Recycling Thermoformed Packaging

For good reason, retailers and companies are increasingly concerned with the re-usability of packaging. Using materials that can be recycled and reused is not only good for the environment, but a selling point to eco-conscious customers. Recycling thermoformed packaging is one reason Sunrise Packaging loves promoting our thermoforming processes, but not the only one.

We turned to the current industry analysis and trends on industrial thermoform packaging material market to find out why this style of customized inserts and packaging is rapidly increasing in popularity.

Reasons to Love Recycling Thermoformed Packaging

It’s good for the globe.

Recycling plastic leads to a robust second life for a variety of products (see what kinds of plastics can be recycled). With the majority of thermoformed materials meeting the requirements for recycling initiatives, it allows consumers to buy with confidence. On a grander scale, it reduces greenhouse gasses and pollution, as well as the waste filling up dumps and natural environments. 

It’s good for the consumer.

And in more ways than you might think. It takes less energy to make products from recycled plastic than it does using virgin materials. It saves on oil, which in turn makes more oil available for heating homes and other uses. That’s just one example of how recycling thermoformed packaging helps the collective and not just individuals.

It’s good for your organization.

Thermoforming has a lot of advantages. It’s ligthweight but solid. It’s environmentally-friendly while providing stiff storage for products. Additionally, more and more products require the versatility offered by custom plastic packaging. Wood and glass can’t promise a moisture-free, odor-free environment that also blocks light. Oh, and while keeping weight and shipping costs down. 

Upcycling For The Greater Good

Upcycling‘ is becoming an increasingly popular term to further clarify recycling. It means taking a product and reusing it for a new purpose. But in such a way that creates a product of higher quality or value. It’s not exactly a new idea–there must have been some inventive upcycling going on through the Great Depression, right?–but it’s gained traction in our eco-friendly society. 

Choosing packaging that can be re-purposed is more than just a fiscal decision. As people become more educated about making choices, trends show that the demand for recyclable packaging will grow. Get ahead of the game by working with Sunrise Packaging to create recyclable thermoformed packaging!

New Minnesota State Fair Attraction Highlights Post-Consumer Plight

The famous Minnesota State Fair opened its gates last weekend to the record-breaking masses.


Each year, the celebration seems to get bigger and bigger, hooking celebs, musicians, and national attention.

As part of our yearly tradition, I took my dad to the MN State Fair on Monday. I always love the first Monday–even though it’s almost always a scorcher. As in years past, I ate the same foods, sampled new ones, and pretty much stuffed myself silly. That’s where I live when it comes to the Fair. It’s not a success unless you have to be rolled to the parking lot.

One experience I did have that was new was noticing all the packaging. Since I’ve been writing about custom packaging, I can’t help but notice it. They always say it’s everywhere you go–but it really is. The Minnesota State Fair is known for its games, rides, music, food, and farm animals, but it’s arguably one of the biggest trade shows in the land. From the Education Building to the vendors set up in the Grand Stand, everyone is showcasing their wares, so to speak. I didn’t have a point of reference before, but now I’m noticing corrugated e-flute launch kits left and right. I’m seeing printed SBS paperboard where I used to see a novelty fan. I’m seeing diecut foam and turned edge setup boxes around every corner. The Minnesota State Fair must still remain a major hub of business.

But one of the new attractions this year really spoke to me: The Eco Experience’s “Bagnado.” The Eco Experience has always been one of my favorite attractions at the Fair. It strikes the right chord between informational and fun. This year, they’ve ramped things up with the Bagnado, a 25-foot tall plastic tornado, representing the grocery bags and packaging that are tossed away daily. In Minnesota, that number averages about 12 pounds of packaging per second!

That’s why I’m proud to be associated with Sunrise Packaging. Sure, we have eco-friendly products like corrugated cardboard boxes–even eco-friendly binders and name badges printed with soy-based inks! But on the other end, we specialize in packaging that you can keep. That you can reuse. Presentation packaging is reusable packaging. Custom boxes, laminated with aqueous print coatings are designed to stand up to the effects of repeated, everyday use. That’s more than you can say for the plastic bag, which sadly, is intended to be thrown away.

Packaging is a necessary part of our world. Business, retail, storage–it all needs packaging. But packaging you can keep, that you want to keep? That’s the bonus of presentation packaging.
Long story short, if you’re visiting the Minnesota State Fair this year, be sure to stop by the Eco Experience to learn other tips about reducing waste and reusing your post-consumer materials.

International Coastal Cleanup- Plastics

litterPlastics products are often thought of as a huge contributor to litter. The Ocean Conservancy keeps track of International Coastal Cleanup. More than 500,000 volunteers picked up picked up 10.1 million pounds of trash along 17,719 miles of coastline last year alone. This amount is the third highest in the 27-year history of the Coastal Cleanup. While many would assume that plastic products take the cake for the types of trash that are found, in reality cigarette butts and filters are No. 1 of the top 10 items found. Second are food wrappers/containers, then plastic beverage bottles and plastic bags.

Subway Uses Recycled PET Trays for Catering

Thermoformed traysIn an effort to make their restaurants more environmentally responsible, the Subway sandwich chain is now using thermoformed catering PET trays. The trays are made from 95% post-consumer recycled PET and are used in 29,000 Subway locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. As a result of using these trays, the company estimates that it will keep 1.8 million pounds of plastic materials from going directly into the waste stream every year. The switch is part of Subway’s commitment to changing their day-to-day operations in order to uphold environmental responsibility. The improvements will not end with this- while the company is proud of the various sustainable solutions they have implemented into their business, they recognize that there is more to be done and they are committed to it!

Recyclers asked to stand up for plastics industry

plastics industry leadersIn major meeting of plastics recyclers in New Orleans, the message was delivered that recyclers can be playing a bigger role in letting the skeptical public know about the many advantages of plastics for the environment. Speakers at the meeting included Bill Carteaux, president and CEO of the Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc. and Steve Russell, head of the American Chemistry Council’s plastics division. Some major key points of the meeting were:

-Carteaux urged recyclers to join SPI’s Operation Clean Sweep

– Russell mentioned efforts of the ACC supporting New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban polystyrene food-service packaging.

– The positive impact that shale gas is having on the U.S. economy, specifically the plastics industry

Both of these industry leaders spoke about the critical role that plastics recyclers can play to help set the record straight about the benefits of plastics, and the advantages they bring for eco-friendly products supporters. Recyclers have a lot of credibility and their voice of support can improve the status of the plastics industry and production.


Biodegradable Plastics Made from Natural Resources

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has developed a new plastic capable of being thermoformed. The material is biodegradable and because of this, is best for disposable food packaging. To accomplish this development, the Agricultural Research Service incorporated biodegradable sugar beet pulp- the leftover residue from sugar extraction. They took this substance and incorporated it with a biodegradable polymer. The combination resulted in thermoplastic composites that retain mechanical properties similar to polystyrene and polypropylene which are extremely common plastics for thermoforming products. Processors of the sugar beet pulp produce tons of the substance annually, making it a viable, long-term product of agricultural business.

Source: Packaging Digest

28th Annual MSU Packaging Jamboree

2013 Packaging JamboreeMichigan State University’s Schoolof Packagingwill be hosting the 28th annual Student Packaging Jamboree this March 21 through 23. The school was established in 1952 and is on of the premier programs in its field. This event gives students the opportunity for packaging students nationwide to network and learn more about their prospective field. The University anticipates 250 students to attend this 3 day event. Throughout the conference, industry experts will be available to interact and speak with students in a panel format, showcase display, and a design competition of the products presented. The theme for this year’s Jamboree is Innovation in Design and Sustainability.

Source: PackagingDigest

How2Recycle Label to Increase Recycling Awareness

The How2Recycle label you see on many products was developed to reduce consumer confusion around recycling in the U.S. To achieve this goal, The Sustainable Packaging Coalition created a clear and consistent recycling label that provided a corresponding informational website ( This provided companies with an easy solution to conform to the Federal Trade Commission’s “Green Guides”. There are many other recycling labels and symbols that exist, but the How2Recycle label is the only one that communicates effectively across all material types giving explicit directions to consumers to influence their recycling behavior. If consumers are uncertain, the label also specifies when a component of the packaging in not recyclable. Watch out, because this label will be appearing on more and more brands. The How2Recycle Label will be appearing on products like Minute Maid, Clorox, and products from Best Buy. The soft launch of this label will run the first quarter of 2013 followed by full implementation taking into consideration feedback form the soft launch. It is expected that 20 additional participants will be added after the soft launch and the label will appear on the majority of consumer product packaging in the next three years.

Read more at Packaging Digest

Polystyrene Bans Occurring in California

Californiais currently expanding their polystyrene bans. The Hermosa Beach City Council recently signed off on the ban on polystyrene food packaging. This ban is projected to affect roughly 30 companies, which include restaurants and grocery stores.

Beach and ocean pollution are the affects of polystyrene. Polystyrene is a material used for serving or transporting prepared foods. They containers come in the form of plates, bowls, clams shells and cups. It is a petroleum-based plastic.

Preventing litter is the main target of this ban. People will be allowed to bring polystyrene products into the city, the city just cannot supply them. This ban however does not apply for the Hermosa Beach City School District. The ban is supposed to be formally approved on Sept. 11th and will become effective 180 days from that date.



Hormel’s New Environmental Goals

Hormel Foods Corporation is a leading manufacturer and marketer of many food and meat products around the world. Based inAustin,Minnesota, Hormel’s environmental goals are something they work hard towards. ConAgra Foods Inc, Kraft Foods Inc, and Tyson Foods Inc are some of their top competitors.

New environmental goals were recently announced by Hormel Foods Corporation. New packaging, water, solid waste, air and energy issues were all apart of the environmental goals. In the ended fiscal 2011 Hormel met a number of their goals. They had a large water reduction by beating their goal by 15% and reduced packaging by a total of 21.8 million pounds. With the accomplishments they achieved in 2011, they have a difficult challenge for meeting goals in 2012.

Hormel’s recycling rate is something that they hope to raise. At the end of 2010 their recycling rate was 41% and 46% at the end of 2011. Air emission targets and indirect energy consumption are also items on their environmental goals list.