• Gary Robinson

Synaptic Connections Newsletter 2019 Week#36

Updated: Sep 16, 2019

September 2, 2019 www.Synapticpackaging.com Image - Savannah, Georgia Coast, by Joesph Mack

Week#36 of 2019

Good morning! Today is Labor Day in the USA and hopefully you are reading this while relaxing and enjoying the long weekend. For those new joining us - welcome! We are exploring Sustainability and currently on the topic of ReThink Waste.

Last week we put forward a challenger thought on the traditional closed-loop model as it relates to disposable packaging. We hope you enjoyed the shift in perspective and that perhaps you wrestled with the idea a bit. Well, since we are putting forward some challenger thoughts… let’s go one step further. How about a world that uses less disposable packaging? Let’s explore reusable and refillable solutions.

The idea is not new, hardly. Who remembers Charles Chips in a metal can? Ok, so that is a very early memory and I’m dating myself now…. If you are not familiar, then drop it in your search engine and you can have a look. Charles Chip was a home delivery service for potato chips, cookies, and pretzel snacks. You subscribed to a program, and the Charles Chips delivery truck would show up at your house with fresh chips. While this is a fun memory the idea is having a very modern resurgence with the emergence of e-commerce and autonomous vehicles.

Let’s have a look at a case study example, and segments where we see opportunity for innovation.

As a successful example, we can start by looking on the back dock of your favorite home improvement retailer, or grocery store. On the back dock you are likely to see a stack of pallets. Before you discount this discussion as industrial, low-tech, and boring, hang with me a bit here. Pallets are really strong and robust, they can also be costly when you look at the number needed to support your supply chain. Service providers such as Chep have built a very successful business in manufacturing high quality pallets, delivering them where you need them, then collecting and refurbishing the pallets when done. Here is where the business model gets very interesting…. The offering from Chep is anchored in the service. To execute on that service, the business is equal parts IT, manufacturing, and logistics. As a service provider with multiple touch-points, the customer relationship is rich with opportunities to bring enhanced value on small increments. As an IT company, the business model is rich in data. As a logistics company they have an opportunity to capitalize on that data to make measurable Sustainability claims and improvements. Are you starting to see the benefits here? Perhaps the old model of disposable packaging manufacturing and sales is ready for a re-boot.

To expand on this point, let’s have a look at some common products that could be good candidates for re-usable or refillable packaging systems. In this category, we favor products that are consumed at-home as a starting point. That is not to discount the value of a reusable water container or coffee cup - those are great! The in-home experience offers broader opportunity for innovation and service.

Since I’ve already dated myself with Charles Chips, I’ll ask another dated question…. ‘How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop’? In a similar fashion, how many times can you use a trigger sprayer?* Why do we use it for one 28oz bottle and then throw it away? Perhaps one of the biggest opportunity areas would be cosmetics and premium personal care packaging. Products such as shampoos, conditioners, shower soaps, toothpastes, and lotions. In the Food Service category, products such as condiments are good candidates.

Many brands have looked at this idea in the past, however, the studies often were flawed because the traditional CPG mindset was applied treating a refillable system as a fancy disposable version. There is also a needs-gap with service providers. This is an area we see ripe for innovation. Reflect for a minute on our pallet example above. Now, combine that with the emergence of e-commerce, the opportunities presented by integrating big-data, and opportunity to out serve and customize solutions in the home of the consumer. The idea has merit and presents growth potential. Perhaps even an effective strategy for a 'non-sustainable' packaging converter that is seeking to re-invent themselves. Give us a call if you’d like to explore these thoughts further.

*Also, if you are wondering about the trigger sprayer question - they typically can last over 5,000 cycles; and, I have no clue how many licks it takes to get to a center of a Tootsie Pop :-)

Enjoy your Labor Day holiday and have a great week!

Packaging Sustainability//

ReThink Waste//

The purpose of this newsletter is to stimulate innovative thoughts and constructive dialogue through the lens of sustainability.  New subscribers can send an e-mail to the link below to sign-up. 

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