We’ve all bought something, whether at Costco or another retailer, that came in one of those frustrating, plastic clamshell packages. And probably more than one of us got a cut trying to break into the package and retrieve the item. They’re annoying and dangerous, plus, all that plastic isn’t very good for the environment. From the branding aspect, the labeling is usually obscured somewhat by all the clunky plastic packaging. So, no one likes those packages and now Costco is doing something about it!
With the help of packaging company MWV and their Natralock product, Costco will be rolling out new packages on at least five high value items. Natralock is made with paperboard that contains up to 30 percent recycled content, uses less plastic than traditional clamshell packaging, and features a compact bubble for product display. This new packaging will allow customers to get in easier, while using environmentally friendly materials that can easily be separated from the plastic and recycled. Since Natralock is tear-resistant, it will also keep those amongst us with sticky fingers from walking out of the store with something they didn’t pay for.
“It’s all about doing the right thing for our members and the world we live in,” explains Scott Carnie, General Manager of Costco East Coast Packaging. “At the core of our company philosophy is the implicit understanding that each of us must conduct ourselves in an ethical manner every day. That includes protecting our natural resources. In fact, the Costco Employee Code of Ethics states we will exceed ecological standards in every community where we do business and provide products to our members that will be ecologically sensitive.”
From the customer’s perspective, the Natralock packaging can easily be opened with a normal pair of scissors and since there’s not as much plastic the majority of the packaging can be recycled. With the old clamshell packaging, you had to try to cut through that heavy seamed edge, if you could, and then the majority of the package was plastic so it couldn’t be recycled. But for me the real problem was always the frustration of just trying to liberate my purchase; like a little plastic prison cell for products.
The key component in the Natralock packaging is paperboard (Coated Natural Kraft paperboard, to be exact), which is made using recycled materials and in turn can also be recycled. The Natralock packages are made by placing items in a “bubble” that is made from APET (amorphous polyester), which is much preferred environmentally over current plastics, the bubble is then sandwiched between two pieces of paperboard and sealed. Voila, packaging that you can get into! The new packaging is also good for product branding and information because there’s a much larger area surrounding the product that is made of paper.
“Consumers are holding the retailer, rather than the manufacturer, increasingly accountable for over packaging,” states Mike Skrovanek, MeadWestvaco’s general manager for Natralock. “Retailers like Costco can use their clout to make the retail packaging changes consumers are now demanding. Costco has been a very progressive partner willing to look at new ideas, to make changes for a positive environmental performance.”
All in all, the new packaging sounds like a better solution for manufacturers, consumers, Costco, and even the environment. I like that Costco is taking a leadership role in getting better packaging for product, as well as environmental issues.
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