Packaging Digest

Seventh Generation Pouches, Recyclable PESeventh Generation is committed to achieving zero waste by 2020, and sustainable packaging is a key element in its strategy. Most recently, the company switched to a packaging design for dishwasher-detergent pods that offers all the functionality of conventional flexible packaging—and is also 100% recyclable.

The new package for Seventh Generation Natural Dishwasher Detergent Packs is a resealable stand-up pouch made entirely from polyethylene. Accredo Packaging Inc. makes the pouches using existing pouch-making equipment and decorates them using reverse-print flexography. Resin and the RecycleReady Technology for the packaging was developed by Dow Chemical Co.

The film for the pouches comprises “multiple layers of polyethylene,” explains Stacy Fields, North American director for packaging solutions at Dow. “There’s a combination of high-density, low-density or linear low.”

By combining HDPE, LDPE or LLDPE in the package structure, Seventh Generation Inc. and its partners achieved the sealability, toughness, stiffness and aesthetics required for the pouch—plus recyclability.

The back of each pouch is printed with the How2Recycle Store Drop-off label from GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC). This graphic explains to consumers that clean, dry pouches can be recycled at plastic-bag and -film drop-off locations at supermarkets and other retail stores.

The recyclable pouch, now in national distribution, launched in September 2015 in a 20-count format. A 45-count pouch is rolling out currently.

“Before we launched this pack, about 8% of our consumer complaints were around non-recyclability of the pack, so this addresses a good portion of our consumer complaints” about the product, says Derrick Lawrence, director of packaging development for Seventh Generation. He adds that the old package “was a PET/LLDPE adhesive laminate structure, a more typical stand-up pouch structure.”

Malcolm Cohn, director of sustainability at Accredo, explains, “The significance of that is a polyester/polyethylene lamination, as a co-mingled structure, or a multimaterial structure, cannot be recycled. It has to go to landfill.” In contrast, “the new structures used by Seventh Generation can be recycled through store drop-off.”

And yet, seen from the front, the old and new pouches look nearly identical. Polyethylene is ordinarily hazier than polyester, which could have affected the transparency of the pouch’s window and dulled its print finish.

To overcome that challenge, “Accredo did a lot of work with Dow to get the resin mix right—to get it as bright and shiny as possible so it would be less noticeable to the consumer that we made a change,” Lawrence says.

The next phase of the project, a redesign of the pouch’s graphics, is expected to roll out in March. When that happens, Seventh Generation will add educational information to its website to get consumers up to speed on the pouch’s recyclability. SPC is expected to add consumer-facing info about the package to its site, as well.

Seventh Generation had previously communicated to its consumers the various sustainability benefits of stand-up pouches. But until now, the company could not tout the package’s recyclability. “We spent lots of time educating consumers on why we were in that pack,” Lawrence says. The addition of recyclability “helps us button up the story on the end of life for that pack, as well.”

Packaging World

The new pouch is a multilayer PE structure that provides functional and aesthetic advantages comparable to a mixed-material structure, but solves the recycling challenge.

Plant-based household cleaning products company Seventh Generation of Burlington, VT, has a notable track record for innovation around eco-friendly packaging. In 2010, the company launched a high-density polyethylene bottle for its dish liquid and fabric softener products that featured 96% post-consumer recycled content—a quantum leap over the 25% recycled content typically found in plastic packaging at the time. In 2011, it became the first commercial user of a fully recyclable paper-based bottle for its concentrated liquid laundry detergent. And in late 2015, it began using a 100-oz HDPE laundry detergent bottle that replaces the 20% virgin petroleum-based plastic needed for strength with a plastic resin made from sugarcane.

Today, almost 100% of its HDPE bottles are made entirely from recycled content; all of its PET bottles are 100% rPET; and work is being done to increase the PCR content of its polypropylene caps as well.

These developments have all served to help Seventh Generation move closer to its 2020 sustainability goals around packaging, which include replacing all virgin petroleum-based plastics with recycled or bio-based materials, and making all of its packaging recyclable.

Until recently one packaging format that proved especially challenging from a recycling standpoint was the stand-up pouch used for the company’s Dishwasher Detergent Packs. Made from a mixed-material film laminate, the pouch could not be recycled, meaning 100% of the packages ended up in landfill. But through a partnership with The Dow Chemical Co., Accredo Packaging, Inc., and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, Seventh Generation launched into retail a multilayer all-polyethylene SUP in Q4-2015 that is 100% recyclable.

“Our goal was to produce a recyclable package for our dishwasher pods, without sacrificing performance or aesthetics,” says Derrick Lawrence, Director of Packaging Development for Seventh Generation. “Our customers were asking for a more recyclable option, and our collaboration with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, Dow, and Accredo Packaging turned that demand into a reality.”

Three companies, one common goal

According to Lawrence, Seventh Generation began its pursuit of a recyclable package for its dishwasher pods in earnest in 2012. While he says that the company “kicked the tires” on options such as recyclable polypropylene tubs, it found the format involved a lot of unnecessary plastic.

“It would have been hard for us to justify going from a stand-up pouch, even though it was not recyclable, to something that used a lot more plastic,” he says. “We like the advantages of the stand-up pouch. It offers a number of environmental and consumer benefits: It ships flat, it is very light, it is resealable, and it is a category-accepted format.”

The existing detergent pouch was constructed of (from the outside) PET/ink/adhesive/linear low-density PE. The reverse-printed PET allowed for a high-gloss finish and protected the print from scuffing—an important factor in ensuring a high-quality look for the premium product. The pouch also provided the moisture barrier needed to guarantee that the dissolvable film covering the pods would not degrade and lead to clumping of the detergent.

In 2013, Seventh Generation met with Dow’s Packaging & Specialty Plastics Group at an SPC conference where it learned about the resin supplier’s RecycleReady™ technology. Explains Dow’s North American Director of Packaging Solutions, Stacy Fields, the RecycleReady concept involves using either all-PE structures or PE plus specialty compatibilizers with non-PE materials that allow the pouches to be incorporated into recycling streams designed for PE recovery.

Dow’s development partner at the time was Accredo, a film converter that had been researching potential recyclable materials that could replace PET as the outer web of a two-ply film structure. “It was a natural fit,” says Accredo Director of Sustainability Malcolm Cohn.

Significant technical challenges

For Dow and Accredo, many technical hurdles had to be overcome to successfully develop a recyclable multilayer PE film that could replace one made from mixed materials. Among them, according to Cohn, were creating a pouch structure that could be manufactured without compromising machine speeds or increasing waste; would have the necessary gloss, rigidity, scuff-resistance, tensile strength, and barrier properties; and would provide end-user filling and packaging machinability.

One of Seventh Generation’s main concerns was the appearance of the pouch. “From a brand owner perspective, the biggest challenge was achieving a gloss level that was comparable to the existing pouch and having a robust printed surface,” explains Lawrence. “Previous solutions we had tried were surface-printed on the outer layer and would scuff significantly during distribution testing. When we would laminate an outer layer, traditional PE films would not provide the clarity were looking for.”

While specific details of the technology are proprietary, the combination of Dow’s resin expertise and Accredo’s manufacturing technology resulted in a structure made from PE/ink/solventless adhesive/PE that provides all the required functional and aesthetic properties while being recyclable. Though the structure sounds simple, Cohn says it is not as basic as it sounds. “A huge amount of technology has gone into the coextrusions of the various layers of the respective webs,” he explains.

The AccredoFlex® RP™ (Recyclable Pouch) for Seventh Generation’s Dishwash Detergent Packs comes in two sizes—a 20-ct and a 45-ct—for two fragrance varieties, Free & Clear and Lemon. The pouch features a press-to-close PE flange zipper and is reverse-printed using expanded-gamut process printing. A clear window on the front panel of the package gives the consumer a clear view of the chlorine-free, biodegradable detergent pods inside. The graphics for the pouch were not changed.

According to Lawrence, the pouch provided a “like-to-like transition.” It passed all distribution testing and stability requirements, and its cost is at parity with that of the previous pack. “There are only two things we’ve had to deal with,” he says. “The film is a little hazier than PET, so the pouch is slightly less translucent on the outside. But unless we put the two pouches side by side in front of consumers, I don’t think they would even know we made the change, which is what we were going for.

“The other thing is the opening of the pouch. With the PET package, consumers could tear the pouch open. With the new structure, we have a scissors icon to instruct consumers to cut the pouch open, which isn’t ideal, but we’re working to improve that over time.”

Significant recycling potential

While consumers may not recognize a change in the structure of the package, Seventh Generation hopes they will notice the change in the SPC How2Recycle Label on the back of the pouch. The How2Recycle Label is a standardized labeling system that clearly communicates recycling instructions to the public. Seventh Generation was an early adopter of the label in 2012, and now uses it on almost 100% of its packaging.

The company’s previous detergent pod packaging used a “Not Recycled” icon. The new all-PE SUP uses the “Store Drop-Off” icon, which encourages consumers to take flexible PE bags, films, and wraps to local grocery or retail stores for recycling. The pouches can be recycled at more than 18,000 store drop-off locations throughout North America.

According to Lawrence, in a perfect world, if 100% of Seventh Generation’s new pouches were recycled, it would result in 20 tons of material per year being diverted from landfill. But it’s not a perfect world where recycling rates are concerned. “So the question then becomes, what would we expect from our consumers?” Lawrence posits.

“We have some data not specifically around flexibles, but around other packaging types, that indicate our consumers tend to be more attuned to recycling, usually anywhere from 10-percent to 20-percent higher,” he says. “The nice part about recycling of PE flexibles is it’s one of the most widely available programs. One national study found that 91 percent of the U.S. population has access to plastic bag recycling within 10 miles, and 72 percent has access to plastic film recycling within 10 miles.”

Further progress on 2020 goal

Seventh Generation launched the 20-ct pack in August 2015; at presstime the 45-ct was scheduled to roll out in early 2016. Lawrence says the consumer response to the change has been minimal. “This is good from our standpoint—we haven’t received any negative feedback on the new pouch, which is what we were going for,” he says. “In the next couple of weeks, I’ll get a read on consumer complaints, but I expect they will have gone down.” (The non-recyclability of the previous detergent pouch generated 8% of consumer complaints around the product.)

In its 2014 Corporate Consciousness Report, Seventh Generation reported that 69% of its products and packaging were biodegradable or recyclable. With the introduction of the AccredoFlex PR pouch, Seventh Generation will no doubt be able to move that needle closer to its 2020 goal.

Recycling Today

Dow, GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition and Accredo Packaging join forces to create recyclable dishwasher pods packaging for Seventh Generation.

Midland, Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co.’s Packaging and Specialty Plastics business has collaborated with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) and Accredo Packaging, Sugar Land, Texas, to produce Seventh Generation’s first recyclable dishwasher pods packaging. The new packaging features SPC’s How2Recycle Label, which is a project of Charlottesville, Virginia-based GreenBlue’s SPC that was developed to provide clear and concise on-package recyclability information and to keep recoverable materials out of landfills. The brand joins more than 40 How2Recycle member companies using the label on packaging.

Dow says it developed the resins for the recyclable polyethylene (PE) stand-up pouch to help ensure the package’s stiffness, toughness and sealability. Accredo Packaging converts these materials into pouches.

“Our goal was to produce a recyclable package for our dishwasher pods, without sacrificing performance or aesthetics,” says Derrick Lawrence, director of packaging development, Seventh Generation, based in Burlington, Vermont. “Our customers were asking for a more recyclable option, and our collaboration with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, Dow and Accredo Packaging turned that demand into a reality.”

Seventh Generation’s new dishwasher pods packaging carries the How2Recycle “Store Drop-Off” label, which encourages consumers to take flexible plastic bags, films and wraps to local grocery or retail stores for recycling. The pouches can be recycled at more than 18,000 store drop-off locations throughout North America.

As a founding member of the SPC, Dow says it focuses on collaborating throughout the value chain to create more sustainable packaging and improve consumer knowledge and adoption of recycling streams.

“We are excited about our work with the SPC on the How2Recycle Label program because it enables us to communicate and educate the consumer about the pouches’ recyclability. This kind of collaboration is important to achieve the environmental vision for packaging that we all share,” says Greg Jozwiak, North America commercial vice president for Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics.

Rex Varn, executive vice president of Accredo Packaging Inc., says, “Accredo Packaging’s new innovative 100-percent-recyclable stand-up pouch offers CPG [consumer packaged goods] brand-owners a more sustainable proposition of recyclability.”

Seventh Generation is a leading brand of household and personal care products that help protect human health and the environment. Established in 1988, the company says it remains an independent, privately held company distributing products to natural food stores, supermarkets, mass merchants and online.

LEED Silver certified Accredo Packaging Inc. is a fully integrated converting company producing flexible packaging with an emphasis on sustainability, primarily targeting the consumer packaged goods markets in North America. A Certified Minority Business Enterprise, Accredo uses electricity generated via wind power. The company says it attributes its growing success to investment in leading-edge technologies, including state-of-the-art extrusion, bag making and printing processes in terms of reduced environmental impact, high quality and world-class productivity.

(Houston, TX) – Malcolm Cohn, Director of Sustainability at Accredo Packaging, Inc., recently addressed attendees at the 2015 SPE International Polyolefins Conference regarding the latest innovations in sustainable flexible packaging.

Brand owners have come to identify sustainable packaging as a perfect complement to their sustainability credentials, providing a competitive advantage and signaling value to consumers seeking environmental responsibility.

Accredo delivers sustainable options that include Conventional, Compostable, Renewable and the innovative, new Recyclable packaging solutions. These solutions are designed to meet all the requirements of conventional packaging, while maintaining price parity and product quality.

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Flexible Packaging

National awards honor leading green power purchasers

Accredo Packaging announces it has received a 2013 Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The annual awards recognize the country’s leading green power purchasers for their commitment and contribution to helping advance the development of the nation’s voluntary green power market. EPA presented Accredo Packaging with the award at an event held in conjunction with the 2013 Renewable Energy Markets Conference in Austin, Texas on September 23.

Accredo Packaging was one of only eight organizations nationwide to receive a Leadership Award for its green power purchase. The award recognizes EPA Green Power Partners who distinguish themselves through purchases of green power from a utility green-pricing program, a competitive green marketer, or a renewable energy certificate (REC) supplier. Accredo Packaging is currently purchasing nearly 21 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, which is enough green power to meet 100 percent of the organization’s purchased electricity use. Accredo Packaging is buying a utility green power product from TXU Energy.

“We are honored to receive this prestigious award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” says Rex Varn, Accredo’s executive vice president. “Purchasing green power helps our organization become more sustainable, while also sending a message to others across the U.S. that supporting clean sources of electricity is a sound business decision and an important choice in addressing climate change.”

Green power is electricity that is generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact hydro. Using green power accelerates the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide and helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector.

“EPA is pleased to recognize Accredo Packaging, Inc. with a Green Power Purchasing award for its exceptional commitment to buying green power and reducing carbon pollution associated with its electricity use,” says EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. “In doing so, Accredo Packaging has demonstrated leadership in innovation, sustainability, and taking action on climate change.”

According to the EPA, Accredo Packaging’s current green power purchase of nearly 21 million kWh is equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of more than 3,000 passenger vehicles per year, or is the equivalent amount of electricity needed to power nearly more than 2,000 average American homes annually.

Accredo focuses on sustainability in manufacture practices to embrace the company’s twin goals of lowering the environmental impact of flexible packaging and extruded film production, while producing competitively priced offerings. Accredo is the largest purchaser of Green Power in the U.S. flexible packaging market.

FLEXO Magazine

BALTIMORE, MD – April 27, 2014 – One printer, one product, two journeys—each focusing on people, planet and profit—took all accolades in Flexographic Technical Association’s newly minted 2014 Sustainability Excellence Awards competition. By name, this year’s honorees, recognized tonight at the gala awards banquet staged in conjunction with FTA’s Annual Forum, and their respective category of recognition, are:

Accredo Packaging Manufacturing Facility

Accredo Packaging’s Sugar Land, TX facility

  • Accredo Packaging, Sugar Land, TX / Sustainability Programs
  • Avery Dennison, Mentor, OH / Innovations in Sustainability

“The FTA Sustainability Excellence Award program clearly illustrates that flexographic printers and suppliers have integrated environmentally conscious manufacturing methods into the very core of their businesses,” commented Judge Marygrace Quigley, Label Technology, Merced, CA.

A similar assessment was offered by Judge Dolores Corcoran, productivity system manager, Lauterbach Group, Inc., Sussex, WI. “The 2014 FTA award winners surpassed and outshined their competitors. The winners demonstrated incomparable and unparalleled programs, which could be applied to other industries wanting to drive sustainability.”

ACCREDO PACKAGING
“Accredo Packaging Inc. embodies sustainability throughout the business model clearly demonstrating an exceptional unprecedented sustainable program,” Corcoran reported. “I applaud the work.” To that, Quigley added, “Accredo has made sustainability the backbone of its company.”

Among its recent major accomplishments:

  • Accredo is in the process of obtaining certification as an SGP Printer with the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership
  • The converter received a 2013 Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which recognizes the country’s leading green power purchasers for their commitment and contributions to helping advance the development of the nation’s voluntary green power market
  • Accredo is a registered member of the EPA’s Green Power Partnership and the Organic Trade Association

Malcolm Cohn, director of sustainability for Accredo is confident that, “Accredo Packaging has established itself as a leading flexible packaging manufacturer with a strong commitment to sustainability.” He further observed, “As one of our core values, sustainability is critical in the products we create, our worker safety initiatives and our environmental policies. Our owners and executives take a leadership role in promoting a sustainable operating environment—whether that’s looking at current, day to day operations, or forecasting future needs and requirements.”

Taking note of that point, Judge Lori Ashford of robbie fantastic flexibles in Lenexa, KS noted, “Accredo’s commitment to sustainability from the facility design through operations and materials is truly impressive.”

Cohn insisted, “Accredo Packaging has demonstrated leadership in innovation, sustainability and taking action on climate change. It has successfully pioneered sustainably produced packaging with a highly renewable content.” Then he pledged, “at Accredo Packaging, we’re ‘Designed for Sustainability … Built for Success!’”


About FTA: Flexographic Technical Association (FTA), chartered in 1958, is a professional society dedicated to bringing all members of the flexographic printing community—printers, suppliers, consumer product companies, institutions, prepress houses and others—together by providing opportunities for the free exchange of technical ideas and discussion of mutual concerns. It is a proponent of maintaining and advancing quality standards and includes 1,650 member sites that represent more than 1,400 companies and 60,000 individuals. Foundation of FTA, founded in 1974, is the educational arm of FTA and is dedicated to supporting and advancing the flexographic printing industry.

Plastics in Packaging

Accredo awarded for its green powerTexas-based converter Accredo Packaging has received a 2013 Green Power Leadership Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which recognizes the US’s leading green power purchasers for their commitment and contribution to helping advance the development of the nation’s voluntary green power market.

Accredo Packaging was one of eight organizations to receive an award. The company currently purchases nearly 21 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually from TXU Energy, which is enough green power to meet 100 per cent of the organization’s purchased electricity use.

“Purchasing green power helps our organization become more sustainable, while also sending a message to others across the US that supporting clean sources of electricity is a sound business decision and an important choice in addressing climate change,” said Rex Varn, Accredo’s executive vice president.

Green power is electricity that is generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact hydro. According to the EPA, Accredo Packaging’s current green power purchase is equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide emissions of more than 3,000 passenger vehicles per year, or is the equivalent amount of electricity needed to power nearly more than 2,000 average American homes annually.

Flexible Packaging

Cheese Barrier FilmsAccredo Packaging announces the introduction of its high-barrier packaging films, AccredoFlex, designed for gas-flushing and vacuum-packaging applications to preserve “first-day freshness” and protect product integrity.

While barrier films aren’t new to the packaging market, Accredo’s state-of-the-art production facility is designed to produce AccredoFlex in a more sustainable production process than conventional plants, thus providing an enhanced value which differentiates its barrier film offerings from others on the market. AccredoFlex barrier films are particularly well-suited for packaging cheese; meat and sausage products; processed meats; institutional packaging for pre-made or cooked foods; and pumped products such as sauces, condiments and marinades.

PlasticNews.com

Flexible packaging converter Accredo Packaging Inc. has received a 2013 Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA presented Accredo officials with the award Sept. 23 at the 2013 Renewable Energy Markets Conference in Austin, Texas.

The annual awards recognize the country’s leading purchasers of “green” power, generated by wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, biomass and hydro-electric. Accredo Packaging in Sugar Land, Texas, buys its green power from TXU Energy.

Accredo was one of eight organizations nationwide to receive a Leadership Award for its green power purchases. According to EPA, Accredo is buying nearly 21 million kilowatt hours of green power annually, equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide emissions of more than 3,000 passenger cars in a year. It is enough electricity to power 2,000 American homes annually, EPA said.

MeatPoultry.com

Accredo Packaging announces the introduction of its high-barrier packaging films, AccredoFlex, designed for gas-flushing and vacuum-packaging applications to preserve “first day freshness” and protect product integrity. Accredo’s state-of-the-art production facility is designed to produce AccredoFlex in a more sustainable production process than conventional plants, without sacrificing performance, thus providing an enhanced value, which differentiates their barrier film offerings from others on the market.