Consider the following sayings: “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” “Good things come in small packages,” “Think outside the box” — what’s the common thread?
Disregard the packaging!
Okay, perhaps I’m being a bit too reductive, but it still stands to reason that, even though thinking outside the box is crucial in modern business, thinking about the box is also quite important. How was it made? Who made it? Where will it wind up after being used?
Consumers are beginning to ask these questions with increasing urgency, and with good reason: According to the EPA, containers and packaging made up the largest portion of municipal solid waste generated in 2010, 48 percent of which was recycled. Additionally, half of the participants in a 2011 study done by Perception Research Services (PRS) said that they were willing to pay more for eco-friendly packaging. Furthermore, a March 2012 Nielsen study showed that recycling was the most important environmental aspect of a product across both genders and all age groups.
With consumer awareness on the rise and traditional resource availability in decline, I believe that a sustainable business model will be the only successful business model in the not-too-distant future. Take Coca-Cola’s new PlantBottle, for example. Up to 30 percent plant-based and 100 percent recyclable, the PlantBottle boasts a reduced ecological footprint without sacrificing functionality or performance. Additionally, initiatives in sustainability have been shown to substantially improve brand equity and forge strong ties with consumers.
Packaging image by Mattalia via Shutterstock.
Next page: Conceptualizing sustainability as a process