Tuesday 2 October 2012

Minimise wet-wipe packaging, use bio-based materials

Susan Stansbury, Director of Converting Influence LLC stressed the need to do nothing to wipes packaging that might shorten the usable life of the product, but try to minimize the pack-to-product ratio and maximize the use of bio-based materials at the design stage.  We need to push back against the trend to use excessive packaging in an attempt to impress the consumer.  Life Cycle Analysis should be used to identify the best packaging solution and to support the use of environmental claims – which are now more attractive to consumers than fancy packaging.  However while consumers will buy on the basis of the packaging and its messages, and love biodegradability and composting claims, they do not understand what they mean.  They do understand  “Landfill bad – recycle good”, “Paper’s better than plastic”, “Plastic from oil is bad” but need help with the many environmental decisions they are now confronted with.

The US discards 180lbs of food per person per year, 14% of this in the original unopened packs.  The annual cost of this waste is $43bn but the US has minimal  bioprocessing infrastructure.  Europe on the other hand discards less and is encouraging the use of biodegradable packs to allow food waste in packs to be bioprocessed.  Was there any data comparing the environmental impact of bioprocessing bioplastics with simply recycling the plastic?  Ms Stansbury was not aware of any.

(from a paper given at the INDA WOW Conference, Chicago, June 2012)

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