New Wave of Enlightened Packaging

Jul 11, 2011 12:34 PM ET

What Do You Stand For?

Have you ever had “wrap rage”? Do you find yourself fighting a clamshell package armed with blades, brains and brawn and still ending up on the losing side? Why are we still in the packaging dark ages?

Only a year ago, The New York Times reported slow uptake on new, easier-to-open, more sustainable packaging options. Though there was some momentum online, big box retailers balked at changing bulky packaging due to theft concerns; yet high oil prices, consumer demand and a growing focus on sustainability have forced companies to change their tune. Today, The New York Times is able to print a different story, one in which retailers are dropping petroleum-based clamshell packages for groundbreaking and eye-catching new options.

Walmart now sells Swiss Army Knives in tamper-evident cardboard and laminate packages instead of the traditional clamshell; Target* is reducing plastic in yogurt, lightbulbs and socks. Dell is experimenting with chemical-free packaging made with agricultural by-products and Puma, which first created the “Clever Little Bag," is making packaging strides again with a shopping bag that dissolves in hot water and breaks down in a home composter. And, these companies are not alone. According to Visiongain, a business information provider, the sustainable and green packaging market will see steady growth in mature markets with above average growth in developing nations in 2011 and 2012.

Companies are now recognizing value is not just what’s inside the shopping bag. In addition to pleasing consumers and other stakeholders, more sustainable packaging can mean a 30 percent reduction in transportation costs and a 30 percent savings in material and labor. The time has come to say goodbye to frustrating clamshells and other wasteful materials and hello to a new wave of enlightened packaging.

*Cone Client