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Modular storage - the USB of plastic packaging

A modular food storage system designed to cut back on waste by less less repackaging, ease of use to reuse, either permanent or disposable

Photo of Marjorie Owner
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This is a design for a modular storage system. If food packaging was modular and universal, it would make for easier storage and use. Think of how easy to integrate if standard, such as power cords. There can still be multiple brands of items however having a universal fit meant for food packaging it would store more easily and waste less - space, food and plastic.  You can raise awareness by imprinting recycling info AND having a financial contribution from each item go towards https://www.theoceancleanup.com/ or similar - so as creating better plastics, help reduce those in the waste stream.  This becomes a win-win as a social cause to those companies that participate.

How does this research relate to our Use Cases?

If you have a food packaging system that is simplified it will create less plastic waste overall. Less lids may invoke use of tear away films and foils, but those can be printed with recycling messages. You are likely to reuse containers if they are easy to store. In the US before the proliferation of plastics, many moms saved the 'margarine tubs' for storage - but you never knew what was in it! If items came clear that were reusable and easy to store, there would be a reuse trend.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

You have to bring awareness (Macklemore's pop song / ebay clothing made it ok to shop used clothing), or else by Gov't intervention. Companies on their own do not "do the right thing" if it impacts their shareholders. We used to recycle glass bottles as there was a fee attached. Now no incentive to encourage reuse or recycling - to the public or companies. Recycle logos / info should be prominent

Tell us about yourself

I've been working on this patented system since 2001. The idea of a modular container system that would be simple to use from store to fridge to table would encourage both less food and packaging waste. I'm a designer and innovator and work on ideas that are mostly reuse - remodel - recycle.

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Photo of Lauren Ito

Marjorie Owner these are great insights!

I like that you highlighted the idea of system simplicity in your findings. Our ideas phase of the challenge launches in 2 days time. Super excited to see this research translated into a contribution! In the next phase of the challenge, I would love to connect you with some individuals creating materials alternatives in our OpenIDEO community.

Looking forward to seeing you in the ideas phase.

Photo of Marjorie Owner

I would love that, it would be great to have some partners on this. When you are a startup that is underfunded, you have to get it made however that happens. I think Minneapolis is a hotbed of agriculture innovation but the corn based plastics are still unstable enough to be risky (may not be stable for multi use in a damp enviroment. I've worked on this for 15 years and there has been much research and studies done as a venture capital group helped with this early on. I have a big plan but that will come later.

Photo of Marjorie Owner

Lauren I came across this and not sure where it should be added but of interest to you? https://www.greenerpackage.com/recycling/unilever_develops_technology_tackle_plastic_sachet_waste

Photo of Lauren Ito

Marjorie Owner thank you so much for thinking of OpenIDEO and sending us this link and excited to have you in the ideas phase of the challenge!

Photo of Marjorie Owner

Lauren - Thank you, I will get my project into the ideas challenge as I really see it as having value as a long term strategy. Not so much with some of the small plastic one use items you are working on, but store to table will certainly save on packaging!

Photo of Marjorie Owner

Hi Lauren Ito - FYI - Almost exactly a year later, I'll be in San Francisco (actually Fremont) for the Clean Tech open kick-off for this sustainable modular system. 6/8/2018 https://www.cleantechopen.org/