The Packaging Recycling Design Challenge Digital Series Returns, Tasking Designers to Create Innovative and Sustainable Packages Using Paper

Two designers compete for the best produce subscription box

This summer, the highly anticipated two-part video series, Pack It! The Packaging Recycling Design Challenge, presented by the Paper and Packaging Board’s How Life Unfolds® campaign, returns with new designers and judges for a new challenge! Designers face off for the ultimate sustainability challenge for a chance to win $5,000. Given only 10 hours, the designers are tasked to create innovative designs using only paper-based materials and survive the ultimate test - the drop challenge.

The video series, hosted by Netflix’s “Nailed It!” winner and art teacher Cassie Stephens, who also is known for her crafty TikTok videos with 1.2 million followers, will also include judges Danuelle Doswell & Mignon Hemsley - Co-Founders of Grounded, an online plant shop created to help consumers disconnect and decompress through the appreciation of plants in the spaces we occupy and Rane Roatta - Co-Founder of Miami Fruit, a tropical fruit delivery service dedicated to providing high quality and rare tropical fruits for consumers. On screen, they evaluate the earth-friendly packaging designs on recyclability, innovation and product safety.

The first episode: “Plant Delivery Package” is rooted in the explosion in popularity of house plants and plant delivery services during the pandemic. The uptick in popularity doesn't come without challenges though, as having a plant delivered to your doorstep can be difficult based on the size of the plant and how fragile it is, and the fact that many current plant shipping services rely on non-recyclable plastic packaging materials. In a battle of wits and creativity, Stephen J. Works-Salley (Graphic Designer & Content Creator) goes head-to-head with You Zhou (Graphic & Packaging Designer) to create an innovative paper-based packaging solution that protects three fragile items - a money tree, ceramic pot and water crystal. Though the episode starts off with lighthearted comradery, the atmosphere becomes increasingly charged as both designers encounter some shocking hurdles during the tightly-timed design process window and brace themselves for the highly anticipated drop test.

The second episode: “Produce Subscription Box” brings attention to the obstacles to safely ship delicate produce using sustainable and recyclable materials. Many produce delivery boxes on the market today either let produce tumble loose within the box or rely on plastic packaging to secure individual items. In another competitive showdown, Zachary Weston, a recent graduate who studied Packaging Systems and Design at Virginia Tech, finds himself locked in a heated rivalry with Emma Dayton, an aspiring Packaging Engineering attending Michigan State University, as they are tasked to construct a produce delivery box that keeps a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables organized and safe from damage. In the end, the seasoned competitors present two unique and creative packaging prototypes with safeguards for each specific fruit in mind, but how well will they stand up against the final drop test?

The challenge aims to generate awareness surrounding sustainable packaging options and solutions, highlighting the renewable nature of paper. Paper-based packaging is unique in that it’s made from a sustainable, renewable resource—trees—and when recycled properly, it can be made into new products up to seven times.

“Bringing to life a visual component of the work we do helps tell a story of creativity and sustainability within our industry and society,” explains Mary Anne Hansan, President of the Paper and Packaging Board. “Embracing paper-based packaging early on in the design process is not only a responsible choice but a crucial one for our planet’s well-being. Its inherent sustainable, renewable nature, and minimal environmental impact make it the smart choice for the planet. We strive to empower consumers to make informed choices by urging them to factor in the environmental impact of packaging in their purchase decisions. By opting for paper packaging, individuals can take pride in knowing they are supporting renewable resources rather than relying on those made from fossil fuels, while embracing recycling practices to maximize the utilization of our natural resources.”

According to a report by the Hartman Group, ”63% of consumers say that when purchasing products, it is important that packaging be recyclable. While packaging and recycling are among the sustainability concerns that consumers relate to most in their daily lives, those consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated about how they define and understand sustainability.”

The two new episodes as well as previous episodes can be viewed by visiting or on YouTube by clicking the following links - Episode 1: Plant Delivery Packaging and Episode 2: Produce Subscription Box.