Sustainable Packaging

Salmon leather materials used in sustainable packaging.While the manufacturing and packaging industries are starting to turn to innovative bioplastics to create sustainable packaging solutions, the fashion industry is also looking for new ways to make their products more eco-friendly. Salmon leather is a new material made from salmon skin, a byproduct of the salmon industry that is discarded in huge amounts each year. The material's strength and flexibility, combined with its soft feel, texture and appearance, have today's eco-conscious designers using salmon leather for placemats, furniture, bags, shoes and more.

Examples and Uses of Salmon Leather

ES Salmon Leather is a company that produces salmon leather materials using a specialized layout and seaming process that minimizes waste, while maximizing strength and versatility. The company has partnered with a Chilean furniture design company to create eco-friendly furniture made from responsibly sourced materials.

Unnurwear is a line of accessories and clothing founded by Icelandic designer Unnur Fridrikdottir. Unnur's handbags are created using skin from locally farm-grown salmon.

The Design for a Living World exhibition features fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi and his salmon leather paillettes, which are similar to sequins. Mizrahi has designed the paillettes into clothing and shoes, using the material's natural ivory color rather than dying the leather.

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As a global giant in the technology industry, Dell is also leading the way in innovative packaging that works toward creating a more sustainable future. According to Dell - "Packaging is more than just a wrapper." A product's packaging affects quality, cost and the environment, so Dell has developed the Three Cs: a strategy to improve computer packaging by saving more than $8 million and eliminating 20 million pounds of packaging material between 2008 and 2012.

The Three Cs include Cube, Content and Curb.

  • Cube : How big is the box? Could it be smaller? Choosing the right size box for items can significantly reduce packaging - eliminating the need for excess cushioning and additional boxes. Multipack allows multiple systems to be packaged and shipped in a single box, leading to less packaging material and less waste. Dell is committed to shrinking packaging volume by 10% by 2012.
  • Content: What is the packaging made of? Can we improve the materials? Using the right material for packaging is crucial to ensuring the product remains protected while contributing to a healthier environment. Dell's innovative packaging materials are made from sustainable bamboo and mushroom packaging, which are renewable resources that maintain strong protective features.
  • Curb: Is the packaging easily recycled? Dell's goal is to increase the amount of material in packaging to be recycled by 75%, and is well on its way to achieving that goal by using recyclable boxes and cushioning in its packaging design. Dell uses materials such as 100% recyclable corrugated cardboard and thermal-form high-density polyethylene (HDPE) made from 100% recycled content.


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Plastic packaging turns into crude oilAn Ohio-based energy company, Vadxx, has the technology to convert recyclable and non-recylable plastics, among many other materials, back into the crude oil from which they were created. The plant is located in Akron, Ohio. The process of turning plastics back into oil is called thermal depolymerization, and works for such feedstocks as scrap tires, synthetic fibers, waste oil, e-wastes, auto fluff and more. As long as the material contains oil, it can be made back into oil.

The ability to create oil from oil-based products, such as used plastic packaging, can have significant impact on the health and future of the environment. With plastic bottles and other oil-based packaging materials building up in landfills, littering the oceans and releasing toxins into the earth, there has come a serious need to reduce plastic waste. Turning plastic waste back into oil not only reduces waste, it can also help reduce our dependence on foreign oil and reduce the costs associated with oil-based products.

The Akron plant is ready to begin producing as much as 80,000 barrels of crude oil per year by mid-2012. With each installed Vadxx unit, landfill deposits are reduced by 10,000 to 14,000 tons each year.

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In an effort to become more socially and environmentally responsible, the Dunkin' Brands Group (parent company of Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins) released its first sustainability report - announcing its search for more sustainable alternatives to the foam cups and polystyrene spoons used at its donut and ice cream shops.

The shift toward sustainable packaging comes as more and more big names in the convenience foods industry, including Starbucks and McDonald's, introduce innovative packaging materials and programs that work toward a healthier environment. As consumers and businesses become more eco-conscious, Dunkin' Donuts must keep up with its competitors' green initiatives.

Dunkin' Donuts currently sources only 15% of its packaging from recycled materials, 15% from paperboard, 24% from foam and 24% from plastic resins. The Dunkin' Donuts item that makes the biggest environmental impact is coffee and other hot beverages served in foam cups.

Polystyrene, or Styrofoam, is well known for its effective insulation properties and its inability to biodegrade safely after disposal. While California lawmakers consider a ban on Styrofoam packaging due to its potentially toxic effects to the health of the environment and people, Dunkin' Donuts is continuing to test alternatives to plastic foam that meet the company's criteria for an effective single-use hot cup. The cup must maintain the same convenience, affordability and safety qualities as the foam, but with a more positive environmental impact.

There is no specific timeline for the cups, but the company is expecting to introduce a new recyclable spoon, to replace the pink polystyrene spoons at Baskin-Robbins, by 2013.

At Heritage Pioneer, we are committed to keeping you up-to-date on the latest in sustainable packaging news. Contact us today to learn more about packaging solutions.

New sustainable packaging option using whey proteinWithin a year, a type of bioplastic created from whey protein will soon be introduced to the European market as consumer product packaging material. The project, WheyLayer, is based in Europe and aims to replace petroleum-based plastics with natural byproducts that meet performance expectations while improving recyclability and sustainability.

Whey is a milk protein byproduct of cheese production. Plastic films coated with whey protein have shown to be extremely effective moisture barriers, allowing the bioplastic to work as protective packaging for a wide variety of items, particularly in protecting food products from oxygen. With nearly 40% of the whey produced by European cheese factories discarded each year, the byproduct becomes a renewable resource that can help significantly reduce plastic waste, in addition to dependence on fossil fuels that are toxic to the environment.

As the concern over environmental safety continues to grow, more and more bioplastic materials are being introduced to the consumer packaging market. Water bottles made from plants, shampoo packaging sourced from sugar cane, boxes made from mushrooms - these bioplastics are raising environmental awareness and proving that with innovation and action, we can help make the environment a safer place.

Heritage Pioneer continues to provide the latest news in sustainable packaging, in addition to sustainable packaging solutions and products. Contact us today to learn more.