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The Art of Reusable Packaging

Since degradables are heavier than oil-based plastics, they are likely to sink and linger for many years. Considering these challenges, some designers prefer to stick with plastics, since recycling systems are, in the developed world at least, already established. More than thirty different plastics are currently used in packaging, but some innovators are on the hunt for a single polymer group, a super-plastic that meets a multitude of performance requirements, is affordable for manufacturers, demands few changes in machinery, is widely accepted by municipal recycling systems, and easily converted into new packaging.

But so far this product remains elusive. Meanwhile, some designers are intent on eliminating disposable packaging altogether. Consider the plastic straw : Starbucks committed to phasing it out by , in favor of an elongated sipping spout on a lid. The new lid will weigh more than the old, but a larger chunk of plastic is more likely to make it through a recycling plant. The same idea—doing without—could apply to pasta, commonly packaged in a recyclable paperboard box fronted by a nonrecyclable plastic window. Or perhaps the entire package? The U. Most commonly used for dishwasher or laundry pods, the polymer can also be safely used to contain food, according to European and U.

The food-service industry is already using melt-away packaging: MonoSol envisions a future where retail portions of hot cocoa, oatmeal, rice, pasta, or other foods cooked with hot water are commonplace. The designs attracted a great deal of attention for their beauty and hopefulness, but they remain, at this point, merely concepts.


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The user tears off one tea bag at a time, and the book eventually shrinks to nothing. Loliware , based in the U. Containing calories each can hold cold or room-temperature drinks, and cost a dollar apiece. The company also makes a kelp-based edible straw. In talks with major food and beverage retailers, Loliware is rapidly scaling up, with plans to lower its price and replace a billion plastic straws a year. Inspired by the way nature separates insides from outsides—think grape skins—scientists are experimenting with edible membranes to contain liquids.

The startup Skipping Rocks Lab created a package-free swig of water, dubbed Ooho , by dipping ice balls into extracts of plants and brown seaweed, which form a water-tight membrane. The consumer bites the ball, releasing a few swallows of cold water, then swallows the membrane itself. The balls will be produced by a compact machine at their point of sale, eliminating the need for cups. Stonyfield used the technology on its Frozen Yogurt Pearls , which debuted in , but sales were tepid and the pearls disappeared.

Today, WikiCells can be found encircling PerfectlyFree fruit snacks. Its layers of Kraft paper are stuffed with Climacell, a bio-based foam that melts to cellulosic fiber, alongside the box itself, inside a pulping plant. According to Temperpack, manufacturing Climacell foam generates one tenth the greenhouse gases generated by making polystyrene peanuts. But an enormous amount of nonrecyclable waste remains: one industry investigation of three different mail-order meals revealed a total of 72 plastic packages, of which just 23 could be recycled. While designers and psychologists struggle to resolve these issues, governments can also institute policies to reduce packaging waste, such as imposing higher taxes on fossil fuels used to make single-use plastics.

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Designing for Re-Use | The Life of Consumer Packaging | Taylor & Francis Group

Search all titles Search all collections. Your Account Logout. Designing for Re-Use. By Tom Fisher, Janet Shipton. Edition 1st Edition.

First Published Brands are responsible for designing their own packaging; TerraCycle consults on the packaging development process and tests all packaging for cleanability and durability prior to approval in the platform. The lifespan of each package will vary, as variables including aesthetics can cause a package to be taken out of circulation and recycled. Loop already offers hundreds of products across its two dozen partners; as partners are added, this number will constantly increase. We'd love to hear from you.


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