Working alongside two partners – carbon recycling company LanzaTech and India Glycols, a manufacturer of green technology-based chemicals – Unilevr has produced a surfactant made from carbon emissions.
Surfactants are a key ingredient for creating the foam and cleaning action of many household cleaning and laundry products. They are typically derived from fossil fuels, but this new process means we can now make them using recycled carbon.
There are three stages to the process. LanzaTech first captures the industrial emissions at a steel mill in Beijing and converts the waste gases into ethanol. India Glycols then converts the ethanol into ethylene oxide, which is used to make a range of ingredients, including surfactants. We then use this surfactant in the manufacture of our new OMO (Persil) laundry capsules at our Hefei factory in China.
The process LanzaTech is using to create ethanol from captured carbon cuts the greenhouse gas emissions by 82% compared to the traditional fossil-fuel process.
The new limited-edition OMO capsules launched in China on 22 April – at no extra cost to consumers – marking the first time that a surfactant made using captured carbon emissions has come onto the market in a cleaning product.
“Advancements in technology like this means we can now reinvent the chemistry of our products,” says Peter ter Kulve, President of the Home Care division. “Instead of valuable carbon being released directly into the atmosphere, we can capture it and recycle it in our products in place of using fossil fuels.
“We want to make sustainability easy for everyone that uses our products. New innovations like this help move our iconic cleaning brands away from fossil fuels without compromising on performance or affordability. We’re excited by the potential that this breakthrough represents for future innovations across our portfolio and our industry.”
Julia and Hannah, together with a cross-functional team you pushed for the new, more sustainable packaging of the NIVEA Natural Balance face care range. How did this happen and how did you find Sabic as a partner?
Hannah: Identifying sustainable raw materials and using them for packaging has long been an important topic for us in Packaging. Our aim is to explore innovative approaches that can reduce or replace our fossil raw materials. In this process, we carried out an extensive market research and looked at what alternative materials and technologies are available. We wanted to find a partner who could deliver a truly sustainable approach and reliable, high-quality materials. Among these requirements, Sabic's concept was particularly convincing.
Julia: We see Sabic as a pioneer in this field and their so-called feedstock concept is based on tall oil, a by-product from forestry. This means that, unlike "first generation" feedstocks such as sugar cane or corn, there is no competition with the food production – that was very important to us. Once we had found Sabic as a cooperation partner, things moved quickly. The commitment of the teams was there right from the start, so we were able to quickly put the idea into practice and start producing the new and more sustainable packaging.
What exactly is different about the new packaging? And how do you save fossil raw materials with it?
Hannah: Visually, the new renewable plastic packaging is indistinguishable from other plastic packaging. This is because the certified renewable plastic we use has no visual effects, impairments, or other special properties. Also, the material safety and recyclability is 1:1 just like fossil-based plastic packaging. That's really great, because when we chose the new material it was also very important to us to ensure a 100% recyclability – so that we don't have to compromise in this area. How we save fossil-based raw materials? It’s simple: In the production process of the plastic tall oil instead of crude oil is being added. The certified renewable polymers used for our packaging are based on a so-called mass balance system in accordance with the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC PLUS) scheme.
It doesn't sound that hard, but it's a big step ...
Julia: In fact, you have to dare to go new ways and build up new relationships with suppliers in order to open up to new markets for raw materials. This is a big effort and doesn't happen by itself. We want to be a transformation accelerator, actively driving change across our company and the industry. The more companies come on board to this sustainable approach of mass balancing, the greater the impact. We are currently a pioneer in our industry, but we would like to see the entire industry pulling together in the future to conserve resources and save CO2.
What has excited and driven you the most in this project? And what do you think about the fact that "your baby" will soon be on the shelves?
Hannah: It was great to see how much all colleagues – across many different functions – united on this topic and how fast you can be when the entire team is passionate about what they do. It took just nine months from the first idea to the first products on the shelves. The Can-Do spirit was amazing and omnipresent. Many thanks at this point to the entire project team for implementing and driving the project forward!
Julia: It was also exciting to see which new paths we took – because to become more sustainable, we have to go much deeper into our supply chain, look for new solutions together and build new relationships to suppliers. Becoming more sustainable means driving material development forward. It's about strategic partnerships beyond the tier 1 suppliers and bringing them together with our direct suppliers. Also, from this point of view, the whole process was a super exciting experience!
Shareholder advocacy firm As You Sow submitted a proposal requesting shareholders vote to have Amazon issue a report on packaging materials, citing the ocean plastics crisis that fatally impacting marine species and damages marine ecosystems.
“Amazon does not disclose how much plastic packaging it uses but is believed to be one of the largest corporate users of flexible plastic packaging, which cannot be recycled,” according to the proposal.
As You So alleged that Amazon has no goal to make all of its packaging recyclable and said up to 22 million pounds of its plastic packaging waste entered the world’s marine ecosystems last year.
“Shareholders request that the board of directors issue a report by December 2021 on plastic packaging, estimating the amount of plastics released to the environment due to plastic packaging attributable to all Amazon operations, and beginning with the manufacture of the plastic source materials, through disposal or recycling, and describing any company strategies or goals to reduce the use of plastic packaging to reduce these impacts.”
Amazon countered by noting its initiatives and its founding membership in The Climate Pledge, as well as its commitment that 50% of all Amazon shipments will be net-zero carbon by 2030, and renewable energy programs that “have put us on a path to powering our operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025.”
“We recognize the importance of reducing plastic waste by promoting reusable and recyclable packaging. As described in more detail below, including with respect to our goals, we have made progress in four primary areas in our efforts to reduce our use of plastics:
(1) plastics in packaging for products manufactured by other companies that we sell to our customers (where we can make the biggest impact),
(2) plastics in packaging to the extent we repackage a product for delivery,
(3) plastics in Amazon devices and our private label products, and
(4) plastics in physical stores, primarily Whole Foods Market and its use of plastic shopping bags and plastic straws.”
Amazon said it has a goal of having the packaging for Amazon devices be plastic-free and made up of entirely curbside recyclable material by 2023. “We will continue to share our efforts and progress to our shareholders and the public,” and the Board recommended that shareholders vote against the proposal.
Wine industry collaboration delivers innovative sustainable packaging solution for Australian sparkling winesNews:
Endeavour Group’s wine bottling and packaging arm Vinpac International has partnered with Australian glass packaging company Orora on a new lightweight 750ml sparkling bottle – the first of its kind in Australia.
“To have an Australian-made innovative sustainable packaging option for our customers is important to us. By collaborating with Orora to produce a lighter weight sparkling bottle solution that will provide a combination of commercial and environmental benefits for our customers is really exciting,” said Vinpac International’s Commercial Manager James Vallance.
Although red, white and rose wine bottles have been available in lightweight options for some time, sparkling wine is traditionally bottled in heavier, more premium packaging.
The first, Australian lightweight option for bubbles has been manufactured at Orora’s state-of-the-art facility in Gawler, South Australia, and was tested at Vinpac’s facilities in Angaston in March. It weighs 580g, which is 100 grams less than a standard sparkling wine bottle an approximate 15 percent total reduction in weight
The bottle retains the same look and feel as a standard 750ml sparkling bottle, which means there is no need to change labelling or other packaging elements.
The sustainable bottle has been welcomed by Pinnacle Drinks, the supplier arm of Endeavour Group. Pinnacle Drinks is now releasing a number of brands in the lightweight sparkling bottle, including the popular Minchinbury sparkling range. The 2021 vintage has been bottled in the sustainable packaging and will be available in BWS and Dan Murphy’s stores later this month.
“To have the Minchinbury sparkling range first to market is really exciting as it is a trusted brand. Australians have marked special occasions and celebrations with a bottle of Minchinbury for over a century and to see the brand now move into a more sustainable packaging option is an exciting new chapter,” said Pinnacle Drinks Assistant Brand Manager Nicola Demetriou.
There are significant environmental benefits by switching to this bottle, and Pinnacle Drinks estimates it will remove 320 tonnes of packaging from its supply chain which equates to around 62 cars off the road each year.
GSKCH has made the commitment that 100 per cent of its product packaging will be recyclable or reusable, where quality and safety permits, by 2025. Its sustainability initiatives support GSK’s commitment to achieve a net zero impact on climate and a positive impact on nature by 2030.
Albéa’s Greenleaf 2 laminate tube technology provides the same product protection as current tubes and enables the tubes to be recyclable wherever collection programmes exist and are active.
GSKCH will start the recyclable rollout in Europe this July with its Sensodyne Pronamel tubes. This will be bolstered by a second partnership with EPL Global to produce tubes in Plantina laminates. Both laminates have passed recycling-readiness tests set by the US-based Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) and by Europe’s RecyClass. meaning that the tubes will be recyclable and compatible with existing recycling processes.
It is anticipated that the combined moves will see over a billion toothpaste tubes per year become recyclable by 2025.
Karl Graves, business director at Albéa Tubes, said: “Our commitment is to make 100 per cent of our tubes recyclable by 2025 while offering innovative solutions with PCR, paper and bio-based resins. Responsible packaging is now a must-have – and it requires close collaboration between a committed brand and a daring supplier.”
Sarah McDonald, vice president of sustainability at GSKCH, said: “We have made the commitment that 100 per cent of our product packaging will be recyclable or reusable, where quality and safety permits, by 2025. This is just one part of our ongoing sustainability journey, in which we are working to address the environmental and societal barriers to everyday health.”
Parag Chaturvedi, vice president of operations at EPL Americas, said: “EPL is proud to be a critical partner towards GSK’s aspirations to have a net-zero impact on the environment by 2030. We are committed to leading the pack in sustainable packaging — and already are ahead on this journey with Platina, the first tube-and-cap combination to be recognised by the APR as fully sustainable and completely recyclable.”
UK-based supermarket chain Waitrose is reintroducing its ten lines of food sharing platters with less packaging material after a full redesign.
The sandwich, roll and wrap sharing platters will now come in a cardboard base without an outer case or lid.
Waitrose has reduced the use of packaging in the products by 65% overall, saving 60% of single-use plastic from sandwiches and 40% single-use plastic on wraps.
The fully recyclable boxes and film are designed in a ready-to-serve format to make food sharing easy.
Through this initiative, the retailer plans to save 30t of single-use plastic and card a year.
Waitrose Food to Go partner and product developer Rebecca Neale said: “It was really important to relaunch our sandwich platters with less packaging as they’ve traditionally been reliant on plastic.
“We want to offer a more sustainable alternative as summer approaches and we all entertain again.
“It’s our priority to reduce single-use plastic wherever we can as we approach our target of making all our own-label packaging widely recycled, reusable or home compostable by 2023.”
Most of the sustainable platters are launching this week to coincide with the further relaxation of England’s national lockdown rules on 17 May.
Indoor socialising and dining, as well as other forms of events and entertainment, are set to return by the end of the month.
In January, non-governmental environmental organisation Greenpeace announced that Waitrose had come first in its annual league table of UK supermarkets for plastic reduction efforts.
This was the second consecutive year for which the retailer had come first in the league table.
In March, the retailer announced plans to scrap children’s magazines containing disposable toys.
Next-generation solution opens door for recycle ready forming/non-forming packaging system
OSHKOSH, Wis. – AmPrima™ forming film from Amcor – the leading global developer and producer of responsible packaging – has received prequalification to carry the store drop-off label from the How2Recycle® program. The innovative technology paves the way for a true recycle ready forming/non-forming flexible solution for consumer packaging applications.
Modern packaging must do much more than simply meet the specific requirements for transport, storage and presentation: it must also be sustainable. But what does sustainable really mean? It means that the material must be environmentally friendly and made from renewable resources, be sturdy enough to enable re-use and be easy to recycle when it comes to the end of its useful life. For many years, a research group at the University of Göttingen has put their energy and expertise into investigating manufacturing processes for products made of popcorn. These products have the potential to be environmentally friendly alternatives to polystyrene or plastic. The University has now signed a licence agreement with the company Nordgetreide for the commercial use of the process and products for the packaging sector.
The packaging industry is still the biggest purchaser of plastic products, accounting for almost 40 per cent. However, large producers and retail chains have long since begun to rethink their packaging policies and aim for more recycling. The research group Chemie und Verfahrenstechnik von Verbundwerkstoffen (chemistry and process engineering of composite materials) at the Faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology at Göttingen University has now succeeded in developing a novel process, based on its many years of experience in the field of renewable raw materials. The results are that three-dimensional moulded forms can be produced from "granulated" popcorn. The great advantage of this granular material is that it comes from renewable biological sources, is environmentally friendly and sustainable. It is therefore an excellent alternative to the polystyrene products used previously.
"This new process, based on technology developed in the plastic industry, enables the production of a wide range of moulded parts," explains the head of the research group, Professor Alireza Kharazipour. "This is particularly important when considering packaging because it ensures that products are transported safely which minimises waste. And this has all been achieved using a material that will even be biodegradable afterwards." In addition, the new popcorn products have water-repellent properties, which opens up new avenues for future applications.
Stefan Schult, Managing Director of Nordgetreide, which holds an exclusive licence, adds: "Each and every day we pollute our Earth with an ever increasing amount of plastic waste that will be a burden on our eco-system for thousands of years. Our popcorn packaging is a great sustainable alternative to polystyrene which is derived from petroleum. The plant-based packaging is made from the inedible by-products of Cornflakes production and can actually be composted after use without any residue."
The licence agreement between the University and Nordgetreide was brokered by MBM ScienceBridge GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Göttingen Public Law Foundation. The agency acts for a total of nine universities and scientific institutions in Lower Saxony. MBM ScienceBridge examines scientific inventions for the possibility of a patent application and for economic potential. It then takes care of worldwide marketing, as well as negotiation, support and monitoring of licensing agreements. The current portfolio includes projects in biomedicine, medical technology, measurement technology, chemistry, physics, forestry and agricultural sciences.
Mondi’s new recycled containerboard machine in Slovakia delivers a win-win solution for environmentally-conscious customers
- Mondi’s PM19 paper machine at Ružomberok in Slovakia has begun delivering Kraft Top White, an innovative and sustainable new containerboard grade, to customers in Europe
- Kraft Top White offers a win-win solution with the strength, printability and on-shelf appeal of a white fresh fibre top layer, and a recycled fibre bottom layer
- The new machine, with a production capacity of 300,000 tonnes per annum, is part of Mondi’s €370 million investment to upgrade the mill and further reduce its environmental footprint
- The use of more than 200,000 tonnes of paper for rec
Eco-Products has over 30 years’ experience in compostable foodservice products, which will complement a range of sustainable packaging solutions from Detpak.
The Chief Executive Officer of parent company Detmold Group, Alf Ianniello, said the partnership was an important development in Detpak’s ongoing commitment to customers.
“Detpak has long been an innovator of paper and board products and is an industry leader in the development of recyclable product solutions. This partnership extends our range to further assist customers in diverting waste from landfill.”
The partnership will see new items added to the Detpak range, supplied by certified B Corp business Eco-Products, whose assortment of products includes compostable cups, takeaway containers, tableware and other foodservice packaging options.
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