A green future: Three eco-friendly trends you should be keeping an eye on

QR Codes

QR Codes

QR (Quick Response) Codes have been touted by many industry insiders as the next big thing North American marketers should be paying attention to.

The 2D bar codes store data on QR-enabled mobile camera phones that can be translated and viewed directly on the phone, or transferred and decoded on home computers. They can also be deployed to help marketers cut down on paper use. For example, instead of printing POP brochures, a CPG brand could include a QR Code on-pack for consumers to scan and download. They can also be used to replace paper coupons.

They’re already big in Japan, even popping up on flour bags to transmit recipes for busy moms.

‘It’s been around for probably about eight to 10 years in Japan,’ says Glen Hunt, creative catalyst at Toronto-based Dentsu Canada. ‘[Japan is] our future. Everything we see there, I have no doubt we will see here.’

Dentsu has set up an educational microsite for marketers about QR Codes at knowmorenow.ca.

Biodegradable palm fibre-based packaging

Petroleum-based packaging isn’t exactly a friend of the environment so Vancouver-based Earthcycle Packaging has launched an alternative: compostable palm fibre-based packaging for items like takeout restaurant food and produce. ‘From a dollars and cents point of view, our material is competitive with plastic and many paperboard/fibre applications,’ says Earthcycle president Shannon Boase.

Palm fibre, which takes about 90 days to decompose, is typically considered waste from the palm fruit (palm oil is used in food and cosmetics), and its re-use as a packaging element lessens noxious disposal practices via incineration.

Clients include Wal-Mart and Loblaw, which are using the packaging for produce, and EuroFresh Farms, which uses the trays for its cherry tomatoes.

Plastic bag reduction

San Francisco recently banned retail use of environmentally harmful single-use plastic bags. And, early last month Manitoba town Leaf Rapids did the same in an initiative sponsored by Mississauga, Ont.-based InStore Products, which produces reusable cloth grocery bags and stackable boxes. ‘We were looking to spark a debate about plastic bags across the country,’ explains Matt Wittek, InStore’s sales and marketing manager.

On top of being eco-friendly, eliminating plastic bags saves stores money, too. ‘Retailers are jumping on board because it makes sense,’ says Wittek.

Meanwhile, in mid-April Brampton, Ont-based Loblaw Companies introduced ‘Canada’s greenest shopping bag,’ a reusable bag made with 85% post-consumer recycled plastic, mostly from water bottles. The bags are available in-store for 99 cents (which consumers get back via 10-cent discounts each time they use the bags) and can be brought back to Loblaw stores to be recycled again when they wear out.