Starre Vartan

Egregious Packaging Hall of Shame: Electronics Packaging!

by , 09/20/10

sustainable design, green design, packaging the future, green packaging, frustration-free packaging, green materials, alternative packaging design

Both the Apple and HP examples above prove that even if packaging isn’t made from recycled/biodegradable/recyclable materials (and they should be), just plain reducing the number of pieces and layers can save money, resources, and consumer annoyance. In most cases, packaging exists as it does due to design inertia, not because it’s efficient. A pilot test on repackaging an electronic toothbrush for Philips reminds us that good design can solve (or at least reduce) environmental impacts:

“Philips asked the supplier AllpakTrojan if it could create a new package. Because manufacturers usually use one supplier for the plastic part of their packages and another for the cardboard, “even before you make anything you’ve lost a little efficiency in the design process,” said Dave Hoover, sales manager for AllpakTrojan.

With this project, though, AllpakTrojan could use a single material, and it went through a machine just once instead of the two to three times required for the traditional package. “From design to finish, it’s as efficient as it gets,” he said.”

Tech packaging is definitely an area that can be simplified to benefit both consumers, companies’ bottom lines, and the planet.


Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick and author of The Eco-Chick Guide to Life (St. Martin’s Press). A green living expert, she contributes to The Huffington Post and Mother Nature Network (MNN.com)

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8 Comments

  1. Egregious Packaging Hal... October 26, 2010 at 11:41 am

    [...] true. One of the places I’ve continually heard that styrofoam can’t be replaced is in packaging for computers and electronics, and furniture. These items become worthless, or nearly so, if even minorly chipped or broken. [...]

  2. Top 5 Green Gadgets for... September 29, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    [...] of gadgets, however today’s guy can be easily beleaguered by unnecessary or poorly-conceived tech — which all too often finds its way into landfills. Great green design for guys has to hit a [...]

  3. burnduck September 26, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Apple did shrink it’s package size of macbooks, but unfortunately the white boxes themselves are packed in the same old carton box as they have shrinked it before, maybe they are using less paper on the boxes, but are they helping much with CO2 emitted with transportation? I don’t think so.

  4. h0va September 21, 2010 at 10:00 am

    calling out apple? really? i know it feels good to call out the one people love, but it\’s close to misinformation to neglect mentioning that the computer inside the box is predominantly glass and aluminum – maybe dell has trendy bamboo boxes, but how recyclable is their nasty plastic computer? also – you might want to use an iphone photo that is up to date.

  5. French Wine Vending Mac... September 20, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    [...] come with a high carbon price tag, to reduce their footprint as well as to cut down on material packaging. The reduction in mass also means that the wine can be shipped much more efficiently, better [...]

  6. Diane Pham Diane Pham September 20, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    couldn’t agree more. clamshells are practically a health hazard!

  7. Jill Fehrenbacher September 20, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Clamshells and blister-packs are the worst! Amazing article Starre – you’ve echoed here what many of us feel. Keep ‘em coming!

  8. Yuka Yoneda Yuka Yoneda September 20, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I’ve even seen brands selling “eco” electronics over package. It’s the worst when a press person sends you a “green” product for review and it’s packaged in 10 layers of cardboard and plastic.

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