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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_0903

Rigid Packaging Thermal

Rigid Packaging Thermal Cooler Box www.greencellfoam.com Sandoz, Inc. (Princeton, New Jersey, USA) and KTM Industries, Inc. (Lansing, Michigan, USA) recently announced the launch of the Green Cell Cooler Box - the first 100% biobased and completely compostable/recyclable thermal cooler to protect pharmaceutical products during shipment. The Green Cell Cooler Box is a standard corrugate box outer lined with panels of cornstarch-based Green Cell Foam, manufactured by KTM. Green Cell Foam meets ASTM D400 and ISO 108 specifications for biodegradability under composting conditions. Led by Mark Kuhl, Packaging Development Manager for Sandoz, the project was in response to a new way of thinking at Sandoz where sustainability has become a top priority. This was a perfect opportunity to shift the paradigm and find a packaging solution that utilizes bio-renewable resources and offers an environmentally responsible end-of-life option. The typical pharmaceutical insulated shipper is constructed with polystyrene and is used for 24-2 hours before it is discarded. Non-renewable polystyrene is recyclable but the facilities to enable this are limited and cost prohibitive, thus relegating it to landfills. Sandoz’ mission was to find an effective sustainable alternative to polystyrene based on biofeedstocks that would assimilate back into nature after its use. The mission was accomplished with Green Cell Foam which is compostable and can be recycled in the paper recycling stream along with the outer box, thereby affording the end user with flexibility in the end-of-life disposal process. Mr. Kuhl set out to design, test and validate a cost effective ‘green’ cooler that met the rigorous cold-chain shipping requirements for protecting sensitive pharmaceutical products. During his tests he discovered Green Cell Foam not only insulates as well as polystyrene but it also absorbs excess condensation that would potentially damage the contents of the package. Green Cell’s ability to wick out ambient moisture presents a cleaner package for the customer by eliminating any pooling of water due to condensation. Green Cell Foam also provides significantly improved protection against shock and vibration damage when compared to traditional shipping coolers. Polystyrene coolers are somewhat brittle and have the propensity to crack under stress – even from a single impact. A break in the foam can compromise the integrity of the cooler by providing a channel for outside air to flow inside. Green Cell Foam can absorb multiple hits without cracking or breaking, providing a more stable thermal barrier while also providing improved impact protection to the contents. This adds value to the overall package while reducing damage claims. Sustainability was a key driver to this project. Sandoz wanted to see the environmental effects of switching from polystyrene to Green Cell Foam. KTM turned to Dr. Ramani Narayan of Michigan State University for the answer. Dr. Narayan provided life cycle assessment data which demonstrated a significant improvement in all but one of the LCA indices (eutrophication is slightly higher with Green Cell). The key metrics from the LCA comparison are an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases and a 0% decrease in energy requirements. In June 2009, refreshed graphics will grace the outside of the coolers which will help educate customers recognize and understand the benefits of the Green Cell Cooler. Mr. Kuhl is now designing additional sizes of Green Cell Coolers for use within Sandoz’ North American operations. It’s a real win-win situation for Sandoz and their customers: improved performance, improved convenience and a big improvement for the environment. 18 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/09] Vol. 4

Rigid Packaging Study Confirms Lifecycle Advantages of PLA over rPET A first-of-its-kind lifecycle analysis finds that clamshell packaging made from NatureWorks‘ Ingeo (PLA), emits fewer greenhouse gases and uses less energy when compared to clamshells manufactured with petroleum-based rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate). The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IFEU), Heidelberg, Germany, conducted the head-tohead lifecycle comparison on more than 40 different combinations of clamshell packaging made from Ingeo PLA, PET, and rPET. Both PLA and rPET clamshells outperformed PET packaging in terms of lower overall greenhouse gas emissions and lower overall energy consumed. PLA clamshells clearly offered further advantages over the petroleum-based rPET in numerous comparisons. “Brand owners and converters will lower the carbon and energy footprint of clamshell packaging by moving away from PET and rPET to Ingeo polymer,” said Marc Verbruggen, president and CEO of NatureWorks, the manufacturer of Ingeo. “This is true with today’s virgin Ingeo and, in the longer term, recycled Ingeo will decrease that footprint even more. Furthermore, the high performance of Ingeo biopolymer in clamshell applications means that less material may be required to manufacture them — on average 2 percent less.” Representative results of the lifecycle analysis The study showed that clamshell packaging consisting of 100 percent rPET emitted 2. kilograms of CO 2 equivalents per 1,000 clamshells over its complete life cycle. PLA clamshells emitted even less, with 1. kilograms CO 2 equivalents per 1,000 clamshells. The PLA clamshell was lighter, yet functionally equivalent in terms of top-load strength. “The study found that Ingeo compares favorably with rPET even when a producer chooses not to lightweight a clamshell,” said Steve Davies, NatureWorks director of Communications and Public Affairs. “The study also showed that the next generation Ingeo production process, now online in 2009, offers further improvements in ecoprofile and clearly outperforms 100 percent rPET in headto-head comparisons.” Clear plastic clamshells, like the ones analyzed in the study, are often used for fresh produce and foodservice packaging — for example, lettuce, tomatoes, sandwiches, or deli salads. Currently this packaging is not recycled in either the U.S. or Europe. In the U.S. clamshell packaging typically goes to landfills after use, while in Europe this packaging may be incinerated for waste-heat recovery. The lifecycle study took both end-of-life scenarios into account. The complete IFEU lifecycle analysis is available at www.natureworksllc.com/our-values-and-views/ingeovs-rpet.aspx kg CO 2 eq. / 1000 clamshells www.natureworksllc.com www.ifeu.de 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 Climate Change 62.7 61.7 Non Renewable Energy 0.88 0.72 1.4 1.2 1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 GJ / 1000 clamshells Energy consumed over the lifecycle for 100 percent rPET clamshells was 0.88 GJ. This compared to 0.2 GJ for the lighter, yet functionally equivalent, Ingeo 200 packaging — an overall 18 percent reduction in energy consumed. 0 100% rPET Ingeo Eco-Profile in 2005 100% rPET Incineration with Heat Recovery Scenario Ingeo Eco-Profile in 2005 0 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/09] Vol. 4 19

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