Making a Better Box

Making a Better BoxIt’s the season for giving gifts and let’s not forget the packages those gifts come in. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Horvath: A lot of people don’t think about packages. We take them for granted. But just to see the breadth of the industry, if you go into any store it doesn’t matter if it’s a grocery store or it’s an electronics store just look around, and everything comes in packages. If those packages are not designed correctly, then you’re losing a lot of money.Laszlo Horvath is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials at Virginia Tech. Horvath: If you buy a computer, you don’t want the box. You want the computer, but without the box and the foam, you’re never going to get the computer. So, every time when we design a package, we always try to reduce the amount of materials as much as possible, which reduces the amount of fiber that we are using, the amount of trees that we need to cut, the amount of fossil fuel that we need to use for the foams. And we can save significant amount of money for the companies. Most of the packaging companies (are) telling us that if you cannot save money in packaging using sustainability initiatives, then you are doing something wrong because it’s for packaging, it has to be cheaper.Horvath: The other thing that we are doing is changing fossil fuel-based packaging materials to natural materials, like wood or cardboard. A lot of times, you see that packages that were made out of plastic before, now they are made out of bioplastics, which is made of corn. Or packages where we used clamshells; now it’s all paper-based, and that’s one of the big initiatives that we have.There’s a company who makes foam out of mushrooms, gluing the pieces together in a specific plastic form. So once you buy your computer, can just throw out the mushroom-based packages, and it will biodegrade in a matter of weeks because there’s no plastic in it at all.So make that anchovies, peppers and some packaging on that pizza. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Making a Better Box

Rethinking what that gift you're giving comes in.
Air Date:12/13/2019
Scientist:
Transcript:

Making a Better BoxIt's the season for giving gifts and let's not forget the packages those gifts come in. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Horvath: A lot of people don't think about packages. We take them for granted. But just to see the breadth of the industry, if you go into any store it doesn't matter if it's a grocery store or it's an electronics store just look around, and everything comes in packages. If those packages are not designed correctly, then you're losing a lot of money.Laszlo Horvath is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials at Virginia Tech. Horvath: If you buy a computer, you don't want the box. You want the computer, but without the box and the foam, you're never going to get the computer. So, every time when we design a package, we always try to reduce the amount of materials as much as possible, which reduces the amount of fiber that we are using, the amount of trees that we need to cut, the amount of fossil fuel that we need to use for the foams. And we can save significant amount of money for the companies. Most of the packaging companies (are) telling us that if you cannot save money in packaging using sustainability initiatives, then you are doing something wrong because it's for packaging, it has to be cheaper.Horvath: The other thing that we are doing is changing fossil fuel-based packaging materials to natural materials, like wood or cardboard. A lot of times, you see that packages that were made out of plastic before, now they are made out of bioplastics, which is made of corn. Or packages where we used clamshells; now it's all paper-based, and that's one of the big initiatives that we have.There's a company who makes foam out of mushrooms, gluing the pieces together in a specific plastic form. So once you buy your computer, can just throw out the mushroom-based packages, and it will biodegrade in a matter of weeks because there's no plastic in it at all.So make that anchovies, peppers and some packaging on that pizza. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.