Ici Ice Cream of Berkeley, CA, has developed a loyal following of desert lovers who crave its assortment of fresh, natural ice creams, sorbets, candies and cookies. One reason that Ici attracts consumers who are interested in a lifestyle of health and sustainability (LOHAS) is that Ici sources the finest ingredients from local farms and producers that are committed to organic and sustainable practices. But another important aspect of the Ici brand is presentation—for display purposes as well as for in-store and to-go packaging.
When planning the launch of Ici, Mary Canales (formerly the pastry chef at Chez Panisse) was emphatic that Ici's packaging and serveware should reflect her company's core value of sustainability. Canales didn't need to look far from Berkeley: her search led her to nearby BioMass Packaging, a firm that specializes in biodegradable, nature-based packaging for foodservice and other applications.
"I'm a chef so, until I started to plan Ici, packaging really hadn't even been a consideration," says Canales. "But, knowing how much trash a busy restaurant can generate, I decided we should divert as much of it as possible away from the landfill. Early in the planning process, BioMass Packaging was able to recommend biodegradable and smart products that met all our goals across a wide variety of items."
"Mary was clear about her vision to present Ici's artisan ice cream products using green packaging - but the result needed to accentuate-not detract from-Ici's stylish brand image," says Allen King, president of Excellent Packaging, the parent company of BioMass Packaging. "We worked closely with her to find the optimum mix of products across a broad range of categories. For example, we were able to locate a compostable, cellulose-based metalized film for her to wrap Ici's hand-made ice cream sandwiches. They look fantastic in the freezer—the frozen drops of condensation on the silver wrapping project just the right look of freshness."
Collaborating with King, Canales was able to specify the ideal bio-based solution for every item on Ici's menu. Selecting from BioMass Packaging's extensive list of bio-based products, Canales was able to complement her delicious deserts with planet-friendly picks that include:
■ Individual serving bowls and cups made from sugarcane;
■ Silver-looking wrapping film made from cellulose for their handmade ice cream sandwiches;
■ Printed cotton ribbon to decorate their containers, boxes and bags;
■ 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper shopping bags;
■ Cold drink cups made from Ingeo starch-based plastic.
"When we first opened, people immediately commented on our natural packaging. It feels good to pitch it into the compost bin rather than the regular trash. We were one of the first merchants to offer this sort of packaging as serveware, and our customers continue to notice that we weave our commitment to sustainability into everything they touch," says Canales. "It helps that the city of Berkeley makes it easy for us to dispose of compostable waste. In fact, we now generate very little regular trash in our weekly pickup, and most of that is packaging used by our suppliers."
King works with many businesses in the foodservice industry that are eager to use the "power of green" to differentiate themselves from their competition, steering them toward the optimum mix of ecologically sound products. For example, is a paper cup made from recycled paper lined with polyethylene as good for the planet as the paper cup made from paper sourced from trees that are sustainably farmed, and then lined with Ingeo?
"In the food industry, owners and operators are experts concerning the food product or service that they offer, but not necessarily in the packaging used to present and serve it," says King. "They often have a clear idea about the ‘look' that will best showcase their products, and need help to determine which sustainable packaging options will most closely achieve that vision. By partnering with BioMass Packaging, they can take advantage of our wide experience and sourcing network, and then order everything from one source."
Source: BioMass Packaging