Those bits that come inside your packages are called peanuts, but of course they are made from polystyrene, not anything natural. But what if we could send things packaged in popcorn—the actual food, not another plastic-derived counterpart—instead?
That’s the hope of researchers at the University of Göttingen in Germany, who have developed the plant-based packaging and are already in talks for its commercial use. Whereas polystyrene-based packaging like Styrofoam takes centuries to break down and is made from nonrenewable fossil fuels, popcorn is easily renewable, biodegradable, and could even be composted at home.
The idea to use popcorn as packaging first came to Alireza Kharazipour, head of the research group that developed the packaging and a professor at the university’s Faculty of Forest Sciences and Forest Ecology, when he was at the movies. “In the dark, the popcorn felt just as light as styropol foam balls,” he says. “The next day I bought corn and made popcorn at home in a pot.” Eventually, those experiments moved into the lab at the University of Göttingen.
Styrofoam is such good packaging material and insulation because it’s made of 95% air, but it’s still especially harmful to the environment. Foam polystyrene is made from petroleum, is difficult to recycle and often not even accepted by recycling programs, and can take centuries to decompose, breaking down into microplastics that threaten wildlife and environments along the way.
But just like polystyrene, popcorn is filled with air too. Kharazipour and his research group use crushed corn, made from the inedible by-products of cornflakes production, and use a steam process to expand that crushed corn into what the researchers call “granulated” popcorn. “The products are very light because popcorn granules are filled with air like honeycombs,” Kharazipour says. “When grain maize expands into popcorn, the volume increases by 15% to 20%.”
The popcorn packaging can be made with these by-products, or from corn grown anywhere. Using different molds, the popcorn can be turned into various packaging shapes. The researchers also coated the expanded popcorn in a thin layer of bioplastic so that the packaging is water-repellent. The result, Kharazipour says, is a packaging material that is just as strong as polystyrene but can be easily cut with a circular saw and can be reused, shredded down, or composted at home.
Each year, the U.S. alone produces about 3 million tons of polystyrene, mainly for packaging and food service items, according to environmental consultant Green Dining Alliance. Across the world, packaging is the biggest purchaser of plastics, accounting for about 40% of total plastic usage. Not all of that is polystyrene or Styrofoam-like packaging, but Kharazipour and his research team hope they can make a dent in what is. The university has already entered a licensing agreement with a grain and cereal company called Nordgetreide for commercial use of the popcorn-packaging making process, and is working on manufacturing various popcorn packaging products. It’s a step toward creating, as Kharazipour says, “a clean environment free of plastic-based products.”
Leybold releases a series of robust and compact filament pirani gauges: the THERMOVAC TTR-RN series brings with it increased process efficiency and reliability
Cologne, May 2021 – The ability to reliably measure and control the vacuum level in a given vacuum process is key in creating the highest efficiencies. This is why Leybold has developed the THERMOVAC TTR-RN series, a new compact filament Pirani gauge for all vacuum applications requiring a measurement range from atmosphere to 1e-4 mbar (7.5e-5torr).
The trio are joined by other major food brands including PepsiCo and Unilever in the scheme – which is though to the first of its kind in the region, to help deliver faster progress on environmental protection measures.
Known as the Flexible Plastic Fund, it is being led by producer compliance scheme, Ecosurety, with support from environmental charity, Hubbub.
In collaboration with manufacturers, retailers and recyclers, the Fund intends to improve flexible plastic recycling and reduce plastic pollution by giving the material a stable value. This will in turn increase the supply of recycled plastic enabling industry to become more ‘circular’ and meet the forthcoming UK plastic packaging tax obligations. This will motivate investment in much needed jobs and infrastructure to make flexible plastic recycling a financially sustainable system in the UK.
New research from the University of Sheffield suggests there is strong consumer demand for recycling flexible plastic with 95% of participants saying they would be willing to recycle their flexible plastics.
Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have already signed up to support the initiative by hosting flexible plastic collection points in selected stores across the UK. Several other major retailers are set to follow suit. As a result, recycling this material will become increasingly accessible to consumers, as they will be able to recycle all types of flexible plastic packaging with participating retailers.
With just 16% of UK local authorities currently offering household collection of flexible plastics, the amounts of this material collected for recycling are low. Flexible plastics include plastic bags, wrappers, films, pouches, packets and sachets and is described as ‘plastic bags and wrapping’, ‘soft plastics’ or ‘flexible plastics’. The Fund will guarantee a minimum value of £100 per tonne of recycled product to incentivise recyclers to process flexible plastic.
The long-term ambition of the Fund is to drive progress towards creating a circular, UK based flexible plastic recycling market that allows flexible plastic recycling via household collections. As part of the UK’s drive to boost recycling, WRAP recently announced new recommendations to support flexible plastic recycling.
Flexible plastic represented 22% of all UK consumer plastic packaging in 2019 but only 6% was recycled3. This type of plastic must be processed in a different way to other plastics due to its unique properties – it often contaminates rigid plastic recycling and clogs up machinery – something that could be overcome by creating a separate flexible plastic recycling stream.
The initiative will provide fully audited transparency – at least 80% of the plastics collected will be recycled in the UK – rising to 100% by 2023. Until 2023, where there are currently limits in UK capacity and technology, up to 20% could be exported to qualifying facilities in Europe.The recycled plastic will be turned into a range of products including non-food grade plastic, non-food-grade film and food-grade film.
Düsseldorf, May 17, 2021 – For the new construction and expansion of its potato protein production line at the Wietzendorf site in Germany, the Emsland Group, an international market leader in this sector, is once again calling
Founded by Franco/U.S.-based recycling company TerraCycle, Loop has partnered with Aeon to encourage refillable packaging systems in their retail outlets. The alliance has garnered the support of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government that wants to promote the “three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle)” to create better sustainable foundations for consumers across the city.
Aeon will ditch its traditionally used disposable containers and packages for daily consumption items like foods, detergents and shampoos that lead to unnecessary waste and fuel the effects of climate change. Instead, the partnership will now see these very items in new sustainable packaging like stainless steel and glass that are not only highly durable but can be used multiple times.
Priced slightly higher than normal products, consumers first purchase these Loop products in a reusable package and after they have finished using the product, they can drop the used container in the Loop return box at any Aeon store. Once the system collects the container and confirms it is the very same container, in two weeks’ time they will receive a refund that will include the amount of the deposit plus the consumption tax of the container that will be credited to your bank account through the Loop app anywhere between Yen¥110 (approx. US$1.01) and Yen¥880 (approx. US$8.08) depending on the product.
Next, a specialized company will clean the returned item and send them back to manufacturers that will take the packages and make it ready for use again.
Initially, Aeon has launched 13 products by 6 manufacturers in Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture and Chiba districts with plans to add more products by the end of August 2021.
With this new initiative, Aeon is the only domestic retailer that can handle products from Loop for around one year from the beginning of sales.
The supermarket chain even partnered with the Hong Kong-based environmental charity Greeners Action to give customers coupons and discounts if they carry their won reusables and avoid the use of single-use plastic items when they order from in-store food outlets. The NGO had recently called the disposable trend in Hong Kong a “plastic disaster” given that a study showed that every week, Hong Kongers use 100 million disposable plastic takeaway items.
Apart from this, Aeon has been involved in several environmental conservation activities like ‘Bringing Shopping Bags Campaign’ and the collection of food trays and PET bottles.
Enger, 25 May 2021 - There is a new trend in the packaging of fruit and vegetables: Single-origin recyclable packs made of pa-perboard or cardboard are gradually replacing the typical plastic trays, which usually have an additional pillow pack, or are wrapped in stretch film or netting. MULTIVAC's full wrap labelling offers a sustainable and high-quality solution for plastic-free packaging concepts. It requires just one wraparound label to se-curely seal the packs and also provide the product presentation at the same time.
US-based food products manufacturer Mars Wrigley has partnered with standardised labelling system provider How2Recycle to develop a more sustainable packaging option for its Orbit Gum.
The 30-piece Orbit Mega Pack features an outer plastic package that can be recycled in around 50% of recycling streams in the US, with more locations to be made available in future.
Intended for on-the-go durability, the product is available on shelves for purchase at retailers across the nation and offered in Peppermint and Spearmint flavours.
Mars Wrigley US Gum and Mints senior director Ivonne Andreu said: “We are delighted to partner with How2Recycle for Orbit Mega Pack as society begins to seek fresh breath on the go once again and celebrate more in-person moments this year.
“We’re committed to our Mars Wrigley’s purpose of Better Moments, More Smiles and to making a positive societal impact through more sustainability and increased recycling transparency on our Orbit Mega Pack.”
The Orbit Mega Pack comes with How2Recycle’s on-pack step-by-step guide on how to recycle each part of the pack.
The packaging is in line with Mars Wrigley’s sustainability effort to transform its packaging portfolio and make it fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
It follows Mars Wrigley’s business partnership with biopolymer manufacturer Danimer Scientific, in which the two companies will develop innovative home compostable packaging.
Mars Wrigley and Danimer Scientific will initially focus on smaller and single packs, which are likely to be the most littered and less recycled.
Persil, the UK’s number one fabric cleaning brand1, has today announced the launch of its new liquid formulation, the first Unilever UK & Ireland product to launch with the Clean Future vision. The new product is both tough on stains and kinder to our planet, thanks to changes made to both the packaging and formulation.
The bottles are now made with 50% post-consumer recycled plastic, are 100% recyclable and the dosing ball previously provided with every bottle has now been removed*, all of which reduce the amount of virgin plastic in Persil bottles by more than 1,000 tonnes annually.
The new liquid formulation is made with plant-based stain removers and biodegradable ingredients, which come from renewable or recycled sources. With the formula concentrated by 23%, the bottles are smaller allowing for approximately 19% less trucks on the road each year - both of which lower the carbon footprint of the product further.
Persil’s eco re-launch is the first innovation in the UK as part of Unilever’s ‘Clean Future’ commitment, a ground-breaking innovation programme and €1 billion investment, designed by the company’s Home Care division to fundamentally change the way that some of the world’s best known cleaning and laundry products are created, manufactured and packaged. Clean Future is unique in its intent to embed the circular economy principles into both packaging and product formulations at the scale of global brands to reduce their carbon footprint.
Unilever has also made bold commitments to halve the use of virgin plastic in packaging, and to collect and process more plastic packaging than sold by 2025.
Charlie Beevor, Unilever UK & Ireland VP Home Care, says: “Clean Future is our vision to transform the sustainability of our global cleaning and laundry brands. Our new Persil Liquid is just the start of providing products that are both effective and kind to the planet.”
We’ve seen unprecedented demand for our home care products in recent months, and we need to maintain momentum on how we continue to adapt and evolve our products to ensure we are continuing to lead the way in terms of sustainability. As an industry, we must break our dependence on fossil fuels and we’re proud to be leading the charge.”
The beauty and personal care industry is worth over USD 500-billion a year and the market is expected to grow annually by 4.75%. Accordingly, the forerunners have eagerly been looking for sustainable packaging solutions. While around 90% of the cosmetics market consist of water-based emulsions, there has not been an alternative for water-based products that biodegrades without leaving permanent microplastics behind. Now, Sulapac has invented a patent-pending material for them.
As well as being fully sustainable, the Sulapac barrier fits industry standard requirements.
“I’m excited that we managed to create a sustainable barrier that is suitable for water-based products! The development and extensive testing took longer than we anticipated, but now it’s finally official. We are pleased to offer a real game-changer to our customers together with the industry leaders like our preferred partner for cosmetics, Quadpack,” said Dr Suvi Haimi, CEO and co-founder of Sulapac.
At present, Sulapac is also announcing a new flexible material designed for thin-walled jars with excellent impact strength. It has low carbon footprint based on eco-design, climate conscious raw materials and cost-efficient, high-volume manufacturing. Combined with the Sulapac barrier, the company’s trusted partners provide a compelling portfolio of different sized jars for both oil and water-based cosmetics. They also give support throughout the process, a turnkey solution.
“The new barrier developed by Sulapac allows us to continue to offer sustainable innovations that meet and exceed market demands. From new capacities to cutting-edge technical solutions, Quadpack is happy to provide an ever-growing product range in Sulapac material to all beauty brands,” said Pierre Antoine Henry, head of categories at Quadpack, Sulapac’s preferred partner for cosmetics.
Sulapac has made sure that the switch from conventional plastics is as easy as possible. The drop-in solution material can be mass produced with the existing plastic machinery. What’s more, its natural appearance and haptic feel make it stand out. Sulapac is beautiful, functional and sustainable, just like nature.
Currently, the ideal way to recycle a product made of Sulapac material is via industrial composting. It biodegrades without leaving permanent microplastics behind. Mechanical and chemical recycling are also viable options, and Sulapac is developing a closed-loop system.
Now, Sulapac is looking for forerunner cosmetic brands to join its mission to save the world from plastic waste.
The employee-owned business utilised its team of in-house experts to produce the solution, which is being sold as “Flexi-Hex”. The sleeves are produced from 85% recycled paper and can, according to the company, be easily recycled after use.
The pinch top box ensures a completely plastic-free design by eliminating the need for tape while reportedly providing a safe and secure fastening. Used in conjunction, Kite says that these products provide excellent protection while minimising environmental impact.
The product’s honeycomb-inspired structure features expandable hexagonal cells. In addition, Kite says that its Flexi-Hex products significantly enhance the unboxing experience, which is crucial for securing repeat customers and establishing a reputable brand image.
Hexagons are renowned for their structural strength. It is the company’s view that this makes the sleeve suitable for packaging delicate items including glass bottles, ceramics, or homeware.
In a statement, Kite Packaging commented: “The cellular construction intertwines optimal strength with incredible flexibility, enabling you to compress the sleeves for space-saving storage before opening them up to protect your goods.
“This versatility is tailormade for guarding against any knocks and drops that can occur in transit, granting your goods an exceptional level of protection.”
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