Green packaging shifts up the priority list for brand owners and consumers

By Chris BARKER , 29-Nov-2013

100% recycled packaging logo

Increasing environmental awareness means that sustainable packaging is becoming a higher priority for both consumers and brand owners, as evidenced by the number of cosmetics firms opting for a greener option.

Elizabeth Arden this week chose the Airopack dispensing system, and this adds to the long list of brands opting for environmentally friendly packaging in order to appeal to customers.

The Elizabeth Arden Ceramide products are being produced through the Airopack Full Service Operation, which will see the dispensers produced, filled, sleeved and packed to meet the brand’s specifications.

Increasing awareness

“Brand owners become more aware of their responsibility in today’s society. As environmental awareness shifts higher up the priority list at both consumers and brand owners, sustainable products become increasingly important to express a brand message,” Airopack marketing manager Caren Kuijs tells to CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com

“Over the last 10 years we have identified an enormous growth in cosmetic formulations holding natural ingredients and with this Airopack is able to enhance the total sustaining message on shelf for the consumer.”

This technology has also been adopted by other major companies in the recent past; including Procter & Gamble and Danish brand Nordictan.

As technology advances, lightweight packaging and aerosols with a low carbon footprint and CO2 impact are becoming more practical and are being adopted by larger numbers of companies.

Industry examples

Estee Lauder subsidiary Aveda recently brought a new dimension to packaging by introducing 100% recycled packaging for eye colouring in their ‘Essence of Nature Single Eye Color Refil’ line, launched earlier this year.

The company also adopted the tactic of selling refills of its most popular colors, to allow consumers to re-use the same packaging multiple times.

Copyright – Unless otherwise stated all contents of this web site are © 2013 – William Reed Business Media SAS – All Rights Reserved

Advertisements

Recycling Of HDPE Bottles Tops 1 Billion Pounds In 2012

 

Baled plastic bottles waiting to be recycled

Baled plastic bottles waiting to be recycled

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2013 — Rate Climbs to Nearly 32 Percent

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Plastic bottle recycling by consumers increased 161 million pounds in 2012, edging up 6.2 percent, to reach nearly 2.8 billion pounds for the year, according to figures released jointly today by the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC). The recycling rate for all plastic bottles rose 1.6 percent to 30.5 percent for the year.

The 23rd annual National Post-Consumer Plastics Bottle Recycling Report marks the twenty-third consecutive year that Americans have increased the pounds of plastic bottles returned for recycling. The number of pounds of used bottles collected in the United States has grown each year since the industry survey began in 1990.

During 2012, the collection of high-density polyethylene (HDPE, #2) bottles – a category that includes milk jugs and bottles for household cleaners and detergents – rose 45.3 million pounds to top 1 billion pounds for the first time, helping to boost the recycling rate for HDPE bottles from 29.9 to 31.6 percent.

“We are very encouraged by the steady growth in plastic bottle recycling,” said Steve Alexander, executive director of APR.  “Used plastics are valuable materials, and recyclers rely on all of us to make sure these resources make it into a recycling bin.”

“Thanks to increased consumer access to recycling programs and growth in single-stream collection – whereby consumers place all recycled materials into a single bin – plastics recycling is one of the easiest things we can do to benefit the planet,” added Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council.

“In the United States, we have the capacity to recycle more used plastics than we are currently collecting, and innovative manufacturers are using these materials in new and exciting ways.  Each of us can help by doing our part to get more used plastics into a recycling bin,” Russell said.

Alexander and Russell offered three simple tips to help consumers recycle more of their plastic bottles:

  • Bring it back. If you empty a plastic bottle on-the-go, bring it back to a bin.
  • Recycle all plastic bottles.  Today, recyclers collect all types of plastic bottles, regardless of the number, or resin identification code, printed on the bottom.
  • Don’t forget about caps! Recyclers want both caps and bottles, so please remember to twist caps back on bottles after use.

 

This year’s survey of plastic bottle recycling also found that the collection of polypropylene (PP, #5) bottles rose to nearly 47 million pounds, an annual increase of 7.2 percent, with 73 percent of that material processed domestically as PP, rather than mixed with other resins.  Domestic processing of postconsumer PP bottles increased 14 percent to reach 43.5 million pounds.  Although PP caps and non-bottle containers are widely collected for recycling in the United States, these data are released in a separate report on recycling non-bottle rigid plastics, which will be released in the coming weeks.

Together, polyethylene terephthalate (PET, #1) and HDPE bottles continue to make up over 96 percent of the U.S. market for plastic bottles with polypropylene bottles comprising half of the remaining 4 percent.

Exports of HDPE bottles rose 30 million pounds to 201 million pounds in 2012, while imports of postconsumer HDPE decreased by 35 percent to 33.1 million pounds, which, combined with increased collection and exports, resulted in slightly lower purchases for U.S. reclamation plants.

The full 2012 report National Post-Consumer Plastics Bottle Recycling Report is available on the “Reports and Publications” section of ACC’s website and on APR’s (www.plasticsrecycling.org) website.

Data on PET recycling referenced in the report were separately funded and published by APR and the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR).  A separate report, entitled 2012 Report on Post-Consumer PET Container Recycling Activity, is available on APR’s website.

The survey of reclaimers in the study was conducted by Moore Recycling Associates, Inc.

Resources for municipal recyclers are available at www.allplasticbottles.org and www.recycleyourplastics.org.

The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) is the national trade association representing companies that acquire, reprocess and sell the output of more than 90 percent of the post-consumer plastic processing capacity in North America. Founded in 1992, its membership includes independent recycling companies of all sizes, processing numerous resins.  APR strongly advocates the recycling of all post-consumer plastic packaging.

http://www.plasticsrecycling.org.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people’s lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®, common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues, and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is a $770 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation’s economy. It is one of the nation’s largest exporters, accounting for twelve percent of all U.S. exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.

Weighing the next 40 years of recycling

Editor’s Note: This story appears in Waste & Recycling News’ commemorative issue, “40 Years of Curbside Recycling.”

Recycling at high-rise apartments offers a great opportunity to collect a large amount of materials from one location, but containers that tenants empty their household bins into can fill fast, especially on weekends.

Instead of toting the potential commodities back to their unit, some residents trash them.

Overcoming the hurdles to convenient recycling at multiple-family housing needs to be addressed, said Steven Thompson, executive director of Curbside Value Partnership, a non-profit group that works with cities and states to increase participation.

“You have to have architects designing multiple chutes on the 30th floor instead of just one for trash,” Thompson said. “That’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of time.”

He hopes it is one of the changes that come about in the next 40 years for curbside recycling.

“There are conundrums the industry doesn’t have its head around, like rural areas,” Thompson said. “It’s very hard to cost-effectively recycle when you have three miles between mailboxes.”

The 40th anniversary of curbside recycling begs the question: What will it be like in the next four decades? What quandaries will be cleared up? What new ones will pop up?

Waste & Recycling News asked some of the leaders in the industry to look into their crystal balls and offer a glimpse of what may be in 2053.

The predictions, aspirations and cautions ranged from boosting the recycling rate beyond 34% to finding profitable solutions to problems and to this warning: Without more attention to quality control during processing, the pendulum could take an ugly swing backward to manufacturers using virgin material.

Steve Miller, CEO of Bulk Handling Systems, sees several trends moving forward, such as more mixing of materials, better technology to extract materials, and higher quality of extracted materials for reprocessing today’s common recyclables.

There will be less left to waste if advances in refuse-derived fuel take some big steps forward in the next four decades, he added. All eyes and many minds are on the organic fraction of the waste stream and anaerobic digestion.

Miller expects the industry to next go after materials like used paper plates, tissues and towels, and plastic films.

“[They’re] not in sufficient quantity to have a commodity value to them but when thought of as an energy source they have a high-caloric value to them and could be utilized that way,” Miller said. “When you go forward I think there will be much more work in that area.”

Contaminated paper products, which can’t be recovered as a fiber source, and other components of the light and high-energy fraction could become a refuse-derived fuel that helps utilities power plants now using coal or natural gas.

Thompson also sees more waste-to-energy facilities on the horizon and his fingers are crossed the option doesn’t deter recycling.

“Waste-to-energy needs to be thought through so it doesn’t become a reason not to recycle,” he said. “People might say, ‘Oh we don’t need to do that. We’ll just burn it.’ There are ways they can co-exist nicely and have a high functionality but it needs to be carefully designed and implemented.”

For now, the industry is stumped as to how to remove the so-called “frozen fuel” of plastic film — grocery bags, dry cleaners bags, and the clear packaging for men’s dress shirts — that gets intertwined with recyclables.

“That material is substantially more than what people think,” said Nathiel Egosi, owner and founder of RRT Design & Construction. “It’s problematic to process because it’s difficult to remove in an automatic fashion.”

Egosi expects those pesky flexible plastic packages to be sorted in some systematic way in upcoming years.

“It’s not a desirable material in bales of plastic and other types of commodities,” he said. “The whole industry is working to develop a technique to get that plastic film out.”

MRFs will evolve to process more materials and do so more economically in the next 40 years, said Bill Moore, president of the consulting firm Moore & Associates. In the 1990s, a big MRF cost $1 million to build and handled 100 tons of material a day; today, $20 million MRFs process 1,000 tons daily, he said.

“I suspect we’ll grow that with more regional facilities,” Moore said. “MRFs will continue to look like sophisticated manufacturing operations. They bring in raw materials and process it. That’s the mindset. They are manufacturers creating value out of product.”

Mick Barry, a board member of the National Recycling Coalition, is rooting for dual-stream recycling to win out over single-stream. He’s concerned about commingled recyclables causing impurity problems with the finished product and turning off buyers.

Barry, who also is a materials broker, points to China’s “Green Fence.” The crackdown on imported waste is more than a short-term awareness campaign about sub-standard scrap, Barry said. He sees it as a long-term, quality-control initiative that affects one of America’s top exports.

There is no longer a ready market in China for impure bales of plastic, paper and other recyclables from the U.S. and Europe.

“We’ve got to clean up our act,” Barry said. “The [United Kingdom] sent too much junk in with plastic and they finally cut the U.K. off. They sent a message to the world: Hey, enough is enough. Don’t dump on us and blame us for being the garbage guys of the world.”

It’s critical that all U.S. recyclers remember their bottom line is creating a raw material from a used material and not simply recovering things from the waste stream, Barry said. His message: Have some pride of ownership.

“If we don’t go back to that, we will lose our position as the primary source of materials for manufacturing product back to the virgin base,” Barry said.

Kate Krebs, a former director of the NRC, envisions a future with no waste at all.

“Waste to me is a design flaw,” she said. “If you design a product correctly, you factor in not only the form and function but end of life. That thinking is permeating through our global manufacturing side. That helps us shift. If we really got the consumer marketing going and we continue to spread end-of-life strategies to the makers of product, looking ahead 40 years we should have a much more efficient, simple system.”

EcoPrime™ Food Grade Recycled HDPE Arrives in Southern California

A crane lowers the EcoPrime vessel through the roof of Envision's Chino California plant

A crane lowers the EcoPrime vessel through the roof of Envision’s Chino California plant

Chino, California – Thursday, June 27, 2013

The final stages of equipment installation are underway at Envision Plastics’ Chino, California operation as a large crane lowered the EcoPrime™ vessel through the roof of the building and into its framework.  The EcoPrime™ vessel is the final component required to allow Envision to produce EcoPrime™, FDA approved food grade recycled HDPE resin on the West coast.

EcoPrime™ is approved for direct food contact in many food and beverage applications under demanding conditions of use.  EcoPrime™ is currently used in packaging for liquid yogurt drinks, cereals, deli foods, nutritional products, food take out containers, personal care products, toys and other products.  It can be used in blow molding, thermoforming, compression molding, film extrusion and some injection molding applications.

Debugging of the equipment and pre-production trials will take place in July.  Production of EcoPrime™ should commence in August.  Stay tuned for more developments.

 

Banning Plastic Not the Solution for Cities

In his final State of the City address, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg put forth a proposal to ban polystyrene foam packaging.  Bloomberg addressed the motivations for the ban as partly economic and partly environmental, saying that because polystyrene is not biodegradable, it costs the taxpayers extra money to remove it out of the waste.

But would a ban on the popular packaging material actually save money and create a more sustainable culture?  That’s the question the American Chemistry Council set out to answer with a recent study conducted by MB Public Affairs.

The study concluded that “such a ban could nearly double food service packaging costs — while doing little to actually reduce waste”.  The cost for New York City retailers to replace polystyrene food and drink containers with the next cheapest alternative would average about $91.3 million per year.  Or as the report puts it:

“In other words, for every $1.00 now spent on plastic foam foodservice and drink containers, NYC consumers and businesses will have to spend at least $1.94 on the alternative replacements, effectively doubling the cost to businesses.”

We have seen attempts to ban types of plastic packaging in the past, with proponents of such measures citing the environmental benefits.  But the myth that banning such substances would cure society of its sustainability problems is often misguided.  The key to creating true sustainability change in society is demonstrating that it is affordable as well.

While Mayor Bloomberg may have the best intentions with this bill, it seems to ignore the bigger picture.  Businesses will have to raise prices to adjust for the rise in price of buying a new material to replace pyrostyrene.  Ultimately, this cost will be transferred to the customer. While the ban may relieve some of the costs associated with cleaning up pyrostyrene, it will have unintended consequences on food prices.

A better solution relies not in banning pyrostyrene or other petrochemicals, but in recycling them for reuse.  Recycled material solves the landfill problem and the price problem.  It is proven that recycled materials use less energy to produce than virgin material, and create a sustainable life-cycle.

Perhaps Mayor Bloomberg and other politicians should consider programs that enhance plastics recycling while also encouraging the use of recycled material in products.

Milk Jugs – Glass, Plastic and Paperboard – have different environmental impacts

A recent article in Slate, the online magazine, and reprinted by The Washington Post, discusses the varying environmental impacts of different packaging choices for milk.  (Read the full article @ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/28/AR2011022804969.html) The three alternatives considered are the HDPE plastic milk jug, the paperboard gable-top carton and the glass bottle. Without restating the entire article here, the author points out the pro’s and con’s of each packaging form.  

The paperboard gable top carton gets high marks for being produced from largely renewable resources (paperboard), however, it’s positives are overshadowed by resource intensity to produce and mixed materials (coated paperboard, plastic spouts and caps) which hampers recyclability. 

The author ranks the glass bottle first, despite the fact that it takes more energy to produce and even though it is much heavier than the paper and plastic alternatives.  Ranking the glass bottle first is due to his primary assertion that it is reusable / refillable.  While in theory, that is true, I don’t think that we’re going back to the days of having the milkman pick up your empties, plus the energy involved in any return scheme has not been factored into his assessment of environmental impact.

The author ranks the plastic jug second due to its light weight and recyclability.  However, he goes on to state that, “While plastic bottles can be melted down and made into new bottles, none of the milk containers in the United States are actually made from recycled material.  That’s because of safety concerns over bacterial and chemical contamination, and strict FDA guidelines for the manufacture of food packaging from such secondhand sources.”

The author goes on to say, “When it is reclaimed, plastic from milk bottles is usually turned into toothbrushes, flowerpots, and children’s toys, among other things.”  While it is true that recycled milk bottles go into all of these applications, the primary use for recycled milk bottles, by far, is to be put back into consumer products packaging.  Virtually all national brands of liquid laundry products, household cleaners, shampoos, conditioners and skin care products use recycled milk bottles in their packaging because it is relatively easy to achieve the proper color packaging using colorless, recycled milk bottle plastic resin.

We are, also, pleased to say that we are addressing the author’s comment that “…none of the milk containers in the United States are actually made from recycled materials”.  Envision Plastics’ EcoPrime™ food grade recycled HDPE resin will be incorporated into dairy products and milk bottle packaging this year.  EcoPrime™ is the only post consumer recycled HDPE resin that has received FDA clearance to be used in packaging that is in direct contact with foods and beverages.  This means that EcoPrime™ is free of chemical, bacterial, or any other type of contaminants and that it meets the “strict FDA’s guidelines for the manufacture of food packaging from such secondhand sources”.  Look for it in milk, liquid dairy products, beverages, nutritional products and personal care products.  You can be assured that EcoPrime™ is the cleanest, purest recycled HDPE resin available anywhere in the world.

Need more information? Visit, www.envisionplastic.com/ecoprime.html or contact Envision Plastics Vice President, Tamsin Ettefagh.  She will be happy to discuss your comments or concerns in greater depth. Contact her at 336/342-4749 Ext 225.