Sustainable packaging innovators earn kudos

Lisa Pierce in Sustainable Packaging on April 26, 2018

Sometimes it’s hard enough to make any substantial gains in sustainable packaging goals. But it takes extra effort and zeal to really excel. When that happens, the entire industry—and perhaps even the world—advances.

On April 25, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition applauded innovation and leadership in sustainable packaging with the presentation of its 2018 SPC Innovator Awards. Excellence in sustainability and packaging was recognized in four categories: Packaging Innovation; Breakthrough Process; Outcome of a Partnership; and Outstanding Person.

“Every entry in the 2018 SPC Innovator Awards embodied creativity, inventiveness and progressive action, truly demonstration the ingenuity and power industry wields to drive positive change,” says Adam Gendell, associate director of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. “We thank each and every entrant, and it is our pleasure to recognize the select few entries that we felt went above and beyond to advance the state of sustainable packaging.”

Congratulations to the winners and honorable mention recipients:

Page 1: Packaging Innovation winner is Coca-Cola North America, with an honorable mention to Earth-To-Go.

Page 2: Breakthrough Process winners are Envision and ViTA.

Page 3: Outcome of a Partnership winners are PepsiCo, Natureworks, Danimer Scientific, Omya, Berry Plastics and Johnson-Bryce, with an honorable mention to American Packaging Corp.

Page 4: Outstanding Person awards go to Ashley C. Hall, senior manager of sustainability, Walmart, and Victor Bell, president, Environmental Packaging Intl. (EPI)

Here’s why they deserve praise…


Packaging Innovation winner: Coca-Cola improves the recyclability of its 89-oz Simply Orange juice container

A three-prong improvement for Coca-Cola’s 89-oz Simply Orange juice bottle vastly improves its recyclability, and presents a technical “first” in plastics manufacturing.

1. Development of a new polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin that can be extrusion blow molded on shuttle machines allowed Coca-Cola to switch materials from a hard-to-recycle “Other” (resin code No.7) to the widely-accepted PET (resin code No.1).

2. By also optimizing the bottle design, Coca-Cola is able to reduce annual plastics usage by more than 1.5 million pounds.

3. The pressure-sensitive label on the bottle now uses an innovative adhesive that separates the label from the bottle during the recycling process, further improving the package’s recyclability.

Accepting the award are Sarah Dearman, sustainable packaging program director, and Jordan Mattison, senior engineer, R&D packaging, at The Coca-Cola Co.

“When we work together, great things can happen,” Dearman says. “The sustainability improvements to the Simply [Orange] 89-oz bottle, including enhanced recyclability and material reduction of 1.5 million pounds, is a great collaboration example. Suppliers and numerous organizations worked together to make this packaging innovation a success with benefits that will be realized throughout the recycling community.”


Packaging Innovation, honorable mention: Earth-to-Go expands PLA for foodservice packaging

Most sustainable packaging professionals are well aware of the bio-based polymer polylactic acid (PLA). This is the first time I’ve heard of PLA being “expanded” with air, and by up to 40%. Made with NatureWorks Ingeo PLA biopolymer resin, the resulting line of Earth Maise products from Earth-to-Go were designed to replace the typical polystyrene packaging used in foodservice applications. The compostable material is lightweight, able to withstand heat for use in microwave ovens and yet is cold tolerant to -4-deg F. It is also resistant to moisture and grease, which is critical for many foodservice uses.

According to Nina Goodrich, SPC executive director, expanded PLA introduces a lower-cost opportunity for PLA to find new footholds in the market.

Accepting the honorable mention is Kevin Duffy, president, Biodegradable Food Service LLC.


NEXT: Winners of the Breakthrough Process category



Production efficiencies, ecommerce challenges, sustainability trends, new bioplastic technologies and more are among the topics on the agenda at the new Packaging Education Hub at EastPack 2018 (June 12-14; NYC). This free educational program will have more than 15 hours of can’t-miss presentations, demonstrations and hands-on activities. Register to attend for free today!

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Congratulations to all the winners! Environmental issues are close to many people's hearts and that could include your customers. Nowadays, firms are expected to do their bit to help the environment or at least not contribute to the problem. Than Nguyen
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