The amount of packaging in the world is just amazing me lately. I have already mentioned this for food items, see idea 28, though that was mostly about encouraging recycling. This time around I am thinking more about all the other stuff; toys, small furniture, small machines, computers, cups, dishes, pots and pans. Each and everyone has different box of a different size and material. Many do get recycled and if all is well, end up as boxes again.
What if we simply had re-usable boxes for everything? One of the magic things about the shipping industry is the standard container sizes. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to ship, if everyone was providing their own type of containers! Why aren’t we doing the same for consumer goods? These could be lego-like boxes that come in maybe 5-25 sizes, but all can fit together.
The outside would be sturdy and light, with a clear folder/slot for the supplier logo and marketing material on one side, or even just a screen! Each of them would be trackable and key locked for the consumer to open it on receipt of the item. These boxes could be folded together and their collection would either be by dollar refund at the store or even by the local trash collectors. A dedicated company would take on distributing these back to manufacturers and collecting them in each country. The manufacturer would only pay a rental fee for each box which would reduce the amount in packaging and labelling greatly. They might still have to design the inside of the box with throw away (recyclable) cardboard and foam-like packaging material.
This would also simplify shipping and stocking, and even reduce damaged goods from transit. Most of all it should save the environment.
BTW: This idea is going by the assumption that it is better for the environment to create millions of reusable boxes, such as we already do with food containers, rather than making cardboard boxes, but that might not be true!
[one_two_first]Complexity: 2 / 5
Viability: 1 / 5[/one_two_first]
[one_two_second]Impact: 4 / 5
Estimated Startup Cost: <$500K For viable prototypes and introductions [/one_two_second]
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If you know of similar idea that already exists as a product, let me know in the comments.