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Flexo Sustainable : Fall 2013
Sustainable By Design Patented Green Technology Reinvents Packaging Process By Dan Bruiz Today ’s consumers are at the forefront of a sustain- ability movement. “Sustainable,” “compostable“ and “Earth friendly ” continue to be top of mind for consum- ers, shaping their behavior and as a result, forcing brands to make more sustainable choices with their product and pack- aging. They are the driving force behind the manufacturing and rise in sustainable packaging product options, ranging from the soft drink PlantBottle to mushroom packaging. As sustainability continues to climb packaging agendas, tremendous progress has been made in a relatively short pe- riod of time to make eco-friendly packaging part and parcel of the manufacturing process. Manufacturers are striving to make better use of resources while ensuring the sustainability of our natural systems. According to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, packag- ing can only be sustainable if it: • Is beneficial, safe and healthy for individuals and com- munities throughout its life cycle • Meets market criteria for performance and cost • Is sourced, manufactured, transported and recycled us- ing renewable energy • Maximizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials • Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices • Is made from materials healthy in all possible end-of-life scenarios • Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy • Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed-loop cycles NaTURE-BaSED PlaSTICS Precision Color Graphics Ltd. (PCG) is a leading-edge pre- press, printing and packaging company with a strong commit- ment to industry innovation and the environment. In April 2013, it was awarded a patent for the biopolymer lined multi-layer bags and pouches for its line of Ecoterah packaging. Made with paper, water-based adhesive and a biopolymer sealant layer, this revolutionary new line of Earth-friendly packaging, made from U.S.-based renewable plant resourc- es, also earned Biodegradable Products Institute certification. Certification assures the packaging meets American Society for Testing and Materials D6868 and D6400 standards—mak- ing Ecoterah products the first multi-layer retail packaging to earn this certification in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan. Ecoterah packaging contains EarthFirst Polylactic Acid film, made with the near carbon neutral polymer Ingeo, which is free of petrochemicals commonly found in other plastics. Because there are no petrochemicals, the packaging is safe for recycling, composting and landfills. Bags are FDA human-grade compliant and have been fully implemented for pet treats and potato chips. Pouches for packaging nuts, granola, coffee, powdered drinks and hops are currently in trials. SUSTaINaBlE PRODUCTION The process of creating packaging material today bears little resemblance to what was commonplace just five short years ago. A closer look at emerging trends from three as- pects of that production process provides the answer: • Customer Demand for Sustainability and Renewable Products. Today’s sustainable innovations and forward- thinking solutions are driven by conscious consumers and their demand for eco-friendly packaging. Bags, pouches, sacks, cartons, etc., must demonstrates excel- lent shelf stability and yet still break down at the end of their life cycle. PCG’s Ecoterah product line is produced from natural products by marrying paper and film tech- nologies, rather than petro-based polymers. This allows the package to breakdown in compost within 90 days. Experts continue to refine the print and lamination processes of working with sustainable materials and are seeing more applications calling for a printed paper outer layer—both printed roll stock and pre-formed pouch applications. Printing paper with water-based inks in a wide web flexographic format has always had its challenges. At PCG, staff has been combining invest- ment in the Kodak NX Flexcel plating system to push print quality on sustainable substrates to new levels. Much more controlled and efficient ink transfer from plate to substrate has resulted in increased ink densities and the ability to run higher line screens • Cleaner Process and Shrinking Carbon Footprint. PCG has made a concerted effort to promote and use packag- ing materials that are manufactured domestically. A lot of polymers that are inside traditional packaging are pro- cessed from petroleum coming from all over the world, which then gets refined and continues on elsewhere to be processed, creating a dirtier, less friendly product. Biopolymer used in the Ecoterah line is a great example of home grown feedstock. The raw materials are grown in America’s heartland, then processed and converted to roll form in the Mid-West. Final bags are converted in Tennessee. The supply chain starts every spring and at the end of life, can be composted and leave nothing behind but clean, non-toxic, useable compost. Consumers no longer have to go overseas for their packaging needs. And that’s important, because for these forward-thinking customers, a dollar well spent is one that’s invested in packaging that’s made in the United States • Better Functioning Materials. Adapting and responding to customer demand for sustainable and eco-friendly pack- 6 Sustainable FLEXO FAll 2013 www.flexomag.com www.flexomag.com FAll 2013 Sustainable FLEXO 7