Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
Packaging Innovations that Inspire Reuse, Replace Plastic, Save Wildlife

Zappos is challenging consumers to “literally think outside the box.” For its new #ImNotABox campaign, the online retailer will be shipping a number of shoes in a limited-edition boxes that encourage recipients to reuse them in new, inventive ways. The company designed the boxes to feature a number of creative uses for their cardboard, including a smartphone holder, a children’s shoe sizer, a small geometric planter or storage bin, and a three-dimensional llama.

“The Zappos box is our way of being there for our customers, wherever they are in life, as we provide them with the things they need and love,” Kelly Smith of Zappos Think, an in-house “experiential campaign” team, said in a statement. “Not only do we want customers to know we genuinely care about their needs, but we also hope to inspire people to become the best version of themselves and to see the world with a new perspective. We want people in the end to say, ‘I’m not a box.’”

To promote the campaign, Zappos teamed up with creative agency Variable to create Box Home, a short film about a young boy who uses different household materials to construct a makeshift shelter for a homeless stranger.

Vertical form, fill and seal (VFFS) machines can produce a variety of formats and styles of packaging, making them popular to use for food and many other products. Historically, these systems have required paper packaging to use polymer film or fully coated paper, but Bosch Packaging Technology and Swedish paper specialist BillerudKorsnäs have developed a dust-tight packaging for dry products such as sugar, grains, flour or powders using mono-material paper that contains no additional polymer fractions.

The new packaging is substantially more durable than conventional paper, but it maintains beneficial natural paper characteristics such as recyclability. It is produced on the world’s first VFFS machine with a ‘ZAP-Module,’ a technology from Bosch which allows sealing agent coating on a minimal surface area and enables heat-sealing of the paper. BillerudKorsnäs developed Axello®ZAP paper, a new material which reliably withstands the stronger mechanical requirements in processing.

“We are positive that our solution, supported by several years of development, not only addresses today’s challenges for our customers but also gives them the possibility to enter completely new markets and areas of application using sustainable packaging,” said Marcus Velezmoro, sales responsible for the VFFS ZAP portfolio at Bosch Packaging Technology.

Meanwhile, a craft brewer’s packaging innovation has caught the attention of hundreds of thousands of consumers: Florida-based Saltwater Brewery has created edible six-pack rings that are safe for marine life to eat.

With over 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the world’s oceans (and more in the deep sea), ocean plastic pollution is undoubtedly a huge problem. Marine life often mistakes plastic for food, which can eventually lead to their death. Can rings have had added adverse effects, since animals can get entangled in the holes and get injured, choked, or even disfigured as their bodies grow around the plastic. As awareness of this problem has grown, more and more people have made sure to cut the rings to make it impossible for animals to get caught in them, but doing so does not eliminate the possibility that marine life will try to eat the plastic.

Saltwater Brewery decided to create a solution that would feed, rather than kill marine life, reduce waste, and appeal to their ocean-loving target customers on a deeper level. The brewer’s six-pack rings are edible, 100 percent biodegradable and compostable, and as resistant and functional as their plastic counterparts. Currently, they are much more expensive to produce, but the company believes that they will become more and more cost-effective as other breweries begin to use them as well. In the meantime, they believe the extra cost is worth paying in order to help the environment.

“We hope to influence the big guys,” Saltwater Brewery’s president, Chris Goves, said. “And hopefully inspire them to get on board.”


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