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Recyclable, Compostable and Biodegradable, in the Same Bottle? Yes.

| Friday January 29th, 2010 | 15 Comments

startup-friday.jpgEcologic compostable recyclable food packagingMore and more of us are making an effort to live a more sustainable life. And yet, there’s this nagging sticking point. Packaging. So much of what we buy, particularly liquids, comes in packaging that is either from raw materials or is not recyclable. Or both.

Oakland based Ecologic intends to solve that problem.

Launched last week in the first test store, Ecologic’s packaging is simple: A hard external shell made of formed recycled paper, and an internal lining made of a thin plastic, which can be recycled as a #4 plastic. Once shed of the plastic liner, the shell can be recycled or composted.

How would this be used?

Ecologic’s first customer is Straus Family Creamery, which is using the Ecologic packaging to sell milk products, starting at the Whole Foods Market in Oakland, Calif. Straus is already a proponent of sustainable packaging, given that it also sells milk in returnable glass bottles.

Where else?

Wine, juice, laundry and home cleaning products are next.

You might think, are current packaging options really that bad? I was surprised to learn that they’re even worse than I thought. Your average milk or juice carton is 85 percent virgin paper, 15 percent plastic. according to Ecologic. Conventional cartons are comprised of multiple layers that are laminated together, leaving only the most dedicated and (at this point) rare recycling facilities capable of processing them, at a greater energy cost.

Plastic jugs, while recyclable, generally use twice the amount of plastic used in cartons, and while recyclable, they use a high amount of virgin materials. Ecologic containers use up to 70 percent less plastic than conventional plastic jugs.

Readers: Will this new style packaging catch on? Will consumers adjust to this visually and tactically different packaging? Will they take that extra step to separate, recycle, or compost the elements? I think so. Just as people have become accustomed to separating what they put in the recycling bin, they can do this too. But what’s your take?

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations around, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media.


▼▼▼      15 Comments     ▼▼▼

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  • nickpalmer

    Before you know it they're going to re-invent the returnable bottle…

    • Jennifer

      I think it will catch on. I am looking to start my own soap/shampoo business but I don’t want to use plastic bottles. China makes compostable plastic bottles, why can’t we. I think it’s a great idea.

  • http://www.papernuts.com/ Pasn

    The following is a new green packaging innovation!

    PaperNuts® are the most environmentally responsible and customer-friendly material that can be used to fill the empty space in boxes. With PaperNuts® your product stays put in the center of the box and free from damage in shipment.

    Your customers will love them!

    ” I love your nuts and my customers love your nuts!! Keep doing what you are doing!!” Quote from Taylor Sparks at Skin Care for Athletes in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina.

    Made from 100% Recycled Materials

    Because PaperNuts® are made from 100% recycled materials, (both post consumer and post industrial paper) they are clean, safe, nonpolluting, and low in particulates. PaperNuts® are easily recycled. When discarded, they biograde when exposed to water. PaperNuts® are the greenest way to fill a box because they are:

    Recyclable & Reusable
    Biodegradable & Non-toxic
    Able to compost with organic matter & can go out with the leaves
    Contain no CFCs or HCFCs (Cloroflurocarbons and Hydro-Cloroflurocarbons)
    Made from 100% recycled paper materials
    Able to be recycled in the box they are received in
    Great kindling & Able to be recycled curbside with newspapers

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  • Paul Arthur Smith

    @Nick I was surprised, in earlier research, to find out how many companies are currently doing returnable bottles. Mostly in dairy, but I could see it elsewhere too.

    • nickpalmer

      Hi Paul, the more we say goodbye to globalisation and welcome back localisation, the bigger part that returnable systems will play

      • Paul Arthur Smith

        I think you're dead on Nick. I think that localisation is going to happen, whether we want it or not. Having strong, resilient, self reliant local economies and societies is what's going to need to happen, and with it, an increase in reusable packaging, no doubt.

        • nickpalmer

          If you haven't seen it, here's a great (45 minute) video by a respected economist, about how “peak oil” will not just force us away from globalisation much faster than most think, but will be good for jobs and local economies too…

          The Business of Climate Change Conference 2009

  • http://twitter.com/appropedia Appropedia.org

    Depends how hard they are to separate…

    • Paul Arthur Smith

      Take a look at their site, it appears an easy proposition. Or, since you're in the Bay Area, yes? Go to the Oakland Whole Foods where they're test marketing it, and try it for yourself! If you do, let me know how it goes, ok?

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  • Name

    How do the costs of this new packaging compare to conventional packaging? Will costs be passed along to the consumer? Will it increase costs for companies that use Ecologic's packaging products?

    • Paul Arthur Smith

      That's a good question for Ecologic. Let's see if they come and answer it. It seems like something that will be worked out in market testing.

  • http://www.japanesephrases.org/ japanese phrases

    This seems like a great idea. But I don't care for the color or design of the bottle much

    • Paul Arthur Smith

      Good to know. Send your feedback to them, they're still in early stages, testing in one store at the moment.

  • Paul Arthur Smith

    That's a good question for Ecologic. Let's see if they come and answer it. It seems like something that will be worked out in market testing.

  • Paul Arthur Smith

    Good to know. Send your feedback to them, they're still in early stages, testing in one store at the moment.

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