Thursday, February 12, 2009

Green Packaging Memo: Design Firm Says its New, Paper Water Bottle Could Revolutionize How Bottled Water is Packaged

The word "innovation" is used far to casually and often today when it comes to new food, grocery and beverage products and new types of product packaging. In the case of consumer packaged goods packaging (wet or dry), "new" doesn't automatically mean innovative, after all.

We think in order for a new type of packaging to be "innovative," one of the things such packaging must do is to address a need (keeps a product fresher, for longer, for example) or help provide a solution to an existing packaging problem (recycling, source reduction, ect., for example.)

And of course, one of the most pressing issues and problems in the food, grocery and beverage packaging/container realm today is waste vs. recycling vs. reuse; "green" packaging issues in other words. The quest is about how to create more environmentally positive types of packaging that still do there job containing consumer packaged goods in a safe and efficient way, and do so at a reasonable cost to the user.

Using this two-part definition, packaging innovation is the exception rather than than norm.

But we think a design firm called Brandimage might be on to something in the beverage container innovation department with what is says is a new paper water bottle that could replace the plastic bottles used throughout the bottled water industry.

The design firm calls its "innovation" the 360 Paper Water Bottle (pictured at the top, left of this piece). It's made from pressed renewable-plant fibers coated with a thin film of PLA plastic - all 100% recyclable, according to Brandimage. Labels can be printed directly on the material using soy- or water-based dyes. The bottles are designed to bundle together, eliminating the need for separate multipack carriers, the design firm says.

"We have undertaken this program without the support of a manufacturing and/or materials supplier partner," Brandimage writes on its website. "We intend to find the 360 Paper Water Bottle a branded home." You can view the Web site here, where Brandimage writes more about the 360 Paper Water Bottle.

"Some of the world's largest brands" have already expressed interest in the 360 Paper Water Bottle, Brandimage also writes on its Web site. It doesn't offer any names of those brands however.

Obviously the jury is still way out on the design firm's paper water bottle. Little things like: has it been tested yet in a real world situation, in the distribution chain and on the store shelf, for example? FDA approval? Finding a bottled water company willing to use it to package its brand?

But having pointed to those obvious reality-based facts, we think the idea has merit in the packaging innovation realm.

If it works, and is affordable, it also could help solve one of the most heated issues and debates among consumers, environmental groups and the bottled water industry (with retailers right in the middle of the fight), which is the environmental consequences of all the plastic waste generated by all of the plastic bottled water bottles disposed of each year -- or month, week, day -- in the countries throughout the world -- read primarily the U.S., Europe and parts of Asia -- where the marketing of and purchasing of water in plastic bottles is super-high. And where a proper infrastructure for recycling these bottles is lacking in most of these countries, particularly in the U.S.

Additionally, if it works and is reasonable in terms of cost, the first bottled water company to use the 360 Paper Water Bottle, even in a test, could get major props -- and thus sales -- from "green" consumers for using the alternative paper container for its water.

So, we give Brandimage major packaging innovation points for merely coming up with the paper water bottle concept and designing the bottle.

And if they can turn it into a usable and reasonably priced bottle, such innovation could lead to not only a "greener" water bottle (and we would think it might be used for other beverages as well like organic and new age drinks to start), but also to a bunch of that other kind of green -- money -- for the design firm. If the paper water bottle hits store shelves, it also will add an additional element to that frequently asked question at the grocery store -- "paper or plastic"

More on the 360 paper Water Bottle here at the Brandimage Web site.

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2 comments:

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Plastic Bottles said...

Very interesting article, I think for this to catch on it need to be determined if it cost effective. I think if consumers had easier access to recycling plastic bottles we wouldn't have some of the current problems we are having now.