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Stay up to date with key dates, requirements and design criteria. 

Have a question? Email Gabby Maupin at

February 16, 2024:


  • Deadline to submit online entry form with supporting materials Postmark deadline to mail dielines and prototypes

The goal of this year’s challenge is to identify a real or original personal care product that isn’t typically packaged in paperboard and design a new paper-based solution.

This challenge calls for an innovative packaging solution that encourages customers to pick sustainable, fiber-based packaging instead of single-use plastic. The new package should also be widely accepted in residential recycling programs.

The design needs to be:

  1. 100% paper-based; Widely acceptable in residential recycling streams;
  2. The package should have innovative, functional distinctions that enhance the recipient’s unboxing experience and set it apart from other packaging;
  3. It should be optimally designed to protect and secure its intended contents during shipping and handling;
  4. The structural and functional design must enhance brand recognition and encourage consumers to opt out of single-use packaging.

In supporting documentation, designers should include recommendations for ways an organization can take the packaging concept even further.

Designers must address how the package would be converted and assembled in mass quantity. The package must be commercially producible on standard machinery.

Any hand assembly should be minimal and purposeful. Decorations like magnets, ribbons, etc. that need to be attached to the package make it difficult to mass produce.

The package should communicate its recyclability and highlight paperboard packaging as a preferred substrate. The package must also reflect its desirability, feasibility, and viability.

  • 100% paper-based, and made of at least 70% paperboard (cannot be more than 30% fluted or corrugated)
  • Must be widely accepted in residential recycling systems Include any other material that would enhance the experience of sustainability of paper and paperboard packaging
  • Visually appealing and enhances brand awareness
  • Include an innovative functional feature that distinguishes itself from other packaging Feature the renewability, recyclability, versatility and innovative qualities of paperboard
  • Non-fiber components should be Identified as easier to recycle, according to the AF&PA Design Guidance for Recyclability
  • Also considers paperboard replacement for plastic fastening solutions

The judges will evaluate each entry based upon the following submission requirements:

1. Prototype (50 points)

  • One complete mock-up of package (note: a physical prototype is required for consideration)
  • Product protection
  • Distinctive functionality
  • Structurally sound
  • Full graphics (Sponsor companies will proved paperboard samples for the design execution phase)

2. Design Elements (30 points)

  • Plain, unglued carton blank
  • Detailed production die drawing
  • Design concept and execution (Sketches, various iteration and representative prototypes leading to final execution)
  • Initial testing and validation with intended audience

3. Marketing Plan (10 points)

  • One-page executive summary that explains:
    • How design meets necessary requirements;
    • Explains the design concept and functionality;
    • Identifies the organization’s mission, the brand and dimensions; and
    • Describes how the packaging can be used to help the organization achieve its goal
    • Explain design process from concept to execution
    • Explanation of benefits of the design functionality
    • Does not exceed 5 pages (PPT Format Preferred)

4. Final Video of Design (10 points)

  • A file or link to the video must be provided in order to display the functionality of the packaging.

5. Permission from Brand (if applicable)

  • If redesigning an existing product, permission from the brand is required in order for AF&PA to showcase photos of the prototypes on the Paperboard Packaging website.
  • Creating a faux brand (derived from an existing brand’s current package) is acceptable. Details of the branding elements will not affect your score.

6. Required Forms

  • Acknowledgment of Intent (Due February 17, 2023)
  • Student and School Contact Information Certification of Originality
  • Graduate Student Advisors Form (if applicable)

All entries with supporting forms and materials must be submitted online at no later than Friday, June 9, 2023. Dielines and final prototypes must be mailed to PPA for judging, postmarked by June 9, 2023.

Paperboard Packaging Alliance

ATTN: Gabriell Maupin

1101 K Street, NW, Suite 700 Washington, D.C. 20005

If you have any questions, please contact Gabriell Maupin at