With landfill sites overflowing, and an ever-increasing focus on people recycling and reusing materials we still have a lot of waste thrown away. Even recently the UK government’s waste advisor Wrap announced that retailers were failing to meet packaging waste pledges, with food, drink, and packaging waste in the UK supply chain totalling about 6.6m tonnes a year, and costing £5bn!
I’ve posted on the topic of packaging before with the very clever idea of Universal Packaging and everyone’s favourite guilty culprit Easter Eggs, but a quick search online reveals websites and entire Flickr groups dedicated to absurdly packaged items.
Do headphones necessarily need large vacuum-formed plastic casing stapled onto a cardboard backing, or does Amazon need to use such large boxes for small individual items?
The worst offender I have come across is probably this.
That’s right, nothing. Just packaging. Packaging for NOTHING! It pains me as a designer that someone actually came up with this, with developers and retailers then thinking it was a good enough idea to manufacture it and sell it on the high street to unsuspecting customers.
A lot of this waste is not necessarily the fault of the consumer, I definitely think that more could be done by designers at the packaging development stage to think and act creatively about how products and goods are housed. Many companies are starting to address this, albeit driven by costs of materials in packaging affecting their profits rather than environmental factors, however many products are still over-packaged.
Whilst reducing waste is a step in the right direction, designer Aaron Mickelson is striving to eliminate waste entirely. The idea is that by designing packaging that is 100% functional to the product itself, it can very simply ‘disappear’ by the time you have finished (or even started) using it.
A few of my favourite ideas:
Nivea Bar Soap (or any brand of bar soap for that matter)
Replacing the heavy paper carton that is useless as soon as the soap bar is removed, the disappearing package is a septic-safe, water-soluble paper.
(reminds me of something that Creative Review did a few years ago)
GLAD Trash Bags (again, applicable to most other brands too)
Instead of the heavy paperboard box, the packaging becomes one of the bags itself. Very clever.
The necessary information is printed directly onto the last bag, which, in turn, holds the entire roll together.
The original packaging doubled (albeit very poorly) as the liner dispenser, this is improved upon here as bags are pulled out from the centre of the roll until just the final bag remains.
Twinnings Tea Bags
Traditionally tea bags come individually wrapped and stacked in a cardboard box, which is ultimately discarded. The solution is to stitch them together with inpermanent glue into a self-standing brick (it is admitted that with almost all food goods that packaging is near impossible to remove entirely).
Each tea bag tears off with the folder becoming the hanging tag. As a bonus this idea actually increases the available print area to provide information and graphics as the product is used.
More great ideas on The Disappearing Package.