In September 2016, Disney launched the Smart Packaging Initiative (SPI) to create environmentally conscious product packaging. The SPI sustainable packaging measurement and design tool aims to improve the environmental performance of toy packaging in ways that are measurable, visible, and optimize on-shelf performance.
The tool takes a metrics- driven approach based on life cycle indicators to give each package an SPI score between 0 and 100. The score gives packaging designers a view of the environmental impacts of the package across three categories: design for recyclability, responsible sourcing, and resource optimization. The tool provides design guidance for how to improve the package at the beginning of the product development process, encouraging changes that will reduce environmental impacts before the package goes into production, Disney says. It also shows users how the design score compares against industry norms for similar types of toy packaging.
The Smart Packaging Initiative was the result of a six-year development process that included collaboration with industry experts such as the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. SPI went through a pilot phase beginning in 2014 with The Disney Store along with several licensees through Disney’s License to Lead initiative, a program that gives licensees the opportunity to be early adopters of Disney Citizenship initiatives. Disney also hosted workshops with teams of designers.
Through the program, Disney uses its stories to educate families on sustainable packaging and recycling. For example, a doll box created by The Disney Store for the film “Moana” was made with 70% recycled paper, printed with vegetable-based inks, and designed to separate easily for recycling. The box itself turned into a boat. Disney teamed up with nonprofit Destination Imagination on the Amazing Invention Photo Challenge, which challenged families to create their own inventions out of recycled materials found in the home for Moana’s journey.
Another example is that one small change made to the Disney Princess box saved 15,000 pounds of paper and plastic annually and had a 35% reduction in carbon footprint per package. The Disney Store and licensees like Mattel, Hasbro, The LEGO Group, and Jakks Pacific have joined the program. Disney reports that SPI is continuing to expand to additional licensees.