Quinoa repackaged into pouches made from compostable materials

By Rick Lingle in Sustainable Packaging on February 02, 2016

Alter Eco switches from a non-recyclable laminated pouch structure to a “Gone4Good” made-with-compostable materials stand-up pouch made from non-GMO (genetically-modified organisms), plant-based materials.

 

Alter Eco switches from a previous, plastic non-recyclable structure to a “Gone4Good” backyard-compostable stand-up pouch made from non-GMO (genetically-modified organisms), plant-based materials.

The new pouches replace previous packaging for the brand’s popular organic Royal heirloom quinoa products, including Rainbow, Pearl, Red, and Black.

"Sustainability is the core of our business, and as a leader in the space we’ve worked tirelessly to pioneer the first non-GMO pouch made with compostable materials that will truly revolutionize the food industry,” says Mathieu Senard, co-founder and co-CEO of Alter Eco, who responds to our questions about the pouch structure, vendors and challenges of this innovative packaging introduction.

Please describe the before and after packaging.

Senard: Our previous packaging was a mixed-material film laminate (PET/ink/adhesive/LLDPE) stand-up pouch. Like all pouches with this similar structure, they were not recyclable so eventually would end up in landfills. Prior to our development of this new pouch made with compostable materials there was really no better alternative to the plastic, unrecyclable format. Approximately 17 billion plastic pouches were made in 2013 and not one of them was recyclable or compostable. In the United States alone, 30 million tons of plastic is generated annually and only 7% is recycled.

We reduced the size of the pouch from 14 and 16oz pouches to a 12oz pouch. The decision to decrease the size was made in order to offer more competitive pricing in a category where prices have increased in the recent years.

Consumers clearly prefer the stand up pouch format and now Alter Eco is offering a stand up pouch you can feel good about.

 

What’s the specific pouch structure?

Senard: Our new “Gone4Good” pouch is made from Innovia’s NatureFlex laminated to a Novamont Mater-Bi product. The NatureFlex is made from Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified birch and eucalyptus wood pulp, and the Mater-bi is made from non-GMO corn starch. The pouch is printed with certified commercially compostable non-toxic ink. We’re proud to be able to offer the first-ever, renewable, non-GMO and plant-based pouch available nationwide. In our own trials, we have found that it disintegrates in about 3 to 6 months. 

Why was this structure and these vendors selected?

Senard: Both Innovia Films and Novamont have a strong commitment to making environmentally friendly packaging materials that is backed by years of research as well as certifications. Not only do these suppliers support sustainability, but they responsibly source their materials and guarantee quality performance and safety. These core values align with our vision to bring full-circle sustainability to life throughout our all of our products. In order to do this, creating a better pouch package was an initiative we knew had to be done. This good-for-the planet innovation is extremely important to us as a brand. We feel it will pave the way for other companies to follow and enable consumers to eliminate the massive amount of waste currently being produced by standard plastic pouches.

Can the pouch converter be credited?

Senard: We worked closely with our printer,  converter, and laminator partner Associated Labels in Coquitlam, BC, Canada, via our manufacturing partner Elk Designs in Los Angeles, CA. Their openness, drive and belief in the project was key in how we were able to work through the inevitable challenges in working with these new materials.

 

Next: Pouch performance, challenges, on-pack messaging and consumer interest.

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