March 7, 2009

Rethinking Packaging

In the United States, waste from packaging accounts for more than 50% of total household waste, and yet, during the design process of a product specifying the packaging usually comes at the end of the process. Even at the end of the product's development the packaging concept and materials used depend on what the manufacturer has worked with before, what materials they are easily able to source, or how cheaply it can be created.

By thinking holistically about the products being designed and really understanding the complete systems these products will live in, a product development team cannot leave the packaging design for the end of the product's development but must incorporate packaging design into the overall concept development process. When a design team includes the waste from packaging as another design problem they need to solve, unique and innovative solutions to this problem will emerge.

DuPont's head of packaging, William F. Weber, has recently called on industry leaders to think differently about the packaging they use for their products. He has challenged them to add value to the products they are selling in the marketplace by having the packaging provide a secondary service for the customer when it is thrown away. Once packaging is not thought of just as a way to prevent food waste and protect products, but as another way to add value to the consumer's experience with the product, than we can begin to eliminate the waste that comes with packaging.

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1 comment:

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