It’s a difficult truth for a company like ours, but no one really wants packaging. Retailers need a way of distinguishing and managing products. Manufacturers need a way of transporting their products and making them stand out. Consumers just want the products inside. For all of them, packaging is a means to other ends. It is a distress purchase.
That explains why so much of it is thrown away. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, we generated around 10.8 millions tonnes of packaging in the UK in 2009. Although an impressive two thirds was recycled, 3.5 millions tonnes weren’t – wasting resources, clogging up landfill, polluting water courses and turning the oceans into a rubbish dump.
In the US the problem is worse. The country generated 250 million tons of waste in 2010 according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and nearly a third of that, about 76 million tons, comes from packaging.
So the prospect of packaging that simply disappears leaving little or no environmental impact is as alluring as it sounds unlikely. But designer Aaron Mickelson, of the Pratt Institute New York, may just have cracked it. (more…)