Archive for July, 2010

Testing Common Language for Sustainable Packaging

Friday, July 30th, 2010

More than 30 companies are testing out a packaging sustainability measurement system that one group hopes becomes a worldwide standard. The system was developed through the Consumer Goods Forum’s Global Packaging Project (GPP), and includes a list of 52 indicators (and how to measure them) like weight, recycling rates, virgin content and shelf life. The indicators are divided into three main sections:

Environmental (material waste, recycling/composting/reuse rates, recycled or renewable content)
Economic (total cost of packaging, packaged product wastage)
Social (packaged product shelf life, product safety, responsible workplace practices).

The GPP has also released a document (PDF) listing every indicator along with each one’s definition, metric, what to measure and what not to measure.

The basics of the system and common packaging principles are explained in the GPP’s first report, “A Global Language for Packaging and Sustainability,” which was designed to deliver a common framework and measurement system that trading partners can use to help them make better, more informed decisions about packaging and sustainability. The report was developed with input from more than 80 manufacturers, retailers, trade associations and packaging industry stakeholders.

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Walmart, SC Johnson, General Mills, Target and Colgate-Palmolive have agreed to use it to answer questions about the sustainability of different packaging choices. The results of the pilot projects will be compiled and released at the end of this year.

Re-purposed Packaging At Its Finest

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Phillips has been receiving a lot of awards lately especially in packaging design. It’s not surprising if you look at the Activa Fitness Monitor.

The packaging for the product is a perfect example of Re-purposed Packaging. A lot of re-purposing is clever but the Activa packaging is really an extension of the product itself. The monitor is tucked inside a clear water bottle which showcases the product and later, acts as your additional fitness companion. As the sustainable packaging market keeps rising due to environmental concerns, look for companies to employ the same type of green packaging tactics like re-purposing.

The Activa Fitness Monitor itself? It’s a very cool versatile product. You can load up mp3 files while letting the monitor know what exercise you’re doing and it will play your music according to your activity and workout pace- approximating your heart rate. You can clip it to your waist or wear it as a wrist watch or arm band, the Activa keeps track of your workout performance and gives you vocal feedback about it. After your workout, the Activa gives you your performance results that you can easily track on your PC.

While packaging is thought to be wasteful by some consumers, re-purposed packaging like this alleviates those concerns because it’s not going to tossed in the trash as soon as the product is opened.

Unilever’s Packaging to be 100% Sustainable

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Unilever, a founding member of the SPC (Sustainable Packaging Coalition), has released its Sustainable Paper and Board Packaging Sourcing Policy that outlines their paper sourcing goals over the next decade. Packaging News reported that currently, 62% of Unilever’s paper and board is sustainably sourced. The company set a target to source 75% of its paper and board from sustainably managed forests by 2015, reaching 100% by 2020. This initiative is part of the company’s commitment to help combat deforestation and climate change. Unilever says they’re the first global FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) company to commit to sustainable sourcing within a defined timeframe.

Sourcing preferences will be awarded to supplies delivered through the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) although Unilever will also accept paper and board from other sources adhering to their policy’s implementation guidelines. The policy also requires all suppliers to have mechanisms in place to ensure that the paper packaging is made from recycled fiber or from virgin fiber sources and that virgin fiber comes from forests that are not being converted to plantations or non-forest use.

Unilever will also add certification logos to its product packaging for environmentally conscious consumers who want to be able to identify them.

More info:
Unilever Packaging Sustainability

General Mills To Use Cheerios For Alternative Energy

Monday, July 19th, 2010

General Mills, the MN-based food giant, is doing more with their oats than making Cheerios. This Spring, they began construction on a biomass steam boiler at the company’s milling plant in Fridley, MN where it produces oat flour for Cheerios, Lucky Charms, and other cereals. The boiler will be ready next year to burn oat hulls left over from the milling process and convert them into energy, reducing the mill’s carbon footprint by 21%.

The hulls release the same carbon they absorbed from the atmosphere as plants, making the process essentially carbon neutral. General Mills produces 90,000 tons of oat hulls per year from its two mills in Fridley, MN and northeast Minneapolis. It will use about 10% of that to power its Fridley plant. General Mills also sells its oat hulls to the Koda Energy plant in Shakopee, MN. The plant is 100% biomass-powered and produces malt for brewing.

This project is just one example of how food manufacturers are getting creative and discovering new value is the very old energy technology of biomass. The Fridley oat hull burner is General Mills’ first endeavor into using a food waste product as an energy substitute. Companies can save 20-30% on their fuel costs by switching from purchased fuel to waste fuel.

The decision was not as easy as it sounds however. Converting from a gas to a solid-fuel burner that can burn oat hulls is complex and not necessarily cost effective. Natural gas is cheaper than oat hulls today but the prices for natural gas are expected to be greater than oat hulls by the end of 2012 and beyond.

More info:
General Mills Sustainability

Algae-based Plastics Could Be Just Around the Corner

Friday, July 16th, 2010

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.

Recent Poll: Women Most Addicted to Facebook

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Facebook is the second most visited website behind Google. With that said, speculation is growing that the popular networking site may have reached its peak. After a blockbuster growth month in May 2010 of more than 7.8 million new US users, June supplied a growth of only 320,000. Privacy concerns surrounding Facebook is believed to be the explanation for this dropoff.

Though growth rates associated with Facebook have been inconsistent, researchers are finding that its users are becoming more and more addicted once they’ve joined and explored Facebook’s networking capabilities, especially women.

Last week, a poll that surveyed 1,605 adult users found that 34% of women ages 18-34, admitted that Facebook was the first thing that they thought of when they woke up. Further, many said they check Facebook before doing anything else in the morning, including using the restroom. Here are some other interesting statistics from the responses of the same demographic:

* 63% use Facebook for career networking
* 20% admitted to doing middle of the night checks on Facebook
* 48% get their daily news from Facebook posts
* 57% stated they talk to people online more than face to face

Generally speaking, 50% of the 400+ million Facebook users are logged in on any given day. The average user creates 70 pieces of content per month and is connected to 60 pages, groups, or events. The average amount of friends per user is 130 and in general, over 500 billion minutes per month are spent on Facebook.

With these stunning statistics is the June growth decline a cause for alarm for Facebook’s masterminds? If privacy concerns subside, Facebook should have lasting power. The site is very user-friendly which is extremely important with technology becoming more and more advanced. Moreover, users sure have a lot of stock and time invested in their profiles. Switching to a different cyber hangout seems like an unrealistic transition, at least for a while.

Join us on Facebook:
Green Packaging 365

Corky the Self-Charging Mouse

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Meet Corky. He’s a self-charging mouse. He’s also made out of cork, hence the name Corky. With every click, scroll, and move of the mouse, Corky harvests kinetic energy so batteries are not required.

Corky is made from 100% recycled plastic components and recycled, biodegradable cork. Now the question…where can I buy one?

Designed by Adele Peters

Packaging Is Stealing The Show

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Packaging has long played a supporting role in advertising but in today’s world, it’s starting to steal the show. Brand marketers are increasingly bringing their product’s packaging to the forefront of brand communication both visually and by incorporating advertising strategies on the packaging itself.

So what’s with packaging’s growing significance as a branding tool? The increasing aesthetic sophistication that applies to packaging is too hard to ignore. There is one huge challenge for packaging however: the environment. Pressure has been placed on manufacturers to cut down on packaging and reduce waste to help sustain the environment. Packaging companies are trying to find creative ways to develop green packaging solutions as the need for marketers to communicate eco-friendliness to consumers is growing rampantly.

Finding a happy marriage between creative packaging and sustainability is not exactly easy- there are limitations. But it’s an ambition manufacturers and marketers are relentlessly pursuing.

So lets check out the “Recyclage de Luxe” campaign rolled out by Stella Artois last year. While taking various measures to lessen their environmental impact, Stella Artois launched the campaign in the UK. They’re earning their eco-cred by making greener packaging and engaging consumers in recycling initiatives.

Since the start of the campaign, all Stella Artois’ cans have been made from at least 50% recycled aluminum, its bottles are above the industry standard of 75% recycled glass, and its corrugated Stella Artois boxes are made from 100% recyclable paper.

When it went live in July, Recyclage de Luxe comprised three executions across media, including TV and the press. Each focused on a different aspect of packaging – the corrugated packs, recycled bottles and recycled cans.

At the end of the month, the brewer launched its Hedge Fund on-pack promotion, a bid to boost sales with eco-incentives for consumers. Consumers buying some of the larger packs would be investing in an actual hedge, which would be grown to three times the size of the pack itself.

The campaign would help “replenish Britain’s depleted hedgerows, which are critical to the existence of many plants and animals”.The Hedge Fund promotion enables Stella Artois to help consumers take those small steps and together reduce the rate of climate change.

Stella Artois says that the campaign has so far “been very successful”, but is unable at this stage to divulge internal data proving this. It says that its marketing has been “very motivating for consumers”.

More info:
Stella Artois Hedge Fund

Universal Love of Soccer + Need for Energy = sOccket!

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Four young women met in a Harvard engineering class in 2008. Having all spent time in Africa as well as other developing countries, they saw the need for energy. In fact, 95% of the population in most African countries is living with no access to electricity. Further, breathing the fumes created from burning kerosene indoors equals the harmful effects of smoking two packs of cigarettes per day (According to World Bank Millennium Goals Report, 2006). The women’s travels also revealed the deep love of soccer around the globe. They decided to fuse the need for energy with the universal love of soccer to create….sOccket.

sOccket is a soccer ball that captures the energy during game play to charge LEDs and batteries. After playing with the ball, the child can return home and use the ball to connect a LED lamp to read, study, or illuminate the home. The ball uses an inductive coil mechanism to generate energy.

sOccket is still in prototyping stage, where 15 minutes of play can light 3 hours of LED light. The ladies will continue beta testing throughout Africa this summer- home of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

More info:
Visit sOccket