Visual and Verbal Communication on Sustainable Packaging As a Vehicle for Public Education and Awareness

There is no universal, standardized label to inform that packaging is sustainable

Hyena Nam
Adjunct Professor
Visual Communication Department
Kent State University

Designers have a responsibility, to participate, in sustainable design strategies which can help educate society and guide it to preferred solutions. One such solution might be the usage of sustainable package designs, which would serve to preserve the environment, use renewable, recycled resources, and facilitate effective material recovering (Definition of Sustainable Packaging).

One of the significant findings from case studies of the sustainable packaging was that effective visual and verbal communication has often been overlooked in many sustainable package designs. There is no universal, standardized label to inform the public that the packaging is sustainable and promotes the need for sustainability. Additionally, the terminology used for labeling is confusing and there aren’t sufficient informative statements for the public which clearly illustrate the proper method of disposal.

It is important to choose well-defined and clear language in order that the public is able to distinguish between labels. Visual and verbal packaging designations are important to influence consumer responses (Magnier and Schoormans) and a higher degree of understanding makes it easier for the consumer to execute actual behavior (Grunert, Klaus G., et al.). Educating the public through a successful communication design should be prioritized. The purpose of this critical approach is to develop a conceptual framework for the understanding of sustainable package designs, and to explore effective visual communication methods to reach consumers by creating tangible, sustainable, package designs.

The processes of designing a sustainability label aids the understanding of consumer perspectives in regards to their awareness and motivation toward sustainability. In the end, it helps to develop visual and verbal signs, which can impact consumer behavior and promote the needs of sustainability. It can also serve as an opportunity to gain an in-depth insight into visual communication in packaging designs which, will broaden the knowledge base of designers creating successful sustainable packaging designs.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 7.3: Florida Atlantic University on Saturday, April 10, 2021.


Grunert, Klaus G., et al. “Sustainability Labels on Food Products: Consumer Motivation, Understanding and Use.” Food Policy, vol. 44, Feb. 2014, pp. 177-189. EBSCOhost,

Magnier, Lise and Jan Schoormans. “Consumer Reactions to Sustainable Packaging: The Interplay of Visual Appearance, Verbal Claim and Environmental Concern.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, 2015. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2015.09.005.

Sustainable Packaging Coalition. Definition of Sustainable Packaging. SPC, 2011, Accessed 22 May. 2018.