The Disappearing Package – Tide PODs

Derrick Lin


A Masters Thesis Project by Pratt Institute student Aaron Mickelson.

Every year, we throw away a ton of packaging waste (actually, over 70 million tons). It makes up the single largest percentage of trash in our landfills (beating out industrial waste, electronics, food… everything). Figures released by the EPA indicate this problem is getting worse every year.

As a package designer (and grad student—meaning I know everything and can solve every problem, naturally), I was concerned about where this trend is going. Of course, many talented designers working in the field have made great efforts over the past few years to reduce the amount of packaging that goes onto a product. However, for my Masters Thesis, I asked the question: Can we eliminate that waste entirely?

The Disappearing Package – Tide PODs

The package itself is a sheet of laundry pods stitched together, printed using soap-soluble ink. The POD plastic is, just like in the existing product, water-soluble. Consumers tear off each POD and use one-by-one. With the last POD, the package itself is gone.

The primary packaging is a flexible plastic bag that, while product remains, serves as re-usable container. However, it becomes totally worthless when empty and will be tossed.

PODs, instead of being stored loose, are stitched together into a perforated sheet. Product details and brand information are then printed directly onto this sheet. All inks are water-soluble, and dissolve in the wash (just like soap dyes).

The customer tears off PODs one-at-a-time as needed, simply tossing the POD directly into the wash. All parts of the packaging dissolve safely. When the last POD has been used, the package is gone. No waste to throw away.

Every solution features an insignia that both identifies it as a Disappearing Package (building brand recognition) and clearly instructs the consumer on how to disappear it.