SAN DIEGO — To capture used packaging before it reaches the trash bin, Brazil's GPA SA works with stakeholders and pursues international partnerships to drive a positive impact, said Eduardo da Rocha e Souza, a sustainability leader for the major São Paulo-based retailer.
During the Sustainable Brands '15 conference in San Diego early this month, Souza said GPA works with major brand owners such as Unilever NV and Procter & Gamble Co. in developing sustainable private-label products for sale through GPA.
Since 2001, GPA has collected more than 100,000 tons of recyclable waste, Souza said. Recently, GPA linked with a Brazilian supplier to recycle more paper.
Last year, more than 1,000 people worked in a recycling cooperative with ties to GPA.
Separately, under the Social Plastics trademark and in conjunction with corporate sponsors, the Plastic Bank aims to provide incentives to capture waste plastic in third-world countries and turn the “trash to cash,” founder David Katz said. He envisions a paradigm shift to businesses' “best practices.”
The organization seeks to clear trash from ocean beaches, provide reasons for collecting plastic and “transcend poverty,” Katz said. A recycling center in Haiti, for instance, may use solar energy incentives to provide a power-charging service for residents' cell phones or lights in exchange for 10 bottles or free Wi-Fi networking technology for 15 bottles.
Other credits could support education, microcredit loans and access to 3-D printing equipment that could transform some of the collected plastic into usable products, parts or tools.
Gas fermentation to ethanol
Gas fermentation specialist LanzaTech won two top awards in a Sustainable Brands-organized competition with three other early-stage developments. Retailer Target sponsored the event.
In the LanzaTech process, microbes of the acetogens family grow on industrial gases and offset greenhouse gases from steel mills by converting them to a feedstock for ethylene for fuel and PET applications, said Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of the Skokie, Ill.-based firm.
LanzaTech formed in 2005 with its early development in Auckland, New Zealand. LanzaTech has a relationship with China Steel Corp. of Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
In late 2012, CSC and LCY Chemical Corp. of Taipei City, Taiwan, jointly formed White Biotech, which built a demonstration plant that met or exceeded ethanol production milestones. The demonstration facility is adjacent to a CSC mill in Kaohsiung.
In April, CSC agreed to invest $46 million in a LanzaTech commercial facility. Further, the New Zealand Superannuation Fund recently made a $60 million equity investment in LanzaTech. Technology solution investor Khosla Ventures of Menlo Park, Calif., is LanzaTech's largest shareholder, and the KIW1 Ltd. fund in the Auckland community of Takapuna is another investor.
Sustainable Life Media Inc. of San Francisco organized the four-day San Diego event and drew more than 1,300 attendees from 32 countries.
Other Sustainable Brands events are scheduled Aug. 25-27 in Rio de Janeiro, Sept. 1-2 in Buenos Aires, Oct 6-8 in Boston, Oct 12-13 in Kuala Lumpur and Nov 16-18 in London.