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Using Big Picture Thinking: The Role of Packaging

Big Picture Thinking is holistic thinking. For packaging, it means taking a Life Cycle, systems approach that looks at the economic, environmental, and social impacts of both the package and the product that it contains. That’s we we’re big supporters for the EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management approach. (Read our well-received white paper on the subject.)

Think of it this way: The optimum package is one that delivers 100% of the expected value of the product inside, and does so with the minimum amount of materials, energy, and waste needed to do the job. This philosophy means that the product plays a major role in packaging development. For example, a pound of rice and a pound of crystal goblets obviously weigh the same, but the packaging needed to protect these products will be radically different! (Read more on our Big Picture Thinking page.)

Right now, our primary Big Picture Thinking focus is in two areas, food waste reduction and e-commerce.

Approximately 40% of food produced in the U.S. is not consumed. The annual amount of this waste is staggering: 36 million tons, worth $162 billion. Much of this waste occurs at home.By providing protection, safety, extended shelf life, and cost efficiencies, packaging plays a major role in the effort minimize this waste. To learn more, please review our brief overview brochure and series of easy-to-read case studies.


Packaging also has a starring role to play in the effort to transport, protect, and deliver e-commerce purchases. E-commerce delivery of products and traditional retail delivery are very different, and require packaging to serve some rather different roles. Read more about what’s being done now and planned for the future.

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