Inside the Box


Companies are thinking outside of the box to develop innovative ideas that benefit the environment at all stage of lifecycle … including inside the box. By finding such alternatives, companies can make a difference behind the scenes, with little consumer education or influence. Available sustainable packaging materials for shipping are 100 percent bio-based, including bamboo, rice, palm, and sugarcane. They are inexpensive and reduce energy and water use as well.

Ecovative, for example, offers molded pulp from mushroom fibers—grown on a farm—for protective packaging in lieu of plastic foam. The company is able to upcycle very low value waste products into renewable and home compostable packaging.

Mushroom Packaging is made from agricultural byproducts bonded together with mushroom “roots” called mycelium. “This technology is a radical departure from traditional bioplastics,” according to environmental director Sam Harrington.

Designers will customize Mushroom Packaging for individual applications. “Mushroom technology is a great way to protect glass bottles and cosmetic gift sets,” explained Harrington. “It’s an alternative that performs just as well, is cost-competitive, and provides a beautiful natural material that can be home-composted.”

Such sustainable packaging options deliver both tangible benefits and emotional rewards, allowing consumers to contribute without forcing them to step outside their comfort zone. 

But not everyone needs to make radical modifications to make a difference. “Everyone has the ability to shift in the direction of eco-innovation by starting small and building over time,” said cosmetics entrepreneur Kari Gran. From material to manufacture and from distribution to disposal or recycling, brands have opportunities to reduce their products’ impact on the environment one step at a time.

Sustainable packaging isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.

Read more about eco opportunities for product packaging in the June 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.


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