slam #1: reusable netflix mailing case

no doubt netflix is awesome, but it pains my heart to know that every time I get a new movie (which is wayyy too often for a design student) I’m wasting one of those big old evelopes. I was thinking about a transparent, slightly bendable (more durable than traditional cd cases), reusable case that comes with slots in which the netflix people insert laminate tags with the customer’s address. there would still hae to be some kind of seal on the case to cut down on theft - or would that really be a issue?

Good topic–I am amazed that they don’t already have reusable packaging! Does anybody know what their reasoning is for using disposable envelopes?

read my mind. excellent question.

i’m stuck on how to make a snap to securly shut the case for mailing - any suggestions? I’ll scan some drawings in class tommorrow…

They probably don’t have reusable packaging because of peoples perception about germs. Seems silly but for example, Kodack’s “disposable” camera’s are not disposed of. When you return one to get the film devloped, they mail it back to Kodack. Kodack, pops the guts out and reuses them 4 times (their is an internal counter). The shells are 100%styrene, including the graphics. They are reground, and reformed into new shells.

Ingenius little design. You would think they would work the sustainable marketing angle, but it focus tested negatively. People hated thinking they where using something someone else did, even though everything they touched was new.

Th origional designs, with the camera in the cardboard box, where even better. The cardstock was simply ripped off and recycled, and the entire unit reused.

Maybe it’s time has come though?

Awhile back I worked on a reusable mail package using xorel:

Which is a woven polycarb. Below is the final concept. The beauty of the material is that it is moldable like plastic, and then still sewable like fabric. So the idea was to mold it for strength, and then sew a zipper to two shells. When it was beat after a few uses, the zipper could be ripped out and the shells reground

Of course the tyvek fedEx uses is a pretty awesome material and could be reused as well.


Yo, I see your point about squeamishness and the Kodak thing is a really fascinating example, but I don’t buy it as the main issue with Netflix packaging. In the case of DVDs, the case is not the product. It isn’t being used, it isn’t something you hold up to your face like a camera. The case is just the packaging and it basically gets set aside and forgotten about. After all, people have absolutely no problem with Blockbuster cases. Besides, if a company sends you packaging that you can return the same product in, why would you bother throwing it away and buying new ‘hygienic’ packaging? (If I were to guess at Netflix’s reasoning with no background info whatsoever, I’d think it has something to do with cost. but that’s a wild guess.)

As far as sealing the package…heavy duty velcro? reusable adhesive? Maybe the return label is a sticker that seals the package? One little disposable sticker is not ideal but it’s better than a big disposable envelope.

by snap I’m talking about something to seal a plastic, reusable case shut. I don’t thikn people would be too squeamish about the reusable aspect, buoth for the reasons stated above, and because in between the stuffing of the envelope and its delivery to your door, a few strangers of questionable hygeine may have already handled the paper envelope - people are ok with that…

back on topic, though, I’m worried that a clasp like the kind on regular dvd cases isn’t secure enough, but I want to make the design really efficient (as little paper waste as possible) and easily opened by the consumer, but not the mail handlers. The actual dvd would still be in a paper slip with the disk info on it, as it is now, (which is actually reused and handled by whoever rents the movie) and the slip would fit into the plastic (or whatever material) case…


dislike AOL. like their little tins.

allright, then - not plastic. how about… HEMP!! honestly, we could live off this stuff:

That’s a great observation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not downing the concept, merely pointing out that some form of visual integrity shoud be adressed. YKH’s sugestion of a tin is great, and it connects to the history of film, would elevate NetFlix branding, and has an intrinsic value. A security seal sticker is probably the only thing that would have to be thrown away.

Hemp is the perfect example of the opposite. Jane Ohio, might worry and saturate it with Febreeze before letting her children touch it. it isn’t “just” packaging if you are asking people to hold onto it for a few weeks and reuse it. It is going to become a fixture next to their TV for awhile, there might be something to conssider there as well.

Good point that the Blockbusteer packaging passes the test. Do you think plastic has a certain perceived durability and cleanliness?

Not major issues or anything, but perhaps a few things that can be considered with some intelligent design that would help make this a really viable concept for NetFlix.

Of course people don’t often think about where their money has been. Who knows what places our dollar bills have been and we are all OK.

i think yo is right - mankind has always been obsessed with germs - more so when cellophane came out… and now you can buy sheets of cellophane that have been wrapped in cellophane :unamused:

I do agree that the metal tin would be aesthetically pleasing and a good use of a material different from plastic, but metal dents easily, is harder to clean and much easier to soil, and once slightly bent the tins are difficult to open. Aren’t the aol tins wrapped in cellophane for mailing? as a student, I don’t know much about viable alternatives to plastics yet (the hemp was a joke, and upon closer inspection of the photo, downright creepy) but there are plenty of materials, for example polylactide and other synthetic polymers, that are green alternatives which perform like plastic and Jane Ohio would think nothing of them. The xorel is also an interesting material, but for netflix’s case, perhaps a more rigid material/design should be used. I still like the round case idea, applied to one of the aforementioned materials. This design would bring up the issue of a new way to convey info usually written on the dvd slipcover (movie title, summar, rating, netflix info…) as a slipcover isn’t really needed if there is a raised, notched bit in the center, as on a traditional cd case.

I think it does. I do believe that if tessa were able to come up with a material that looked and behaved like plastic, even if it was actually a greener alternative, most consumers wouldn’t give it a second thought.

Of course even if the packaging is Plastic Or Its Happy Earth Friendly Substitute, the question is how long will a plastic DVD case hold up to mailing anyway? The postal service is not known for its kind handling. Maybe durability has to take priority over the perfect material.
What’s really worse–something made out of a not-quite-so-green material that can be used indefinitely? or something made of a ‘greener’ material that gets thrown out after 1 use?

how about doing your round design, and making the whole thing screw shut?

i thought bluegrrl had great suggestion. movie film cannisters are similar. maybe have simple wire seal. add RFID maybe… good to go. wheres the sketches?