Food Processors Beginning to See Benefits of Going Green With Packaging

From Heinz to the Girl Scouts, everyone wants packaging with less environmental downside.

By Kate Bertrand Connolly, Packaging Editor

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"Our top priority right now is carton recycling," says Derric Brown, director of sustainability at Evergreen Packaging Group, a paperboard packaging maker and probably the leader in gabletop cartons. He says the company is working with municipalities to increase those paperboard recycling rates.

Another R that's also a priority at Evergreen is renewable. The company makes more than 70 percent of its paperboard packaging from "responsibly managed forests." Its third-party certifications from the Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative can be carried by food processors on their Evergreen-supplied packages, to share the green halo.

Bioplastic yogurt packs

Organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm, Londonderry, N.H., made news in sustainable packaging recently when it switched to polylactic acid (PLA) for all the yogurt multipacks it makes and fills at its Londonderry plant.



Stonyfield YoBaby Yogurt

The multipacks are 93 percent PLA, which is a corn-based bioplastic. Stonyfield products now packaged in PLA include YoBaby, YoToddler, YoKids, B-Healthy, B-Well, Probiotic and O'Soy. Stonyfield also is co-packing organic Trader Joe's yogurt in 4-oz. PLA multipacks.

Stonyfield makes the PLA multipacks on the same Arcil form-fill-sealer it used, until last October, to make polystyrene multipacks. Stonyfield "is the first to do it," says Harry Marovskis, director of sales at Synerlink USA, referring to running PLA on the form-fill-sealer. Synerlink, Cincinnati, supplied Stonyfield with the Arcil equipment.

Switching from polystyrene to bioplastic is consistent with Stonyfield's overarching commitment to sustainability, which spans products, employees, the environment and the business itself. Stonyfield reports that by switching to PLA it has reduced its carbon footprint by 1,875 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, which equals the carbon dioxide emissions from 4,360 barrels of oil.

Although the PLA multipacks look identical to the old polystyrene packaging, Stonyfield wants consumers to know that the new packages are greener than the old ones. Marovskis reports that if you look at the bottom of the cups, "they all say ‘this package made from plants.' "

In collaboration with Novamont, Zip-Pak has developed a cellulose-based, 100 per cent compostable profile for resealable packaging made of Mater-Bi resin. Also under development is a zipper using PLA for use with PLA films. These developments not only offer the benefits of resealability for reduced food waste, but also have the potential to substantially reduce packaging waste.

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