One of the greatest things about my job is that I get to use geometry almost every day to come up with new ways to make packaging better. And by better, you can interpret that a few different ways.
There's certainly the idea that "less is more," and this was the underlying notion behind a public sustainability commitment we made as a company to reduce packaging by 5 percent between 2008 and 2013. It makes sense from an economic and environmental perspective—the fewer materials we use, the less cost we incur and the less waste that's potentially discarded.
But packaging also serves an important function in transportation, safety and functionality. Not to mention aesthetics. There's only so much you can take out before you start to lose the benefits and the product integrity that packaging provides.
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A wiser approach to packaging, and one that's an emerging trend throughout the industry, is the goal to optimize. This still takes into account how much packaging is needed by volume—and we're always looking to reduce that ratio—but it broadens the definition to consider integrity, portability, recyclability, reusability and overall life cycle of the product it contains. Once you start to play with those variables, that's where geometry comes in.