Biodegradable mushroom packaging--that's thinking out of the box and very impressive. I hope we apply this type of innovation throughout the packaging indutry. We provide protective packaging for large things such airplanes, automobiles, military equipment. See how planes are 'packaged' for corrosion protection at http://www.protectivepackaging.net/
Paper packaging can be a definite plus to end users. Clamshell packages can be unsafe when you need to open them with a knife. Using recycled pulp for containers is a great way to use the material at one last time before it ends up in a landfill.
I would have to agree that clamshell packaging can be wasteful, Especially since it is usually intended for single use. I also don't like the clam shells that you need to cut through (I like snap designs the best).
While going green to cut back waste is good, thought must be put into how rugged the enviro-friendly package must be able to withstand packing, stacking, & shipping.
The clamshell packaging is wasteful and tough to get into. I am glad Gillette has already implemented a new design to cut back waste, however I wonder how many more companies will do the same and change their packaging design.
There are many good biologically-based materials out there, but they have always been looked down upon. Fortunately, we now have buzzwords for these things: "biomaterials," "renewable," etc.
There is an excellent book out there for anyone with an engineering background who is interested in biologically-based materials. It is called Mechanical Design in Organisms. It describes a wide variety of naturally-occurring materials and structures in terms of engineering mechanics. Portions are available on Google Books. It is also available on Amazon.
My thesis advisor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Dr. Pradeep Rohatgi, got his start working on composites reinforced with natural materials such as banana, coconut, and sisal.
Personally, I am hoping to get a chance to take a couple of biology classes at the local community college sometime in the near future. As an engineering student, I never took a single biology class in college. Looking back, I think this left a gap in my education. Maybe part of the reason why biologically-based materials have been so little used is the lack of familiarity on the part of many engineers.
Even using scissors on those clamshells is tough. Of course, without those hard plastic containers, the American public never would have been introduced to the "As Seen on TV" cutter made especially for those impossible to open without cutting your hand packages. It's good to see companies moving toward more environmentally friendly materials even if they might cost them more to produce.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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