Learn Heat Resistant PLA, Package Sustainability

Volume 6, Issue 2

In This Issue:


Olive producers embrace sustainable practices

It's not just olives that are green at Musco Family Olive Co., Tracy, CA, and Bell-Carter Foods, Corning, CA. Both companies are shrinking their carbon footprints.

"Bell-Carter believes that sustainability plays a significant role in the well-being of our community and our customers," explains Ron Kerr, director of engineering at the 100-year-old company, which produces Lindsay brand and private-label olives, capers, pimientos and cocktail onions in recyclable cans, glass jars and retortable pouches and bowls. The high-density polyethylene or multilayer bowls are supplied by Silgan Plastics, Chesterfield, MO, or Rexam Plastic Packaging, Buffalo Grove, IL, respectively.


Sustainability-enhancing projects can have a positive effect on the bottom line too.

A waste water aeration system has cut electrical consumption by 2,743,404 kilowatt hours per year and saves Bell-Carter Foods $329,208 in waste water treatment costs annually. The 788-ton reduction in carbon footprint conserves enough energy to power 257 homes and has earned the company accolades from the community plus a $114,475 rebate on its utility expenses.

An evaporative cooler system, designed to reclaim water from the cooking process and reuse it in the plant, is expected to save up to 50 million gallons of water per year, enough for U.S. community of 800.

A solar energy project for its receiving building will further reduce the plant's energy consumption and improve energy efficiency.


Musco's 280-acre headquarters in California's San Joaquin Valley is close to achieving a 100% renewable production process. A one-of-a-kind, closed-loop RENEWS™ (Renewable Energy and Wastewater System) biomass plant cleanly burns 15 tons of olive pit waste daily. The resulting heat evaporates processing water and creates steam to drive the largest production steam engine in the United States, which then generates renewable electricity that can be used in the processing facilities.

Musco, the owner of the Pearls® and Early California® brands, which are packaged in cans and glass jars, was honored as a California 2011 Leader in Innovation in Energy and Agriculture by Grow California, Chico, CA. The Game Changer of the Year Award in the Innovation in Energy and Agriculture category specifically recognized the RENEWS biomass plant. In addition, a Discovery Channel special, Powering the Future, features Musco.

"We are proof that innovative environmental solutions are not only attainable but good business," says Felix Musco, chief executive officer and third generation to lead the family-owned business. "With this technology, we're going to be able to grow and expand responsibly."

In addition to the biomass-to-energy operation, Musco recycles most of its water through a closed-loop irrigation system, diverts 98.5% of its waste from landfills and grows NyPa forage grass to address the natural alkalinity of the valley's soil. The NyPa grass actively pulls salt from the soil and is harvested for use as a supplemental cattle feed by local farmers.

Sustainability and environmental stewardship have been an important part of the family's mission since 1942. Recent updates include energy-efficient lighting, pumps and motors. In addition, the company works to identify more energy- and cost-effective shipping methods. Employee awareness training programs and continuous improvement efforts encourage employees to practice the principles of conservation, energy efficiency, recycling, and proper universal waste disposal at work as well as at home.


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Worth a read…

A special report, 10 Tips for Sustainable Packaging Design, has been published in Packaging World's Greener Package newsletter. Recommendations include: Take a life cycle approach; evaluate each component; consider new alternatives for distribution packaging and evaluate the distribution system for space-saving opportunities; look for opportunities to make your package reusable; design for recyclability; and know where your packaging materials come from. For more information, visit www.greenerpackage.com/source_reduction/10_tips_sustainable_package_design.

Environmental Performance and Sustainable Labeling explains how to establish an environmental management system and implement ISO 14000, EMAS, LIFE or supplier scorecard programs. It also discusses production performance, carbon emissions, waste management, life cycle assessment and shipping. Reference, authored by Michael Fairley and Danielle Jerschefske, includes case studies, diagrams and illustrations as well as guideline environmental policy statements. It's available from the Labels & Labeling Book Shop for $130. For more information, visit www.labelsandlabeling.com/shop.

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Environmental messages confuse consumers, spark skepticism

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PLA gains heat resistance

Lactide innovations from Purac, Gorinchem, The Netherlands, improve the heat tolerance of polylactic acid (PLA) enough to make the biopolymer suitable for thin-wall, thermoformed hot beverage cups. Puralact® L- and D-based homopolymers – known as PLLA and PDLA –to withstands temperatures up to 180 Celsius. Scheduled to be introduced at Plast 2012, May 8-12, 2012, in Milan, Italy, the heat-tolerant PLA also is compatible with injection molding and extrusion as well as foam and fiber production. For more information, visit www.purac.com/bioplastics.

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