Did you Miss Out On PACK EXPO’s Sustainability Central?

Posted by Alexa Marmolejo on Sep 22, 2023 10:37:08 AM
Alexa Marmolejo
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A Deep Dive Into Green Trends That are Redefining Sustainability Practices Throughout the Industry

09 - Sustainability Blog Graphic-min

Observing the steadfast dedication of corporations to sustainability is truly remarkable. It underscores their commitment to safeguarding our planet's well-being. However, as we delve into our exploration of how industry leaders are transforming their practices, it's imperative to grasp that the journey toward sustainability commences long before the well-known "reduce, reuse, recycle" mantra becomes commonplace.

At its core, sustainability isn't a static goal but rather a meticulously orchestrated endeavor. It begins with the conscientious adoption of sustainable practices and packaging, the deliberate prioritization of environmentally responsible materials, and the application of advanced load optimization software to streamline transportation. It extends to the ingenuity of devising novel approaches to revitalize end-of-life packaging. Ultimately, this journey culminates in our ambitious pursuit of creating a genuinely circular packaging system. Within this profound voyage, sustainability isn't merely a choice—it serves as the cornerstone upon which we're shaping a future defined by unwavering responsibility.

PACK EXPO is the ultimate destination for delving into sustainability, offering a wealth of innovative and eco-friendly solutions. Amidst the extensive exhibits, you'll discover a wealth of sustainable practices that are reshaping industry norms. Yet, the heartbeat of sustainability resides in Sustainability Central, a dedicated hub teeming with the latest sustainable solutions. Join us on this blog journey as we unveil the highlights from Sustainability Central, providing you with a comprehensive snapshot of the vibrant world of sustainability at PACK EXPO.  

Navigating Sustainability Central

The Demand for Greener Packaging

As consumer awareness of environmental issues continues to rise, the call for more sustainable packaging solutions is becoming increasingly evident and even expected. With a new generation of environmentally-conscious consumers on the horizon, the urgency to combat single-use plastic waste has never been more pressing, and this isn't just conjecture—it's backed by compelling evidence.

According to a survey conducted by Sifted, which polled 500 U.S. consumers, a significant majority expressed their dissatisfaction with the current state of packaging, deeming it excessive and wasteful. This discontent has translated into a strong demand for greener shipping and packaging alternatives. In fact, a staggering 77% of respondents believed that companies tend to use excessive packaging when shipping their products. Moreover, 69% indicated that sustainable shipping practices had influenced their past purchasing decisions, highlighting the substantial impact of eco-friendly options on consumer choices. In sum, a resounding 89% of consumers expressed a desire for eco-friendly alternatives at the checkout.

However, Sifted is not the sole source of these findings. Smyth, another reputable entity in the industry, reported that a significant 76% of U.S. shoppers consider the reduction of packaging waste to be an important factor in their purchase decisions. Furthermore, Smyth underscored three key strategies to achieve sustainability goals through label and packaging materials: reducing the volume of material used, responsible sourcing of materials, and enhancing recyclability.    

The Latest in Innovative Packaging

At Sustainability Central, where packaging takes center stage, it comes as no surprise that numerous companies seized the opportunity to shine and unveil their most cutting-edge designs. The range of innovation on display was nothing short of impressive, with companies showcasing a diverse array of alternatives to single-use plastics. From compostable and biodegradable options to the truly unconventional, such as edible packaging, these companies left no doubt that the world of packaging has entered an era of remarkable transformation.

Among the standout exhibitors at the event, Paper Foam® left an indelible mark with its diverse array of innovative designs crafted from paper foam—a material renowned for its remarkably low carbon footprint compared to traditional plastics. Notably, paper foam is not only certified as recyclable but also finds favor as both a home and industrial compostable material. 

  • The Seedbom
    • Two symmetrical halves of a grenade mold that contain a mixture of seeds and dirt, held together by a natural wood based glue; whenever the Seedbom is planted and watered, the mold decomposes in the soil leaving no harmful materials left over and a plant growing. 

Another noteworthy participant, Evoware, embarked on its sustainability journey in 2016 with the introduction of an edible seaweed cup. Building on this success, the company expanded its product line in 2017 with the launch of seaweed-based packaging—an eco-conscious alternative to conventional packaging materials. These materials boast complete biodegradability and home-compostability, offering a sustainable solution that eliminates waste generation from product use. Evoware's commitment to environmentally friendly alternatives continues to make a significant impact on the packaging landscape. 

Our spotlight now turns to Sway, a forward-thinking cleantech startup dedicated to pioneering the next generation of plastic packaging solutions derived from seaweed. Their visionary creations seamlessly integrate into our existing infrastructure, enabling scalability and competitive pricing. Unlike conventional plastics, Sway's materials are sourced from abundant and biodiverse seaweed, possessing the inherent capability to naturally decompose into nutrient-rich soil after use.

  • Thermoplastic Resin & Film 
    • Sway's groundbreaking thermoplastic seaweed resin represents a pioneering innovation. Engineered to produce film using the world's most widely adopted plastic manufacturing methods, it offers all the technical and cost advantages that brands demand, without the ecological and societal drawbacks associated with petroleum-based plastics. 

Maximizing Transportation to Increase Sustainability

The pursuit of sustainability transcends the realms of design and manufacturing, often shining a spotlight on the sometimes overlooked aspect of transportation. Surprisingly, nearly half of the trucks carrying freight across the U.S. are only partially loaded—an avoidable and inefficient practice. Addressing this issue can lead to a remarkable reduction in carbon emissions, potentially up to 40%, as reported by Flock Freight.

Flock Freight stands at the forefront of creating a smarter and more sustainable supply chain by addressing the challenge of underutilized truck space. Their pioneering solution is a patented shared truckload technology (STL) that not only significantly reduces shipping costs for shippers, by up to 20% compared to traditional shipments but also benefits carriers, who can earn up to 25% more per haul. By optimizing trailer capacity, this innovative approach eliminates the wasteful shipment of empty space and the unnecessary burning of CO2. Moreover, Flock's technology ensures that drivers follow the most efficient routes, preventing idle time and fuel wastage, all contributing to a greener and more efficient future.

Magic Logic, another noteworthy company in the spotlight, underscores the paramount importance of optimizing shipments. Their primary mission revolves around the reduction of shipping costs through the implementation of sustainable packaging practices. Magic Logic firmly believes that businesses can significantly increase the number of products shipped while maintaining or even reducing the environmental impact and associated costs. But how do they achieve this impressive feat?

Magic Logic introduces Cube-IQ, a cutting-edge software solution designed to cater to a wide range of operational needs across diverse industries and implementation scenarios. Cube-IQ distinguishes itself by offering multiple versions, each tailored to specific industry requirements. Among its myriad features are advanced truck loading capabilities, mixed palletization, and near-real-time cartonization. By harnessing the power of load optimization software, shippers gain the ability to securely transport items that may be fragile, hazardous, or require specific orientations. This is achieved through precise calculations of item size and weight, ensuring safe and efficient packaging methods.

Sustainable Recycling Processes  

When it comes to recycling, everyone has their approach, but two key players stood out at the event: Terracycle and PureCycle. Terracycle, with over 20 years of experience and a presence in more than 20 countries, distinguishes itself by recycling hundreds of complex waste streams that traditional recyclers often overlook. They divert valuable resources from landfills and incinerators, transforming everything into raw materials usable in new products. Terracycle is on a mission to transition from a linear to a circular economy. Notably, through their freight recycling division, they've managed to convert 10 million pounds of personal protective equipment into 8.5 million pounds of expired car seats, just scratching the surface of their efforts over the past two decades, which include recycling universal waste, regulated waste, filled products, and other challenging waste streams.

Now, let's turn our attention to PureCycle. They see plastic waste as a renewable resource, thanks to their groundbreaking patented recycling process. The journey begins with the separation of colors, odors, and impurities from plastic waste feedstock, transforming it into ultra-pure recycled resin. PureCycle is instrumental in closing the loop on the reuse of recycled plastics while making sustainable recycled resin more accessible to companies at scale. Surprisingly, their purification process involves a simple wash of the plastic, resulting in virgin-like recycled plastic. This innovative approach could potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 35% and consume 79% less energy compared to virgin resin production. The effectiveness of this virgin-like plastic is remarkable, as PureCycle's ultra-pure recycled resin is expected to match, if not surpass, the clarity and odor of virgin polypropylene. The overarching goal is to enable plastics to be recycled and reused multiple times, fostering a more sustainable and circular approach to plastic usage.

A Sneed Junior’s Take on Sustainability Central 

Sustainability Central was, without a doubt, a standout exhibit at the show, offering a comprehensive view of the myriad practices, designs, and products that companies can embrace to align with the sustainability movement. Sustainability transcends the familiar "reduce, reuse, and recycle" mantra; it encompasses design, materials, transportation, and innovation. As a member of the younger generation, it was truly inspiring to witness prominent industry leaders taking proactive steps to safeguard our planet for generations to come. Additionally, it was a relief to witness the deployment of new innovations and processes aimed at curbing single-use plastics—a pressing concern in today's world. Amidst it all, Sustainability Central effectively educated the public on the diverse ways companies can enhance their sustainability efforts, covering the entire journey from inception to the finish line.

Our collective voyage toward a greener and more responsible future is propelled by innovation, dedication, and a profound sense of responsibility for our planet. This journey is ongoing, with each step forward revealing new opportunities for positive change.

As we depart from this virtual tour of sustainability, we carry with us the knowledge that our actions, both big and small, contribute to a more sustainable tomorrow. It's a journey that requires continuous effort, collaboration, and a commitment to making choices that benefit the environment and society. So, let us all embark on this voyage together, guided by the principles of sustainability and the shared goal of creating a better world for future generations.


Topics: Pack Expo, #KeepCodingSimple, Consumer packaging, sustainability, HowItsCoded, HowItsPackaged, Circular Economy, Sustainable Packaging

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