Computer: Packaging
Rental Packaging   (+9, -1)  [vote for, against]
stays the property of the supplier.

Whenever you buy a computer, piece of HiFi equipment or similar large piece of electronica you get a large cardboard box and enough custom shaped polystyrene blocks to rebuild the Berlin wall. It's a pain and feels deeply environmentally unfriendly to dispose of these.

What I propose is a new breed of packaging. This would be more solid and stylish. You could still use cardboard boxes but make them a little more solid. The packing material would be of the kind (possibly still polystyrene) that doesn't crumble into little white pieces and could be felt covered.

The product you bought would be packed inside this cocoon for transit, safe in it's own quality sealed bag. The unpacking instructions would include a section on setting up and testing the device (to make sure that you don't have to return it immediately) and then instructions and a postage label to send the packing materials back to the supplier.

If the device subsequently goes wrong and needs to be returned you'd request a set of packaging and one would be sent out to you.

If you want to box the device up to move house you could request a set of packaging and one would be sent out to you (at a reasonable price).

The manufacturer makes cost savings (say the packaging costs 2-3 times as much but can survive 20 round trips). The consumer makes storage savings as they have no large boxes to keep. The world makes environmental savings as less polystryene and cardboard appear in the rubbish. Everybody wins.
-- st3f, Jul 25 2002

Road Cases
[waugsqueke, Jul 26 2002]

Tangentially baked in the form of drinks bottles which can be redeemed for cash, but an excellent idea. I too feel pangs of guilt when throwing away huge blocks of polystyrene.
-- hippo, Jul 25 2002

Recyclable Croissant
-- thumbwax, Jul 25 2002

This sounds good though I'm not convinced the packaging cost savings would match the shipping and supplier storage costs.
-- FarmerJohn, Jul 25 2002

[FarmerJohn] I'd guess that the storage costs of a polystyrene are comparable to the cost of 'storing' it in landfill.
-- hippo, Jul 25 2002

What about a council provided facility for people to deposit (for free) polystyrene, separated into two main areas for those little loose bits and sheets/big lumps - a warehouse if you like. This packaging could then be available for purchase, either by companies or private individuals for re-use. It would prevent at least some of it going to landfill.
-- drew, Jul 25 2002

I get my vegetables delivered by mail, and the supplier uses air-filled plastic thingies (about 6" by 4") to pack them. These, and the cardboard box, can be returned to the supplier for re-use, using a pre-paid label. So, semi-baked.
-- angel, Jul 25 2002

That's amazing, angel - how do they breathe?
-- thumbwax, Jul 25 2002

Baked - Flight cases.
-- Mayfly, Jul 25 2002

salachair has an accordion (!) case that pretty much fits the requirements of this, though it is made of metal and crubber-coated metal and polystyrene has been replaced with stiff grey foam. [Is that what a flight-case is, Mayfly?]
-- calum, Jul 25 2002

The reduction in the cost of packaging may be offset significantly by the cost of handling and storing the returned packaging.
-- half, Jul 25 2002

Does no one have an attic to put boxes in anymore?

The company I work for sells some rather large computer cases that require odd shaped boxes not easily acquired elsewhere. The customers more often than not discard their packaging when the system arrives, and they are not happy at all if it has to be sent in for repair because it takes an extra 3 days for new boxes to arrive. This happens so often that we now place a large warning inside the box that says "Save this packaging!"
-- Mr Burns, Jul 25 2002

Hurrah! an environmentally aware idea! Croissant.
General notice: If you're in the UK, and you shop at Sainsbury's, be aware that you can re-use your carrier bags and get a penny back each time: they usually have a charity box for the pennies, or if you really want you could save them yourself I suppose. I don't know whether other supermarkets do this. I don't think many people take advantage of it at Sainsbury's either, because I always have to tell the checkout girl that I'm re-using bags.
Anyway, get into the habit, because soon enough we'll be taxed on shopping bags (Ireland already does). Tsk tsk, passing on the costs of the manufacturer's overzealous packaging to the consumer. Tsk. I know my rights!
-- sappho, Jul 25 2002

hippo & brackforn: I, and many others around here, take recycling seriously and that of course includes cardboard and plastic packaging. I don't even consider landfills an option. Recycling costs energy and money but so does "sending it back" by truck/plane/ship, which could be a worse choice environmentally.

To make this work (and angel says it does already, returning bags of air), one needs the right combination of cost advantage, consumer pressure, Government decree and common sense.
-- FarmerJohn, Jul 25 2002

Have a rental croissant, I expect it back though. And don't leave any jam traces or anything on it either.
-- kaz, Jul 25 2002

I like the idea, but have to add my two cents by saying Hewlett-Packard sells toner cartidges with (free shipping) return labels so you can send the empty toner cartridge back.
-- phoenix, Jul 25 2002

Let's have the works, then. Built custom road-case style containers, with steel latches and corner protectors and recessed handles. Custom cut-to-fit foam lining... black laminate outer shell with the product name spray-painted in stencil...

Yes... I want one for my PDA!

(I could probably get one for my PDA if I wanted to spend the money. I know many road case manufacturers will custom-build.)
-- waugsqueke, Jul 26 2002

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