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Published on May 26th, 2014 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

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Don’t Toss that Box – Eat It! Designing Sustainable Packaging

sustainable packaging, not just another cardboard box

If there were two words that summed up the year for Dell back in 2011 (when Derek Markham and I participated in one of their CAP programs), it wouldn’t have been “laptop computer” or “virtual hosting” or even “Michael Dell”… but “mushroom packaging.” OK, the company may disagree with me, but the concept of turning agricultural waste and mushrooms into a polystyrene foam-like substance  that could protect larger products and the be tossed in the compost bin after use really captured the attention of the green blogosphere.

No doubt material scientists were involved in this venture, as well as logistics managers, designers, and perhaps a salesperson or two: developments this unique don’t just happen in a lab or a conference room. Dell and Ecovative needed to bring together a range of people – from within their companies and the computer maker’s customer base – to get a wide range of input into this venture. Sounds chaotic… no doubt a number of project managers had their hands full!

Designing Sustainable Packaging in a Virtual Lab/Conference Room/Design Studio/Focus Group

I don’t know the details of how these companies managed this particular project, or how other “sustainable” developments in packaging – ranging from recycled paperboard (pretty sustainable) to corn-based plastics (maybe not so much) – kept the workflow moving smoothly, but I’m guessing many of the people involved would’ve loved a tool like Dassault Systèmes’Perfect Package 3DExperience solution. A virtual workspace that allows for management of all steps in the process of developing a packaging solution, Perfect Package provides a space for design, engineering, marketing, shipping, and others to come together, collaborate, model, and manage innovation. Here’s Solution Experience Director Eric Seiberling’s description:


While the overall approach doesn’t require a focus on sustainability, it seems to me that creating packaging solutions from unique green materials would fit right in with this tool: in fact, the company’s “dream concept” for this this product is “nutritious packaging” which a consumer eats rather than throws away. It’s an idea…

Know of other sustainable packaging efforts that are really innovative? Share them with us…

This post was generously sponsored by Dassault Systèmes’ 3DExperience. Learn more about this platform in the video below:

Image credit: CarbonNYC via photopin cc



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About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at



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