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Competing Students Create New Wegmans Packaging

Eight teams of students at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) took part in the 2015 Wegmans Design Challenge, which tasks participants to reimagine packaging with more consumer appeal. The two winning 2015 teams offered up more sustainable approaches to orange juice cartons and yogurt containers.

The challenge was part of a fall semester class in which students from the packaging science department in RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology joined with students from the industrial design and graphic design departments in the university’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences to form multidisciplinary teams. The challenge, which each year features different products, provides students with hands-on skills in project management, marketing and the incorporation of sustainable designs in product development.

“We know this is about design, marketability and improving the use of products, but I’m glad the teams emphasized sustainability,” said Jason Wadsworth, sustainability manager at Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans Food Markets and one of the competition’s judges. “Our Wegmans customers are aware of sustainability, and it matters to them and to us. I’m impressed with the work. This was a win.”

The teams reworked the packaging for Wegmans’ premium orange juice and Greek yogurt. All projects had to include strategies regarding changes in packaging structure, the materials used, and improvements to graphic and ergonomic elements. The teams also had to provide evidence of sustainable use and cost savings.

Innovative Designs

The triumphant Orange Juice Team 8 swapped the usual cardboard container for a clear, slim-line version that was fully recyclable. The updated carton enables more product to be shipped on pallets, reducing the number of individual crated items and transportation impacts.

Meanwhile, Team Moo conquered in the Greek yogurt category with a box-like, stackable design that featured a stronger lid in place of the foil normally found on such containers. Each yogurt flavor was indicated by color, with the Wegmans Organic leaf logo emphasized. Using this design, Wegmans could ship 37 percent more product, the equivalent, according to Team Moo, of 40,000 additional cups. That could potentially mean eliminating 16,000 square feet of corrugated paperboard per truck.

2015 was the seventh year for the collaborative course, which has incorporated products from Colgate-Palmolive, Sun Products, Kraft and Unilever, along with American Packaging and Wegmans. The last two companies were the original corporate supporters when the student projects first began.

Competition winners receive a monetary stipend for the submissions from the sponsoring company.


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