Single-use bottles made from recyclate aren‘t greenwashing… but rather a significant step forward

Single-use bottles made from recyclate aren‘t greenwashing… but rather a significant step forward

Thomas Reiner | 19.01.2021

It‘s fundamentally wrong to lable campaings on single-use plastic bottles made from 100% recyclate as greenwashing. We not only need recyclable products, we must also create markets for the recyclate at the same time. How else are we going to implement a circular economy? Recycling is not an end in itself. If we succeed in using recyclates, that will be a significant step forwards.

 


 

The German Environmental Aid (DUH) criticizes the large-scale campaigns of Lidl, Danone and Pepsi on single-use plastic bottles made of 100 percent recyclate as greenwashing. The DUH is fundamentally wrong in this. Not only do we need recyclable products, we also need to create markets for the recyclate. How else are we going to implement a circular economy? After all, recycling is not an end in itself. If we succeed in using recyclates, that will be an important step forwards. Institutions like the DUH should recognize this.

Moreover, the argumentation of Deutsche Umwelthilfe is based on a distorted comparison. DUH criticizes the fact that single-use bottles are ecologically inferior to regional reusable bottles even if they are made entirely of recyclate. Where this advantage is supposed to come from remains unclear. The fact that the DUH only admits the regional aspect to reusable bottles and includes it there is also analytically unclean and not very purposeful.

Of course, we can discuss whether reusable and recyclable is still more sustainable than single-use and recyclable. However, it is hardly possible to give a general answer to this question, but only on the basis of a life cycle assessment that takes into account the energy and chemicals used in cleaning and the necessary transport costs. However, such life cycle assessments do not yet exist.

Apart from that, the DUH overlooks a very fundamental fact: For a functioning circular economy, we not only need recyclable products, we also need a market for recyclate. After all, recycling is not an end in itself.

Greenwashing is a no-go. But to label the campaign by Lidl, Danone and Pepsi for single-use plastic bottles made of 100 percent recyclate as greenwashing simply misses the point. On the contrary, it is a major step forward if we succeed in using recyclates and keeping them in the cycle. Institutions such as DUH would therefore be well advised to recognize and acknowledge such efforts.

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Why grass paper is gaining momentum

Why grass paper is gaining momentum

Thomas Reiner | 15.01.2021

Mondi has started grass paper production at its site in Austria. The idea of producing paper with proportions of grass fibers is not new. But the ecological advantages are understandable. The fact that a heavyweight like Mondi is now actively addressing the topic is a huge step forward.

 


 

The Mondi Group has started the production of grass paper at its site in Austria. The company sees the area of application in the market for carrier bags and packaging. The certified paper is also approved for contact with dry and non-fatty foods.

The paper is marketed under the brand name IQ Grass + Packaging. It consists of 30 percent grass fiber and 70 percent FSC-certified virgin fiber pulp from sustainably managed forests. Mondi sources the raw material for the grass content from an unnamed manufacturer in the form of pellets. The paper has been available throughout Europe since September 2020.

In addition to use for carrier bags, Mondi is also targeting packaging with its grass paper, for example as a liner for corrugated and solid board. According to the company, the paper was developed for flexographic printing and successfully tested. It is approved for contact with dry and non-greasy foods.

Using grass to make paper is not a new idea. But it is an idea that is becoming more widespread. Even Coca-Cola is already using grass paper board for bottle carriers and labels.

The ecological advantages for grass paper are obvious. Grass accounts for around one-fifth of all vegetation on our planet. It is one of the fastest growing and ecologically most successful plants in the world and is present in all climatic zones. Compared to fiber production from wood, its production requires less energy and water. In addition to the CO2 savings, there is also no need for chemicals, which are required in the case of wood to remove the cellulose lignin.

The fact that an international heavyweight like Mondi Group is now turning its strength and market position to the topic of grass paper is remarkable and a huge step forward.

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B+P Consultants survey shows: 89% of machine manufacturers regard digital transformation as a growth opportunity

B+P Consultants survey shows: 89% of machine manufacturers regard digital transformation as a growth opportunity

Thomas Reiner | 08.01.2021

The machine manufacturing industry is clearly at crossroads. On the one hand, digital transformation has finally arrived. On the other hand, the need to catch up is still extremely high. And even those who lull themselves into a sense of security should not put their feet up.


 

A survey of 270 packaging industry executives conducted by B+P Consultants in October 2020 shows that 89 percent of packaging machine manufacturers see digital transformation as a growth opportunity. At the same time, however, only 42 percent feel sufficiently prepared with the topic of digital transformation.

What the study by B+P Consultants also shows is that sales and communication are the areas of digital transformation that are currently most pressing for machine manufacturers. 67 percent of machine manufacturers describe sales and communication as their current primary digital field of action. The reasons are obvious. The loss of trade shows and the uncertainty about the future of trade shows and events are hitting the industry much harder than others.

Machine manufacturing is clearly at a crossroads. On the one hand, digital transformation has finally arrived as a topic and field of action. The Corona pandemic has accelerated development by around six years. And it has also finally anchored the topic in the minds of management. That is a valuable and important step. In the meantime, the digital transformation of sales is also about strategically maintaining and expanding companies‘ competitiveness in the long term.

On the other hand, the need to catch up is still extremely high. The fact that 58 percent of those surveyed do not see themselves as sufficiently positioned is a clear alarm signal.
At the same time, the 42 percent who believe they are well equipped in terms of digital transformation should not be too sure of themselves. Digital transformation is extremely dynamic and disruptive. More than in other areas, it is true that a feeling of control can lead to a failure to move quickly and decisively enough along the chosen path. Resting and resting are not an option.

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Decoupling from fossil fuels: L’Oréal launches packaging made from carbon emissions

Photo source: L’Oréal

Decoupling from fossil fuels: L’Oréal launches packaging made from carbon emissions

Thomas Reiner | 18.12.2020

A solution presented by L’Oréal marks a compelling approach to advance one of the key issues in the implementation of the circular economy: Decoupling from fossil fuels. In collaboration with LanzaTech and Total, L’Oréal has unveiled one of the world’s first packaging made from recaptured carbon emissions and plans to use the bottle for its cosmetic products.

 


 

L’Oréal, in collaboration with LanzaTech and Total, has unveiled one of the world’s first packaging made from recaptured and recycled carbon emissions. L’Oréal plans to use the bottle, which is based on a three-step conversion process, for its cosmetic products. The solution presented is an interesting approach to advance one of the key issues in the implementation of the circular economy: Decoupling from fossil fuels.

Capturing carbon emissions and converting them into polyethylene is one of the more recent approaches to decoupling from fossil fuels. The idea has the added charm of not only reducing the creation of new carbon emissions, but capturing carbon emissions that have already been released and neutralizing them in the cycle.

The conversion process takes place in three steps, each of which is the responsibility of one of the companies in the partnership.

  • LanzaTech captures industrial carbon emissions and converts them into ethanol using a biological process.
  • Total converts the ethanol into ethylene via a dehydration process before polymerizing it into polyethylene. The PE produced is said to have the same technical properties as the fossil version.
  • L’Oréal uses this polyethylene to produce cosmetics packaging with the same qualities and properties as the PE bottles used to date.

By 2024, L’Oréal plans to use the “sustainable PE” in its bottles for shampoo and hair conditioners. In doing so, it is expressly hoped that other companies will join in the use of plastic made from industrial carbon extract.

In any case, the solution is a thoroughly interesting approach to advancing one of the key aspects of establishing the circular economy: Decoupling from fossil fuels.

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