July 20, 2009

A Better Pizza Box?

Recently a reader sent me a link to the company ECO Incorporated and their Green Box concept for a new greener pizza box and asked my design opinion. The Green Box is a regular looking pizza box in which the lid breaks into four serving plates and the remaining section folds into a smaller half box for easy storage of leftover pizza in any size fridge. It was a good discussion so I decided to post our different sides here and see what additional comments you all might have.

The reader thought this was an amazingly innovative concept for two reasons: 1) easy implementation for any pizza shop because it adds no addition cost to the current box, 2) eliminates the use of "disposable" non-recyclable serving plates and storage containers for leftover pizza. These are both true, but we as designers are not going to help society by designing new products that are only a little better than the previous version. Yes, it eliminates the use of additional "disposable" products, but it is still a box that is bound for the waste stream itself.

I would go back and challenge the designers of the Green Box to look at the whole system the pizza box lives within, and to find a solution that educates the consumer, giving them solutions beyond simply using less "disposable" products. Could a pizza shop invest in reusable pizza containers that 1) promote their company, thus building brand loyalty and awareness, 2) are rented to the end users and exchanged when the pizza guy delivers a hot pizza in a clean container, creating a business model between Gillette's razor blade model and the propane tank exchange model, and 3) encourages the use of reusable containers? Designers must begin thinking about the bigger system a product lives within and less about just their product--this is where new innovative product and business models with emerge.

What are your comments? Do you have additional pizza box solutions?