Archive for November, 2011

Opportunity Green Highlights Reel 2011

Opportunity Green 2011 Highlight Reel from Opportunity Green on Vimeo.

Among this years speakers and attendees were Be Green CEO Ron Blitzer, who spoke on a panel about the sustainable packaging industry/market and what it means to be a triple bottom line company in todays marketplace.

Be Green Packaging Releases its 2011 Sustainability Report

2011 scorecard reportSANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Be Green Packaging today announced the release of its 2011 Sustainability Report.  The document is an annual report that systematically tracks the company’s progress towards
innovative social, environmental, and economic goals.  Be Green’s internal sustainability goals are based on the triple bottom line philosophy, which is a holistic paradigm for measuring organizational success.  This method of internal accounting places environmental stewardship and social responsibility on an equal footing with profitability in terms of overall importance to the organizations bottom line.  The company, which manufactures compostable and recyclable packaging from renewable plant fibers, has maintained a strong commitment to the principles of sustainability since its inception in early 2007.

Download the report here: 2011 Sustainability Report

This years report covers the progress attained during the preceding (2009-2010) fiscal year.  In this period, the company reported improvement in nearly all of the 20 different parameters measured covering social, environmental, and economic goals.  Steps taken this past year include the hiring of independent, 3rd-party organizations such as AIB (American Institute of Baking) and Intertek to conduct internal food safety and workplace conditions audits and the reduction of shipping waste by switching to 100% post-consumer recycled cartons, among others.  The company is currently working towards various long-term goals such as achieving zero-net carbon emissions from production, expanding its eco-advisory board, and acquiring additional environmental and social/workplace responsibility certifications from various independent organizations.

“This report is a way for us to integrate internal operations and external sales and marketing,” stated Megan Havrda, Chairwoman of Be Green’s Eco-Advisory Board. “We hope that it will provide the public with a comprehensive understanding of our company’s values and efforts to adhere to and further the triple bottom line philosophy in our industry.”

In July of this year, Be Green announced that it would be opening the first plant fiber packaging manufacturing facility in the United States in Ridgeland, South Carolina.  Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Clemente Pinckney made a visit to the 90,000-sq. ft. facility to welcome the company to the state and acknowledge the significant green job creation efforts that will accompany the plants’ development.

As of Sept. 1st, 2011, warehousing and distribution operations have begun, with manufacturing operations expected to begin Quarter I 2012.  CEO Ron Blitzer’s vision for the plant includes extensive sourcing of pulp from the local farms and suppliers in the surrounding communities and efforts to make the facility as close to 100% waste-free as possible.  Data from the upcoming plant will be integrated into Be Green’s upcoming 2012 Sustainability Report.

Be Green Packaging LLC, based in Santa Barbara, Calif., manufactures and distributes Cradle to Cradlecm certified, tree-free, compostable 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

Be Green Packaging Social Mission (Video)

Highlights of recent Be Green company milestones. Governor Nikki Haley talks about what Be Green brings to South Carolina with the first plant fiber packaging manufacturing facility in the US.

Jon Fisher: How Green Is Compostable Packaging?

Jon Fisher of The Nature Conservancy recently released this excellent article on the sustainability of green packaging, which addresses some common questions that people often have about compostable products.  Jon makes some important distinctions between PLA (corn based ‘biodegradable’ plastics) and plant fiber based products, such as the one Be Green manufactures.

– Justin Faerman

How Green Is Compostable Packaging?

By Jon Fisher, The Nature Conservancy

I was recently asked a question about “compostable” food packaging being used by some grocers like Trader Joe’s and how “green” they are. As a scientist who strives to be as green as possible, this is the kind of question that keeps me up at night! So I thought it would be fun to research.

The short, scientific answer is that skipping packaging entirely is best if possible, but otherwise for most consumers the compostable containers are probably slightly better than traditional plastics (with several caveats, explained below).

It probably comes as no surprise that it’s better to buy produce that comes unpackaged — e.g., buy your grains or beans in bulk rather than in small bags. This practice is especially true if you skip putting the produce in a plastic bag or reuse the bags or Tupperware you use to bring them home (I give plastic bags a quick rinse and hang them to dry in the kitchen).

Do your onions or lemons (or any produce with skin that keeps it fresh) really need their own bag, or can they just go in the shopping cart and then in your tote bag before being unpacked at home?

But sometimes produce doesn’t come in bulk (e.g. berries), and some stores package produce that doesn’t need it. So if no packaging isn’t an option, the question remains as to whether or not “compostable” containers are better than traditional plastic. There are several factors to consider.

First, there are two basic kinds of compostable containers:

  1. The ones that look like natural plant fiber, such as the packages Whole Foods uses for their salad bar. These are often made from bamboo, grass, sugar cane or other similar materials. They are tree-free, typically break down in a home composter within a month or two (my vermicomposter takes about a month) and are always a great option.
  2. The ones that look like plastic are usually corn-based polylactic acid (PLA), can’t be recycled and can only be composted in a special commercial facility.

The traditional plastic containers at the grocery store are typically #1 plastic (PET). So those are sometimes, but not always, recyclable.

It’s a plus if the container didn’t require petroleum to manufacture, since that helps wean us off of oil (although there is some concern that increasing global demand for corn for PLA and ethanol is driving higher food costs). Both kinds of compostable containers also typically require less energy to produce (e.g. PLA requires about 25-51 percent less energy than conventional plastics).

What are the disposal options for each of these packages? See the chart on the next page for a quick synopsis.

Compostable Recyclable Time in Landfill
Fiber Yes Sometimes, see Note 3 Slow to degrade
PLA Sometimes, see Note 1 No Very slow to degrade
Plastic No Sometimes, see Note 2 Very slow to degrade

There are some new methods being studied to sort out PLA using near-infrared light or black light, so that you could just recycle these compostable containers with your other plastics, and leave it to the facility to figure out how to properly dispose of it.

But for now, follow these rules:

  1. Bring your own reusable bags or containers to the store when they do offer unpackaged produce or other items so you don’t need to use new bags
  2. Please consider asking companies like Trader Joe’s to eliminate packaging for some of their produce that doesn’t need it, and failing that, to accept back their compostable containers for proper disposal.
  3. Look for a convenient place near you to take compostable containers (try health food stores or
  4. If you don’t compost at home yet, give it a try! It works great for fiber containers.
  5. If you can’t find a place to compost PLA, but can recycle the kinds of containers you get at the store, consider buying (and recycling) plastic containers instead.

Note 1: Not compostable at home, but ask at your local health food store if they accept drop-offs to ship to an industrial composting facility. You can also try

Note 2: Many recycling facilities have restrictions on recycling #1 or #2 plastics. They often don’t take “clamshell” containers (even if they say they take #1/#2), and only accept narrow neck bottles. Call your facility to check.

Note 3: Most communities don’t recycle fiber with food contamination, but if your fiber container is clean (e.g. you only used it for product without dressing) you can recycle it as cardboard. If you can recycle pizza boxes in your area, you should be able to recycle the fiber containers no matter what.

Jon Fisher is a data management specialist for The Nature Conservancy, the world’s leading conservation organization. He has studied forestry, environmental biology, stream ecology, environmental engineering and how technology and spatial analysis can improve wildlife management at airports. He also loves to cook delicious vegan foodOpinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Nature Conservancy.
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Be Green CEO Ron Blitzer to Speak On Panel at 2011 Opportunity Green Conference: Los Angeles

Opportunity Green is an annual gathering of visionaries, inventors, industry leaders, and professionals from a wide variety of fields who share a common goal of bettering the planet through an innovative approach to business centered around the triple bottom line philosophy.  The triple bottom line philosophy is a method of measuring organizational success that places social and environmental responsibility on par with profitability.

From the Opportunity Green Manifesto:

Opportunity Green inspires a collaborative culture of new thinking and unconventional ideas that pushes change in unexpected ways.

We’re not about business as usual. We facilitate the movement to transform business for good, through advancing change and market transformation by providing open-minded professionals unprecedented approaches to sustainability that are bankable and exciting. In everything we do, we seek to balance the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit.

Our purpose is to fill your head with knowledge you can use: ideas, new trends, amazing ingenuity. We seek to create forums diverse in content that generate dialogue and create valuable connections between individuals. This revolves around helping transform business as usual by partnering with extraordinary visionaries, forward thinkers, creative industry leaders and companies committed to building profitable + sustainable enterprises while solving some of the world’s toughest problems.

We believe in collaboration with individuals and organizations that look to push the envelope by creating a mutually supportive community that is invested in the future of our society and acts as a catalyst for positive change.

Be Green CEO Ron Blitzer has been asked to speak on a panel at this years event, which will be held on November 10-11th, 2011 at Los Angeles Center Studios.

Ron Blitzer

CEO & CoFounder
Be Green Packaging 

Ron Blitzer (CEO/Co Founder) of Be Green Packaging LLC. Be Green Packaging,) designs, manufacturers, and distributes Cradle-to-Cradle™ certified, tree-free, compostable packaging for both the food and industrial/retail packaging industries. Blitzer has been in the packaging, beverage, retail food, and distribution business since 1982. A serial entrepreneur Blitzer founded American Softserve Systems Inc., which manufactured and distributed softserve ice creams and yogurts under license to ARCO am/pm Mini Markets. In the mid 1990’s he started a chain of organic juice and smoothie bars in San Francisco called Re Juice A Nation. He was a co-founder of Bank of Santa Barbara in 2007. He is a trustee of National Jewish Hospital in Denver and was appointed by President George HW Bush to a select committee for White House Fellows in 1991. Mr. Blitzer has a BA from UCLA and a MBA from the University of New Haven. Blitzer lives in Santa Barbara with his wife of 28 years and their only child studies music at the California Institute of the Arts.

Be Green Packaging is currently building the nations first plant fiber mold and pulping operation in Ridgeland SC. In August of 2011 Be Green Packaging was honored with a Diamond Award for Packaging by DuPont for their work with Gillette on their Fusion Proglide package. In October P&G awarded the company with their “Changing Lives-Touching Lives” award recognizing the companies values and community relationships.

California Attorney General Goes After Questionable ‘Biodegradable Plastic’ Bottles

Posted by Lisa McTigue Pierce — Packaging Digest, 10/26/2011 9:03:37 AM

[ McClatchy-Tribune Information Services • 2011-10-26 ]

By Paul Rogers, San Jose Mercury News, Calif.

In a move that could have a major impact on the recycling industry, California Attorney General Kamala Harris will sue three national companies that make plastic bottles or sell bottled water in California, contending that they illegally claim their bottles are “biodegradable.”

The lawsuit to be filed Wednesday, seeks to have tens of thousands of bottles of Aquamantra and Balance Water removed from supermarket shelves immediately. It asserts that the bottles used by those brands do not actually decompose naturally and that they contaminate other types of recycled plastic. Further, the suit states that their green-sounding labels could lead to increased littering if consumers believe that tossed bottles will decompose like apple cores or banana peels.

“The manufacturers of these bottles are taking advantage of Californians’ concern for their environment,” Harris said. “Consumers are led to believe they are being environmentally friendly by choosing these bottles. In fact, they could be further damaging our natural resources.”

The court action, filed in Orange County Superior Court, names ENSO Plastics, a bottle-maker based in Mesa, Ariz., along with the retail companies that sell bottled water: Aquamantra, of Dana Point, and Balance Water, of West Orange, N.J.

The products of all three companies are found in stores across California and other states, including major grocery chains such as Whole Foods and Albertson’s.

The complaint notes that in 2008, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law that bans the use of the term “biodegradable” on any plastic food or beverage packaging.

The law, by former Assemblyman Mark Desaulnier, D-Walnut Creek, came after concerns that companies were making claims about container materials that could not be scientifically supported.

Martin Chalk, a spokesman for Balance Water, said the company has been in contact with the attorney general’s office.

“It’s particularly frustrating,” he said. “We’re trying to do something good, but if it’s determined that we haven’t done enough research, then we’ll switch bottles.”

Chalk declined to answer specific questions about the bottles, such as how long they take to decompose, whether they break down into the same basic organic components as food or whether they contaminate the waste stream when mixed with other types of plastic bottles.

He referred specific questions to ENSO, the company that manufactures the bottles used by Balance Water.

Representatives for ENSO and for Aquamantra did not return calls seeking comment.

One of the state’s leading recycling advocacy groups cheered the action, saying it could resonate nationwide.

“We’re very happy that the attorney general’s office is moving forward with this issue,” said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, a Sacramento environmental group. “The public has been deceived by this false environmental marketing, and we’re hopeful that this action will discourage others from making similar false environmental claims.”

Breakdown issues
In its marketing materials, ENSO claims its bottles “biodegrade in anaerobic (landfill) environments, breaking down through microbial action into biogases and inert humus, leaving behind no harmful materials.”

But Murray said studies have shown that the type of plastic used in ENSO’s bottles—basic PET plastic, which is mixed with a microbial additive—doesn’t really decompose the way natural materials do.

“We are not adding nutrients to the soil when these things break down,” he said. “We are simply breaking the plastic into smaller and smaller pieces so it can’t be seen.”

Bottles deemed “biodegradable” are different from “plant-based” plastic bottles recently embraced by Coca-Cola, Odwalla juice, Heinz ketchup and a number of other companies.

Plant-based bottles are nearly identical to typical plastic bottles, which have the number 1 on the bottom but are made from sugar cane, corn and other materials instead of oil. They also can be recycled with traditional plastic, Murray said, while the “biodegradable” bottles have proved problematic.

“Even in small percentages, like one-tenth of one percent, these are just catastrophic for us,” said Ed Byrne, CEO of Peninsula Packaging in Visalia. “They melt at different temperatures. They ruin our products.”

Byrne’s company, which buys flaked plastic from No. 1 PET bottles and turns them into clear plastic clamshell containers for strawberries, muffins, salads and other foods, said the biodegradable plastic causes the newly made containers to have slimy streaks.

“For anybody involved in the recycling stream,” Byrne said of the lawsuit, “this will be good news.”

(c)2011 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

Visit the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at
Distributed by MCT Information Services

Be Green Supports the Santa Barbara Community Environmental Council

The Santa Barbara Community Environmental Council held its annual Green Gala Fundraiser on October 21st, 2011 at the historic Santa Barbara Armory.  Among this years attendees was Be Green Packaging, who supports the CEC’s mission by annually sponsoring a table at the event.  Be Green is aligned both in principal and vision with the mission of the CEC:

“CEC’s mission is to identify, advocate, raise awareness, and develop effective programs to solve the most pressing environmental issues that affect the Santa Barbara region. We currently focus all of our energy on building a community-based movement that transitions the region off of fossil fuels in one generation — Fossil Free by ’33.”

The CEC is a highly visible organization in the Santa Barbara community and works tirelessly to educate and promote awareness of the principles of sustainability.  Be Green is proud to support the Community Environmental Council in its outreach efforts.

cec green gala

Be Green Staff Green Gala

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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.