Packaging Design in the Circular Economy: Reuse Models in Fast-Moving Consumer Goods
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Multinational fast-moving consumer goods corporations such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and Coca-Cola are the highest producers of plastic pollution in the world, and yet take little-to-no responsibility for the waste after the end of their product’s useful life. Single-use plastics, such as those used for bottles, wrappers, straws, bags, and more, end up wasted in landfills, waterways, and ecosystems all around the world. The challenges associated with managing large and diverse streams of waste are complex, and the repercussions can be far-reaching, but the circular economy has proved to be promising in eliminating some of this stress. The circular economy is a proposed economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources and has tremendous organizing potential. In this thesis, I will discuss the catastrophic impact of the United States’ single-use plastics addiction and evaluate the reusable methods of packaging among various types of household products in an attempt to drastically cut single-use plastics output. I will specifically focus on the opportunities and challenges of “refillables,” or items where consumers can easily obtain regular household items in bulk. I will evaluate similar circular economy projects that already exist in the market using reuse models, such as the Unboxed Market in Canada that has completely eliminated single-use plastics, and create a cost-savings model to demonstrate how a company can implement circular economy into their overall strategy.