Sustainability

The Case for Sustainability in Packaging

“Sustainability is the ability to achieve continuing economic prosperity while protecting the natural systems of the planet and providing a high quality of life for its people.” – Environmental Protection Agency

Sustainability has evolved far beyond its early status as a fringe idea. Now, it’s a central theme in the global trend toward efficiency, preservation of natural resources, and economic stability.

Contrary to what you might have heard, an environmentally-sound philosophy doesn’t have to involve uncomfortable trade-offs. Flexible packaging is sustainable packaging, and it can help you meet your goals for the environment, your customer base, and your financials.

Sustainability Supports a Convenient Lifestyle

Imagine a life where consumer packaging didn’t exist. Chances are, your life would take an abrupt turn. Sustainable packaging carries social benefits that support and enhance life in ways that many consumers might never have imagined.

Plastic Packaging Facts asserts that the social benefits are the “third leg of the sustainability stool,” complementing economic and environmental performance.

Sustainable materials, they explain, help keep food fresher longer. From the refrigerated section to produce to shelf-stable products, there’s less spoilage and less waste in the budget as well as the refrigerator.

Flexible packaging, renowned as an ecologically-sound choice, also helps transport more goods using less fuel and keeps products fresher. More people have access to better nutrition, even in remote areas.

Sustainability

Sustainability improves your marketing aim.

A Green Approach Offers a Valuable, Competitive Marketing Edge

In the marketplace, sustainability offers a clear competitive edge. Consumers gravitate toward companies that claim environmental friendliness and demonstrate it through good stewardship.

Sometimes, a company’s philosophy is as important as its products. BizCommunity makes several observations:

  • People buy from companies that make them “feel good.”
  • Consumers prefer companies that tackle societal issues.
  • The younger the customer base, the more a company’s large-scale societal benefits matter.
  • The majority of consumers expect company transparency. They want to see sustainable measures in action.

“The demand for sustainability has affected every aspect of packaging,” says Packaging World.  It influences preferences for smaller package size, lightweighting, resource conservation, and waste minimization.

A course correction toward low-environmental impact, flexible packaging matches global awareness and consumer demand. Sustainability resonates with consumers, which helps build a positive relationship based on a mutual philosophy between a brand and a consumer.

It’s Fiscally Responsible for the Corporate Economies

Sustainability makes sense from an economic standpoint, as well, but perhaps not exactly the way that you think. In a somewhat surprising twist, common knowledge on the subject could hurt, not help, your bottom line. A better path to green goals is developing.

Take recycling, for example. Common knowledge says plastic recycling trumps landfill waste. For that matter, plastics should be avoided, correct? Not so fast.

Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) looks at the whole lifecycle of a product. It begins with the most Earth-friendly source material, ends with as little waste as possible, and gathers as much use from the product as possible inside the life cycle.

Unfortunately, many businesses don’t yet appreciate the place where plastics fit into SMM. The natural capital cost of switching from plastics to alternative packaging materials could place a heavier burden on the planet, according to Packaging Digest.

Plastics are efficient, lightweight, small, and comparatively inexpensive. They often accomplish more than competing materials with a lower overall economic and environmental impact once the big picture comes into focus.

Packaging Digest says balancing SMM and the circular economy is a “journey, not a destination.”  There is no single perfect sustainable solution, as myriad factors affect short- and long-term economic outcomes.

The cost factor is only one of several cogs in the green initiative wheel. Pan out, and you’ll see that source material cost is sometimes minor when compared to other advantages of a low-environmental-impact strategy.

Improved marketability, better living with more conveniences, lower packaging and product transportation costs, longer life cycle and many other benefits create a better case for sustainability in packaging.

Flexible packaging enhances your sustainability goals. Download our food packaging product and pricing brochure and find out more.

5 sustainable packaging trends to watch in 2017

Companies have shifted their attention to packaging and are realizing the importance of sustainable packaging.

A lot of waste comes from disposing packaging, most of the waste ends up in landfills. Because of this, sustainable packaging has gained popularity. Companies are looking into ways to incorporate sustainable materials and practices in their packaging to create less of an impact on the planet.

Here are some of the sustainable packaging trends to look for in 2017

  1. Labeling will get clearer – Make it clear on the product packaging how to dispose of the packaging and clarify if there are sustainability claims. Clear labeling will also help your customers to be better informed. Being honest with customers will go a long way.
  2. Lightweight packaging will be embraced– Lightweight packaging has numerous benefits. Less material is needed to produce packages, manufacturing costs are lower, the environmental impact from transport is minimized and less waste is sent to landfills. The only negative is that when the recovery rates increase, it will remove the value from the recycling stream and undermine the economic incentive to recycle.
  3. Increased use of recyclable materials – The easiest way to ensure packaging has the least amount of impact is by using recyclable materials to manufacture the packaging.
  4. Edible packaging – Edible packaging eliminates packaging waste altogether; you would eat the packaging the product came in. Some of the challenges include: logistical problems like the risk of the packaging material being broken or consumer’s impressions that the packaging is unhygienic.
  5. Packages will slim down – The extra space within the package is creating additional material that needs to be disposed of. The goal is minimal packaging.

 

Full article: http://www.beveragedaily.com/Processing-Packaging/5-sustainable-packaging-trends-to-watch-in-2017

Source: Beverage Daily

Wrapping up 2016: Packaging Trends to Watch

Here are some sustainability trends in packaging that we think will gain momentum in 2017:

Multiple uses: Great packaging protects not only your product, but also your brand. But what if the packaging is part of the product itself? That is the case with innovations such as the expandable bowl by Swedish design studio Tomorrow Machine. Using 100% bio-based and biodegradable materials, the company created a cellulose wrapper that hugs freeze-dried food and morphs into a bowl when hot water is poured into the spout. The bowl ― a sustainable packaging award winner ― is now in good company and we expect more will follow.

Unconventional materials: Egg shells, fermented sugars, barley, and wheat ribbons. Those were the materials used to create, in turn:

  • Bio-compostable films: Nanoparticles from waste eggshells helped researchers at Tuskegee University in Alabama make a plastic film that is completely sustainable and 700% more flexible than other bioplastic blends. Film made of the new material could be used in retail packaging, grocery bags and food containers.
  • A prototype PHBottle: The European PHBottle project aims to initially create a bottle, cap, and sleeve, although use in other applications (non-food packaging and non-packaging uses) will be tested. The bioplastic material used to make the bottle comes from the transformation of organic matter found in juice processing by-products.
  • Edible six-pack rings for beer: Imagine washing down the six-pack ring with your favorite beer. Although that moment is not quite here yet, the future is looking up for a piece of plastic that is notorious for ensnaring wildlife. The first bio-degradable edible six-pack ring for beer is the result of a partnership between Saltwater Brewery; We Believers, an advertising agency; and Entelequia, Inc., a small startup in Mexico. Made from barley and wheat ribbons spent grain from the brewing process, the rings are safe for wildlife to eat and sturdy enough to support the cans.

Reusable packaging: The throw-away culture is not for everyone. In fact, Mintel’s Global Packaging Trends 2017 shows 63% of U.S. consumers actively seek out packages they can re-use. More than half of consumers also say they would prefer to buy foods with minimal or even no packaging. With such great demand for waste reduction, innovation is bound to pick up even more momentum.

 

Full article: http://www.ebnonline.com/author.asp?section_id=2171&doc_id=282307

Source: EBN

Europe to lead green packaging market; bioplastics to flourish

Per Allied Market Research, the recycle content packaging segment is expected to grow with a CAGR of 4.92 percent to reach $207,543 million globally by 2022.

Bioplastic is a new ecological alternative to oil-based polymers with promising growth in pharmaceutical sectors. Bioplastics have flourished in healthcare and pharmaceutical markets and are accepted as an alternative for polymer oil-based products. Reverse logistics and an increase in the number of legislations for ecological packaging techniques have facilitated the recycle of municipal wastes.

The European region is expected to continue to lead the green packaging market, followed by North America. The German green packaging market is estimated at a CAGR of 5.10 percent, while the Middle East region is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 3.15 percent. The North American and Asia-Pacific regions jointly accounted for more than half of the total 2015 share.

Rise in hygiene and health concerns among consumers boosts the demand for green packaging with applications in sustainable packaging.

 

To read the full article, click here: http://www.greentechlead.com/waste-management/europe-lead-green-packaging-market-bioplastics-flourish-31738

Source: Greentechlead

 

How supply chains affect packaging

Michael Kuebler, technical director of North America distribution testing at Smithers Pira in Lansing, MI., guides a team of packaging experts who analyze the true impact of the supply chain on a given package.

How should companies weigh performance, cost and sustainability initiatives? Is one more important than the others?

Companies should take a total cost view when evaluating materials, sustainability goals and performance by leveraging high quality predictive tools.  We often see that various operations within a company are functioning in silos with one group focused on cost reduction, another focused on reducing damage and another focused on sustainability objectives. A decision by one group can affect all the others and can also cause an increase in damage rates and non-saleables.

Material reduction savings are quickly lost when the material’s performance is sacrificed beyond what is required to get the products to the consumers in good condition.  Nothing is more costly than shipping a product twice.

In turn, sustainability gains from new packaging materials or packaging material reductions can be quickly lost if the packaging’s performance is reduced past what is required to get the products to the consumers.  Sustainability goals should encompass all inputs, including fuel costs, handling, etc., used to get a product to the consumer.

In order to truly optimize packaging performance, various business functions need to understand the cost implications across the full supply chain, which can be achieved through distribution testing.

 

Full article: http://www.foodengineeringmag.com/articles/96232-how-supply-chains-affect-packaging

Source: Food Engineering

Consumer options exist for difficult-to-recycle plastics

Americans generate more than 33 million tons of plastic annually. A recent report by the EPA places the plastics recovery rate at 9%. Why does so little plastic find its way back into the system?

A cause of low plastics collection and capture is consumer confusion. The SPI’s Resin Identification Code was introduced in 1988 for recycling centers to help with sorting plastic waste. Used to identify the plastic resin in an item, the RIC uses symbols that look a lot like the universal recycling symbol, confusing many people to think it’s recyclable, which is often not the case.

Types of plastic accepted at most recycling programs vary greatly and the instructions delineating what is and is not recyclable are often inconsistent. For example, the term “plastic bottle” refers to an item that is understood to be recyclable. In terms of accepted waste, food and beverage plastics, such as soda bottles, are different than household plastics, like cleaning sprays and their trigger heads.

Program language when referring to recyclables (polymers, specifically) can lead well-intentioned people who recycle to place unaccepted plastic waste into the recycling bin—and this causes problems on all fronts. Complicating this issue further for both the consumer and the collection facility are products and packaging comprised of mixed plastic resins and other materials

To read the full article, click here: http://www.packagingdigest.com/sustainable-packaging/consumer-options-exist-for-difficult-to-recycle-plastics-2016-07-21

Source: Packaging Digest

Breaking down the value of compostable packaging

When a consumer tosses a product’s outer packaging into the trash, instead of recycling or composting it, the consumer may have a negative impression of the company. To improve a company’s environmental impact, while improving the consumer’s brand experience, companies are increasingly addressing the challenges around packaging and waste.

There are multiple paths to divert waste from going to landfills, such as reuse, recycling, composting, incineration or digestion with capabilities to capture energy. A company should consider several factors, including packaging functionality, available recovery infrastructure and value of the solution in determining a waste solution.

Here are some of the opportunities and challenges related specifically to composting:

Cost: The design stage is when a package will be designed to enable compostability through choices such as materials and thickness. Brands must be prepared to pay for this packaging attribute, though. Often compostable packaging incurs higher costs compared to a standard packaging. Added costs may come from materials, testing, additional resources or necessary certifications.

Performance: There may also be limitations on materials available that meet performance needs in a compostable material offering.

Infrastructure: The infrastructure for commercial composting in the U.S. is still in its infancy, but many stakeholders are interested in fostering its growth. One opportunity that could fuel these advancements is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) goal to reduce food waste nationally by 50% by 2030 from the 2010 baseline. Composting is one means to reduce food waste. Thus, progress towards this goal could result in improvements in composting infrastructure resources, availability and viability.

However, where composting infrastructure exists, compostable packaging is not always accepted into the program. Thus, it is important for the industry to stay engaged to make the case for composters to accept compostable packaging.

We are yet to see what infrastructure for composting will look like in its mature form. Efforts for national brands to implement national programs will need to engage locally to be successful. The opportunity that brands have now is to establish themselves as progressive leaders in the industry with proactive behavior, taking initiative in composting and developing packaging that is conducive to the processes available.

Consumer engagement and collection: Helping consumers understand how to properly dispose of compostable packaging is key to realizing its value and potential.

However, the concept of composting and compostable packaging is a newer idea for many, and may not be as well understood as recycling. There are also legal requirements companies must navigate to ensure they do not unintentionally mislead consumers, as detailed in the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Green Guides. GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition has developed a consumer-facing on-pack program called the How2Compost label, which aims to clearly, and simply communicate to consumers the appropriate action to take.

There has been successful deployment and collection of compostable packaging in specific localized instances, such as sports stadiums, institutional cafeterias and cities with local curbside collection programs that accept compostable packaging. For example, if the stadium requires all vendors to use only compostable packaging, it makes it easier for event attendees and staff to dispose of the packaging properly. Additionally, most of the packaging material will remain in the venue, so the facilities managers can capture a high volume of compostable material.

Read the full article:
http://www.packagingdigest.com/sustainable-packaging/breaking-down-the-value-of-compostable-packaging-2016-10-19

Source: Packaging Digest

The USDA Is Working On A New Type Of Sustainable Food Packaging

USDA researchers have devised a different way to package things like meat, bread, and cheese. Instead of using plastic, they’ve developed an edible, biodegradable packaging film made of casein, a milk protein, that can be wrapped around food to prevent spoilage.

The United States produces a lot of milk, but milk consumption has been on the decline for years. So the USDA has been working to find a way to take that excess milk, usually stored in powder form, and create something usable with it. Even though the USDA has been working to create food packaging with milk products for decades; it’s only in the last few years that researchers cracked the code for making casein-based films competitive with plastic-films.

The biggest problem researchers faced with casein-based films is that casein is extremely sensitive to water . This is a serious problem for a product that is supposed to keep food sealed and dry. Adding pectin to the casein mixture created a film that, while still more sensitive to moisture than plastic, did not immediately dissolve in water or areas with humidity. The casein-based film was actually 250 times more effective at blocking oxygen than plastic. That keeps food from oxidizing and going stale, and also slows down the growth of bacteria.

There are still some issues associated with the casein-based packaging. Due to it being moisture sensitive  and because it is edible, the packaging cannot be used alone on store shelves, yet. In order to keep the packaging both stale and sanitary, the packaging would need to be used in conjunction with a secondary layer of packaging. The casein-film could be used to make single-serving packaging for items like a soup or coffee, that, when dropped into hot water, would dissolve completely.

The casein-based film could be sprayed directly onto food, or directly onto packaging, to create a moisture resistant barrier or add nutrients. With the right industry partners, consumers could see this packaging on the shelves in as little as a year.

To read the full article, click here:
https://thinkprogress.org/usda-edible-food-packaging-9caa16d7d4fd#.mikofvkay

Source: Think Progress

Sustainable packaging requires yin and yang thinking

Sustainable Materials Management and The Circular Economy are two big picture catch phrases competing for the attention of the packaging industry. Do you know which is better for the environment and which is better for your bottom line?

Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) is a framework for minimizing the environmental impacts related to the consumption of products and services. It is based on the concept of lifecycle thinking, whereby the cradle-to-grave chain of inputs, throughputs and outputs of a specific product or service is measured, analyzed, compared and evaluated.

There are two primary aspects to SMM. The first relates to source reduction; the goal is to minimize the amount of materials and energy needed to deliver 100% of the value expected from purchased products and services.

After source reduction techniques are applied, the key to successful SMM implementation is to:

• Use only the most effective, efficient material and energy resources when creating products and services, and

• Keep those resources operating indefinitely within the economic system.

Doing so requires Circular Economy (CE) thinking, which minimizes disposability and waste while maximizing conservation, reuse and recovery.

When working within both SMM and CE frameworks, it is important to keep a couple of points in mind:

1. Looking at the “big picture” from a lifecycle perspective can produce counter-intuitive, but more effective, actions and results.

2. Because we haven’t yet invented a perpetual-motion machine, achieving SMM and CE is a journey, not a destination. Over time, innovation and its long-term effects can create the need to augment or modify strategies and tactics.

To read the full article, click here:
http://www.packagingdigest.com/sustainable-packaging/sustainable-packaging-requires-yin-yang-thinking1608

Source: Packaging Digest

Responsible food packaging could connect consumers to the environment

Research reveals that 80% U.S. food shoppers agree that reducing food waste is as important as reducing packaging waste. According to Mintel’s 2016 US Food Packaging Report 52% of consumers indicate they would prefer to buy foods with minimal or even no packaging to reduce waste.

81% of consumers say they would choose resealable packaging over non-resealable packaging to extend the shelf life of food. 54% would pay more for packaging with added features, such as being resealable or portion controlled. 30% indicated they often reuse food packaging for other purposes. However, recycling of food packaging is far from a universal behavior, as only 42% consumers report recycling most of the food packaging they use.

A lack of clear communication on labels may be a contributor to the relatively low recycling rate, 25% of consumers said it’s not always clear which food packaging is recyclable. Only 13% of consumers make an effort to avoid foods in packaging that cannot be recycled.

“Our research shows that reducing food waste is top of mind for consumers,” says John Owen, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel. “This presents opportunities for food brands and retailers to address these concerns through innovative packaging and product messaging.”

However, in 2015, only 21% of food product launches in the U.S. included on package claims regarding environmentally friendly packaging.

“The prevention of food waste can be positioned not only as a good way for consumers to save money, but also as a way to work toward reversing the growing food waste trend through conscious consumption,” says Owen.

Click here to read the article:
http://www.packagingdigest.com/food-packaging/responsible-food-packaging-could-connect-consumers-to-the-environment-2016-09-01

Source: Packaging Digest