DuPont Co. is throwing its weight behind a push to have global sustainability standards.
The company revealed its support for the standards as part of its recent 2009 DuPont Packaging Awards event.
“The biggest reason [for such standards] is to try to change the mindset of industry and consumers,” stated William Weber, vice president and general manager of DuPont Packaging and Industrial polymers.
“[We need] common standards that are simple enough for consumers to make buying decisions,” Weber said in a telephone interview prior to a virtual conference announcing the winners.
“We see some conflict among regulators, the public and companies,” said Julian Carroll, managing director of the European Organization for Packaging and the Environment, or Europen.
“How do we measure which packaging is better?” Carroll asked at the virtual conference. “How can companies assure themselves they are on the right track to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging?”
A CEO forum is being organized with the help of Brussels, Belgium-based Europen to come up with harmonized principles and common definitions. In the long term, 150 CEOs will be asked to put together global standards based on common definitions.
Carroll said a lack of common standards can cause problems in the marketplace. For instance, a store could choose packaging that management feels is the most sustainable. Another store could have different ideas, presenting a problem for a packaging supplier who must satisfy both retailers.
Also, there is the risk of unilateral action by regulators in one geographic area that might not be compatible with laws in another jurisdiction.
DuPont brought the sustainability issue to its business strategy 10 years ago, Weber said. Now the firm has a vice president in charge of sustainability, Linda Fisher. Weber is responsible for sustainability in performance resins.
DuPont identifies four strategies for sustainability in packaging:
* First is using renewable resources.
* Next is improving end-of-life alternatives through additives and other means for composting, recycling and waste-to-energy methods.
* Material reduction represents the highest growth opportunity. While maintaining the integrity of the package, producers can use less or make the package simpler. Weber cited as an example replacing PVC with Surlyn ionomer to make thinner blister packaging.
* Finally, general environmental impact also relates to sustainability. Reducing energy use or greenhouse gases or solvent emissions all have beneficial effects, Weber said.
Sustainability issues were prominent among the winners of DuPont's 2009 awards. Following are plastics-related winners:
* A shampoo bottle and cap by Estee Lauder Cos. Inc. The Aveda bottle contains 80-96 percent post-consumer recycled high density polyethylene, depending on the model. The bottle is made by Matrix Packaging Inc., a Sonoco company in Chicago. Estee Lauder also started up a bottle-cap recycling program. Its caps are made of 100 percent recycled polypropylene molded by Seaquist Closures of Mukwonago, Wis.
* Ecolean Group's lightweighted aseptic packaging in Sweden. The product cuts package weight by 50 percent. Use of calcium carbonate in the packaging reduces the amount of polymer needed in the structure.
* Healthy Choice's frozen food trays from ConAgra Foods Inc., which contain 40 percent recycled PET. The high-recycle content is unique in dual-ovenable PET packaging. ConAgra met U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements in this application. Associated Packaging Technologies of Chadds Ford, Pa., thermoforms the trays.
* Procter & Gamble's polybags for multipacked detergent pouches, which replace corrugated packaging. The product is marketed in Belgium and Turkey. The polyethylene bags cut weight by 80 percent and volume compression by 20 percent.
* Standup pouches replace glass for Bertolli Pasta Sauce from Unilever plc of London, for 70 percent material saving. The pouch is microwaveable and protects contents from oxygen. Pouch materials are made by Amcor Flexibles in the United States.
* A Prilosec Pill Pack from Procter & Gamble Co. of Cincinnati, which doubles the number of pills on a blister card to cut waste in packaging. Cards are made by Alcan Packaging in the United States.
* A redesigned 20-liter drum for agricultural chemicals from A&C Packers Pty. Ltd. in Australia that has a new barrier structure and is reusable with a five-year life. The new design aids stacking and cube efficiency by 30 percent. The drums can be recycled into items such as drain pipes.