Everything in our society is packaged. As the president of a design consultancy that specializes in packaging, I have to say that I'm as concerned as every responsible citizen is about sustainability issues....

I don't think we ought to be labeled "tree huggers" either, because we should all be concerned about the preservation of our precious natural resources, and our environment.
It's really great to see that many companies are behaving like responsible corporate and global citizens when it comes to packaging. With the huge increase in global consumer goods consumption, and especially convenience foods consumption, comes a large increase in packaging waste. This issue has created stress in community landfills around the globe, making it more incumbent on companies to use biodegradable, as well as recycled materials as much as is feasible.
Waste-recycling technologies are increasingly enabling us to create packaging from recycled paper products. Water-based or soy-based inks in packaging are also biodegradable. Another great strategy some companies employ is to decrease the amount of packaging materials they use. For example: some cereal producers are now offering their product in bulk plastic bags rather than containerboard boxes with inner bags inside to hold the product. Non-toxic lead-free plastic packaging is now available in the marketplace, as well, which is a huge boon to cleaner landfills.
Other companies are packing products like consumer electronics in boxes with packing materials made from starch-based, biodegradable foam which is safe in landfills. Shredded paper is a packing material of choice for eco-friendly companies. We can all support alternatives to petro or chemical-based packaging materials that are developed and put into use.
When speaking recently at a conference in China, World Packaging Organization
president Dr. Alexis Stassinopoulos stated: "A challenge for Chinese (read: all) packaging innovators is to create sufficient packaging with the consumption of less energy and resources and less waste after use." He went on to say that: "We must all work to create new packaging solutions, which save more and consume less." This was reported in the Chinese press recently, and I found it very interesting since the newly minted Chinese middle class is rapidly becoming a society of consumers.
As we consider newer, more innovative and greener packaging solutions, all of us–corporate marketers, design consultants, and consumers–have a stake in better management of our natural resources and our environment. With our focus very much on global conservation and environmental issues, the development and consumption of green packaging is a very meaningful thing we can do for the protection of our environment.
After all, Planet Earth is the only home we have and share.

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Ted Mininni is president of Design Force, Inc. (www.designforceinc.com), a leading brand-design consultancy to consumer product companies (phone: 856-810-2277). Ted is also a regular contributor to the MarketingProfs blog, the Daily Fix.