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Sustainable is Good

California Prop 37 GMO labelling Turns into Major Fight

Corporations opposed to California’s Prop 37 which requires labelling of GMO ingredients in food products have donated more than $34 Million to defeat the measure which could have nationwide implications in terms of food labelling and packaging.

According to KCET’s election 2012 site  and other sources the companies/grups leading the charge in favor of Prop 37 are

  • Consumers Union
  • Sierra Club
  • Organic Consumers Fund
  • Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps
  • Nature’s Path Foods
  • Lundberg Family Farms

And those most strongly against it are:

  • Monsanto donated over $7million to fight
  • DuPont
  • BASF
  • DOW
  • Council for Biotechnology Information
  • Grocery Manufacturers Association
  • PepsiCo
  • Coca-Cola
  • Kellogg Company

More info is available from the Cornucopia Institute

K-Cups Single Use Coffee Packaging Generate Significant Waste


Interesting story in the NYT last week regarding the increasingly popular single use coffee pods known as K-Cups for Keurig coffee machines.

K-Cups are designed to be single use servings of coffee and are small plastic containers filled with ground coffee which fit into single serving brewing sytems like the Keurig coffee machines.

As the machines have become more and more popular in the US – thanks to help from major retailers like QVC who often features the machines on television, questions have been raised over what to do about the packaging waste.

Single use packaging like the K-Cups results in tons and tons of used plastic K-Cups ending up in the trash system.  A major player in the K-Cup market is Green Mountain Coffee Roasters – a company I’ve covered extensively on SISG.  They have been leaders in more sustainable packaging in the coffee industry – with one big exception – the K-Cup.

The Times reported 80% of Green Mountain Coffee’s $803 million in sales last year came from single use coffee pods and their brewing systems.  So obivously the K-Cup is big money for Green Mountain Coffee.

But Green Mountain has led the charge in re-configuring consumer store packed coffee – incorporating PLA into their packaging and working towards further sustainable improvements.  So why can’t they devise a more sustainable method for their K-Cups?

According to the NYT the company is currently working on methods to make the whole K-Cup process more sustainable.  Options include the use of biodegradable packaging, recycling programs and making the cups reusable in some fashion.

We’ll continue to follow this story.  I’ve always thought the whole single serving coffee concept was interesting except for the waste it generates.

Ecologic Sustainable Milk Container Debuts with Straus Family Creamery Organic Milk

Ecologic Brands, a Northern California based start-up that has developed a sustainable and transformative bottle for liquid products.

Their first-of-its-kind bottle is biodegradable, compostable and recyclable and will be on shelves starting today at select Whole Foods stores in Northern California.

A company spokeswoman told SISG the exterior shell of the bottle is made from OCC (old corrugated cardboard) that has been thermoformed into a rigid container using advanced egg carton technology.  “It takes an abundantly available resource and gives it another life,” she said.

The inner liner is a thin mono-polymer milk pouch that is recyclable with #4 plastics and easy to adapt to bio plastic innovations.

The first customer testing the new Ecologic bottle is Straus Family Creamery.   In a partnership with Straus Family Creamery and Whole Foods Market, Ecologic will test Straus milk in its new bottle in Whole Foods’ Oakland store today January 21, 2010, and will expand to several other San Francisco Bay Area locations.

Straus Family Creamery, based in Marshall, California, is one of the nation’s most respected organic dairies, known for its strong environmental stewardship and loyal consumer base.

“This local pilot will lead to a broader roll out, and ultimately to sustainable packaging for national brands in high volume categories ranging from dairy, juice and wine, to cleaning products and laundry detergents,” said spokeswoman Amy Bonetti Price of Big MouthPR.

Ecologic wants to offer consumers more sustainable choices for their packaging and give them the option to make better choices at the shelf. Other countries are already moving to more sustainable packaging like pouching, re-usable carafes and “bring your own bag” policies at markets.

Ecologic founder Julie Corbett was inspired by milk pouches sold in Canada that are dropped into a re-usable plastic carafe.

It will be interesting to see US consumers reaction to this new packaging from Ecologic – so far efforts to create more sustainable milk packaging modeled after Canadian and European packaging have been largely unsuccessful in the US market.

Ecologic is an Oakland based start-up that has developed a first-of-its kind, sustainable packaging solution designed to solve one of the biggest environmental problems today: the manufacturing and consumption of plastic bottles and plastic coated milk and juice cartons.

The company notes packaging is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases, landfill waste and non-renewable resource consumption.

FilterPave Eco Pavement Made from Recycled Glass

FilterPave is an interesting more eco friendly option for pavement made from recycled glass.  I thought it was cool given we cover so many types of packaging here to actually find a product made from recycled packaging.

This eco pavement is made from glass acquired from municipal recycling facilities and is ground into small pebbles.  The company says the product is made from 90% recycled content.
FilterPave can be used for driveways, parking lots, paths and other applications.

The company says due to FilterPave’s porous nature it will trap pollutants which would otherwise be swept away eventually ending up in water systems.

The eco pavement is available in a number of different color options and may be worth considering.

FilterPave is made by Presto Geosystems, a subsidiary of Aloca.

HP Excessive Packaging: Power Cord Shipped with Pallet

Here is an amazing example of excessive packaging that if accurate would take the cake for the most egregious example we’ve seen.

An Australia-based user, on the popular site claims that HP delivered a power cord, complete with a wooden pallet. The user provided photos they took of the excessive packaging.

SunChips Packaging to be 100% Compostable by Earth Day 2010

Frito-Lay’s SunChips (owned by PepsiCo) brand is in the process of converting its packaging to 100% compostable packaging made from corn-based Ingeo PLA.

The company has already converted one element of its current 10.5 oz SunChips snack bags packaging to PLA and has set the goal of converting its full bag packaging to being completely compostable by Earth Day 2010.

A move that would represent the first major green packaging conversion of a mainstream brand US food product to compostable packaging.

“We know environmentally-friendly packaging is a priority for our SunChips consumer,” said Gannon Jones, vice president, marketing, Frito-Lay North America.

“Today’s launch of packaging made with 1/3 renewable materials is an important first step towards having a fully compostable chip bag in market by Earth Day 2010.”

Current snack food packaging has three layers: a printed outer layer with packaging visuals/graphics, an inner layer, which serves as a barrier to maintain the quality and integrity of the product, and a middle layer that joins the other two layers. When the packaging is 100% compostable, it will fully decompose in about 14 weeks when placed in a hot, active compost pile or bin.  NatureWorks LLC is providing the PLA, which is trademarked under the Ingeo name.

To inform consumers about the new packaging initiatives, the brand will be communicating through traditional marketing efforts, including print, TV and digital advertising.  As part of the current packaging change, the front panel of the current 10 ½ oz size SunChips package features a callout, “Renewable materials make up 33% of this bag.”  To communicate the next improvement, the digital strategy includes a video showing how the bag decomposes over 14 weeks.  Also, samples of the 100% compostable material will be distributed at major retailers across the country and as part of a special People magazine ad.

To get their message out Frito-Lay has hired some of the country’s best firms including Ketchum and OMD.

The SunChips website already has a whole section devoted to the new compostable bag packaging with a substantial amount of information and well done media elements.

I have to say I am impressed with the detail of the campaign thus far.  Normally the type of material Frito-Lay is making available to everyone is only available to media or press outlets working on stories.  I like how the company is making information about their packaging conversion available as well as making the process educational for consumers.

Coca Cola’s Bioplastic Plant Bottle Coming Later this Year

The Coca-Cola Company recently took the first steps towards what CEO Muhlar Kent said was their, “vision to eventually introduce bottles made with materials that are 100 percent recyclable and renewable.”

Kent was referring to the company’s new PlantBottle due out sometime later this year in select markets holding their Dasani brand bottled water and sparking brands.  Coke’s Vitaminwater is expected to follow – being packaged in the PlantBottle sometime next year.

The PlantBottle is currently made through an innovative process that turns sugar cane and molasses, a by-product of sugar production, into a key component for PET plastic.

Manufacturing the new plastic bottle is more environmentally efficient as well.  A life-cycle analysis conducted by Imperial College London indicates the PlantBottle with 30 percent plant-based material reduces carbon emissions by up to 25 percent, compared with petroleum-based PET.

According to the company, another advantage to the PlantBottle is that, unlike other plant-based plastics, it can be processed through existing manufacturing and recycling facilities without contaminating traditional PET.

Consumers can identify the innovative bottles through on-package messages and in-store point of sale displays.  Web-based communications will also highlight the bottles’ environmental benefits.

Coca Cola faces a challenge with its new bottle concept from the recycling industry who have long been concerned about contamination from bio and other types of plastics.  Industry groups are concerned the current recycling system in the US is not equipped to adequately handle bio plastics.

Ever-Green Toilet Paper Finally Eco Friendly Toilet Paper with no Plastic Packaging

Finally a company is producing toilet paper sold in a non-plastic bulk package!  Ever-Green toilet paper is made from 100% recycled fiber and comes in a recycled fiber paperboard box package.

There are multiple brands of recycled toilet paper available to consumers but nearly all are packaged in packs of 6 or 12 rolls wrapped in plastic – something that has frustrated green consumers tremendously.

The cardboard core is also 100% recycled fiber. No plastic packaging is used in the product, making it the most eco-friendly toilet paper you can buy according to the company.

All packaging & core materials are completely recyclable. When you finish a roll, simply put the core back through the hole into the box packaging; when all rolls are used the entire box becomes recyclable.

Ever-Green 100% recycled toilet paper is soft unlike many other green brands and is whitened without the use of Chlorine. The product is made in the U.S.

Ever-Green is available online from Lets Go Green Biz.

Survey Finds Glass Packaging Preferred by Organic Shoppers

According to an analysis by researchers at the University of Oklahoma, most health concerned organic shoppers believe glass packaging keeps the true flavor, taste and purity of a food product.

Glass continued to be the first choice of the organic shopper by significant margins in five key areas.  Glass packaging for organic foods got high marks for:  maintaining true flavor/taste, purity, healthiest, maintaining quality, preserving shelf life

When it came to which packaging was best for the environment, glass was also the primary choice. Researchers report a trend towards glass packaging as the first choice of consumers who say they care about the environment and their individual and family health.

Survey comparisons show a growing trend of younger consumers expressing even more of an interest in organic foods when compared to the total population of shoppers. The survey found 57.8% of shoppers, ages 18 to 34, purchased organic food, while 38% of shoppers, ages 55 and older, purchased organic foods sometime during the year.

The survey was conducted by the University of Oklahoma.  The Glass Packaging Institute, an industry advocacy group supporting Glass packaging highlighted the results of the survey on its website.

Billabong ECO Supreme Suede Boardshorts

Suede BoardshortsPopular clothing maker Billabong is using a new material called ECO Supreme Suede for some of its boardshorts and swim suits.

The exclusive material is eco-friendly made from recycled textiles and plastic soda bottles (rPET). The company says its cool new material doesn’t sacrifice on quality.

ECO Supreme Suede is part of an overall plan by the company to work towards reducing contamination and providing cleaner air, soil and water.

Approximately 10 plastic bottles are used to create one pair of boardshorts, which helps reduce the impact we humans have on the environment, especially on landfill. “When it comes down to it, if you have an option to buy a pair of boardshorts that are actually lessoning our impact on the world we live in, the choice is simple,” said Billabong freesurfer Dave “Rasta” Rastovich.

Billabong’s Sonic (pictured) and United Nations boardshorts are both made from the ECO Supreme Suede and available in the U.S. Billabong’s limited edition Wolfmother is also made from the eco-friendly fabric.