Let’s make packaging great again

Robert Lilienfeld in Sustainable Packaging on December 05, 2016

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.


Missed one of Bob's blogs? Read them here.


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.



Increase your sustainable packaging understanding at WestPack, February 7-9, 2017, in Anaheim, CA.




Filed Under:


By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.
500 characters remaining
Well said, Bob. Lots of people are now working on "optimizing" packaging. That's one of three paths identified in the new Walmart Sustainable Packaging Playbook. Wish we had more packaging innovators leading in the ecommerce area though.
I like your content but not your title as it identifies with trump and belittle s the present "greatness" of current packaging and all the work we've done to get here. I also question your solution to the misguided regulation concept. I would like to see better guidance in regulation, rather than leave our people subject to the forces of privacy and secrecy, in the hands of quite normal people not likely to give up anything they don't have to, in the national and public interest.
Just the Crappy "Trumpism Spin" on this article cause me to Skip the article entirely,,, I will not normalize that Narcissistic jerk...
Appreciate the comments, Lisa. E-commerce is a priority for many of my clients and AMERIPEN members. I'll be writing more about innovation and e-commerce packaging in the near future.
Why are you politicizing package sustainability with that terrible headline and photo?! Packaging Digest, please don't...