Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Neat Box of Tricks

Rapid Packing Container

Boxes within boxes within boxes....

Like many lucky houses at this time of year, mine is filled with a stack of cardboard boxes in which gifts arrived from the glorious internet. Here they are teetering in my basement. This is nowhere near the number of boxes there actually are, because they are nested one inside the other, to reduce the size of the pile. They are still in my basement because I am one of those people afflicted with the inability to waste a perfectly good box that might, at some distant future time, be needed for somethingorother.

But they take up space and remind me, every time I see them, to feel a pang of guilt about all the wood pulp shopping via the internet uses.

This is why I love folks like these guys from Cooper Union, Henry Wang and Chris Curro, who re-designed the humble cardboard box to be easier to use, less wasteful, take up less space, and be reusable to boot.

They are seeking funding to get their box — the rapid packing container — out into the world.

Packaging has always been important, but the way we purchase and use foods underwent an enormous change in the 1970s due to he invention of the Tetrapak — that now ubiquitous folded card-based box that your milk (and juice) comes in. It made the Rausings (the family whose company developed and owns this technology) into billionaires.

Nearly everyone in the world has used one of these

Some might say that the aesthetic charm of the bottle as a packaging medium was lost when the almighty Tetrapak made its way onto shelves, and they’d be right.

Tetrapaks don't clink like bottles, but they don't break, either

But bottles are heavy, round, breakable, and it takes a lot to recycle them. If you want the pleasure of storing and pouring your milk and juice from bottles, then buy some and decant your Tetrapakaged liquids into them once you get home. Then you can squash the empty box flat and recycle it.

Good luck, Wang and Curro — I hope to see Amazon invest in your box in time for next year’s holiday season. 

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