Sustainable Packaging

May 13, 2009
The Airdex pallet from Airdex International Inc. for international air freight use, weighs approximately eight

Lightweight Pallet

The Airdex pallet from Airdex International Inc. for international air freight use, weighs approximately eight pounds. Because it is more than 30 pounds lighter than traditional wood pallets used for international air freight, the Airdex pallet reduces carbon-dioxide emissions and is recyclable, says the company.

The outer skin of the pallet is made of EPA/FDA/medical-certified, highimpact polystyrene (HIPS), providing a tough, sanitary, washable surface free of insects, rodents, disease, mold or mildew. The inner core is made of lightweight expanded polystyrene (EPS), a natural, non-toxic thermal insulator. EPS contains no chlorofluorocarbons or hydrofluorocarbons and can be recycled in a variety of ways.

Airdex International Inc., Henderson, Nev.,

Sustainable IBCs

A.R. Arena Products Inc. introduces its Arena 330 Shipper, a reusable, foldable, all-plastic, asset IBC (intermediate bulk container) that works in conjunction with sanitary, single-use liner bags to reduce the cost and waste associated with shipping non-hazardous bulk liquids.

“The Arena Shipper dramatically reduces greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption and solid waste, while substantially reducing the cost of shipping bulk liquids,” says Mike Brunhuber, vice president. “Yet, many companies have resisted the transition from one-way bulk liquid packaging, such as 55-gallon drums, corrugated bag-in-box and composite IBCs to avoid capital investment in transport packaging, as well as noncore activities like container cleaning and logistics management.”

The company’s Fleet Service offering includes one-way leasing service, liquid liner bags and repositioning logistics, inspection and cleaning after each use.

A.R. Arena Products Inc., Rochester, N.Y.,

Eco-friendly Bag Film

EarthAware eco-friendly bag film materials, designed for Automated Packaging Systems’ AirPouch void-fill packing systems, contain a proprietary additive that causes biodegradation in nine months to five years, depending on exposure conditions. Biodegradation of the low-density, polyethylene film only occurs in certain conditions, such as those found in landfills and home and commercial composts.

The EarthAware product line also includes a new film made entirely from recycled, pre-consumer bags and film scrap. The new material comes fan folded in boxes containing 4,000 linear feet of material. AirPouch pillow material comes in 8- and 10-inch widths and a variety of lengths.

Automated Packaging Systems, Streetsboro, Ohio,

Sustainable Cold Chain

Entropy Solutions Inc. announces an eco-friendly alternative to dry ice that protects frozen products to -40°F during shipment. The new variation of the company’s PureTemp renewable phase-change material can be used more than 20,000 times with no thermal degradation.

PureTemp produces zero emissions and is entirely renewable and biodegradable, the company says, adding the material requires no special handling and is safe to use with any product, including pharmaceuticals, plasma, clinical devices and food items.

Entropy Solutions Inc., Minneapolis,

Earth-friendly Clamshells

According to a lifecycle analysis conducted by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Heidelberg, Germany, clamshell packaging made from Ingeo emits fewer greenhouse gases and uses less energy when compared to clamshells manufactured with petroleum-based rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate). Ingeo, made by NatureWorks, is a biopolymer derived from plants instead of oil.

Clear plastic clamshells are often used for fresh produce and foodservice packaging. Currently, this type of packaging is not recycled in the U.S. or Europe. In the U.S., clamshell packaging typically goes to landfills after use, while in Europe, it may be incinerated for waste-heat recovery. The lifecycle study took both end-of-life scenarios into account.

The study showed clamshell packaging consisting of 100% rPET emitted 58.6 kilograms of carbon-dioxide equivalents per 1,000 clamshells. Ingeo 2005 emitted 49.2 kilograms, a carbondioxide reduction of 16%. Energy consumed over the lifecycle for 100% rPET clamshells was 1.1 gigajoules. This compared to 0.93 gigajoules for the Ingeo 2005 packaging, which is a reduction of 15%.

“The study also showed that the next generation of Ingeo biopolymer, which will be available in 2009, offers further improvements in eco-profile and clearly outperforms 100% rPET in head-to-head comparisons,” says Steve Davies, NatureWorks’ director of communications and public affairs.

NatureWorks, Minnetonka, Minn.,

Recyclable Pallet

A new 40-inch by 48 - inch CICP plastic pallet from Orbis is designed specifically for international trade, made from recycled material and fully recyclable. The nestable pallet is exempt from ISPM 15 regulations and cannot harbor pests, mold or fungus.

Orbis says the pallet weighs 14.2 pounds, and 1,980 of them can be stored in a standard 53-foot trailer.

Orbis, Oconomowoc, Wis.,

Air-pillow Film

Pregis says its new EP-Flex Renew lowdensity, polyethylene air-pillow film is made with 50% less resin than c ompetitive inflatable void-fill products, claims the company. The film contains a proprietary organic additive that accelerates microbial biodegradation without compromising recyclability. In addition, it contains no heavy metals or salts, which are commonly found in oxo-biodegradable options. It also has a longer shelf life than starch-based degradable products, according to the company, and will not begin to biodegrade until it enters a landfill, compost or other environment containing microbes. Depending on conditions, complete biodegradation typically occurs within one to five years.

Compliant with ASTM D5511 and ASTM D5338 aerobic biodegradation standards, the film is available in 8-, 10- and 12-inch rolls. EP-Flex Renew runs through Pregis’ AirSpeed 5000 and AirSpeed Smart systems, which produce air-cushioning void fill on demand.

Pregis Corp., Deerfield, Ill.,

Recyclable Void Fill

Paper packaging from Ranpak is completely recyclable and biodegradable, according to Tara Foote, director of marketing. “While a number of packaging materials exist to safeguard products, paper continues to serve as a viable, sustainable material that not only protects products but also the environment.

“In 2007, an all-time high 56% of the paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling,” she adds. “Paper and paperboard accounted for more than 75% of all packaging material recovered in 2006, making paper the most recycled packaging material.”

Along with packaging material, Ranpak also offers high-speed converting equipment, such as the FillPak system (pictured), which converts single-ply kraft paper into a PaperStar configuration, a geometrically effective way to fill voids.

“Not only is paper a strong choice for product protection, but when you consider the likelihood of paper packaging being recycled or reused by the consumer, there is more reason than ever before for businesses to adopt paper packaging material to support their overall commitment to sustainability,” Foote concludes.

Ranpak, Concord Township, Ohio,

Void-fill Bags

The new Rapid Fill automated inflation system from Sealed Air inflates a void-fill bag within an enclosed carton. According to Sealed Air, the system minimizes waste and uses reusable and recyclable air bags.

Available in six sizes, Rapid Fill air bags have a one-way valve that allows air in but not out. A single operator clips the air bag to the inside corner of a carton, folds the carton flaps and sends it through the case sealer. Air is automatically injected through the carton and into the bag. The system dispenses the least amount of material needed to provide effective void fill. Sealed Air says Rapid Fill air bags are the lightest void-fill product available. It adds that consumers can reuse or recycle the bags.

Sealed Air, Elmwood Park, N.J.,


The AIRplus bio-film from Storopack is certified compostable by the U.S. ASTM D6400 and European EN 13432 standards.

According to Storopack, certified compostable packaging materials are made from natural materials that do not contain fossil fuel-based polymers or leave synthetic molecules or toxic residuals behind. The materials allow eco-friendly disposal and also produce humus to support plant life.

The raw material used to make the AIRplus biofilm is a biologically degradable plastic compound based on polylactic acid (PLA). AIRplus bio-film air pillows are available in 8-inch by 4-inch and 8-inch by 8-inch sizes.

Storopack USA, Cincinnati,

Returnable Crates

Trans.L Systems, a logistics company offering objective, returnable transport packaging expertise, shows supply chain leaders in the food industry how to convert from corrugated to returnable plastic crates (RPCs) and dramatically reduce product waste and packaging’s impact on the environment. Using RPCs results in water and energy savings and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, according to Trans.L Systems. The company offers crate erecting machines that build 20 RPCs per minute for distribution to pack stations. The company, based in Australia, recently entered the U.S. marketplace and joined the Reusable Packaging Association.

Trans.L Systems, San Francisco, Calif.,

What the C2C Mark Means

Most have heard of the “cradle-to-grave” concept, which describes the life and death of a product from manufacture to disposal.

According to architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart, the cradle-to-grave strategy supports a flawed, one-way manufacturing system that takes, makes and wastes. In this traditional environment, industry and commerce are unsustainable, and sustainable initiatives focus only on reducing their impact by restricting their activities.

In an effort to reinvent industry’s outdated approach to sustainability, the two developed a product and packaging design paradigm called “cradle to cradle” (C2C). In 1995, they founded the Charlottesville, Va.-based consultancy McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) to help companies create products that are healthy for humans and the environment throughout their lifecycles as well as sources of high-quality materials for perpetual cycles of assembly, use, disassembly and recycling/composting.

C2C design means every ingredient in a product is safe and beneficial— either to biodegrade naturally or be recycled into new products. The principle entirely eliminates the concept of waste because products and packaging material are used and reused in an infinite, closed-loop process.

C2C certification means a company uses environmentally safe and healthy materials and has designed its products for material reutilization, including recycling and composting. It also identifies manufacturers that use renewable energy, promote efficient use of energy and water and implement socialresponsibility measures. The C2C mark helps companies measure their achievement in environmentally intelligent design and helps customers purchase and specify products supporting these goals. There are four levels of achievement: basic, silver, gold or platinum.

MBDC has worked with Ford Motor Co., Nike, FedEx, the U.S. Postal Service, PepsiCo and many more to redesign their products with C2C in mind. In packaging, however, the concept is still relatively new.

According to Litco International Inc., its Inca presswood pallets are the first pallets to achieve C2C certification. Earning the silver designation for their ingredients, recyclability and design principles, Inca presswood pallets are made from pre- and post-consumer wood waste and are reusable and recyclable. The spent pallets are often used for bedding, soil enhancers and fuel. In addition, presswood pallets are produced using less energy, according to Litco.

The pallets are also free of bugs, bark and mold, which allows them to be easily transported across international borders. Sixty percent lighter than conventional, hardwood pallets, the Inca pallets are nestable to save space in shipping and warehousing.

To learn more about the C2C mark, visit To learn more about Inca presswood pallets, visit

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