Packaging is one of the great and often unheralded enablers of our time. Whether protecting papayas or ping-pong tables, proper packaging must deliver our goods intact, which can save resources and contribute to sustainability by helping prevent spoilage, breakage, and waste.
Think about it – what creates more waste? A broken product? Or the packaging that could protect it?
Plastic packaging in particular is becoming increasingly recognized not only for its innovative design possibilities but also its contributions to sustainability. For example, a 2014 study that looked at six common packaging categories found that replacing existing plastic packaging in the U.S. with non-plastic alternatives could:
- require 4.5 times more packaging material by weight,
- increase energy use by 80 percent, and
- result in 130 percent more global warming potential.
So plastic packaging enables consumers to reap the benefits of some really cool packaging designs that protect products – and can also benefit the environment.
Let’s celebrate that.
The DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovations—essentially the Academy Awards of the packaging world—in May 2015 honored a slew of innovative new packaging designs, highlighting their advances in sustainability. So let’s roll out the (recycled plastic) red carpet for a handful of the deserving winners:
- No cheese left behind: It’s no secret that food waste is a widespread, serious issue. Packaging can play a huge role in fighting food waste and its environmental impacts. For example, this easy peel-and-reseal packaging design can help those large chunks of cheese stay fresher longer. The design enables consumers to re-seal a cheese chunk twenty times or more by simply applying slight finger pressure to the plastic package.
- What’s a Squround Salsa Container?: This “squround” salsa container has a round mouth to allow easy access to the salsa while the square bottom edges make it easier to handle. It’s a combination of flexible film (so consumers can see the salsa) and a strong, rigid frame for structure, so it uses nearly 55% less plastic than the original salsa container. Because both the film and tub are made with polypropylene, the package can be recycled in most communities.
- Poison prevention meets flexibility: Flexible packaging often uses less material than typical packaging (see salsa package above), which can help reduce a package’s environmental footprint. This flexible, lightweight plastic pouch with a slider-based closure combines the environmental benefits of flexible plastic packaging with safeguards that meet federal requirements for poison prevention. Both bite- and tear-proof, the packaging can be used for everything from prescription medication to household chemical products. Plus, it’s reusable.
- A Life-Saving Design: Hundreds of millions of people lack access to clean drinking water. This dual-chamber pouch contains fresh water in one chamber and salt/powder supplements on the other, separated by a plastic seal that is opened by applying pressure, which mixes the water and powder for consumption. The separation of ingredients eliminates the need for refrigeration, plus increases shelf life to two years, unlike a mixed product whose shelf life is typically measured in hours.
- Making up for lost mascara: Wasted or dried up mascara, be gone! This squeezable, silicone plastic mascara tube with an aluminum laminated inner pouch allows users to lightly squeeze, soften, reposition, and transfer the remaining mascara to the brush—which ultimately can extend the product lifespan, reducing wasted mascara and making for easy application.
That’s innovative. Now on to the after parties…