The DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation celebrate revolutionary achievements in consumer product packaging, with a focus on innovation and sustainability, as well as cost and waste reduction. Many of the 2012 winners used plastics to design packaging that allows us to do more … with less. The winners use less material, create less waste, weigh less, use less energy, and produce fewer emissions—depending on the packaging.
Here are examples of this year’s winners, some of which are already available on store shelves.
AirOPack® Aerosol Dispenser: This plastic “aerosol can” uses regular air instead of a propellant to dispense shaving cream, hairsprays, and other products—even cheese spreads and salad dressings. The dispenser’s pressure-control device allows the maximum amount of product to be dispensed, so little is wasted. The AirOPack® uses 23 percent less energy and emits 68 percent less CO2 than traditional aerosol cans, according to the manufacturer. Since it’s made with clear PET plastic, consumers can actually see the product—and it’s accepted in programs that recycle PET containers.
Weight Watchers® Smart Ones®: These frozen entrees feature a new tray made with a hybrid material that combines polypropylene plastic with calcium carbonate, a naturally occurring mineral. The material takes significantly less energy to manufacture than many other materials and is lighter, reducing the energy expended in transport. In addition, the new tray is tougher than previous tray designs, making it less likely to break during food preparation.
Kraft YES Pack: According to Kraft, YES stands for “yield, ease, and sustainability,” all things the company kept in mind when designing this new packaging for its salad dressings for foodservice operations. The flexible plastic pouch is collapsible to help dispense more of the dressing, and the smaller spout aids in more precise pouring—both of which help reduce product waste. These lightweight pouches also require 50 percent less energy to manufacture and result in 70 percent fewer CO2 emissions from transport than typical salad dressing bottles, according to Kraft.
InCycle® Insulating Containers: These foam trays and cups, made with recycled PET plastic, provide unique insulating properties. A special manufacturing process produces a very lightweight material that reduces thermal conductivity—so the trays for hot food stay cool to the touch, even after heating food in an oven. Conversely, the “cold” cups help keep beverages cold. Both InCycle® products are much lighter than comparable solid trays and cups.
When buying everyday products, many of us are looking beyond convenience, cost, and safety to sustainability, as we try to do more with less. As these examples illustrate, thoughtfully designed packaging can play a very helpful role in delivering products that reduce our impact on the environment.
Learn more about how plastics have inspired packaging innovations, or see a timeline of plastic packaging advancements.