Is this the future of delivery packaging?

| July 11, 2014

Bubble wrap. Packing peanuts. Inflatable plastic cushions. The items we order for shipping are rarely shipped alone, and the accompanying packaging materials are notoriously bad for the environment.

As we rely more and more heavily on online shopping, we as a society place an even greater burden on the environment through wasteful packaging.


Excessive, wasteful packaging should be a thing of the past. From hobvias sudoneighm.

One graduate student from the Royal College of Art decided to do something about it. Mireia Gordi I Vila developed an innovative new packaging system that, if it catches on, will turn traditional shipping on its head.

Gordi’s design eschews bulky, space-filling materials in favor of a compact, suitcase-esque approach. She uses a “special elastic fabric, mixed with silicon for extra cushion” that can be stretched with a simple frame and enclosed around a fragile item.

The key to Gordi’s designs:

1)     Minimalism. One small frame takes the place of an entire box full of packing peanuts or bubble wrap.

2)     Reusability. In theory, Gordi’s design is durable enough to withstand numerous reuses.

Potential drawbacks? For one thing, Gordi’s design flies in the face of one of the key characteristics of traditional packaging materials, and that’s affordability. Companies are motivated to ship items as cheaply as possible, so long as the item in question will arrive unscathed. Using Gordi’s packaging requires a higher initial investment, even though it may pay for itself in the long run if a company is able to reuse it over and over.

Of course, that leads to another drawback—how does the company get their packaging back in order to reuse it? Adele Peters of Fast Company’s Co.Exist points out that if a person is home to receive a package, he or she could unwrap it on the spot and simply hand the packaging material back to the courier. This, naturally, requires very patient couriers who are willing and able to return packaging to the source. Otherwise, a recipient would have to ship back the packaging, which certainly negates some of the carbon footprint that you’re trying to save in the first place.

Finally, the frames don’t appear to be universal. For example, a frame that works for a wine bottle wouldn’t also work for a painting. Gordi anticipated that, and she has designed prototypes for a variety of scenarios. Still, the bespoke aspect of the frames somewhat limits reusability.

Even if Gordi’s design isn’t quite ready for the mass market, it’s still an intriguing concept. We’re all about any innovation that tackles a major waste issue, and we’re even more in favor of one that promotes reuse and recycling. We look forward to watching this idea evolve.

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Category: Recycling programs

About the Author ()

Ellen Hunter Gans has been writing for RecycleReminders since the blog’s inception. She is passionate about words, new media and, of course, recycling.

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