Grad Student Creates No-Waste Packaging

Grad Student Creates No-Waste Packaging


Over 70 million tons of packaging ends up in landfills every year. Pratt Institute student Aaron Mickelson saw that waste as an opportunity for his master’s thesis project, and developed packaging designs that transforms products into their own usable containers. For example, soap packaging dissolves in the shower or trash bags that create their own dispenser without the use of cardboard packaging.

For my master’s thesis, I asked the question: Can we eliminate that waste entirely?” Mickelson said. “The five solutions presented by this Web site are my answer to that question. I realize each presents its own manufacturing or distribution challenge; however, each also presents opportunities available to package designers right now.


In the project—The Disappearing Package—Mickelson examined five common household products—Tide PODS, OXO POP Containers, Twining’s tea bags, Nivea bar soap and GLAD trash bags—and reimagined their packaging. He applied the functions of the packaging to the products themselves, and created packages and containers that disappear by the time the product is completed used.


Mickelson explained on his Web site how most of the solutions stemmed from streamlining packages of products that were already packages themselves. For example, Tide Pods are single-use detergent pouches sold in plastic jug or stand-up bag. By arranging the pods into a perforated sheet, they could be rolled into a tight cylinder to place on grocery store shelves. Once purchased, customers could simply tear off one pouch at a time. Tea bags can be packaged in a similar fashion.

Right from the start,” Mickelson said, “I knew I wanted to show that a disappeared package didn’t need to mean a completely new paradigm for the consumer or a great sacrifice for the brand. Disappeared packages retain all identity and marketing opportunities of traditional packaging solutions. I think consumers want to be green, but they’re not ready to make profound changes to their normal routines to do it.

[Images via Disappearing Package]

Samantha Lile


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