Heinz Redesigns Ketchup Package. Landfills Groan.

In case you’ve been under a rock, the big news on the street is the incredible new Heinz Ketchup Packet which will apparently revolutionize french fry enjoyment for the 21st century. The packet contains a larger amount of ketchup than the traditional sachet and opens in two ways – the traditional “squeeze” and the newfangled “dip.” Blogs and other media are aflutter with excitement, and Heinz’s corporate communications department is no doubt popping the champagne at a veritable coup d’etat of publicity.

And why not? Love it or hate it, the Heinz Ketchup packet is an established piece of Americana, globally ubiquitous, and depending on your taste for high fructose corn syrup, quite tasty. Successfully re-designing it will cause as much of a ruckus as introducing the New Coke, except it might actually work. Trouble is, the new ketchup packet, like the old one, is still a wasteful mishmash of un-recyclable material symbolic of yesteryear’s “disposable” culture.

You can see where this is going….

Before I get labeled a “hater,” bear in mind, I don’t seek to bash Heinz, or even the idea of a single use container (let’s be honest, sometimes you’re on the run with those fries). Really, I’m just surprised that Heinz has overlooked an opportunity to capitalize on today’s more conscious consumer trends.

One good thing that wasn’t mentioned is that the new container might actually result in a lesser amount of material used since it contains 3 times as much ketchup as the original sachet. Given that you *always* wind up using six of those things, the improved “ketchup efficiency” might merit some kudos. Even the least conscious consumer has a twinge of guilt when he or she finds 14 little crumpled packets on the floor mat of their car.

But what a great opportunity to do more! Since the packet costs more already, why not introduce new materials, perhaps something corn-based, or at least do something that questions the god-given right to horde as many packets as humanly possible.

Today’s consumers are starting to think more deeply about what they use and throw away. The real market opportunity ($10 Trillion worth) lies in not ignoring this fact. Heinz will get a big splash of publicity out of its new packets, but will it result in sustained enthusiasm? My argument is that without a greener, more conscientious angle, the risk of a fading fad is greater. We’ll see who’s right.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of TriplePundit.com

TriplePundit.com has since grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.