Challenge #22

How can we …

apply biomimicry techniques to the packaging industry?


This challenge is part of the project ‘Maakbaar’ where we stimulate social, ecological and economically sustainable design, inspired by nature. It is a project from BOS+, together with OVAM, Flanders DC, Aider Peru and Design Museum Gent, with the support of the Flemish and Belgian government.

Involved SDG's

#11 – Sustainable cities & communities

#12 – Responsible consumption & production

#13 – Climate action


  • Dutch
  • English

Problem description

Which lessons from nature can we apply to design products and systems for a more sustainable packaging industry?

Mankind was not the first to invent packaging of useful things and products. However, we do are the first to create a huge packaging industry, mainly using non-natural and non-renewable materials like single use plastics. The immense environmental impact of this industry asks for more research and development of sustainable packaging solutions.

In creating a new and more sustainable packaging industry, we believe it is interesting to look at nature for inspiration and to learn from its inventions and underlying principles (‘biomimicry’). More concretely, what can the packaging industry learn from a forest? Seeds, flower heads, bird’s nests etc. are all creative and inspiring ways to package and protect something valuable. Studying how nature tackles packaging problem and documenting the different solutions are first steps in finding new solutions for our own needs.

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Do you want to work on a challenging project in one of the courses you follow? Let us know and we’ll bring you in contact with the contact person for this challenge. If other students are already working on it we’ll bring you in contact as well.

students are working on this challenge

What has been done already?

Today we already see some new (and old) packaging from natural materials appear, as well as packaging systems trying to reduce waste or close production – consumption cycles.

What are the next steps?

Study how nature tackles packaging problems and document different solutions.

Expected outcome

We expect valid concept ideas and prototypes of packaging products and systems using biological principles, as well as suggestions for further research and development. The website offers a rich database of these biological principles that can be linked to specific design challenges. As such, biomimicry techniques can also be applied to create packaging solutions with specific properties; f.e. insulating ability, shock resistance, moisture absorption, collapsibility, …