Companies that know they need to expand their eco-friendly practices are looking for ways to either limit packaging or to make packaging more sustainable, but that can "leave a hole in the product development process," says Pierre-Francois Thaler, co-founder and co-CEO of EcoVadis (via FoodDive).
Instead of filling this hole with generic recycled materials, consider storied plastics, he suggests. Storied plastics provide an opportunity for a brand to differentiate itself by giving a product color and background via the story of where its material originated.
“The traceable, ‘origin story’ component of material comprised of products and packaging people have interacted with in their own lives can be communicated clearly and effectively to today’s highly discerning consumer,” wrote Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle, in Huffington Post last spring.
Timberland is one company that has found great success using storied material in a product, and then sharing that story to make the product successful. The outdoor clothing company’s Thread line is created from plastic material gathered from the streets and landfills of Haiti. The plastic is made into a raw material called flake, which is then sent to U.S.-based factories where it is turned into fiber and woven into fabric. Timberland and the Thread team share the stories on the Timberland website, which has seen two times the engagement on its social and digital channels compared to any of its other CSR content. And consumers are spending 33 percent more time on the Thread page than on other pages of the Timberland site, the company says.
Timberland’s success would seem to back up results of a recent Unilever survey that indicates 33 percent of consumers choose purchases based in part upon the sustainability of the companies behind the brands, which indicates an opportunity for companies to use their environmental initiatives as a driver of sales.
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