This blog is to share what is going on in the world of recycling and eco living. Who's doing what, with what and where? Is it enough? Can we inspire others?
The answer is "YES" so start sharing.
Let's use this opportunity to share what is being done
currently,brainstorm and impliment future ideas.
Companies Working to Pare Down Waste By RICK CALLAHAN Associated Press Writer EVANSVILLE, Ind. - With earthshaking thuds, a plastic-stamping machine hammers a sheet of hot plastic into king-size drinking cups destined to quench travelers' thirst for soda at the nation's convenience stores. The blank white cups aren't just flexible and resistant to splitting - they're also made from less plastic than Berry Plastics Corp.'s competitors through a manufacturing process the company guards so closely it forbids photographs of those machines.
As retailers like Wal-Mart push for greener packaging, Berry Plastics is handling a growing number of redesign projects for customers eager to make their products less bulky to help both their bottom lines and the environment.
"It's not a fad anymore - it's really turning into a trend," said Curt Begle, the Evansville company's vice president of container sales.
Last year alone, the company - which counts among its customers Kraft, Nestle, Hershey's and Sherwin-Williams Paints - retooled about 30 customers' cups, tubs and other plastic containers, shaving away more than one million pounds of plastic per year in one instance.
With more companies following suit, Berry Plastics has even hired an engineer devoted to repackaging projects.
"It's continuing to gain momentum," Begle said of efforts to pare packaging.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is helping push the trend along by encouraging its 66,000 suppliers to reduce their packaging starting next year as part of the world's largest retailer's goal of cutting overall packaging 5 percent by 2013.
In March, Wal-Mart unveiled an online database called a "packaging scorecard" to help its suppliers calculate the net environmental effect of factors such as the fuel needed to make and ship packaging materials and whether they use recycled components.
Since then, more than 3,100 vendors have used the online packaging scorecard system, said Wal-Mart spokesman Kevin Thornton.
Participation is voluntary, but Thornton said Wal-Mart will begin using the scorecard's results in February to make decisions on purchasing merchandise. Eventually, the retailer hopes to create "zero waste" by recycling, reusing or otherwise breaking down product waste.
"There's a ripple effect that starts with just reducing the size of the package," Thornton said. It also reduces the need for shipping containers and puts more products on each truckload and shelf, he said.
Ruiz Food Products, the nation's largest producer of frozen Mexican foods, is using the packaging scorecard.
Bryce Ruiz, the Dinuba, Calif.-based company's president and chief operating officer, said the database has revealed ways it can reduce the packaging for its 300 products, which include the popular El Monterey brand burritos and taquitos.
Ruiz declined to give specifics, but said the lessons learned build on efforts by his family's business to satisfy customers with foods - not an oversized package.
"It's common sense. Put less air in the box and the consumer gets a box full of something, versus a box full of air," he said.
It's hard to say how much money any particular company might save in packaging because of the different types of materials used, and companies are reluctant to say for competitive reasons, said Jim Peters, director of education for the Institute of Packaging Professionals.
But the savings can reach into the millions of dollars, said Peters, whose Naperville, Ill.-based group's membership includes some 5,200 packaging experts that work for companies spanning the full spectrum of American industry.
Wal-Mart's initiative offers a real opportunity to expand the push for waste-reduction, thanks to its 60,000-plus suppliers and millions of customers, said Kyle Cahill, manager of corporate partnerships for Environmental Defense, a New York-based advocacy group.
In 1991, the nonprofit helped persuade McDonald's Corp. to give up its plastic foam clamshell packages for recycled paper materials. McDonald's now claims to be the largest user of recycled paper in the fast-food industry.
Cahill said consumers concerned about global warming are becoming more aware of packaging that ends up in landfills - and the manufacturing process that adds to greenhouse gases.
"This goes backward into the supply chain, where the materials are being sourced, made and packaged, and in the opposite direction looking at how the products are being used and certainly how they are being disposed of," Cahill said.
Indianapolis resident Ray Wilson always looks for products with less packaging, but said he still ends up with bulky items in his cart. The 64-year-old engineer recently bought three compact fluorescent light bulbs encased in a large plastic package.
"I'm looking at the packaging around the bulbs and it's probably 14 inches by 18 inches of heavy duty plastic," he said. "It sure would be nice if you didn't have to buy all that because it just goes in the trash."
Companies like Procter & Gamble Co. are paying attention. The world's largest consumer product company recently announced it would begin rolling out in September liquid detergents such as Tide and Cheer in double-strength concentrations. That will give consumers a bottle half the former size but with the same number of loads.
Even changes that aren't noticed by consumers can go a long way toward reducing a company's need for costly resources.
Nestle Waters North America, one of the nation's biggest sellers of bottled water, has saved about 20 million pounds of paper over the past decade by using narrower labels on its bottles, said company spokeswoman Jane Lazgin.
And this spring, the maker of Poland Spring, Arrowhead, Deer Park and other brands began rolling out half-liter plastic bottles weighing 12.5 grams, about 15 percent lighter than those of competitors.
"It makes the bottle feel a little crunchy, but it's the same amount of water," Lazgin said.
Nestle Waters expects the new bottle to reduce its use of plastic resin by 65 million pounds during 2008, the first full year of the bottle's availability.
Anne Johnson, director of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition - an industry working group with about 105 corporate members - said such success stories will help more companies look at how they package goods.
"If you're not optimizing the use of the materials you've purchased and the energy you've purchased, if you're paying for your waste to be hauled off, then you're not running your business very well," Johnson said.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.