New content coming soon! PET recycling in Europe, Bioplastics, and Benefit Corporations

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Aug 7, 2015 8:53:00 AM

Hello my long lost packaging and sustainability friends!

Pardon my absence! But fear not! New content is coming VERY soon.

In early July I received an inquiry from one of our customers over the recyclability of PET thermoformed trays in Europe; are they, or are they not, recyclable?

I honestly had no idea! I know near and dear the state of recyclability of PET thermoformed containers in North America (hurray!), but insofar as in other countries, I had close to nothing.

So I reached out to my network: My next post to discuss the state of postconsumer PET thermoform packaging recycling in Europe as per the good people at Reclay Stewardedge, RECOUP, and PETCORE Europe.

Fast-forward to my interview with Dr. Molly Morse, CEO of Mango Materials, on methane based bioplastic PHA. She is AWESOME and actually speaks faster than I type; I had to keep telling her to slow down during our phone call! Her enthusiasm for what she does is palpable; it was so cool learning her story. ANYWAY, speaking with Molly made me realize how confusing the topic of "bioplastics" is, and I am somewhat well versed on the available bioplastic materials for thermoforming. What is the difference between PLA and PHA? What is the difference between biobased materials and biodegradable materials? Are all bioplastics biodegradable? What are the larger implications for bioplastics on global food supply and carbon cycles? The list of questions goes on and on.

And light bulb! I pitched the idea for an article on "bioplastics, exposed" to Lisa Pierce at Packaging Digest Magazine and she loved it! So, look out for my next article for Packaging Digest Magazine on bioplastics for thermoforming (and a lot of other cool stuff) in early September.

Last but not least, at the Sustainable Manufacturer Conference in May I watched a presentation from Saskia van Gendt, Captain Planet at Method's new plant in the historic Pullman District on the Southside of Chicago. Check out this article about Method's green soap box, and here is a recent article about their 100% postconsumer recycled PET detergent bottles. Needless to say, they are kinda the cool cats of the "green" cleaning products space, and Saskia's presentation only reinforced this reputation. And it was during her presentation that I first learned of the concept of a Benefit Corporation; that is, a type of for profit company that includes positive social and environmental impact in addition to profit as it's legally defined goals. In other words, B Corps don't operate under the Milton Friedman notion that the only social responsibility of a company is to increase profit for the shareholders, but instead, encourages doing socially and environmentally responsible business while making profit. And I think that is radical. So I am actually interviewing Saskia today about Method's status as a Benefit Corporation to learn everything I can about this new business method; blog post on B Corps. to come!