[GRRN] Plastic Container Design

RecycleWorlds (anderson@msn.fullfeed.com)
Thu, 30 Sep 1999 12:02:32 -0500

The supermarkets in Madison just got stocked with Graham's new juice
concentrate container made primarily from HDPE and a handsome label instead
of the current cardboard and metal end containers. Welch's is using them
and their juice is priced at $1.31 a can compared to other brand
equivalents, $1.07 (store brands are priced at $0.85).

I don't know what the overall or endgame price point will be for this
new container, but this particular markup graphically illustrates why
brands are constantly rejuvinating their package to grow their earnings. I
mean that's 24 more cents per unit and there would not seem to be anyway
that the new container could anything more than few cents over the price
over the cardboard version.

The other nice thing about this is that this particular design not only
does not initially appear to harbor any problems for recyclers, it appears
to offer more plastic from households that is potentially recyclable and it
would then divert more from the landfill than currently is the case.

The reason for mentioning this is two-fold (at least in my view):

1. Nothing short of a nuclear war or the second coming is going to
dissuade the brand companies from continually pursuing new packaging
innovations; but also

2. That does not necessarily need to be bad for recyclers if that
innovation is channeled into directions that work with instead of against

Another potential case in point is the coming invasion of different
color tinted PET bottles (amber, blue, purple). They are doing this so,
for example, they can sell 3 cents worth of water no better than NYC tap
water for a buck by tinting the bottle blue to create some cache. However,
there is already an even better vehicle for that cache-- the full body
label that covers the bottle including the narrow neck with jazzy designs
(look for Arizona Tea). Currently those labels are PVC -- not good --
because PVC is the least cost resin that has the technical capability of
shrinking 50% to cover the narrow neck with bunching around the transition
to the neck. PETG is another resin that does this, though this costs more
and its impacts on recyclers has not yet been examined carefully. But, we
understand that there is work being done with linear PP to add this
capability and the Plastic Redesign Project I work with is pursuing that
aggressively. That might be the answer. If cache were pursued with jazzy
full body labels made of PP almost all of which would fly or float off in
air curtains and sink/float tanks, that would be a design innovation that
recyclers could embrace.


Peter Anderson
RecycleWorlds Consulting
4513 Vernon Blvd. Ste. 15
Madison, WI 53705-4964
Phone:(608) 231-1100/Fax: (608) 233-0011