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vor 5 Jahren

04 | 2010

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Bottle Applications

Bottle Applications Beyond Sustainability - Ethical Recent revelations in the New Zealand media about the fate of consumer recycling have raised concerns about all the packaging material used in consumer products. Industry demand for sustainable alternatives combined with this media focus has been the catalyst for the launch of a new organisation whose founders already have a proven record of innovation with bioplastics in the beverage industry. Grant Jeffrey, of export food processing company Kiwifruitz and Grant Hall, of sustainable packaging initiative Good Water Company, have partnered to establish The Good Packaging Co (GPC), a new business that offers plantbased packaging solutions that are both sustainable and ethical. Grant Hall calls himself an enviropreneur and even has this title on his business card. His primary goal in life is to revolutionise the package recycling industry by making sustainable, plant based plastics the first choice for food packaging. “I want everyone to use plastics that can be ‘upcycled‘ into products that are good for the environment,“ he says. But he happily admits that his dream is severely hampered by the economic imperative; there isn‘t room in the profit motive to actively choose packaging material because it is ‘good for the environment‘. However, he firmly believes that when sufficient volume of plant based bottles and other packages moves into the recycling stream, what he calls the ‘upcycling‘ of plastics is viable. Fig.1: The new 375 ml bottle Fig. 3: The ‘bottle-to-pottle’ cycle Water Hall has been in the bottled water industry for 12 years and about 3 years ago he successfully launched Good Water in square 650 ml PLA bottles (see bM 03/2007, bM 05/2008). The water, now also available in a smaller 375 ml bottle (Fig. 1) comes from Kauri Springs at Kaiwaka, in Northland and the bottles are made with Ingeo from Natureworks, using plant starch from sustainable, non-GM corn, but can be made from any other organic waste product, as Grant pointed out. Even the labels are certified compostable and sustainable. Grant‘s team are working on a kiwifruit skin/recycled bioplastic cap to tick the final box. It is still at work in progress but “we will get it right.“ GPC work with Clariant who supply biodegradable, natural and organic plasticisers for the development of these products. “It is worthwhile to mention that a lot of flexible injection moulders here in New Zealand are actively pursuing bioplastics solutions and are contributing towards the development of these solutions,“ Grant Hall said to bioplastics MAGAZINE. Elite Polymers for example, a well respected company are supporting GPC with a 16-cavity cap-tool. “The picture (Fig. 2) shows the three of us after a test run with a PLA based cap at their facility.“ A second spring water that is now available in PLA in New Zealand is ‘Kiwinatural‘, offered by Kiwifruitz, the PLA bottles supplied by GPC. Wine But water is not all: The Enviropreneurs have already partnered with Yealands Estate Winery. ‘Peter Yealands has New Zealand‘s leading environmentally sustainable winery, based in Marlborough, and he‘s bravely committed to doing his wine in a bioplastic bottle. We are now close to developing the world‘s first compostable green wine bottle. This is a New Zealand innovation, but it‘s 16 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/10] Vol. 5

Bottle Applications Packaging in New Zealand not quite retail-ready yet,“ says Grant Hall. Besides the well known water vapour barrier issue, for wine oxygen brings an additional challenge for the permeability of the bottle wall. “But we are confident to have found a good solution that we are currently testing,“ he said to bioplastics MAGAZINE. He added that the New Zealand wine industry is under a lot of pressure overseas, due to the distance they have to ship their products, so a commercially compostable wine bottle will make a big impact. Ice Cream Other collaborations include Kohu Road Ice Cream to develop some ethical packaging innovations. GPC‘s unique blended bio-polymer materials are NatureWorks’ Ingeo PLA based but in the future could also use some local sources such as Kiwifruit skin. “we expect to see some interesting product launches coming to market shortly,“ Grant Hall said. End-of-Life The company vision to design and produce the best packaging in New Zealand is among the goals of the Enviropreneurs, but equally important is to take responsibility for it post consumer. In other words they want it back after it‘s been used so that it can be ‘upcycled‘ into another packaging solution. Their philosophy is based on the ‘cradle to cradle‘ model and is now supported by the recycling industry locally. “When I started about five/six years ago, there was a lot of push-back from the industry including the recyclers, said Grant, “but now we see a real change in paradigm and commitment. The recyclers are engaged with us, they want to know what‘s going on. They’ve started to invest time and energy to contribute towards the ultimate solution - the upcycling of all this material post consumer.“ The mixed glass, plastics and paper waste that is curbsidecollected in blue bins (at least in Auckland, as Grant points out) is being brought to a MRF (Materials Recovery Facility). Here the PLA can be sorted out via NIR (Near Infra Red) scanning. The company Visy, running the facility in a 50/50 partnership with the local council, have committed to sorting, separating to spec, and baling post consumer PLA when a tipping point in volume of 3 or 4% is reached. “Currently we are at 0.4%, which is not enough,“ said Grant, “but we are getting there.“ So what is upcycling? “Upcycling is about adding functional and environmental benefits, rather than ‘downcycling,’ as is done today, where products of lower value ultimately end up in landfills anyway,” as Grant Hall put it. As one example of a product stewardship programme, the company is planning to extract its bottles out of the waste stream, hydrolyse them, infuse with organic nutrients and then reform them into a seedling pot for the forestry industry. “We‘ve already done a trial with pohutukawa seedlings,“ says Hall, “we‘re working with SCION on the product. Workers can leave the seedling in the pottle which has side slits so that the seedling can be planted into its permanent position in the pottle, and as it degrades, it nourishes the plant.“ They claim trees will perhaps mature three years faster using this method. “Our ultimate aim is ‘bottles to pottles‘ and, then more trees acting as carbon sinks more raw material for biopolymers, creating an ethical full circle (Fig. 3).“ “The people in our team see their role beyond just producing bottles, but as inspiring change and helping other people upgrade their packaging,“ said Hall. “They are happy to work with companies looking for sustainable and ethical packaging. The company has fans in high places, for example, Prime Minister John Key who came to the launch party of the sustainable bottle (Fig. 4) and is following their progress with interest.“ MT www.goodpackaging.co.nz www.kiwifruitz.co.nz Fig.2: Grant Hall, Grant Jeffrey and Jared Smith, General Manager at Elite Polymers, [left to right) Fig. 4: New Zealands Prime Minister John and Grant Hall bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/10] Vol. 5 17

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