Archive for September, 2011

Sustainable Packaging is About More than Just Avoiding Waste

Originally posted at

From drinks to toys to household goods, planet-friendly packaging has become a selling point in its own right.

Barbie Doll Display
Mattel has promised to change its sourcing policy after paper fibres from deforested regions in Indonesia were found in Barbie packaging. Photograph: Scott Houston/ Scott Houston/Sygma/Corbis

Earlier this summer in Los Angeles, Greenpeace activists unfurled a cheeky banner from the top of Mattel’s headquarters to denounce the company’s procurement of packaging materials. Testing of boxes in which Barbie dolls were packaged revealed paper fibres traced to deforested regions in Indonesia. Within a week, Mattel had pledged to change its sourcing policy and instruct its suppliers to commit to sustainable packaging. Mattel will learn from other companies that deal with a long and tangled supply chain that sustainable packaging is not only about waste diversion, but also innovation that can boost a firm’s bottom line. Companies that had long competed against each other based on product now joust for an edge based on their products’ packaging, from two-litre soft drinks bottles to laptop computers.

Consumer packaged goods (CPG) and food companies are now quick to tout the advantages that their packaging offers. Dr Pepper Snapple Group, for example, has eliminated that pesky strip from the bottom of plastic bottle caps, reduced bottleneck sizes and will decrease the amount of raw material in its bottles to create what it says will be the lightest 2-litre bottle in the beverage industry. Meanwhile Heinz has adopted the Coca-Cola plant bottle, made out of 30% cane ethanol-based plastic, for a new ketchup bottle. In Japan, a mineral water brand owned by Coca-Cola has introduced a new design that is 40% lighter, uses 30% plant-based material and easily crushes down to a size that makes it easier to transport to recycling centers.

When it comes to razors, Proctor & Gamble has stepped outside the traditional marketing tactic of adding another blade or degree of flexibility to its disposable shavers. In Europe and the UK, one Gillette-branded razor comes attached to a tray made in part from plant-based fibres. The trays are cheaper to make and their lighter weight means lower transport costs. For P&G, the benefits are a sleek design and a way to stand out in a highly competitive market. For its supplier, California-based Be Green Packaging, industry recognition is a boost for its line of Cradle-to-Cradle certified packaging.

Dell has also jumped on the sustainable packaging bandwagon. The computer manufacturer partnered with Ecovative Design, which creates shipping materials made from a fungus that feeds off agricultural waste such as rice hulls and cotton burrs. Between this and laptop trays sourced from bamboo, Dell reduced its consumption of packaging materials by 8.2 million kilos (18.2 million pounds) in 2009.

These packaging innovations offer several advantages, among them lighter materials that reduce fuel and water consumption, decreased costs, and increased consumer awareness – which in turn could increase sales. What becomes of that packaging, however, is another story. Will municipalities accept these materials into their recycling waste stream? And will consumers bother to compost that Styrofoam alternative?

The most compelling sustainable packaging options are the ones that take low-value recycling materials and transform them into high-value products. The industrial packaging company Greif and its Brazilian partner Cimplast collaborate on what they call the “Agribusiness Virtuous Cycle“. The process diverts agrochemical bottles from landfills and recycles them into pipes for new construction or remodeling projects. Meanwhile a Brazilian civil society, Earth Curators, takes plastic bottles and other scrap and “upcycles” them into affordable building materials targeted to lower- and middle-income families. While chic design will catch consumers’ attention, turning single-use products into quality building materials and high-value products that last for the long term will be the next frontier for companies and their suppliers who seek the next sustainable packaging competitive advantage.

Leon Kaye is founder and editor of

Gillette Talks About Plant Fiber Trays at PACK EXPO 2011

Gillette, Frito Lay describe impacts of packaging innovation on production efficiencies

Jenni Spinner, Senior Editor — Packaging Digest, 9/28/2011 1:27:05 AM

mike marcinkowski garry kohlAt the “Meet the Press: CPGs Innovating for Efficiency” session on Tues., Sept. 27, 2011, an assemblage of packaging leaders imparted insights on the latest trends in packaging line efficiency and flexibility to PACK EXPO Las Vegas attendees.

Mike Marcinkowski, principal engineer for research and development at The Gillette Co., sat down with Packaging Digesteditorial director John Kalkowski to discuss packaging innovation and productivity improvements at his firm. Marcinkowski shared lessons learned in Gillette’s recent development and European launch of revamped packaging for its popular Fusion ProGlide razors.

Fueled by consumer feedback, sustainability concerns and aims to boost line efficiency, Gillette swapped the razor’s traditional clamshell packaging with a formable pulp tray composed of multiple, rapidly renewable fibers (including bamboo and bulrush). The end result: a package that’s easier to open than its predecessor, more sustainable and lightweighted. Additionally, the work of the task force involved in planning, designing and rolling out the packaging helped lead to a scrap rate of approximately 1 percent.

“To get down to that 1 percent is huge,” Marcinkowski said. “That’s one of the best production rates we’re running right now—that’s a big win for us.”

Marcinkowski added that the revamped packaging has been in production in the European market for about a year and soon will be launched worldwide.

Next, Garry Kohl, senior director of packaging R&D for Frito-Lay Inc., chatted with Lisa Pierce, editor of Packaging Digest, to discuss how a multinational corporation with approximately $14 billion in sales implements packaging innovations. He told the Meet the Press audience that the amount of product the company handles in the United States alone, and the associated packaging, is staggering.

“If you took all the bags of chips we produce every year, you could create a ribbon that goes from the earth to the moon and back four times,” he said, adding that figuring in Frito Lay’s global sales causes that figure to double.

Determining ways to improve efficiencies and implement those processes at a large company can be challenging, Kohl said. Streamlining existing operations and other methods can help toward achieving those goals, but technology is a big part of making it happen.

“It’s the technology that’s going to drive us forward, and we need partners that are going to help us do that,” Kohl said “Technology can help us make our products faster, with the same quality that we’ve always had going forward.”

The Meet the Press session was presented as part of the IoPP Packaging Learning Center Conference at PACK EXPO. To glimpse more of the insights offered by experts at the show regarding packaging line efficiency, flexibility and other pressing issues, be sure to check out the continuing coverage in Packaging Digest’.

Genji Sushi Wins Responsible Packaging Award for Use of Be Green Packaging Trays

Be Green Packaging would like to congratulate longtime client and collaborator Genji Sushi for winning a Responsible Packaging Award from the Responsible Packaging Project!

Genji Team

Genji Sushi Honored with Responsible Packaging Award

Company Recognized for Its Patented 100% Compostable Sushi Tray by Leading Industry Body
Philadelphia, PA, September 26, 2011 –(– Genji Sushi, purveyor of all-natural sushi and Japanese cuisine at 137 Whole Foods Markets on the East Coast and in San Francisco, is proud to announce it is the recipient of a Responsible Packaging Award from the Responsible Packaging Project. Genji was recognized for its patented 100% tree-free compostable sushi tray, which was co-developed with partner Be Green Packaging, LLC. The Award was presented at the Natural Products Expo in Baltimore, MD on September 24, 2011.“We are honored to receive this award from the Responsible Packaging Project,” said Ken Blakeman, Director of Marketing, Genji, Inc. “Our commitment to sustainability and earth-friendly practices is central to our mission, and we are proud to be praised for our efforts.”

The Responsible Packaging Awards recognize organic and natural industry achievements and innovations in environmentally responsible packaging, including materials reduction, the use of 100% post-consumer recycled, non-GMO, compostable and third party certified packaging and packaging that is returnable for reuse, easily recycled or reused by the end user. Nominees are evaluated on criteria in three areas: commitment to transparency, extended producer responsibility and ecological systems design principles.

The Awards are co-sponsored by the Responsible Packaging Project, a non-profit collaboration of the Food Trade Sustainability Leadership Association, Independent Natural Foods Retail Association, National Cooperative Grocers Association, New Hope Natural Media, Organic Trade Association, United Natural Foods Inc. and Whole Foods Market’s Green Mission.

The Awards ceremony was held on September 24, 2011 at 12:00PM in room 322 at the Baltimore Convention Center during the Natural Products Expo in East Baltimore, MD. To learn more, please visit

About Genji Sushi

Established in 1997, Genji Sushi is dedicated to the finest quality all-natural sushi and Japanese-inspired cuisine in a grab‐and‐go style. Its sushi bars are located within 138 Whole Foods Market locations in 18 states and the District of Columbia, as well as the U.K. At each location, skilled chefs prepare a variety of fresh items on‐site, including raw, cooked, vegetarian and vegan-friendly sushi and sides. The company mission is to contribute towards healthier food consumption habits on a global level. For more information, visit

About Be Green Packaging

Be Green Packaging LLC, based out of Santa Barbara, Calif., manufactures and distributes Cradle to Cradle certified, tree-free, compostable, recyclable, and non-GMO packaging for the food and consumer packaging industries. The company’s products are made from annually renewable plant fibers that are safe for people and healthy for the planet. For more information about the company, please visit

Ridgeland Updates Sept. 21st, 2011

September has been an exciting month for Be Green in South Carolina.  Distribution operations officially began on Sept. 1st, 2011 and have been running smoothly under the combined oversight of Johnny McGill, Julian Carbajal, and Brian Reesee (see more pictures of the distribution operations here).  Julian will be heading down to Ridgeland later this week to oversee Shipping, Logistics, and Development of the new facility.

unloading container be green
distribution warehouse be green
forklift loading be green

forklift brian be green

In addition to running distribution operations and developing the plant in the run up to manufacturing operations, Johnny and Brian have also been hard at work instating the facility’s recycling program.  Jasper county has a phenomenal, extensive recycling program and Be Green plans to take full advantage of it in line with the stated goal of becoming a waste-free facility.  In the last two weeks, the facility has developed a comprehensive recyclable material sorting system that will help to minimize or eliminate any potential waste generated by day to day office and distribution operations.

recycling containers be green
product samples be green

Rather than relying on loud, noisy lawnmower machines to keep up the lands surrounding the facility, Be Green CEO Ron Blitzer has insisted that goats be brought in to tend the land.  Aside from becoming informal company mascots, the two goats, tentatively named “Be” and “Green”, will be supplying local artisanal cheese makers with fresh milk (just kidding).  In all seriousness though, “Be” and “Green” will help close the loop and keep the plant as close to a self-sustaining “cradle to cradle” system as possible.

composting be green

As of early last week, composting operations are also up and running at the plant, handling all on site food scraps and appropriate distribution waste.  For those interested in learning more about composting, we would like to offer our company Composting Toolkit for download from the link below.  Simply right click and select “Save as” from the drop down menu.  Then choose a location to save the file.  You may also simply click on the file linked below to view it within your browser (not all browsers support this feature).

Download: Be Green Packaging Compost Toolkit

Sustainability 2.0: Be Green Packaging and the Triple Bottom Line

Author’s Note:  This article is the product of a series of conversations that took place throughout July & August 2011 with Ron Blitzer, Robert Richman, and Eva Van Wingerden.  It covers topics such as sustainability, philanthropy, the triple bottom line philosophy, and how these subjects relate to the company’s forthcoming manufacturing plant in Ridgeland, South Carolina.

By Justin Faerman

The phenomena that define this era in history– climate change, globalization, the continual growth of the internet—prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that indeed all things on this planet are interconnected.  Nature weaves a rich tapestry of life that, when uninterrupted by human influence, maintains perfect balance, thriving and adapting indefinitely.  Businesses wishing to do just that – thrive and adapt – are beginning to mimic the interconnectedness of nature by considering all the ways in which their actions affect not only their bottom line, but society and the environment as a whole.  This approach to business, known as the triple bottom line philosophy, is fostering a new generation of companies that consider people and the planet of equal importance as profitability.

As a founding principle of the company, Be Green Packaging, LLC.’s current business model has been shaped in thought and practice by adherence to the triple bottom line philosophy.  “Embracing the environment and social equity in addition to profitability is part of our overarching goal of being a truly holistic, sustainable enterprise,” said Ron Blitzer, CEO, of the company’s ideals.  “Our ongoing contributions to international microcredit NGO’s such as the Whole Planet Foundation and various other charitable bodies is a concrete example of the importance we place on the larger societal context of our business.”

The company also maintains annual financial contributions to the Community Environmental Council and the Organic Center, two non-governmental organizations dedicated to furthering the ideals of the environmental and organic food movements, respectively.  Additionally, the company donates its line of compostable and recyclable plant based food packaging to organizations such as the Organic Soup Kitchen, Art from Scrap, and various local schools and universities, among others, on an ongoing basis.

“We like to support businesses and organizations which we feel are working towards positive social change,” commented Eva Van Wingerden, Director of Eco-Social Initiatives, on the company’s outreach efforts.  “These groups are more often than not operating on a shoestring budget and we try to help them out in whatever way we can.  Due to the nature of our business, it often makes the most sense to simply donate our product.”

In addition to its social outreach efforts, the company has acquired a comprehensive list of independent, 3rd party eco-certifications from some of the world’s most progressive environmental organizations.  “We can sit here all day and talk about how great our products are, but unless there is hard scientific data to back it up, it’s essentially just hype.  That is why we go to the lengths we do to get all of our products tested and certified by independent organizations.” stated Blitzer of the company’s efforts.

Be Green currently holds certifications from the Cradle to Cradlecm Products Innovation Institute, Western Michigan University’s Recycling Program, the Biodegradable Product’s Institute, the Non-GMO Project, and the USDA BioPreferred Program, among others.  The company also successfully completed its first AIB audit, which is a comprehensive review of the health and safety of its primary food contact manufacturing facility.

“Although we commonly view these eco-certifications as commitments to the environment, in truth, there are major social aspects to them as well.  At the end of the day, we are all dependent on healthy, functioning ecosystems, so protecting those through strict environmental policies also means we are indirectly supporting the future of the communities who rely on those ecosystem services for their livelihood.”  said Robert Richman, Chairman and President of Manufacturing at Be Green.   “Because we use annually renewable, wild-harvested plants as the basis of our products, we create ongoing industries around the harvesting of our pulp materials that create long-term, sustainable jobs.”

Be Green is currently in the process of bringing a swath of green jobs to Ridgeland, South Carolina, where it is developing the nations first plant fiber packaging manufacturing facility.  “We are committed to supporting the local community in Jasper county.  We realize that this area has been hit hard by the recession and that its residents are looking to us a source of hope for the future,” stated Blitzer when asked about the company’s goals in the area.  “It is a big responsibility and we are going to do everything within our power to provide as many jobs as possible and bring continued growth to the region.”  Ron went on to stress that although Be Green is seriously committed to the area, that residents should not expect things to change over night.  “Integrating ourselves into the area is a process that will evolve as our business in the area matures and grows.  We know everyone is very excited about our presence in the community.  We only ask that you have patience with us as these things take time to develop.”

Clearly, the triple bottom line philosophy is working well for the company.   With manufacturing operations on two continents and a growing list of clients that include notable companies such as P&G and Whole Foods Market, business is thriving.  “Our commitment to progressive environmental and social ideals has been critical to our success.” commented Blitzer.  “I hope that our business model serves to demonstrate that it is possible to embrace the principles of sustainability without compromising profitability.”

Ridgeland Distribution Updates (Pictures)

johnny forklift

Operations Manager Johnny using the forklift to transfer palette's around the warehouse

ridgeland distribution

The warehouse is beginning to fill up with palette's of product

brian forklift

Brian Reesee commanding the forklift, one of his many talents

fedex distribution

Johhny working with FedEx

be green south carolina team

The Be Green Ridgeland team

Distribution + Composting Update

On Sept. 1st, 2011, Be Green packaging began distribution operations from its Ridgeland, SC manufacturing plant.  Over the last week, the factory has begun to fill up with products and the once quiet warehouse is now bustling with activity.  Eva Van Wingerden, Director of Eco-Social Initiatives at Be Green, spent the last week in South Carolina training Viola Heyward for her new position as Senior Mailroom Administrator.  Eva also worked closely with Floor Manager & Forklift Operator Brian Reesee to get the plants’ composting operations up and running.

Check back often for updates on the development of Be Greens’ Ridgeland facility.

South Carolina + Jasper County Welcome Be Green Packaging

Governor Nikki Haley along with Jasper County and South Carolina business and political leaders come together on July 14th, 2011 to welcome Be Green Packaging to the state.

Order Be Green Packaging Products Now From Our Web Store

Be Green Packaging offers a complete foodservice line of compostable, recyclable, and biodegradable food packaging. Order now at the Be Green Packaging Store

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Be Green Packaging designs, manufactures and distributes Cradle to Cradle™ certified, tree-free, compostable packaging for the food and consumer packaging industries that is safe for people and healthy for the planet.

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About Be Green Packaging

Be Green Packaging designs, manufactures and distributes Cradle to Cradle™ certified, tree-free, compostable packaging for the consumer packaging industries that is safe for people and healthy for the planet.