Project Management

Footprints of Innovation

From the People, Planet, Profits & Projects Blog
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Richard Maltzman
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Categories: packaging, plastic

First and foremost, People, Planet, Profits, and Projects wishes you and your family the utmost in terms of staying healthy and well.  We will recover from the COVID-19 crisis, and perhaps we will be more focused on things that can be considered threats to the entire planet when we do.  I plan to blog on that topic but as comedians often say…. Too soon.

So I will continue featuring projects which embed sustainability thinking, projects aimed at sustainability as an outcome, and organizations which establish themselves around sustainability and the ‘triple bottom line’.

Case in point is Footprint – recently featured by FastCompany Magazine as one of the Most Innovative Companies, for leading business toward plastic alternatives. 

I think that their start-up story is amazing.  Paraphrasing from the FastCompany article:

Footprint was started by Troy Swope in 2013 with Yoke Chung, a close friend and now the company’s chief technology officer.  Their mission: tackle food packaging’s environmental and human-health problems. They started by doing what some of do whenever we’re in a supermarket (actually now I long for those days)… looking through the aisles for over-use of plastic— toothbrush boxes, packaged wine, fruit (see photo below).  Then, these two would simply cold-call the manufacturer in hopes of business.

What’s their business?

Let’s let them tell you themselves! 

Right: they are working on a plastic-free world.  So basically, it’s a materials-science company, applying that science to packaging.

To see a short video from FastCompany about Footprint, view below:

Okay here comes the part I like best about this story, and why I write this blog called People, Planet, Profit and Projects.  This touches all of the bases.  Turns out that the founders both worked at Intel.

They believed that the way Intel was packaging its semiconductors wasn’t optimal. One of the world’s most advanced tech companies was shipping half-million-dollar bundles of microchips in plastic containers that leached—or “outgassed”—volatile organic compounds. Swope got permission to form a department with the sole task of innovating packaging. His team used advanced polymers developed for aerospace to protect wafers (the flat sheet of silicon upon which a microchip is built) from moisture, oxygen, and other contaminants, ultimately saving Intel $350 million over a four-year period.

So, people, focused on the planet, started a project which helped Intel make more profit.  Better yet, it helped launch a company now recognized by a top magazine as being one of the most innovative companies of 2020.  It’s all there!

How are they innovating?  How about this:

(Footprint now makes a packing) product that’s been used by Target and Walmart to protect TVs from damage during shipment. Over the past six years, Footprint secured nine patents that cover 125 distinct inventions, including a biodegradable six-pack ring that has more give than its dolphin-entangling polymer counterpart but degrades in saltwater after 12 hours.

I’m impressed and happy to read about their sustainability-oriented success.  At a minimum it’s a great distractor from the bombardment of bad news we’re getting every day.  So read more about it in the full article from FastCompany and tool around the Footprint website for inspiration.  Maybe you could launch a sustainability-oriented project at your company and the next thing you know, you’ll be featured in an international business magazine!


Posted by Richard Maltzman on: April 13, 2020 10:21 PM | Permalink

Comments (2)

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Thanks for sharing, very interesting article.

Interesting story and company.

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"Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of themselves."

- Bertrand Russell