with Less – Design Challenge

A global competition for package design, focusing on better consumer experiences with less environmental impact for some of the most frequently used consumer products. Better with Less is a platform, initiated by Finnish paperboard company Metsä Board, to create innovative, renewable packaging solutions fitting brands and demands of the future.

Discussion around sustainable packaging is important and should include the global packaging design community. The competition serves as a platform to show the endless possibilities renewables has to offer, to inspire creativity and to drive real change on an industrial scale.


The winner

Iiro Numminen from Helsinki, came up with the innovation “Stretching inner part” which has the potential to revolutionize e-commerce packaging. By removing the need for plastic bubble wrap in online retail, it could make this $2.67 trillion business considerably eco-friendlier. It also provides a completely new way of branding the material protecting the product.

Designers have a big responsibility
 for sustainable development. 
I think that the designer has to be aware of the whole life cycle of
a package. That’s the only way to really influence the consumption
of natural resources. Usability is a tricky subject when talking about packing. Of course, the package has to protect the product from the environment and inform to the consumer. But over-packing the product just to have a better unboxing experience is a bad idea. Not sustainable, not cool.
— Iiro Numminen

Retail e-commerce has seen a steady annual growth of over 20 percent over the past 10 years.

However, only around 10 percent of all retail happens online, so the relentless rise in e-commerce is still continuing. Last year, global B2C e-commerce turnover reached $2,671 billion. China spearheads the boom with online retail sales reaching $752 billion – more than 31 billion parcels delivered in 2016. As such e-commerce packaging plays an important role in helping retailers to create an impressive unboxing experience at home. Solutions that combine better protection with bespoke, personalized brand design is in great demand.

This is especially important when you consider that 68 % of consumers expect a consistent cross-channel experience and 81 % find products in-store before going online for the best price.

Up to seven types of packaging material might be used for a parcel to reduce the risk of damage during transport.

Over half of Americans say that their relationship with an e-retailer would be impacted if they received a damaged product. The buy-to-try mentality in e-commerce has led to return rates rising to as high as 30 % versus roughly 8 % for items purchased from stores. While in a traditional retail supply chain a product is handled on an average of five times, in e-commerce the number is 20 times or more. Protective packaging is projected to reach a global market size of over $32 billion by 2022, with foam plastics accounting for the highest value and fastest growing segment in the industry.

In this age of e-commerce, protecting products in 
the most sustainable 
way possible is critical. 

This design enables a single material to 
take up that role, in an approach that
seems endlessly adaptable.
— John B. Mahaffie Futurist, Co-founder & Principal Leading Futurists LCC
The winner has the potential to impact the paperboard packaging industry

with a design solution that serves to protect
the product while enhancing the consumer experience.
— Marianne R. Klimchuk, Professor & Chair at Communication Design Pathways Department Fashion Institute of Technology
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The competition was judged by an international jury, including a number of renowned packaging design experts:

Terri Goldstein, branding and packaging design professional. Peter Désilets, strategist and specialist in packaging sustainability aspects. Marianne Rosner Klimchuk, packaging design expert and Chair at Communication Design Pathways Department of Fashion Institute of Technology. Lars G. Wallentin, packaging designer who’s worked with worldwide known brands and John B. Mahaffie, futurist with primary expertise in future packaging solutions.

The competition started November 6th and concluded May 31st. We received 302 entries from 38 countries. The winner received a price of EUR 10.000 and the winner in the student category received a two-month internship at Metsä Board design studio. The participators had a choice of designing packaging for cosmetics, e-commerce, wellness, takeaway food, dry food or they had the option of choosing another consumer product of their own.