20 March 2011

Packaging that helps the environment

Two companies, Pepsi and Seventh Generation are using new packaging to avoid fossil fuel packaging.

Pepsi bottles introduced Tuesday are made from 100 percent plant material and will be tested next year. This story was in the online Christian Science Monitor - excerpts here and the full article is at this CSMonitor link.

The bottle is made from switch grass, pine bark, corn husks and other materials. Ultimately, Pepsi plans to also use orange peels, oat hulls, potato scraps and other leftovers from its food business. The new Pepsi bottles are scheduled to begin appearing in 2012.
PepsiCo Inc. unveiled a new bottle Tuesday made entirely of plant material that it says bests the technology of competitor Coca-Cola and reduces bottles' carbon footprint.

Ultimately, Pepsi plans to also use orange peels, oat hulls, potato scraps and other leftovers from its food business.

"This is the beginning of the end of petroleum-based plastics," said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council and director of its waste management project. "When you have a company of this size making a commitment to a plant-based plastic, the market is going to respond."

There are other plant-based plastics available or in development, but Herskowitz said these are not environmentally preferred because they typically use plants grown solely for that purpose rather than using the estimated 2 billion tons of agricultural waste produced each year. And these alternative plastics cannot be recycled.

PET plastic is a go-to material for packaging because it's lightweight and shatter-resistant, its safety is well-researched and it doesn't affect flavors. It is not biodegradable or compostable but it is recyclable.

A completely plant-based PET could change the industry standard for plastic packaging. PET is used in beverage bottles, food pouches, coatings and other common products.

Traditional PET plastic is made using fossil fuels, including petroleum, a limited resource that's rising in price. By using plant material instead, companies reduce their environmental impact.

AND

Seventh Generation is now packaging their liquid detergent in a cardboard bottle! The $`3 to $15 bottle contains super concentrated detergent that washes 66 loads of laundry.

Consumerist.com says, "On the outside, the new bottle looks as though it's made from the kind of cardboard used to make egg cartons — except it's smooth and flat. Inside, there's a plastic pouch that holds the detergent. Overall, the bottle — which still has a twist-off plastic lid — uses 66% less plastic than conventional laundry bottles. When empty, the bottle can be ripped in half and recycled with newspapers. The plastic bag is recyclable in many cities, too."

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