Recently Amazon decided to address the issue of packaging. Although motivated by a desire to cut down on customer injuries and frustrations as much as to help the environment it was a step in the right direction. However, today a trip to the Apple store to replace my Nike+ sensor (another piece of less than green technology) prompted me to envision a world where packaging was entirely optional. The benefits would be twofold, firstly a reduction in waste and secondly a cost saving for the manufacturer.
For many retailers like Apple it would be a very easy plan to implement and still give the customer choice. At checkout you could elect to either have your purchase put into the box or merely be given the goods with a suitable bag to hold all the bits and bobs. The receipt could be easily marked so as a return without the packaging would be easily facilitated. Immediate gains in both the environment and the pocketbook. Obviously the issue of display and theft would need to be addressed, however, re-usable packaging could be developed which allowed the product to be removed at the register.