A group of MIT researchers has developed a interior lining for bottles which allows the contents to simply glide out. The product is called Liqui-Glide. There are many food product applications. Check out their website for more videos.
After launching the Method Refill Brigade® in 2011, Method, a leading innovator in premium, environmentally-conscious household and personal care products, and upcycling/recycling pioneer TerraCycle, Inc. have now expanded the program to accept pumps, triggers, refill pouches and almost any cleaner product packaging, regardless of brand.
Schools, offices, families or individuals can collect traditionally non-recyclable cleaner packaging and send it to TerraCycle to earn money for charity gifts and donations through the newly dubbed Cleaner Packaging Brigade. The collected packaging will be turned into trash cans, coolers and other home goods.
“Packaging sustainability is a core priority built into the design of every Method product,” said Adam Lowry, Method co-founder and Chief Greenskeeper.
“In addition to the recyclable packaging we make from recycled materials, we want every part of a cleaning bottle to be used again, including parts that aren’t accepted by most recycling systems, like triggers and pumps. Our goal with this Brigade is to ultimately collect more triggers and pumps than we actually manufacture, which would substantially improve the packaging footprint of not only Method, but our competitors as well.”
Lowry said he believes that by expanding Method’s partnership with Terracycle to accept packaging from all cleaning product companies, they can work to reduce landfill waste and replace the use of virgin materials while saving energy and carbon emissions.
The company that shipped this package to our office will remain unnamed because I have written about them before and after a while it starts looking like I am picking on them. The truth is that this post could probably be written about any number of companies who profess to be green and claim to be tirelessly working to protect the earth.
Words to Green By
As a young packaging professional, one of my favorite mentors had two favorite sayings that he often combined together: “Do What Makes Sense” and “Be Brilliant on the Basics”. His philosophy was fairly straight forward and simple – if you use your head and do the little things right on a daily basis, you usually come out on top. Baseball games and business are typically not won by crowd pleasing, memorable grand slams. More often than not, the difference between winning and losing is decided by singles, and doubles combined with a large dose of hustle.
The “Little” Things Add Up
With all that in mind, I am always critical of all the companies who are always quick to grab the sustainability headlines but continue to do, REALLY dumb green things on a daily basis.
Here is what I see when I look at the packaging shown in the photograph:
Most obviously, the box is at least six times larger than necessary for the order and product it contained. Why aren’t they right sizing? End result – WASTE!
3” plastic tape to seal the top of the box – most of the world uses 2” tape. Why are they using 50% more tape than is normally necessary? End result – WASTE!
Standard corrugated box with probably 30 to 40% recycled content? Why aren’t they using a box with a higher or ideally100% recycled content? End result – WASTE!
Auto Lock bottom on box bottom sealed with tape. (now I am getting really packaging geeky on you) One of the features of an Auto Lock bottom box is that it does not require tape. Yet they feel it necessary to seal it with more 3” tape. There is something definitely wrong with this picture. End result – WASTE!
One air pillow for void fill – that single pillow does absolutely no good so you know, end result – WASTE!
What is the cost of NOT doing the little green things well?
It is very difficult to estimate without a complete analysis (which BTW I have offered to do for this company for free) but conservatively, I can guess their packaging cost is probably 20 to 30% higher than it really needs to be. That same percentage probably applies to unnecessary packaging materials used and additional post consumer waste being created. This does not even begin to cover the cost of transportation, space, fuel, energy, and all the other things that factor in.
Not doing the little green things well is VERY expensive to all of us. So next time a package like this arrives, I urge you to complain. It does matter and it is important but it will never be important to the companies doing the shipping until we let them know. If they are not willing to do it for the bottom line, perhaps they will bother when it impacts their top (sales income) line. That is a good reason to bother.
Dennis is president and co-founder of Salazar Packaging and he writes on the topic of sustainable packaging for numerous blogs and magazines, including his own blog, Inside Sustainable Packaging.
Dennis and his company provide custom eco friendly packaging solutions through Salazar Packaging and stock green packaging products via Globe Guard Products, which is the first internet store featuring all eco-friendly packaging supplies.
An interesting story is developing involving Brown University and nearly ninety other schools across the country related to the banning or restricting the use of bottled water on campus.
Last month Bloomberg News posted a piece on s growing campus movement which involves many of the Ivy League colleges as well as others across the US.
Brown University has been a leader in the fight against bottled water. Their Beyond the Bottlemovement is active on campus among students and staff. Beyond the Bottle started in 2009 and encourages the use of tap water instead of pre-packaged bottled water.
Many schools have restricted the use of bottled water at events and meetings encouraging community members to seek more sustainable alternatives.
According the Bloomberg News story the bottled water industry isn't terribly concerned.
There "are really serious issues over here, and now you're dealing with bottled water?" Joe Doss, president of the International Bottled Water Association, based in Alexandria, Va., said. While "there are anti- bottled-water groups going from campus to campus," Doss said he doesn't consider it "a big threat" at this point.
Interesting article in today's Chicago Tribune about the rise of pouch packaging in food products. I think we've all noticed more and more products being sold in the pouch style packaging in recent years.
The Tribune cites a study done by the Mintel Group which says in 2011 there were 1,248 consumer products sold in pouch packaging compared to 909 in 2007.
I remember several years ago at Expo East when GoGo Squeez applesauce made a splash in their green resealable pouches. Now everything from pet food to ketchup is being offered in the pouch packaging.
Pouch packaging has a cost saving component to it for companies who make products in that it requires less resources to make the packaging.
In the non-food sector pouch packaging has been very popular among companies like Method who've touted it as the more ecologically friendly form of packaging.
In the fall of 2011 Planters began switching its dry roasted peanut products to new PET plastic packaging.
Planters Dry roasted peanuts were sold in glass bottles. The move reduces overall packaging weight by 84% according to the company. Planters also said the change will reduce product transportation by 25%.
The new Planters packaging is now showing up across the country.
Adam Lashinsky's new book Inside Apple provides a glimpse into the ultra secret world of Apple design and development. One key area of note to SISG readers is Apple's secret packaging room where designers spend countless hours creating and perfecting the Apple product packaging experience.
The book went on sale yesterday and today the Internet is full of bits and pieces of info from the book.
According to the author Apple's secret packaging room is so secure employees needed to badge in and out of it. Inside designers would open hundreds of versions of Apple packaging all focused on making the consumers un-boxing experience the best it can be. Designers would create versions of Apple packaging and tweak them until they were perfect.
"How a customer opens a box must be one of the last things a typical product designer would consider," Lashinsky wrote. "Yet for Apple, the inexpensive box merits as much attention as the high-margin electronic device inside."
The book Inside Apple went on sale yesterday and is available on Amazon or through other retailers.
Innovative Products like the Globe Guard Reusable Box Sealer Can Help Companies Reduce Waste and REUSE
Reusable packaging represents the ultimate in sustainable packaging. Developing packaging that is truly reusable is something we should all be striving for when we're developing and conceptualizing new packaging solutions.
Reusable packaging is nothing new to Dennis Salazar President of Salazar Packaging and a long time SISG contributor. Dennis has been focused on producing reusable packaging options for his clients for several years now and launched Reusable Packaging Options to help clients incorporate affordable reusable packaging into their businesses.
To Dennis reusable packaging isn't just about the packaging used to ship products to customers. Dennis and his company are focused on helping companies reuse corrugated and other materials throughout the entire process of product development to shipment to the customer.
One innovative product is the Globe Guard Reusable Box Sealer. The Reusable Box Sealer is designed to help companies reduce packaging waste during testing, product development, shipping preparation and other applications. The Box Sealer does not require the use of any destructive or wasteful tape or glues and allows a box to be sealed and reopened repeatedly until ready for shipment. The benefits of this creative product are numerous and allow for significant reduction in corrugated waste.
As we're about enter 2012 companies are looking for ways to reduce costs and eliminate waste more than ever. To Dennis this represents a perfect opportunity to focus on reusable packaging options.
"As companies continue their efforts to reduce cost and their carbon footprint in 2012, and assuming they have already reduced their packaging as much as possible and they have utilized high recycled content/recyclable packaging wherever possible, it stands to reason that reusability might be the best option left to deliver meaningful, positive green results," said Dennis.
This whole debate about the future of the US Postal Service has me confused and I thought it was relevant to address on SISG because so much of what we talk about here passes through either the USPS, UPS or FedEX.
These days its seems like everyone from Congress to talking heads has a plan to fix the Post Office but I have to say most of the ideas and options I keep hearing seem insane.
A core part of plans is to eliminate Saturday mail delivery. This option makes very little sense to me and eliminates one of the USPS's primary competitive advantages over its competition. The USPS is the only carrier who will deliver letters and packages on Saturday as part of its normal non-surcharge service. To be fair FedEX Ground also does normal Saturday delivery but its mostly packages.
To me eliminating Saturday mail service would be a body blow to the USPS. One that they may not recover from.
Another point I don't see raised often enough is the relationship people have with the USPS. Personally I prefer the USPS over all other options unless I'm shipping something very large. I find their service to be much more customer friendly - because they care about residential deliveries.
I avoid UPS at all cost however sometimes its not possible. I find their service to be terrible and they have an attitude that they can care less about residential deliveries. This is one thing USPS should be emphasising - that relationship they have with people in this country - that day to day interaction via mail delivery and post office locations.
The question should be why isn't USPS the primary mail delivery outlet for online businesses like Amazon? I'm guessing Amazon chose the carrier who could give them the best delivery network and price? I know USPS does some of their deliveries but its a small number of the overall business.
In the piece in the New York Times ran yesterday regarding the Post Office crisis - it was suggested the USPS is considering closing hundreds of distribution centers. Again I just don't get this. The infrastructure is already here and built - why not make it work?
Another area where the USPS has been a leader is on environmental issues and trying to make the process of shipping packages through its system as environmentally responsible as possible. I've covered the USPS's process of seeking and obtaining Cradle to Cradle certification for many of its mailers here on SISG. I think this is an area where the USPS can work with companies like EBAY - whose users heavily use the USPS to develop mutually beneficial and green shipping and business practices all the while encouraging EBAY users to ship via USPS.
I'm sure there are serious fiscal and organizational issues within the USPS - no question about it. I just don't think the solution is the make their service less available. I think the solution is to look at what they do well and where they have advantages in terms of service and existing infrasturcture and where they've already been leaders and focus on those areas and services.