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Packaging News: BASF Debuts Compostable Snack Bags; PCH Int'l Expands Design Services

Chemical company BASF debuted a prototype compostable snack food bag this week in collaboration with Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners.

The first 10,000 fans arriving at Safeco Field on Wednesday to see the Mariners play the Boston Red Sox received a free bag of peanuts in a compostable snack bag.

As a member of the Green Sports Alliance, the Seattle Mariners have a goal of achieving zero waste. This season, the team says it’s on track to divert 85 percent of its waste from landfills, up from just 12 percent in 2006. Mariners VP of Operations, Scott Jenkins, has his sights set on 90 percent diversion, but closing the gap has proven to be an elusive goal. “All of our serviceware is already compostable, but snack food bags have been one of the biggest barriers preventing us from getting to our goal,” said Jenkins. “Flexible packaging made with BASF biopolymers could represent the holy grail of greening for our waste stream.”

Like all advances in sustainability, major breakthroughs must balance economic and environmental interests. As Jenkins puts it, “Whenever there are contaminants in our compost stream, like regular snack bags and candy wrappers, we have to pay a premium to have them removed by hand. If all of the snacks sold at Safeco came in compostable packaging, it would represent a significant savings of time and money for the team and get us a whole lot closer to achieving zero waste.”

BASF says its new biopolymer technology improves on earlier industry attempts to introduce fully compostable snack packaging, though the company did not specifically state how. Frito Lay’s Sun Chips brand was the first snack food to introduce a compostable bag, which was later reformulated in response to customer feedback about the amount of crinkling noise it produced.

Ireland-based PCH International, a company that specializes in sustainable product development and supply-chain management for Fortune 500 companies, announced plans to expand its sustainable packaging design services and open a Sustainable Packaging Design Centre of Excellence in China and the U.S.

The Centre of Excellence will include a material library and a structural design engineering and quality test lab based in Shenzhen, as well as a product showroom and material library in San Francisco (scheduled to open in early 2013).

"We know that beautiful packaging can entice people to purchase a product, and our aim is to offer consumers the most impressive out-of-box experience. PCH is now designing solutions to ensure this packaging is 100% sustainable, with minimal carbon footprint and a full Life Cycle Assessment," said PCH founder and CEO Liam Casey. "We look at the entire packaging life cycle and how to make it completely environmentally friendly: from material sourcing, to packaging design, manufacturing, transport, and final disposal."

@Bart_King is a freelance writer and communications consultant.


Bart King is the principal of New Growth Communications, a network of affiliated content producers and strategists serving clients in the emerging green economy. He is also an associate editor for Sustainable Brands. Follow him @bart_kingGoogle+

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