Metsä Board, the leading European producer of premium fresh fiber paperboards, recently announced the winners of its international 2022-2023 Better with Less – Design Challenge.

Among the winners: An internship at Metsä Board’s Paperboard and Packaging Excellence Centre in Finland was awarded to one student. The winner was, ‘Zero Waste Medication Blister Pack,’ designed by Patrick Walby, a package for the pharmaceutical industry that aims to replace the plastic and aluminum often used in medication packaging with paperboard.

“The idea for the zero-waste blister pack came to me when I was taking some paracetamol for a headache. Seeing the empty plastic blister pack end up in the bin made me think there had to be a more sustainable way of packaging medication,” Walby explained.  

Walby is a student studying a Bachelor of Design (Communication) at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, entering the third year of his degree.  

Walby said he chose to compete in the Zero Waste Wildcard category because “when it came to creating a sustainable blister pack design, there was no need to reinvent the wheel but rather reframe with circularity in mind. The current form factor of the packaging works and just needs to be redesigned slightly to make it both structurally sound and usable when making it out of paper.”

Specifically, potential redesigns include: 1) instead of pushing medication out of the foil seal, simply peeling the paper back; and 2) making a universal blister pack size that allows for different sizes of medications instead of making different designs for different pills.  

Walby added: “The main challenge of creating packaging that is both effective and sustainable is in uprooting the foundations in which packaging is designed and created. The majority of goods and products are packaged in over-engineered and wasteful forms that require an excess of materials. Creating beautiful and functional packaging does not have to be overly complicated but does require thinking outside of the box and exploring how you can get the most out of a packaging concept while reducing the number of materials used.”

The international packaging design competition Better with Less – Design Challenge 2022–2023 was the third one organized by Metsä Board, part of Metsä Group. The competition invited designers to create the zero-waste packaging of the future. As many as 124 entrants from 27 countries joined the challenge with their creative ideas. The competition jury included renowned packaging design experts from around the world.