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New Packaging Designs Stress Sustainability

DN Staff

November 24, 2010

2 Min Read
New Packaging Designs Stress Sustainability

Improved packaging design is a major part of aggressivesustainability plans recently announced by consumer products giants Unileverand Procter & Gamble.

Both companies say they will dramatically reduce the weightof packaging they use through new design, thin walling, use of concentratedproducts and reuse of materials.

New Packaging Designs Stress Sustainability

New Packaging Designs Stress Sustainability

In some cases, they will also switch materials.

"We will make it easier for consumers to recycle ourpackaging by using materials that best fit the end-of-life treatment facilitiesavailable in their countries," Unilever said in a statement released to thepress. Unilever also said it plans to eliminate use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC)by 2012 where technical solutions exist.

P&G is also removing PVC from future packaging designsin favor of materials that are easier to recycle, such as high-densitypolyethylene and polyethylene terephthalate.

Twenty-five percent of P&G's petroleum-based materialswill be replaced with sustainably sourced renewable materials by 2020, comparedto a 2010 baseline. The company recently announced plansto use renewable, sustainable, sugarcane-derived plastic on selected packagingfor its Pantene Pro-V, CoverGirl and Max Factor brands.

P&G developed a bioplastic technology called Nodax polyhydroxyalkanoates(PHA), but later sold the rights to Danimer Scientific of Bainridge, GA. However,its efforts to develop renewably sourced packaging materials continue. P&Gwas awarded a patentfor a starch-based compound earlier this year.

Unilever does not support use of bioplastics. The companymakes this statementin its sustainability plan:

"Bioplastics are derived from renewable resources. But thisdoes not mean that they are sustainable when all the environmental impacts andissues around their growth, production and subsequent disposal are taken intoconsideration."

Bioplastics also cost more, sometimes significantly more,than petroleum-based plastics.

Unilever also plans to significantly increase recycling ofits products. The corporate goal is to boost recycling and recovery rates onaverage by 5 percent by 2015, and by 15 percent by 2020 in the top 14 countrieswhere Unilever does business. This will require as much as a three-foldincrease in recycling rates.

Major customers, such as Wal-Mart Stores, are helping drivesustainable packaging design. Wal-Mart plans a 5 percent reduction in itsglobal packaging use by 2013. Wal-Mart's goal to eliminate PVC is stalledbecause of technical issues, such as lack of acceptable alternatives fortamper-evident bands, metal-can sealants and meat wrapping.

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