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DuPont is throwing its weight behind a push for global sustainability standards. The company revealed its support for the standards as part of its recent 2009 DuPont Packaging Awards event.
“The biggest reason [for such standards] is to try to change the mindset of industry and consumers,” says William Weber, VP and general manager of DuPont Packaging and Industrial polymers. “[We need] common standards that are simple enough for consumers to make buying decisions.”
However, Julian Carroll, managing director of European Organization for Packaging and the Environment (EUROPEN), says there is conflict between regulators, the public and companies over what packaging go use.
“How do we measure which packaging is better?” he asked at the virtual conference. “How can companies assure themselves they are on the right track to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging?”
A CEO forum is being organised with the help of Europen to come up with harmonised principles and common definitions. In the long term, 150 CEOs will be asked to put together global standards based on common definitions.
Carroll says the lack of common standards could cause problems in the marketplace. For instance, one retail store could choose packaging it feels is most sustainable, with another could have different ideas, presenting a problem for a packaging supplier who must somehow satisfy both.
There is also the risk of unilateral action by regulators in one area that might not be compatible with laws in another.
DuPont brought the sustainability issue to its business strategy 10 years ago, according to Weber. Now the firm has a VP in charge of sustainability, Linda Fisher. Weber is responsible for sustainability in performance resins.
DuPont identifies four strategies for sustainability in packaging.
* Use reneweable resources.
* Improve end-of-life alternatives through additives and other means for composting, recycling and waste-to-energy methods.
* Reduce material use.
* Reduce general environmental impact, for examples using less energy or reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Sustainability issues were prominent among the winners of DuPont’s 2009 awards. The following are plastics related winners.
* Shampoo bottle and cap by Estee Lauder. The Aveda bottle contains 80 to 96% post-consumer recycled high density polyethylene, depending on the model. The bottle is made by Matrix Packaging. Estee Lauder also started up a bottle cap recycling program. Its caps are made of 100% recycled polypropylene moulded by Seaquist.
* Ecolean Group’s lightweight aseptic packaging cuts package weight by 50%. The use of calcium carbonate in the packaging reduces the amount of polymer needed in the structure.
* Healthy Choice frozen food trays from ConAgra contain 40% recycled PET.
* Polybag replaces corrugated packaging for multipack detergent pouches in Proctor & Gamble’s markets in Belgium and Turkey. The polyethylene bags cut weight by 80% and volume compression by 20%.
* Standup pouches replace glass for Bertolli Pasta Sauce from Unilever, reducing material use by 70%. The pouch is microwaveable and protects contents from oxygen. Pouch materials are made by Amcor.
* Prilosec Pill Pack from Proctor & Gamble doubles the number of pills on a blister card to cut waste in packaging. The cards are made by Alcan.
* Redesigned 20 liter drums from Australia-based A&C Packers have a new barrier structure and is reusable with a five-year life for agricultural chemicals. The new design aids stacking and cube efficiency by 30%. At end of life the drums are recycled into items such as drain pipes.