E-commerce. Food waste reduction. Sustainable Materials Management. The Circular Economy.
What a great time to be in the packaging business! Pick just one of these paradigm shifters to focus on and your packaging R&D and design folks would be overjoyed with the possibilities. Put four major disruptors on their plates and they’ll be comatose with constant collaboration and commercialization opportunities.
I realize that many of your management, financial, and production folks are taking a “batten down the hatches” approach to much of this potential change. Don’t fall for it! These are the times when innovation is most needed and appreciated, offering huge competitive advantage opportunities to those who reach for the brass ring.
Take e-commerce, for example. Many of today’s typical consumer packages are designed for on-shelf stability, eye appeal, and sturdiness. In the world of e-commerce, there’s no shelf to sit on or compete over, and the shipping container does much of the product protection work. Thus, the job of the primary package should change to maximize brand value reinforcement and product ease of use. And, because of the reduced need for durability, it can probably be downsized and/or light weighted as well and where once a box was needed, an envelope or pouch may now fit the bill.
If we wait for direction from the public and legislative communities, the odds are we won’t like the new rules or playing fields that will be created for us. Let’s take this rare opportunity to optimize packaging to fit these coming changes now, before we’re forced to sub-optimize when well-meaning, but most likely misguided, policies are imposed on us.
What do you think? Please comment below.
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Robert (Bob) Lilienfeld has been involved with sustainable packaging for more than 20 years. He is currently editor of The ULS (Use Less Stuff) Report, a marketing and communications consultant to AMERIPEN and other organizations, and is a professional photographer.
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