Many organizations are working to accelerate the upward trend recycling rates have experienced in recent years.Read More >
Since 2005, Kraft Foods, Northfield, IL, has eliminated 150 million pounds of packaging, the equivalent of 150 fully loaded jumbo jets. The achievement comes two years ahead of schedule in the company’s global packaging reduction plan.
“We’ve invented a [Packaging Eco-Calculator™] tool to help us design more efficiently,” reports Jean Spence, executive vice president, Research, Development & Quality. “And we’re finding smarter source materials, reducing our footprint and thinking differently about packaging end-of-life.”
In Australia, redesigned salad dressing bottles save more than 100,000 pounds (45,000 kilograms) of plastic per year. The patented design differentiates the Kraft brand from competitors and fits more bottles per truckload, reducing the number of trucks needed.
In the United Kingdom, Kraft recently began selling Kenco coffee in refill bags to complement glass jars. The refill bag weighs 97% less than a new jar and consumes less energy in the conversion process.
In addition, Kraft Foods recycles nearly 90% of its global manufacturing waste and participates in initiatives to boost consumer recycling rates. In the United States, Kraft partners with RecycleBank, New York, NY, an organization that rewards consumers for recycling. Kraft also sponsors brigades that collect packaging to be “upcycled” by TerraCycle, Trenton, NJ, into new products. The TerraCycle effort involves more than 30,000 Kraft Foods-sponsored collection locations and nearly 7 million consumers.Back to Top >
A new hot-fillable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) jar from Constar International Inc., Philadelphia, PA, weighs about 8 grams less (about 15%) than the side-grip jar it replaces.
The custom-designed, 45-ounce container for Francesco Rinaldi pasta sauces from LiDestri Foods, Inc., Fairport, NY, enhances brand identity with a continuous circle of plump tomatoes ringing the shoulder. Constar’s CONSTruct™ advanced predictive engineering software helped optimize its vacuum-panel-free Vertical Compensation Technology™ (VCT™) to achieve weight reduction while enhancing top-load strength and improving machinability. “PET containers with VCT have improved rigidity and symmetry which accelerate the labeling process,” says Alex Fioravanti, marketing director at Constar. “The round design facilitates high-speed label application when compared to more complex grip designs, a factor that was demonstrated on LiDestri Foods' production line.”
In fact, says Giovanni (John) LiDestri, president and chief executive officer of LiDestri Foods, “Our previous package was a challenge to run due to labeling complexities. This slowed our lines, which reduced output. And when you are as busy as we are, speed is not only desirable, it is absolutely necessary. The VCT design is symmetrical, the labels go on cleanly and without distortion so there are fewer line stoppages and reduced spoilage from misapplied labels. The new package has given us a more stable, predictable labeling process that has improved line speeds by 25%.”
Constar’s wide-mouth, hot-fillable PET containers with VCT technology also are available in stock designs and may incorporate DiamondClear® oxygen-scavenging technology to increase barrier properties and shelf life.Back to Top >
The average gram weight of the 16.9-ounce (500-mlilliliter), single-serve, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottled water container has dropped 32.6% in the past eight years. According to an analysis by Beverage Marketing Corp. (BMC), New York, NY, for the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), Alexandria, VA, the average PET container for water weighed 12.7 grams in 2008, down 6.2 grams from 18.9 grams in 2000. BMC estimates this lightweighting has saved more than 1.3 billion pounds of PET resin.
Another study recently commissioned by IBWA shows the U.S. bottled water industry has a small environmental footprint. The Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) study by Franklin Associates, a division of ERG, Prairie Village, KS, found small pack bottled water (containers from 8 ounces to 2.5 gallons) amounted to only 0.067% of the total energy used in the United States in 2007, while Home and Office Delivery (HOD) bottled water (reusable bottles from 2.5 to 5 gallons) consumed only 0.003%.
Combined greenhouse gas (GHG)/carbon dioxide emissions related to small pack and HOD bottled water represented only 0.08% of total U.S. GHG emissions. In addition, bottled water packaging discards accounted for only 0.64% of the 169 million tons of total U.S. Municipal Solid Waste discards in 2007.
The statistics also show process and transportation energy use for the bottled water industry is only 0.07% of total U.S. primary energy consumption. Furthermore, GHG emissions per half gallon of single-serve bottled water total 426.4 grams carbon dioxide equivalent, 75% less than orange juice and 46% less than soft drinks packaged in PET.
Recycling rates are improving too. In November 2009, IBWA reported the national recycling rate for 16.9 ounce (half-liter) PET bottled water containers reached a record 30.9% in 2008, a year-over-year improvement of 32% versus 2007 rates.Back to Top >
Many organizations are working to accelerate the upward trend recycling rates have experienced in recent years.
Frigid Fluid Co., Northlake, IL, has established the first bottle recycling program for mortuary products. The effort will divert some of the 2.8 million bottles the industry sends to landfills each year. Participating customers receive a 10% discount on certain products, a free recycling bin for direct collection according to local waste management policies and may use the program logo on their website.
Alcoa, Pittsburgh, PA, which recently expanded aluminum can recycling capacity nearly 50% at its facility in Alcoa, TN, is providing 50,000 recycling bins to organizations and communities throughout the United States as part of its 2010 Recycling Bin Program. “This bin distribution program is just one way that we’re trying to make it easier for people to recycle,” says Greg Wittbecker, Alcoa director of recycling. “Alcoa and the Aluminum Association [Arlington, VA] have a goal of increasing the recycling rates of aluminum beverage cans in the United States from the current 54% to 75% by…2015. If we could get each American to recycle just one more can per week over what they already do, we could reach our 75% recycling goal.”
Alcoa works with state recycling organizations to allocate bins based on local needs. At least 16 states will receive bins in 2010 including Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah.
PepsiCo, Purchase, NY, which recently published a commitment to increase U.S. beverage container recycling rates from 34% to 50% by 2018, is striving to include higher levels of recycled content in its containers and working with a number of partners to boost collection and recycling rates.
A multi-year partnership will place Dream Machines recycling kiosks from GreenOps, LLC, a subsidiary of Waste Management, Inc., Houston, TX, in high traffic areas like gas stations, stadiums and public parks to improve on-the-go recycling. With each bottle and can recycled in a Dream Machine, PepsiCo will donate funds to the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), Syracuse, NY, to support career training, education and job creation for post-9/11 U.S. veterans with disabilities.
The computerized receptacles also allow consumers to collect and redeem points via www.greenopolis.com for each bottle or can they recycle in the kiosk. “It takes only a small change in behavior to make a big difference for our planet,” says Jeremy Cage of PepsiCo, who heads the Dream Machine recycling initiative. “If every household in the United States recycled just three more plastic bottles a month, we could divert more than 23 million pounds of plastic from our landfills each month and increase the amount of recycled plastic used to manufacture new bottles,” he explains.
“We’ve built in emotional and material rewards, including support of the EBV, to help motivate people, who do not actively recycle, to join the movement,” he concludes.
“As the largest recycler in North America, we know that convenience is key to increasing capture rates of recyclable materials, especially in public spaces,” adds David Aardsma, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Waste Management.
To increase recycling rates for natural cork wine closures, Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, Walla Walla, WA, is teaming up with ReCORK by Amorim, Mozelos, Portugal, to collect and recycle used and surplus corks into products such as footwear, flooring and packaging materials.
“This program is more than just finding new uses for old corks,” says António Amorim, chairman of Corticeira Amorim. “It’s about waking up the planet to the importance recycling and environmental stewardship play in our everyday lives. We are looking for ways to extend the life cycle of a natural product and to heighten awareness of the important role cork forests play in the fight against global warming.”
The nearly 6 million acres of cork oak forests that dot the Mediterranean basin are the basis of a unique ecosystem, which contributes to the survival of many native species of plants and animals. It is also a source of employment for tens of thousands of agricultural workers. In addition, cork forests play a vital role in the fight against desertification and climate change.
Another cork recycling program involves Whole Foods Market, Austin, TX, and Cork ReHarvest, Salem, OR. Under the initiative all 292 Whole Foods outlets in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom will serve as collection points for used corks.
“We often forget that cork is a renewable, recyclable material that does not belong in our landfills,” says Erez Klein, wine and beer buyer for Whole Foods Market’s Pacific Northwest Region, which launched the program now being expanded company-wide.
Through Cork ReHarvest, there is virtually zero increase in carbon footprint. Corks make the journey from stores to recycling centers on trucks already en route to the destination. West of the Rockies, corks go to Western Pulp, Corvallis, OR, where they will be turned into recyclable wine shippers containing 10% cork. In the Midwest, corks travel to Yemm & Hart, Marquand, MO, a producer of cork floor tiles. On the East Coast and in the UK, Jelinek Cork Group, Oakville, ON, one of the oldest cork manufacturers in North America, will transform the corks into a variety of consumer products.Back to Top >
Consumer packaged goods companies that want packaging with recycled content, have a growing number of choices.
Owens-Illinois, Inc., Perrysburg, OH, makes glass containers with up to 80% recycled content, including a bottle developed in conjunction with Pernod Ricard, Paris, France, for its anise-based Pastis 51, according to a report by the Glass Packaging Institute, Alexandria, VA.
Suitable for high-speed converting and labeling, Ecopoint Plus label paper from NewPage Corp., Miamisburg, OH, contains 10% post-consumer-recycled fiber and features reverse-side coatings engineered for hot-melt adhesives. Available in basis weights of 70, 75 and 80 grams per square meter, EcoPoint Plus paper is designed primarily for bottled water applications with a bright, white, high-fidelity print surface for excellent artwork reproduction on offset or rotogravure presses. The high-performance label paper is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council®, Bonn, Germany; the Sustainable Forestry Initiative®, Washington, DC; and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, Geneva, Switzerland.
Even pallet loads can incorporate recycled-content materials. Additives ensure no loss of functionality for high-density polyethylene (HDPE) slip sheets with more than 90% recycled content. Using recycled HDPE diverts more than 50 million pounds of containers from landfills each year.
The Eco-Sheet Lite slip sheet from Fresh-Pak Corp., Houston, TX, weighs less than its predecessor, competing designs and wood pallets. “We have engineered our new Lite product to provide the same functional performance as the original, but with 7% to 10% less material,” reports John Bazbaz, president of Fresh-Pak. “This reduced weight translates to reduced transportation costs and lower greenhouse gas emissions,” he explains. It also costs about 10% less than its predecessor. Sized at 43 x 51 inches, the Eco-Sheet Lite slip sheet fits standard 40 x 48-inch pallets with 3 inches of gripping space on two sides.
Many Caremail® box, cushioning, mailer, tape and wrap products for small parcel shipping contain 100% post-consumer recycled fiber. Most Caremail products from Shurtech Brands, LLC, Avon, OH, also are recyclable and some may be biodegradable and/or reusable.Back to Top >
A bottled water startup, Echo Beverages, Los Angeles, CA, differentiates itself with a recyclable, 100% post-consumer-recycled content polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) bottle. Using 100% rPET instead of virgin PET reduces the bottle’s lifecycle impact approximately 30%.
A peel-off label encourages consumers to recycle and removes that potential contaminant from the recycling process. The company also urges consumers to remove the cap and safety ring before recycling to prevent incompatible plastics from entering the PET recycling stream.
Echo Beverages also encourages consumers to rely on bottled water as an on-the-go convenience rather than a sole source of water. Other carbon footprint reduction efforts include specifying 100% recycled fiber cases and sourcing and selling locally to reduce the environmental impact of shipping.
A Canadian bottled water company that already uses some rPET, plans to eventually increase that level to 100%. To achieve this goal, Ice River Springs Water Co., Feversham, ON, intends to install its own PET recycling plant in Shelburne, ON. The first-of-its-kind operation in North America will utilize washing technology from AMUT SpA, Novara, Italy, and solid-state poly-condensation purification technology from Starlinger, Vienna, Austria.
“Our goal is to eliminate our dependency upon foreign virgin PET resin by self-manufacturing recycled resin from baled post-consumer plastic purchased from Municipal Recycling Centers,” explains Jamie Gott, president and co-founder of Ice River Springs. The operation will be the first food-grade rPET manufacturing facility in Canada and increases the firm’s vertical integration, which includes preform and bottle production.
Ice River Springs already exports preforms to a major North American soft drink manufacturer and also intends to sell food-grade rPET to other food and beverage companies.
In-house recycling is the next step in a long-term effort to be “greener.” Since 2000, Ice River Springs has decreased the amount of resin in its bottle and cap by approximately 40% and 300%, respectively. With one of the lightest 500-millilter PET bottles on the market, the rPET container will feature the least amount of resin, the lightest cap, a small label, a tray made out of recycled material, and biodegradable shrink film multipack packaging.
Ice River further reduces its carbon footprint with tri-axle trailers, high efficiency lighting, geothermal chilling, high and low pressure air recovery and the use of alternative energy. The proposed PET recycling location in Shelburne is critical to the reduction in carbon footprint as it is located on the shipping lane from Feversham so the raw materials can be back-hauled on trucks that would normally return empty. “What excites me most is the opportunity to create a totally ‘closed-loop recycling’ solution for Ontario…,” concludes Anthony Georges of Amut.Back to Top >
After doubling in size between 2005 and 2009, the biodegradable polymers market is poised to grow 13% annually through 2014, according to a report from SRK Consulting, Menlo Park, CA. The report, which analyzes trends, supply/demand and the competitive environment, classifies food packaging, dish and cutlery market segments as major consumers of biodegradable polymers and notes Europe accounts for about 50% of total consumption. Growth drivers include legislation, improved cost competitiveness and prices of petroleum-based alternatives, as well as consumer concerns about reducing landfill waste, fossil fuel independence, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and pressure for environmentally friendly products.
To support the industry’s growth, members of European Bioplastics, Berlin, Germany, an association of biopolymer producers, are investing in new plants, technology and partnerships. For example, NatureWorks LLC, Minnetonka, MN, just doubled capacity of polylactic acid (PLA), and Braskem, Sao Paulo, Brazil, is completing a line to produce bio-based polyethylene.
Other developments include the introduction of biodegradable coatings for paper and shrink film by BASF, Ludwigshafen, Germany, and the launch of a second generation of Mater-Bi starch-based thermoplastic by Novamont, Novara, Italy. In addition, Purac, Gorinchem, The Netherlands; Sulzer Chemtech, Winterthur, Switzerland, and Synbra Technology, Etten-Leur, The Netherlands; have embarked on a cooperative effort related to foamed PLA products.Back to Top >
Indicative of how much polylactic acid (PLA) volume has grown in the past decade or so, a company has been formed to recycle the plant-based bioplastic. BioCor, LLC, Concord, CA, intends to buy, aggregate and process post-consumer PLA. “The BioCor business will conserve nonrenewable resources, lower carbon emissions and reduce packaging waste,” says Mike Centers, executive director of BioCor.
Noting that PLA is easily converted to its original lactic acid feedstock for subsequent use in a variety of existing applications, Centers believes “the economics of selling recycled PLA to a variety of lactic acid end markets are compelling.” The company also plans to work with recyclers to develop efficient methods to separate PLA from other plastics and collaborate on recycling projects with federal, state and municipal entities, non-governmental organizations, consumer groups and recycling organizations.Back to Top >
A new producer of biodegradable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers has arrived with the licensing of Casey Container Corp., Scottsdale, AZ, to use the EcoPure additive, developed by Bio-tec Environmental, also of Scottsdale.
Casey plans to to open its first manufacturing plant in the Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL, area before the end of 2010. It will produce biodegradable preforms and custom containers from EcoPure-enhanced PET, but also can use the additive with other resins. According to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Washington, DC, the company has a five-year, $50 million agreement with premium bottled water supplier, Taste of Aruba (US), Inc., to supply preforms for 350- and 500-milliliter and 1-liter containers.
The EcoPure additive initiates biodegradation because n utrients and other organic compounds in the formula encourage microbes to colonize on and in the plastic. In 2 to 5 years in an aerobic (compost) or nonaerobic (landfill) environment , bottles are completely metabolized, leaving inert humus (biomass), biogas (anaerobic) or carbon dioxide (aerobic). The EcoPure-enhanced PET containers also are said to be recyclable in the standard PET recycling stream.Back to Top >
NatureWorks Ingeo™ polylactic acid (PLA) from NatureWorks, LLC, Minnetonka, MN, ranks as the first polymer to earn a four-star “OK biobased” rating from the European certification organization, Vinçotte, Vilvoorde, Belgium. The certification covers all 40 grades of Ingeo PLA. “With the Ingeo resins now certified, the four-star rating can be used as the foundation for downstream products, earning them an OK biobased rating,” says Petra Michiels, contract manager for OK biobased.
The Vinçotte OK biobased certification, which was introduced in September 2009, quantifies the amount of renewable carbon content in packaging materials and fibers, as well as in personal care, electronic and other manufactured products. It also meets the ASTM D6866 standard for determining renewable/biobased carbon content. The certification recognizes four levels: one star 20% to 40% biobased carbon content; two stars for 40% to 60%; three stars for 60% to 80%; and four stars for more than 80%.Back to Top >
A month-long Sprite Tabs for Habitat promotion in April 2010 by Coca-Cola North America, Atlanta, GA, encourages consumers to recycle empty cans of Sprite or Sprite Zero and save the tabs.
The green tabs carry the logo of Habitat for Humanity International, Americus, GA, a builder of affordable housing for low-income people around the world. “In addition to providing funds, Sprite Tabs for Habitat will help Habitat for Humanity provide awareness of the incredible need for affordable housing that exists in the United States and around the world,” explains Mark Crozet, senior vice president of Resource Development for Habitat for Humanity International.
For each tab mailed in by May 30, 2010, Sprite will donate $0.10 (up to $500,000) to Habitat. “Through the Sprite Tabs for Habitat program people can give back to their communities, help others, and recycle -- all at the same time,” says Augusto Elias, brand director, Sprite, Coca-Cola North America.
Sprite is making a minimum donation of $250,000, and a percentage of the funds raised will help retrofit homes with water-conserving appliances. In addition to mailing in green Sprite or Sprite Zero tabs, My Coke Rewards program members can provide additional support by donating My Coke Rewards points to Habitat.
Cooking oil spray eliminates gas propellants
A bag-on-valve continuous dispensing system sprays cooking oil without the use of the propellants found in traditional aerosols. A special valve system and unique actuator atomizes the oil using air instead of propellants. Distributed by TricorBraun and manufactured by B.O.V. Solutions, Lecanto, FL, in partnership with Lindal Group, Schönberg, Germany, the Oil Only™ Spray System dispenses 100% pure cooking oil as a spray, stream or drip. A four-layer barrier bag protects the oil from oxidation.
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An expanded Future Friendly initiative undertaken by Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G), Cincinnati, OH, shows consumers how to use popular P&G products to save water, waste and energy. The multi-brand program includes an extensive social networking and consumer engagement component with TV ads, event sponsorships and coupons and is expected to reach or exceed P&G’s original pledge of providing conservation education to at least 50 million U.S. households by the end of 2010. More than 15,000 retail locations will participate initially.
Future Friendly-labeled products like Tide Coldwater, began to appear on retailer shelves in April 2010. The cold-water formula can cut energy consumption related to clothes washing nearly 80% by eliminating the need for hot water. “With Future Friendly, we’re trying to educate mainstream consumers on how to conserve natural resources in their homes,” says Melanie Healey, P&G group president, North America. “These consumers don't want any perceived trade-offs in performance and price. Instead, they want to purchase the brands they already know and trust and understand how using these products, and adopting other simple behavior changes…can help them lower their impact on the environment.”
Consumers continue to be interested in doing more to preserve the environment, according to a poll done for P&G by Ipsos Public Affairs, New York, NY, in conjunction with the Future Friendly launch.
But more than one-third (37%) of the survey respondents cite the lack of information about what to do as the top reason preventing people from leading a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
Saving money is the most frequently mentioned reason for why consumers would take measures to reduce waste, save energy and save water in their home (64%) followed closely by preserving resources for future generations (56%). A majority (58%) would be at least very likely to change the way they do daily chores if it helped them reduce waste, save energy and save water. Nearly three in four (74%) report they would switch to another brand if it helped them conserve resources without having to pay more and a similar number (69%) say they would recommend the product to others.
Neck tag grows into wildflowers
Kenwood Vineyards, Kenwood ( Sonoma Valley), CA, celebrates Earth Day 2010 (April 22) with a neck tag that encourages better care of the planet and turns into a plot of wildflowers.
Featured on Sonoma Series Cabernet, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel, the neck tags contain post-consumer-recycled (PCR) content and an insert of seed paper. When soaked overnight in water, planted under a thin layer of soil in a sunny location and watered regularly until seedlings become established – the neck tag produces a mixture of wildflowers. The tag paper also is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, Bonn, Germany, which confirms responsible forest management, waste reduction and energy savings.
Other environmentally friendly measures Kenwood practices include printing of all promotional material on paper with at least 10% PCR content and transitioning a significant percentage of production to lighter ECO Series™ bottles, which require less energy to produce and ship.Back to Top >
Sales of a special collectible bottle of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey will spur the planting of approximately 100,000 hardwood trees under an agreement between Jack Daniel Distillery, Lynchburg, TN, and American Forests, Washington, DC.
“The health and sustainability of America's forests are essential to maintaining the quality of our whiskey, which draws color and flavor from the wood barrels used to mellow and mature it,” says Jeff Arnett, master distiller at Jack Daniel. The 100,000 hardwood trees will sequester at least 33,000 tons of carbon dioxide as they grow, which is the same as taking nearly 6,000 cars off the road for a year or conserving 3.3 million gallons of gas.
Available April 1, 2010, the collectible bottle sells for about $39.99 and is the latest in sustainability efforts that began more than 30 years ago. The distillery has preserved hundreds of acres surrounding its historic cave spring and boasts state-of-the-art water treatment systems. Whiskey production is powered by steam using waste wood from neighboring industries, and motor controls throughout the facilities reduce electricity consumption. Overall, less than 1% of the waste generated is landfilled, and most byproducts are used by other businesses.Back to Top >
The Down to Earth website, 2earthonline.com, launched by International Paper (IP), Memphis, TN, explores environmental issues and trends in the paper and printing industries, presents facts from reputable sources to counter myths and misperceptions, and serves as a companion to a printed series of brochures.
“Our customers and the public deserve to know the truth about paper products,” says Teri Shanahan, IPs vice president, Commercial Printing. They are bombarded with misleading and false information every day,” she explains. Visitors to the site will learn, for example, that using paper actually helps keep forests growing and that one of the biggest dangers to North American forestlands is urban development.
Topics included in the Down to Earth series include certification, recycled versus virgin content, carbon footprint, pixels versus paper and responsible forestry.Back to Top >
Hallie Forcinio has covered packaging-related environmental topics for more than 20 years, first as an editor on Food & Drug Packaging magazine (now Food & Beverage Packaging) and more recently as a freelance packaging journalist and principal of Forcinio Communications, an editorial services firm. “My interest in the environment dates back to a high school government class,” she notes. “I was collecting glass, newspapers and aluminum cans for recycling long before my community had a curbside recycling program.” In addition, to preparing the TricorBraun Sustainability Times, she contributes articles to numerous trade publications including Packaging Machinery Technology and Pharmaceutical Technology.Back to Top >