Student teams work to create a circular economy for small format packaging

Over the years InnovationSpace has partnered with different companies on projects ranging from Procter & Gamble, to product concepts for healthy aging in women over 65 as well as health and beauty care products for people who are blind, to product concepts for therapeutic toys that help children master the physical, cognitive and emotional challenges of autism with majorToy.

This year InnovationSpace is working with The Sustainability Consortium in partnership with representatives from Burt’s Bees, Clorox, Colgate-Palmolive, Mars, P&G, and others to conduct a project that will help companies meet the goals they’ve laid out for recyclability and to meet the mission of making products sustainable. The student teams are looking at the recyclability and circularity goals of small format packaging, defined by the Association for Plastics Recycling as items smaller than 3” in all dimensions. The purpose of this collaborative project is to establish an improved understanding by companies and other stakeholders of the barriers to recycling small format packaging so that they can make decisions related to meeting their sustainability goals, improving product design, conducting consumer education, advocating for policy, and building partnerships that facilitate end markets for plastics. InnovationSpace brings together experts from the industry who provide firsthand, actionable information on a recycling challenge that is unsolved.

Exploring the feasibility of the potential solutions provides an opportunity for students to collaborate with each other as they conduct landscape research and map an issue ecosystem. Throughout the process the teams will conduct surveys, onsite analyses, and lastly develop guidelines based on learnings. Using the Design Process taught throughout the InnovationSpace, class students explore this open-ended project with the idea that there is not yet a set solution, but room for research and exploration. This process allows for students to have a nontraditional classroom experience that provides a space for them to think creatively. This transdisciplinary experience gives students a strong foundation when trying to solve large-scale, complex problems. To explore this project and more, visit

Recent updates

View blog
View blog