Our vision of a deposit packaging system brought alive by a prototyped mini shelf.

Our current packaging system needs to change!

The massive amounts of plastic waste should stop. That is the strong desire of many people and companies. Though innovation goes slow. Food producers are struggling to find more eco-friendly packaging solutions. As food innovators we see that it is very difficult to come to a real sustainable packaging solution for that one product of that one company. Future-proof packaging needs a redesign of the whole system.


Coffee, tomatoes and pasta in the same re-usable pots

We believe in a cross-industry deposit system. Actually, it is a very simple and straight forward idea. It’s not new either. We have already proven that we can do it with soda bottles. Now we have to stretch the system to pots, bowls and trays. As design thinkers we believe in the power of prototyping. Creating an image of a vision, is more powerful than a thousand words.

Our estimate: 100 packaging formats can pack 80% of products, currently packed in single-use plastics

Learning by prototyping

So we ordered some PET-pots, went to the supermarket, took some scissors and tape and made a mini shelf of uniform pots. While doing so we immediately started to learn. Which type of product can go in these uniform pots, and which don’t? Some products need ventilation holes like cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. Light sensitive products, like coffee, need darkened pots. While liquid content asks an extra aluminum lid inside to close the pot more secure. We also discovered that our ordered pots were too small for crisps and cookies. On the other side the pots demand a lot of storage space, so a nest-able model would be better.

Pots for veggies will need ventilation holes.


Stretch to bowls, trays and firm bread bags

We concluded that there should also be a range of uniform bowls for salads and ready-to-eat meals, squeezable bottles for sauces and rectangle trays for pastry, brittle cookies and alike. Bread and crisps will need firm multiple-use bags. For now, we estimate that around 100 basic packaging formats can pack more than 80% of supermarket products that are currently packed in single-use plastics.


Big change behind the scenes

We are not naïve. Although it may look simple, we realize that the biggest challenge is behind the scenes. It will ask for large adaptations and investments in food production lines, it will demand a big logistic system to return, clean and distribute the re-usable packaging again. Consumers, food producing, retail and logistic companies need to co-operate heavily and step over individual interests. The biggest hurdle is that this change will not directly contribute to higher sales and profits.


we can do it!

But we believe that we can and need do this as mankind. If we want it hard enough, put our joint energy behind, we are smart enough to do so. Therefore, we envisioned this solution, in hope it will evoke reactions and people will see it as a tangible and do-able way forward.


Chewing gum and a sandwich salad spread in the same pot.

what’s your reaction?

Are you thinking as a food or packaging professional why it would NOT work for your product(s)? Then, you might also ask yourself, do I really want to contribute to a better system or do I just want to boost sales of my own company?

Do you start thinking how we can make this idea better, how we can make parties co-operate and how we can make it real? Great! … then you are an optimistic design thinker too. Please let us know your ideas via contact@foodbydesign.nl. Or share this blog via social media.

If you are future oriented and actively searching for new solutions? please give us a call and we can explore together how we can create better food and packaging systems. Contact us via contact@foodbydesign.nl or call Marleen 0653186848 or Marielle 0624627949


PS 1; Yes, we know Loop. And we love it. It inspired us, although we believe the uniform packaging idea can have more impact in the regular supermarket. Therefore the back-end and system behind is very different.

PS 2; Is your brand here? Sorry if it is not perfectly adjusted to the pots. It was just a quick prototyping exercise. Brands and product have been chosen randomly.