Packaging suppliers and manufacturers must address water use and preserve the protective role of packaging when approaching the issue of packaging sustainability, DuPont’s sustainability director told FoodProductionDaily.com.
Thinking more about water was a crucial first step, Shanna Moore told this site.
“This will become critical as our population continues to grow. I also think we need to open our thinking to consider the entire life cycle impacts of both the product and the package combined.
“When we think about protecting a product or extending product shelf life we have to really come to grips with the value that the package is providing. It is preventing damage, spoilage and getting needed medicines and food to remote regions.”
‘Protect the product’
She added it was important not to sacrifice packaging because of its trash connotations and the thought of it needing to be eliminated.
“Let’s protect the product, get the product to those in need, and then after the package has served its purpose, let’s use it again to create fuels, energy or recycled packages.
“Packaging enables food security, the ability to live in urban areas, have convenient meals and most importantly, live healthy lives by protecting the safety of the product inside via reduced spoilage, contamination and damage.”
Range of factors
Moore said DuPont looked at optimizing packaging weight, using renewable materials and enabling more recycling to help make the product/package combination both effective and efficient.
“As for examples, our Surlyn product is used to help optimize the weight of packaging while providing outstanding packaging performance.
“We have recently introduced renewably sourced tie layers (adhesive resins) and compatibilizers within our Bynel and Fusabond product lines.”
She added that the firm’s compatibilizers and coupling agents enabled recycling of mixed materials.
She said packaging weight, material use and industry joining together all played a vital role now and water usage and life cycle analysis (LCA) tools were becoming bigger considerations.
“We consider all three pillars of the Triple Bottom Line and look at both the package and product. The most sustainable package is one that optimizes both the package and product resources in the most effective and efficient manner.
“This can take many forms but in the end, this is the question industry has to ask. Are we optimizing the materials used, optimizing the weight of those materials and using the best package format to package the product in the most efficient and effective way.”
“An example of this is a closed loop recycling process for agrochemical multilayer bottles in Latin America.
“Empty agricultural chemical packaging is collected by the National Institute for the Processing of Empty Packaging (inPEV), launched by government mandate and initially supported by 22 founding companies, including DuPont.”
Since 2002, more than 150,000 tons of empty packaging has been collected, eliminating the need for 374,000 barrels of crude oil and more than 160,000 tons of CO2 equivalents, explained Moore.
The project hinges on the DuPont Fusabond coupling agent to compatibilize and bond dissimilar polymers in the recycling process.
DuPont’s role in organisations
She said that DuPont played a role in organizations such as European Bioplastics, American Chemistry Council, AMERIPEN, Sustainable Packaging Coalition and the SPI Bioplastics Council.
Sustainable packaging was about optimising the resources of both the package and the product, she added.
Shanna Moore, DuPont Packaging and Industrial Polymers, said the firm looked at sustainability in packaging holistically.
Meanwhile, DuPont also hold annual awards for packaging Innovation and 2013 is the 25th anniversary.
Last year there were entries from 21 different countries for the independently judged awards.
Moore said this year the firm plans to give an additional award for an entry that exemplifies reduction of food waste.
“Another special feature this year is that we’re going to look back at the past winning applications while highlighting how they changed our lives. Additionally, we have partnered with a futurist to look ahead 25 years and we’ll be sharing those concepts as well.”