Jason Foster, founder/CEO of Replenish, is presenting his ideas for delivering value—as well as sustainability—at our WestPack 2013 seminar series in Anaheim, CA, in mid-February. Packaging Digest asked him for some insight into his thinking.
Q: Why is a sustainable product and/or package an advantage in today's retail marketplace?
A: It's increasingly becoming a necessity to get more out of what we already have. From retailers to manufacturers to consumers...everyone is trying to figure that out. Our definition of sustainability is starting to incorporate that thinking. It goes far further than the previous techniques of how to be eco friendly. So how can we get more out of products? We want more quality or more convenience or we want to have the ability to customize. We can design products that have more of these features, more benefits. Retailers are trying to find products to carry that prove to consumers, customers and stakeholders that they are trying to do things in a more thoughtful, more sustainable way. Not just the words, the action. The marketplace is looking for products that can meet these requirements.
Q: The refillable bottle for your Replenish cleaning products is durable to withstand years of reuse. How do consumers view the sustainability of a reusable package versus, say, a single-use container that they can recycle?
A: If you asked people point blank the difference between recycling today and reusing, it's intrinsic that reusing has some real advantages. Recycling can get a bit confusing for the consumer. Reuse offers extra advantages that recycling can't: Refill packages can be smaller and lighter and take up less space in their home. People tell you those advantages are why they would prefer this product over another.
Q: The title of your presentation is "Delivering value not waste to consumers: How sustainable design can reshape the role of packaging." What will be your main point?
A: The main point is revealing the power that design has—and design-inspired thinking has—to deliver more of what consumers need and less of what they don't. Waste means a lot of different things. The most obvious is trash. But it's also wasteful in time, resources, money. It's meant to be a far more encompassing word than just something we throw away. In light of this, there's a better way to design the products that we use every day to be less wasteful.