Sustainable Packaging Forms an Organization

Sustainable packaging is now getting a voice on issues related to green packaging. Big companies have joined forces to help make the packaging industry more eco-friendly. ConAgra, Colgate-Palmolive, DuPont, Kellogg, and Proctor & Gamble are among the companies that have formed AMERIPEN, The American Institute for Packaging and the Environment. This organization plans to lobby for science-driven packaging policies and reach out to others to find ways to work together. The key issues are to find ways to improve sustainability of packaging and how to reduce waste.

AMERIPEN is trying to enhance sustainability initiatives and help save the environment by producing eco-friendly packaging. The efforts in finding ways to reduce waste and minimizing the impact on the environment are the two of the main reasons this organization was formed. They also hope to play the role of influencing opinion leaders to further improve the packaging industry’s value chain. The packaging value chain is rapidly changing as eco-friendly and sustainable trends are among us. As we become a society trying to find ways to save our environment, AMERIPEN is here to do their part, within the packaging industry.

PepsiCo’s Eco-Friendly Packaging

After seeing all the success Coca-Cola has had with their PlantBottle, PepsiCo has stepped up to the plate and has developed eco-friendly packaging for their pop. The green bottle they created is made entirely from fully renewable resources and significantly reduces its carbon footprint. The bottle is made from a combination of some materials you would never think could be put together to make a form of packaging. The raw materials include: switch grass, pine bark, and corn husks. Orange peels, potato peels, and oat hulls are on deck for materials to be used in the future.

This innovation from PepsiCo puts recycling up at a whole new level. The materials they are using to make the packaging are actually byproducts from its food business. So if you never believed that things could be recycled and reused to produce something else, there is now proof. The brilliance behind PepsiCo’s eco bottle is that they have combined biological and chemical processes to create a molecular structure that has the same look and feel of the standard bottle PepsiCo uses. The only difference is that the new bottle is fully recyclable and is made from environmentally friendly materials.

A pilot version of PepsiCo’s new packaging will be available in 2012. If successful, they will move directly into full production.

Green: The New Color of Valentine’s Day

It is that time of year where the flowers, heart shaped chocolate boxes, and cards flow to the ones we love. Valentine’s day used to be known for its red and pink colors, but this year we can incorporate green into the lovely holiday. What does green have to do with Valentine’s Day you ask? Well there are ways to not only show our love to our significant others but to the planet as well.

Here are 10 ways to go green this Valentine’s Day:

1. Cards can be hand made from recycled or tree free paper
2. E-cards can be sent
3. Buy chocolates and/or flowers that are organic
4. Make a donation to an environmental organization on behalf of the person
5. Jewelry can be purchased from jewelers who are certified in sourcing precious metals and gemstones in an ecologically and socially responsible manner
6. Gift certificates for holistic therapies (massage, health spa, ect.) make great gifts
7. Have dinner at a restaurant specializing in organic or locally grown food
8. If dining in, prepare a meal using organic or locally grown ingredients
9. If purchasing perfumes or fragrances, buy the ones that are natural instead of synthetic
10. Going green involves imagination. Use your imagination and come up with some do it yourself gifts for your loved ones and have fun with it

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Eco-friendliness is Making a Touchdown

Although the Philadelphia Eagles lost their chance of making it to the Super Bowl, they are making touchdowns in creating eco-friendliness in their stadium. Owner Jeffery Lurie, is fitting Lincoln Financial Field with wind turbines, solar panels, and a biodiesel-reliant power plant. This will be the first major U.S. sports facility to be self-sufficient on renewable fuel. The goal is to have the eco-friendly additions ready by next season.

The stadium will be equipped with 80 wind turbines that will be placed on the upper rim of the stadium. 2500 solar panels will be hung on an overhang and facade. The power plant will be in the parking lot and will consist of 7.6-megawatts. The operations at the Lincoln Financial Field are also environmentally friendly. Almost everything that can be recycled is recycled, and everything else is composted. The new “green” stadium will save the team about $60 million in energy costs as well as reducing annual carbon dioxide emissions. Lurie also hopes that this project will prove to be a good example for others and encourage businesses to do even better.

Heineken Takes Minimal Approach to Green Packaging

Both Heineken and French design company, ORA-ÏTO, teamed up back in 2002 and created the Heineken aluminum bottle packaging which won a myriad of awards. Fast forward to 2010.

Back at it again, they’ve created the Icone Pure; a 100% sustainable aluminum bottle with a simple design. Heineken and ORA-ÏTO reinforce the notion that great custom packaging can be minimal and still maintain a stylish look. The bottle is covered with a white veneer and features Heineken’s iconic green logo with a minimal green dotted pattern. Truly unique- can’t say I’ve ever seen a beer bottle like this before- and it’s green.

The Heineken Pure green packaging is successful in branding the bottle as “pure” and “green” while still maintaining the aesthetic of the Heineken brand.

Algae-based Plastics Could Be Just Around the Corner

Cereplast, Inc. designs and manufactures proprietary starch-based, renewable plastics created from breakthrough technology. They have recently announced that by the end of the year, they will be making plastic from algae. The algae-based resins carry the potential of replacing 50% or more of petroleum content used in traditional plastic resins. Developing alternative feedstock unrelated to fossil fuels and to the food chains is the next ‘frontier’ for bioplastics and Cereplast is aggressively staying on the forefront.

Cereplast CEO says the algae is close enough to the starches that the company already turns into plastics such as corn, wheat, and tapioca. The problem is not the science, it’s the demand. Getting enough of the green stuff to produce mass quantities is the challenge that the Cereplast team is facing. Difficulties with growing and processing algae cheaply has kept it just out of reach for making it a pliable bio-plastic alternative. The process includes finding and cultivating a precise strain of algae from thousands, harvesting and drying, and then extracting the oils from the plant in a cost-effective manner.

What could this mean? In the not-so-distant future, the algae plastics could be and integral part of a trillion dollar plastics industry. Bill Francis, President of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, which documents the effects of stray plastic on the world’s oceans, is optimistic on algae’s future in the plastics marketplace. “I do believe there will be a time when we look back and say, ‘Oh yeah, that was the plastic age”.

Algae-based plastics could be a huge breakthrough for the green packaging industry depending on how the product performs when used in different plastic manufacturing processes. Up to this point, there has been a lot of limitations with bioplastics.

Green Up Your Business And Save Money

I was recently inspired by an article I read about how much money Ford saved just by implementing a power management strategy in their offices. The headline read:

“Ford Saves $1.2 Million and Reduces CO2 Emissions by Around 20,000 Tons by Turning Computers Off”

The cost savings and reduced carbon footprint are obtained by developing “Power Profiles” for each PC in the company. When the power profiles are enabled, each PC monitors its usage patterns and determines when the unit can be turned off. Additionally, the PC can detect when a Microsoft Office product is active and is able to save open documents before shutting down.

Why don’t more companies do this? I’m not sure. Everybody wins. The company saves money on their electric bill and less pollution is produced by power plants.

Here’s a few other simple ways to green your business:

1. Recycle: A great place to start. I know it might sound unbelievable but there are companies out there who still do not recycle. Please, find it in your budgets to do so.

2. Reduce Paper: The average office worker uses approximately 10,000 sheets of copy paper per year. Go electronic. Route faxes, memos, and newsletters via email. Set your printer to print double-sided. Make double-sided copies when possible. Preview documents before printing. Only print the pages you need. For more paper reduction tips click here.

3. Carpool: Start a carpooling program or encourage employees to take public transportation when possible.

4. Buy Plants: Plants not only make your office look nicer but as they absorb airborne pollutants and negative ions from computers, whilst emitting oxygen. Plant waste like bark and leaves can also be recycled and used as garden mulch.

5. Lights: Besides turning off lights around the office that are not being used, buy the efficient ones. Use Energy Star-rated lightbulbs and fixtures, which use at least two-thirds less energy than regular lighting.

More on Ford via Treehugger

AT&T Announces ZERO Draw Charger

Did you know that leaving your phone charger plugged into the wall, regardless if your phone is plugged in or not, draws electricity? I didn’t. In fact, most mobile users are unaware of this. In the U.S., it’s enough to power 24,000 homes per year, or brew three to four million cups of coffee each day*.

Introducing AT&T’s Global First Automatic ZERO Draw Charger. Available only in AT&T stores in May 2010, the charger does not waste any power when left plugged in. Additionally, it improves charging efficiency when powering a device. It also features a “block and cable” design for maximum interchangeability, allowing customers to use the same charger for future handsets. Over time this will cut the number of chargers being produced, thus reducing future landfill waste.

How does it work? The Zero Charger works by automatically sensing when a mobile phone is not plugged up to the charger and cutting the power supply from the wall socket. Pretty nifty!

The cost of the unit will be the same as existing replacement chargers which is great news for customers and more reason to change to a greener solution. The charger will be sold in packaging with 100% recycled paper. AT&T recently announced a transition to smaller and more eco-friendly packaging for the wireless device accessories. The change means elimination of more than 60% of the paper and more than 30% of the plastic previously used for AT&T’s accessory products.

*Energy saving calculations based on the following assumptions by AT&T: 277 million wireless users in U.S., minimum one phone per user; user charges device 3 to 4 times per week for 8 hours; 80% of users leave charger plugged in wall socket; average charger wastes 170 mW (0.17 watts) when idle.

View the press release here

The Beauty of Cardboard

Many look at cardboard and see it as a simple packaging material.  To often it finds its way to the trash instead of being recycled.  But as the cliche goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”  This is the case for Mark Langan, who is an artist based out of Ohio that has made his life’s work out of corrugated boxes.

As his website states;

…I see it as an endless supply source that I purge from my trash and neighborhoods, reusing it towards my creations.  Artwork that is intriguing to the viewer whereas one might ponder quite some time over. A form of green art, that makes a definitive statement with its contribution to the recycling movement.

With a touch of brilliance Mark takes “reuse” to a new level.  Revamping simple cardboard into breath taking works of art.  Here are a few samples of his work.

http://keetsa.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/langan3.jpghttp://cwoca.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Salutation-Mark-Langan1.jpg

For more information visit:

Langa Art

Google Images

Thinking Green – Mushroom Stems used in Insulation and Packaging Invention

Although both of these products may not be out for the common population to buy yet, Acorn and Greensulate, invented by Evocative Design, are two products that are worth paying attention to.

Acorn is a compostable packaging material, that may end up replacing ‘popcorn peanuts’ and other packaging products.  It looks like styrofoam and can be made in any shape or size.  It may be a long awaited answer to reducing waste.  If these products can replace styrofoam, then there really will be a reason for celebration.

Greensulate is an organic insulation, that may offer an alternative to the traditional pink insulation found in most American homes.

The resin of the mushroom Fungal Mycelium is the basis of these green products.  As the mushrooms are not allowed to grow into full mushroom state, there is no belief that spores or allergens can result from these products.

Inventorspot.com asks: “What inspired Gavin McIntyre and Eben Bayer to use mushrooms?”

“They “were fascinated by mushrooms growing on wood chips, and observing how the fungal mycelium strongly bonded the wood chips together. This inspired them to think of new ways of using mycelium as a resin.” Their idea worked and ever since they have won grant after grant to continue testing and developing these ideas.”

An invention like this has the possibility of changing the world presumably for the better, making it greener and more sustainable.  Good luck to these inventors!

For more information:

Ecovative Design

Inverntor Spot