As a packaging designer and nature lover, I dream of the day when material science and manufacturing can deliver on not only the promise of zero environmental impact, but also high performance, premium finish and low costs. Many breakthroughs have begun to deliver on the promise: PaperFoam, RPET and PLA to name a few. However, many of these materials still cannot compete on performance—and especially not on price.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the commodity materials market has been flooded by new manufacturers from the East, thus increasing the global supply and significantly lowering costs. In addition, the light-weighting movement in the plastics bottling industry and single-stream recycling both test the long-term financial viability of the material recycling industry since they collect on volume and are compensated by weight.