Thinking Outside the Box

Newton Running has been all over the environmental and packaging blogs this week with a story about our eco-friendly shoebox. The story reached a fever pitch with a re-post on The shoebox design mentioned in the treehugger story is cool to be sure, but after a lot of research we found out its not very sustainable for us to produce or ship the molded pulp shoe boxes.

We learned that not only were the pulp boxes significantly more expensive to make, but they are produced far from the footwear factory and they would dramatically increase overall freight costs because they do not stack in containers, warehouses or retail stores efficiently.

Newton has instead developed a new rectangular shoebox (pictured above) that is produced from 100% post consumer waste and uses soy-based inks. The new packaging is easy to store and ship, it’s lightweight and it’s easy to break down and recycle. Rather than tissue paper, we’re using recycled cardboard inserts (scraps from the box die-cut) to protect the shoes.

And, my mug is all over the new packaging, so naturally, I love it :-)

We think this new box is a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable solution to packaging and shipping our shoes. The molded pulp boxes are a classic example of the frequent disconnect between design and development. While the pulp design was innovative, ultimately we found that our new packaging has a significantly lower carbon footprint, and this is what we are striving to achieve in everything we do at Newton Running.

For those of you who want to read all the pros and cons of our boxy issue, keep reading.

Molded Pulp Box Cons
-Costly design and engineering required
-High production cost
-Produced far from the footwear factory, increased freight cost to ship between the two
-Tooling cost: multiple rounds of tooling required in development to finalize the design
-Loss of shipping optimization because of odd shape
-Significant increase for warehouse and storage with erected packaging
-Potential for higher rate of damage and warp
-The pulp package uses almost 2-3 times more paper fiber, which will increase overall freight cost for shipping each pair of shoes
-Retail may have challenges stacking boxes in storerooms
-Labels may delaminate due to the peeling from PCW flaking
-PCW is highly porous and will not withstand humid climates or perspiration from the hands of handlers
-Difficult to knock-down and recycle

The benefits of the current packaging:
-100% Post Consumer Waste
-Printable using soy based inks + aqueous (water-based) coating
-Labels will stick well to the side of the box
-Easy to store
-Easy to ship
-Lightweight and uses the minimum footprint and fiber needed to ship a pair of shoes
-Will perform in humid environment
-Produced close to footwear factory
-Minimal tooling
-Minimal design time
-Self-locking, easy to assemble
-Easy to knock-down

In essence we’ve learned through this process there is no sustainable package, only sustainable systems in which packaging lives.