Another life

Packaging is not necessarily short lived – a mere protective carrier for a product. There are many examples where once the original contents are consumed, the container then has another life determined and encouraged at the point of design.

The box bag’s (1) original use, for example, was to boost Christmas sales of Merle Norman cosmetics. It was offered free with a coupon and any $20 purchase. It could, of course, simply be refilled and used on the dressing table, but the design was such that it could be repurposed as a box bag. It is made from injection moulded polystyrene with a lid faceted to resemble cut crystal and a tortoiseshell effect base. The relatively low-cost materials and production methods enabled it to be offered as a cost effective incentive to purchase.


The Mars Celebrations tub (2) was introduced in late 2008, replacing the traditional metal tin, reducing weight and thus transportation costs. Once empty, reuse was encouraged through a printed message on the label. The container can be used in the microwave and freezer and is dishwasher safe.


The Brompton House bakery products boxes (3-4), made from polypropylene (PP), are primarily effective protective packaging for delicate goods, but the wrappers prominently display the words ‘includes container reusable recyclable’ encouraging use beyond their original purpose. Moulded symbols on the base show that they are food safe, and can be used in a microwave, dishwasher and freezer.


Confectionary packaged in what is essentially a toy is an effective inducement to buy, particularly when sold as part of a set. The polyethylene tub in the shape of a football was designed to hold vanilla ice cream. Manufactured for Tonibell, the Miniball (5) was sold for one shilling in 1968 and, once empty, the packaging could be used as a ball. It came in a range of six colours and was marketed to encourage children to collect the whole set. Other examples of confectionary packaging with a pre-determined second life include this group of footballer heads (6-9), a water gun bubble gum container (10), a sweet container in the form of a mobile phone (11), and four acrobat slider toys (12-15) with sweets once contained in the tube.