My goal was to involve stakeholders in all aspects of the process to
get a holistic view of the current state of the sustainable squeeze pack
industry. A more complete view and understanding of where we were
starting would let us build a better, a more realistic outline of our
squeeze pack sustainability road map. We decided to include the entire lifecycle of a food packaging product by inviting bio-resin suppliers, film converters, manufacturers (including competitors), grocery
retailers, film additive companies and compost/trash gurus.
We started by creating a list of all companies that use squeeze packs
for food packaging and began making calls, asking questions and inviting them to participate. If we could get enough manufacturer support,
we could demonstrate the need for stronger research for resin and
film converters to focus and drive innovation for squeeze pack film
sustainability. Top of our list was a company that could change the
entire playing field with its support: Heinz, which produces over 11
billion squeeze packs of ketchup each year.
We invited many competing global brands to participate, so we’d
hear all sides: good or bad, we didn’t care—we just wanted to gather
the smartest people on this topic. Our list included everyone from
Whole Foods, Walmart and Cargill (who sent representatives) to Clif
Bar and Heinz (who declined), as well as Taco Bell, Safeway and Frito
Lay, just to name a few. We made lots of calls (many of them unreturned) and worked toward making this an industry-wide collaboration. I was overwhelmed with all the interest we were receiving, yet still
wondered why not everyone joined the effort.
Putting Plans Into Action
On October 6, 2010, leaders of the industry were invited to a
round-table discussion on what we collectively wanted to achieve over
the next few days. Company representatives included ADM, Cargill,
CP Packaging, Flextec, GU Energy, Label Technology, Nest Collective,
Nestlé-PowerBar, Walmart, White Wave and Whole Foods Market.
As a team, we laid down the groundwork for the following day’s discussions. The first item of business was to agree on a goal we could all
get behind. It was easy for the group as a whole to support the need
for renewably sourced film resin that is 100 percent compostable. But
again, “Where do we start?”
The answer to that question was answered almost as easily: We
would start with the beginning-of-life challenges, by focusing on where
the resin comes from to solve the sustainability aspect first. Where the
film ends up (its end of life) is just as important, but this would have
to be a long-term goal. There are additives available today that can be
added to PET to make it more biodegradable. But considering that industrial and home composting infrastructure is still developing and
how new that technology is, it made more sense to focus on sourcing
renewable resin first.
Our squeeze pack structure requires an excellent oxygen and water
barrier with a strong enough sealant layer to prevent bursting seals.
The current squeeze pack film has three barriers that are laminated
together: an outer layer with our re-
verse-printed graphics, metalized bar-
rier and sealant.
“And, We’re Off!”
The summit officially kicked off on
October 7, 2010, with over 50 attendees tuned into the first live streaming online presentation on the
consumer impact of packaging, led by
advertising legend Alex Bogusky, former creative director of Crispin,
Porter + Bogusky advertising agency.
Next was a planetary impact presentation by Hunter Lovins, a world-renowned environmental evangelist
named Time magazine’s Hero of the
Planet (2000) and Newsweek’s Green
Business Icon (2008), and co-author
of Natural Capitalism and the recently
published Climate Capitalism.
Following these two inspiring
speakers were retailer presentations
by Jim McConnell from Whole Foods
Market and Catherine Greener from
Cleargreen Advisors, who is a member of Walmart’s sustainability and
Lastly was a technical panel discussion with film and packaging manufacturers, including David Stanton
from Nature Works, David Bankson
from Label Technology, Jeff Collins
from Flextec, Daniel Gilliand of Mirel
Plastics and Bob Sinclair from ECM.
After the presentations wrapped
up, a heated group discussion covered topics ranging from the rationality of using genetically modified
organisms as a source of bio-film to
the ethics of using a food sugar for
packaging instead of feeding humans
to the soil-safety impact of mixing ad-