When was the last time you bought a cleaning supply or a food product that did not have any type of packaging?  Packaging waste isn’t something most of us give much thought to when buying everyday household items.  However, this type of waste is a growing problem, accounting for the largest percentage of trash in our landfills (even more than industrial waste, electronics and food)!  Every year, we throw away over 70 million tons of packaging waste.

Someone is thinking about this problem, though.  Aaron Mickelson came up with The Disappearing Package for his Masters Thesis Project at the Pratt Institute in effort to reduce the large amount of packaging waste.  His goal was to bring up the idea of sustainability within the conversation of package design and consequently, suggest redesign ideas that would decrease packaging waste for five consumer products (Tide laundry PODS, OXO POP containers, Twinings tea, NIVEA soap, and GLAD trash bags).

In an interview with Earth911, Mickelson said, “These designs are the result of two passions of mine: innovative packaging and environmentalism.”

Mickelson isn’t the only one who believes a reduction of packaging waste would be a beneficial project for consumer products (especially cleaning supplies) to explore.  Brian Sansoni, Vice President of Sustainable Initiatives for the American Cleaning Institute, said, “Moving forward, companies are eager to work with packaging design innovators to continue their efforts to reduce a product’s overall environmental footprint.”

Mickelson chose these products because he saw an opportunity for packaging redesign, but had no funding or input from the brands themselves.

tide_02Tide laundry PODS:  The current packaging is a plastic bag that becomes useless after all the PODS are used, and is then discarded.  In the disappearing solution, the PODS would be stitched together, making up the packaging with the product itself.  As each POD is torn off one by one, you would eventually be left with no packaging.    

OXOOXO POP containers:  The current container has a glossy paper insert in it to display brand and marketing information.  In the disappearing solution, the product details would be printed directly onto the container with soap-soluble ink, thus being erased after washing.

Twinings tea:  In the current packaging, each tea bag is wrapped individually, and is then housed inside a larger box.  In the disappearing solution, the tea packets would be perforated together and stored accordion-style, where the consumer would simply tear off the individual packets for use.  There would still be some packaging waste (which is to be expected with most food products), but in a significantly reduced portion.

niveaNIVEA soap:  Like most bar soaps, NIVEA is packaged in a heavy paper carton that is disposed of when opened.  In the disappearing solution, consumers would take the whole package into the shower and the outer packaging would dissolve when wet, leaving just the bar of soap.

GladGLAD trash bags:  Currently, a cardboard box acts as the trash bag dispenser until all of the trash bags are used, and is then thrown away.  In the disappearing solution, the bags would be rolled together with the GLAD logo and product information printed on the last trash bag.  The last bag would act as the packaging for the product, leaving no waste after used.

Here at Shoeboxed, we love the idea of cutting down on packaging waste.  We think it goes hand-in-hand with being paperless!  Which is your favorite packaging redesign?

Photo credit: http://disappearingpackage.com