Can packaging go extinct?

You go to the grocery story or several for your weekly or bi weekly load up of groceries. You buy all the stuff. You bring it home. The next step for a fair amount of stuff is getting rid of the packaging. Packaging serves a variety of potential purposes from protection to advertising. Looked at from a different angle though, why am I not getting a lot less packaging? I’m thinking of a biodegradable bag with a biodegradable sticker. I’m not saying that works in every case but it seems like it would work in a lot more cases. From an incentive standpoint, I’m thinking of all the hidden dollars in creating, transporting, and getting rid of all that packaging. I don’t mean to be glib that this wouldn’t introduce things that would need to be addressed. From an imagination standpoint though how could this work?

A different thought: could product be delivered in bulk to the retail location, loaded in to a machine, and then dispensed into either my existing bags or the biodegradable ones mentioned above? Packaging could still sit on shelves sort of like having to bring the box up for expensive items. Way bigger capital outlay at the point of sale and big design challenges to overcome. Why not push this as close to the consumer as possible? Wouldn’t this allow me to essentially program what I need and have it all ready to go instead of hand picking it in whatever size I want? (That does tend to commoditize products)

For the grocery stuff, I could see a smaller size grocery (Trader Joe’s size store) maybe making something like that work. Another stray thought: if we can deliver high quality meals through vending machines in Japan, why can’t we make something like the above work?

One last thought: why can’t some thing like shoe boxes be used essentially indefinitely? Make them out of plastic with tabs so they can be flattened post use and carted back to the manufacturer. Slap new labels on them and send them out again.

Here endeth the rant on packaging.

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