Sustainability Tools, Bio-resins Popular Options
Volume 4, Issue 4
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Tools help rate and validate sustainable options
COMPASS (Comparative Packaging Assessment), a design-phase web application, compares the environmental profiles of packaging alternatives to help designers make more informed choices early in the development process. Developed by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), a project of the nonprofit sustainability institute GreenBlue, Charlottesville, VA, the software considers consumption and emission metrics as well as packaging attributes. Since its launch in March 2009, more than 80 companies and academic institutions have subscribed to COMPASS.
“We have integrated COMPASS into our portfolio of sustainable packaging design tools,” says Joe Keller, packaging sustainability – section head, Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati, OH. “With its low-cost, user-friendly interface and immediate, lifecycle-analysis-like feedback, this tool provides a perspective that was inaccessible before,” he explains. “We see COMPASS as a key, first step to integrating life cycle thinking into our packaging early in the design process,” he concludes.
Another web-based tool, ghgTrack software from FirstCarbon Solutions, West Chester, PA, automates data collection, calculations and reporting across one or multiple facilities worldwide and helps users comply with voluntary and regulatory greenhouse gas (GHG) protocols. An easy-to-use configuration wizard walks users through setup. Associated Packaging Technologies, Chadds Ford, PA, a producer of thermoformed trays, believes ghgTrack will help it reduce emissions across its global supply chain. Toward that end, it is working with the software to create a GHG emissions inventory, produce auditable GHG footprint reports and align reporting to the standards of the Carbon Disclosure Project, London, UK/ New York, NY. At APT, “…we consider effective supply chain GHG emissions reporting and reduction critical to our growth,” says Tony Gallo, senior director of Sustainability and Applications Development at APT. FirstCarbon Solutions also provides environmental consulting services.
Brand owners striving to be carbon neutral may find Publicly Available Specification 2060 from the British Standards Institution, London, UK, useful in measuring, reducing and offsetting GHG emissions. The Specification for the Demonstration of Carbon Neutrality helps brand owners meet environmental and sustainability objectives, reduce energy consumption and validate carbon neutrality statements. It costs £95 ($147).
To validate green claims, many brand owners and purchasing agents rely on eco-labels or eco-certification schemes. However, with more than 300 eco-labels worldwide, it can be difficult to decide which one best suits a company’s needs. A searchable index, assembled by Big Room Inc., Vancouver, BC, and World Resources Institute, Washington, DC, at www.ecolabelindex.com, helps narrow down the choices. Some labels are regional or relegated to specific products. Others are essentially unlimited in geographic or product scope. Nearly all programs require certification, generally by a third party, before granting permission to use their label. The process typically requires several months and carries a fee. Frequently, continued use of a label depends on periodic recertification.
CPG companies report progress on sustainability goals
A review of recently issued sustainability reports shows many consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies are making substantial progress in reducing their environmental impact.
Sunny Delight Beverages Co. (SDBC), Cincinnati, OH, for example, reports it reduced waste, energy and water consumption, plastic bottle weight and calorie content in 2009. "I am particularly proud that three of our six plant sites met our zero waste to landfill goal in 2009--four years ahead of schedule--with our remaining plants meeting this goal on Earth Day 2010,” says Ellen Iobst, SDBC sustainability officer.
At Dannon, White Plains, NY, annually updated goals have reduced primary packaging per ounce 20% since 2004. The company also is working to reduce water and energy consumption and waste, purchases renewable energy credits, sources milk locally whenever possible to reduce transport distances, ships on wooden pallets that belong to a pallet pool and gives preference to trucking companies that participate in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transportation partnership.
Like Dannon, MillerCoors, Chicago, IL, uses SmartWay carriers almost exclusively. It also has reduced packaging materials and waste. In fact, it has exceeded its 2015 goal for waste reduction, by eliminating 20% of the amount of waste landfilled. In total, the company reuses or recycles nearly 100% of all brewery waste and achieved zero waste to landfill at two of its breweries, one in Trenton, OH, and one in Elkton, VA. A packaging reduction initiative has removed an estimated 11 million pounds from secondary packaging for Coors Light and Coors Banquet products.
In 2009, PepsiCo, Purchase, NY, introduced the first fully compostable SunChips bag, which is made with renewable plant-based materials. It also conserved more than 12 billion liters of water through efficiency improvements (versus 2006 baseline), achieved a 16% reduction in per-unit use of energy in beverage plants and a 7% reduction in snack plants (compared to a 2006 baseline).
Both Sunny Delight and PepsiCo reply on Sustainability Reporting Guidelines established by the Global Reporting Initiative, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Marcal adds Environmental Facts panel to packaging
An Environmental Facts panel on Small Steps® products from Marcal Manufacturing, LLC, Elmwood Park, NJ, emphasizes the “green” attributes of the paper product inside: 100% recycled fiber content, bleach-free whitening and no chemical-based additives like fragrances and dyes. It’s part of the company’s Right to Know initiative that helps consumers navigate green product claims and manufacturing practices.
“The Environmental Facts panel grew out of our discussions with consumers, who are consistently shocked to learn 98% of household paper goods are made by cutting down trees…,” explains MJ Jolda, senior vice president of Marketing at Marcal. The Small Steps line includes paper towels, bath tissue, facial tissue and napkins. For more information, visit www.marcalsmallsteps.com.
Consumers worry and wonder about environmental impact
Nearly all consumers (94%) worry about the long-term effect their packaged beverage purchases have on the environment, and concerns have heightened since the Gulf oil spill. According to a study by Concept Catalysts, Alpharetta, GA, and iModerate Research Technologies, Denver, CO, for BeveragePulse.com, Atlanta, GA, the perceived negative environmental impact is cutting consumption of bottled water.
In addition, although 56% of 500 respondents rank recycling as a critical issue, many are not recycling at work or away from home. Nevertheless, “…findings indicate that consumers relate positively to packages that are easy to recycle,” reports Bob Falkenberg, founder of BeveragePulse.com and president of Concept Catalyst. “Beverage companies should start a full court press on recycling,” he advises.
The report also indicates consumers are confused about the meaning of sustainability with some citing it as a negative environmental attribute.
Many consumers and corporate leaders also express skepticism about brand owners’ commitment to sustainability, according to another survey, the 2010 Sense & Sustainability Study done by Harris Interactive, New York, NY, for New-York based public relations firm, Gibbs & Soell. Executives surveyed cite an insufficient return on investment, an unwillingness on the part of consumers to pay a premium for green products and services and the complexity of evaluating sustainability across the life cycle of a product as barriers to “going green.” Nearly one-third report no one at their company has been assigned responsibility for sustainability initiatives. In cases where someone does oversee sustainability initiatives, the responsibility generally has been added to existing duties. For more information, visit www.BeveragePulse.com, www.gibbs-soell.com.
Eco-Shape water bottle wins award
Next-generation Eco-Shape™ half-liter polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle wins an Innovation Prize in the Connecticut Quality Improvement Awards for Nestle Waters North America, Greenwich, CT. Weighing an average of 9.3 grams, the lightweighted bottle uses 25% less PET than the company’s previous Eco-Shape design and 60% less than the company’s pre-Eco-Shape bottle introduced in the mid-1990s.
The Eco-Shape design is credited with reducing Nestle Waters’ carbon emissions by more than 356,000 tons since 2007 -- the equivalent to removing 78,000 cars from the road. The Eco-Shape design also features a label that is 35% smaller on average than the previous label, saving nearly 10 million pounds of paper annually.
Capper headsets simplify conversion to lightweighted, short-skirt closures
As demand for short-height closures continues to soar, XT6 headsets from Closure Systems International (CSI), Indianapolis, IN, simplify conversion to the lightweighted caps.
“Short-height closures often have a more narrow operating window for proper application,” explains CSI Europe Machinery Manager, Gregor Hieb. “The XT6 Headset is designed to deliver consistent removal torques at maximum bottling speeds,” he notes.
In addition, CSI XT6 headsets provide 6,000 hours of maintenance-free operation -- even under extreme conditions, including aggressive hot-fill environments. Inspection and tear downs following 6,000 hours of operation have validated performance and show that additional shrouding in the seal areas keeps product and cleaning solutions from entering the headset and affecting the bearings.
Modular design enables easy disassembly and reassembly and is said to result in the fastest headset rebuild times in the industry.
Now available for non-CSI cappers, “we are so confident in the XT6 performance that we will extend the same performance and operational guarantees, regardless of the capper/filler manufacturer,” concludes Hieb. For more information, visit www.csiclosures.com.
Closed-loop systems compost biodegradable packaging
Compostability is always near the top of the list of advantages cited when polylactic acid (PLA) packaging is under discussion. Unfortunately, composting used PLA containers frequently is not an option due to a lack of nearby commercial composting facilities.
Naturally Iowa, Inc., Clarinda, IA, which bottles water in PLA containers, is working to solve this problem for its customers with on-premises closed-loop composting systems installed by its ORCA Green Machine Division.
The ORCA Green Machines, acquired with Naturally Iowa’s purchase of Totally Green, LLC, Marietta, GA, convert PLA bottles and food waste into a liquid effluent within 48 hours. “The ORCA Green Machine is capable of converting thousands of pounds of organic waste per day into nutrient rich water by way of its proprietary rapid composting technology,” says Rob Phillips, the newly elected president of Naturally Iowa, which was acquired in July 2010 by Deer Lake Partners, Tulsa, OK. “By offsetting this waste from local landfills, we will be able to make a substantial economic and environmental impact with our customers,” he explains, noting, “Food waste continues to be an expensive problem for the food and beverage industry, due to rising landfill costs and the environmental challenges of disposal.”
A number of ORCA Green Machines already reside at corporate and government offices, grocery stores, colleges and universities. For more information, visit www.orcagreen.net.
Bio-based ‘spoon’ makes tasting more sustainable
EcoTaster Mini paperboard tasting spoon from SpoonLidz LLC, Larkspur, CA, reduces waste associated with sampling food products. Made from material similar to that used in milk cartons, the EcoTaster Mini tasting spoon costs less than other biodegradable spoons and features a larger scoop area.
One fold converts the paperboard into a rigid scoop suitable for tasting any semi-solid or bite-size food.
Repulpable material is recyclable or compostable and based on a renewable resource (wood fiber). Spoons contain no petroleum-based materials, are printed with soy inks and represent a source reduction compared to other tasting spoons.
Less than half the size of traditional plastic or bio-based tasting spoons, 5,000 Eco Taster Mini spoons fit in a box that holds 1,000 of traditional spoons. An optional sanitary dispenser, the size of an average hardcover book, holds more than 500 lightweight, space-efficient spoons.
Early adopters include Voskos Greek Yogurt, Sun Valley, CA. For more information, contact www.spoonlidz.com.
rPET bottle showcases eco-friendly pet grooming products
To introduce nine Green Groom eco-friendly pet grooming products, Senproco, Inc., Sioux Falls, SD, selects a custom, pinched-waist 100% post-consumer-recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) bottle from TricorBraun, St. Louis, Mo.
Silkscreening the 16-ounce bottle eliminates the environmental impact of a separate label and label adhesive. A faux acid embellishment, used up until now only on glass containers, imparts an opaque white color.
A 28-millimeter polypropylene disk-type closure oriented to the front of the container helps groomers pick up bottles in the correct orientation while the pinched waist prevents “wet hands fumbles.”
Green Groom products also are sold in 1-gallon jugs and five-gallon pails.
Plastics recyclers want caps on empty bottles
Caps tend to be overlooked or actively eliminated in the collection process for recyclables. However, the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR), Washington, DC, wants that practice to change and encourages consumers to put caps back on empty containers so more post-consumer plastic packaging is recycled, reducing landfilled waste and litter.
“We want to assure recycling coordinators, materials recovery facility operators and other collectors of recyclables that plastics recyclers will process these bottles [with closures in place] and recover the caps for recycling,” says Scott Saunders, chairman of APR. In fact, APR member companies report a growing demand for recycled resins, including polypropylene (PP), the material commonly used for caps and lids.
The APR also strongly recommends that packaging manufacturers and brand owners make packaging choices consistent with APR Design for Recyclability Guidelines. As APR Technical Director Dave Cornell points out, “In this case the recommendation is that polyethylene terephthalate and PP bottles, such as beverage containers, use PP caps. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottles, such as detergent containers, should use HDPE caps.” For more information, visit www.plasticsrecycling.org.
Automated recycling system rewards consumers
A new recycling system at CLYNK, South Portland, ME, simplifies beverage container recycling for consumers and Hannaford Supermarkets, Scarborough, ME, which serve as a collection points. The $1.1-million system allows CLYNK to increase volume while consuming less energy and disposable materials. As a result, CLYNK expects to process and sort more than 70 million containers from more than 80,000 consumers in 2010.
Consumers create CLYNK accounts online or at participating Hannaford stores. Users simply bag returnable containers in special collection bags with bar-coded tags and drop them off at CLYNK redemption centers. From there, the bags are transported to South Portland, where the new system counts and sorts containers and credits return fees to the consumer’s account. “Customers who have experienced this new program absolutely love the convenience,” says Steve Culver, vice president government relations for Hannaford.
The CLYNK process is said to be faster and more accurate than traditional hand counting methods, and more convenient than in-store machine-based counts. Maine, which is a deposit state, is the first to offer drop-and-go beverage container return. Oregon, another deposit state, is scheduled to begin testing the CLYNK technology before the end of 2010. For more information, visit www.clynk.com.
Bottled spring water supplier converts to rPET bottle
Eldorado Artesian Springs, Inc., Louisville, CO, adopts a 100% post-consumer-recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) bottle. “We are very excited to be the first U.S. bottled spring water company to introduce 100% recycled plastic bottles,” says Jeremy Martin, vice president of Marketing for Eldorado.
By using rPET instead of virgin PET, Eldorado reduces the energy required to produce this bottle 77% and cuts greenhouse (GHG) emissions 58%, according to NAPCOR (National Association for PET Container Resources), Sonoma, CA.
In addition, Eldorado’s plant currently recycles approximately 96% of its waste, including corrugated, paper and plastic. In September 2009, Eldorado installed a 100-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system that generates approximately 50% of its energy needs.
Resort restaurant serves as cork recycling center
The 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort, Vail, CO, recycles corks from wine it serves as well as corks dropped off by guests and local residents.
The effort works in conjunction the Put a Cork in It recycling program launched in 2009 by Cuvaison Estate Wines, Napa, CA.
“Because it’s a fairly new movement, we haven’t seen cork recycling in a lot of restaurants,” says Greg Monjure, manager of 8100. “We’re a natural fit to contribute to the cork recycling movement. We have sustainable wines and organic wines, but we want to be more proactive with our wine product and find new ways to continue our environmentally friendly efforts.” As an incentive, the restaurant offers $1 off in the dining room for each natural cork brought in (up to 25 corks per table).
Corks collected will be shipped to Yemm & Hart, Marquand, MO, a recycling company that converts and repurposes cork into self-sustaining products such as flooring tile, building insulation, shoe soles, fishing rod handles, bulletin boards and soil conditioners. For more information, visit www.yemmhart.com.