The durable goods market is not one that usually gets a lot of attention when it comes to sustainable packaging. However, many durable goods providers, including those operating in the computer hardware and electronics space, have made commitments around reducing the environmental footprint of their packaging that mirror those of Consumer Packaged Goods brands. ASUS, a multinational provider of computer and phone hardware and electronics based in Taiwan, is one such company.
“In 2021, ASUS adopted the ‘double materiality’ methodology from the EU to define our key focuses and goals,” shares Jennie Lin, Deputy Division Director of ASUS ESG [Environment, Social, and Governance]. “The company’s commitment to sustainability includes Climate Action, Circular Economy, Responsible Manufacturing, and Value Creation, with a net zero roadmap, supplier code of conduct, use of post-consumer recycled plastics, and adherence to—or surpassing of—Energy Star ratings. The company’s sustainability mission is ‘strive to be among the world-class green-tech leaders and to provide valuable contributions to humanity.’”
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Based on the circular economy focus, ASUS is dedicated to transitioning from passive pollution prevention to active prevention and regeneration. Among its ambitious sustainability goals, the company has pledged to increase its use of environmentally friendly materials in its products and packaging by 100% by 2025. For packaging, this includes Forest Stewardship Certified and recycled paper and bio-based materials. In 2019, the company went from 70% to 80% recycled pulp in its packaging to 90%, and in 2020, it adopted FSC paper. In 2021, ASUS used 20,670 tons of recycled pulp for its packaging.
According to Mig Kao, Senior Director, ASUS Design Center B9, Packaging Design Team Leader, making the transition to 90% recycled pulp involved working with paper producers and converters to balance the need for durability during transport of the laptop with the consumer unboxing experience, as well as addressing issues in manufacturing and assembly.
With its launch in September of the new ExpertBook B9 14-in. laptop for consumer and business use, ASUS has gone a step further in advancing the sustainability of its computer packaging. Not only is 95% of the box made from FSC Mix paper—meaning all paper within the product comes from FSC-certified material, recycled material, or controlled wood—but it is also designed to be repurposed as a computer stand.
“Customers are usually excited to open their new laptop, but they promptly discard the packaging,” says Kao. “At ASUS, we considered how we could make the package an accessory for the notebook to prevent this, so we created the stand design to give the packaging a second life. The goal was to prevent the packaging from going to a landfill and create awareness for our customers at the same time.”
The multipurpose box was designed by ASUS’s in-house packaging department, a division established specifically to focus on packaging material research and innovation. “In the early stages of design, ASUS conducted a comprehensive user experience discussion and related user experience test to ensure they could fold the packaging into the stand easily,” says Kao. “To make the process simple, we chose to use the design of magnetic suction to complete the assembly. To ensure that the products could be safely delivered to users, we went through rigorous testing in the ASUS internal laboratory.
Instructions on assembling the stand are printed on the outer sleeve of the accessory box inside, “so the user can discover this innovative design at first glance,” says Kao. While the goal is for the box to be converted into a laptop stand, it is fully recyclable if the consumer decides to discard it.
According to Kao, ASUS has received positive feedback from users “who love the packaging design.” He adds, “They like both the aesthetic and the option to continue using it as a stand, and they’ve described the packaging as useful and environmentally conscious.”