By Brian Westerlind, PPC Communications Manager
I recently had the privilege of representing PPC at the judging of the Paperboard Packaging Alliance’s (PPA) annual Student Design Challenge. With 70+ folding carton entries—all designed by college students from across the country—the competition saw the next generation of packaging designers not only exploring the vast possibilities of paperboard, but also honing their own voices and points of view as designers.
As an industry, we are always encouraging brands and package designers to choose versatile, sustainable paperboard for packaging projects. In fact, that’s the very mission of PPA, which is a joint initiative formed by PPC and the American Forest & Paper Association. The annual Student Design Challenge is invaluable on this front, as it introduces paperboard to university students just as they are transitioning into the workplace. Ideally, the competition will make these students into career-long champions of paperboard.
This year the students were tasked with designing unconventional, innovative, and premium folding cartons for the dry foods segment. Though a seemingly simple premise, it allowed them to formulate solutions for major contemporary challenges such as overeating and the need for meals on the go. For example, several students incorporated creative, innovative mechanisms for portion control directly into the cartons.
Of course, creativity and innovation abounded throughout the entire competition. I was pleasantly surprised by just how many students were able to push the boundaries of current norms and trends all while producing functional, machinable solutions. Even the panel of judges—which included representatives from brand giants Barilla and General Mills—learned a new thing or two from these interesting designs!
While I wish I could talk more about the top cartons, I will hold my comments until the winners are revealed this November at Pack Expo. However I will say that, clearly, the package designers and engineers of the future are poised to make a big difference in the packaging space—all through the medium of renewable, sustainable paperboard.
P.S. Here at PPC we are currently busy as bees preparing for the judging of our own North American Paperboard Packaging Competition in just a couple weeks. As opposed to the Student Design Challenge, this competition is for our member companies that manufacture cartons. Check back for more updates on new trends and winning designs!