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Evolution of Innovation

By: Sara Mason
Posted: November 30, 2011, from the December 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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For those not ready to eliminate the protection packaging provides, finding alternatives such as bioplastics and thin-walling are more viable every year. For brands such as Lather, an all-natural beauty company, transitioning all product packaging to a biodegradable and recyclable plastic formula is key to staying true to its brand. “Lather has always cared about the environment, using renewable resources and initiating in-store recycling programs, so sustainable packaging was the next logical step,” explains Robert Hoyt, Lather president.

However, as opposed to bioplastics made from cornstarch or wheat, which can only biodegrade in an industrial composting facility, new packaging that, for example, utilizes Bio-Tec Environmental’s new additive EcoPure will be able to biodegrade within a landfill. Lather studied various options before concluding EcoPure was the most effective technology for the brand. About 40% of the brand is now in the new, treated packaging that was introduced a year ago.

EcoPure is a proprietary blend of organic ingredients that has been specially formulated to substantially increase the rate of biodegradation of treated plastics. It is an FDA-approved, nontoxic additive that does not destroy desirable properties of plastic in the process, and EcoPure can be blended in small amounts in most types of plastic, so it is cost-effective as well.

“Treated plastic has an indefinite shelf life, and looks and feels just like regular plastic until it reaches the landfill, where certain enzymes allow the biodegradation process to begin,” says Hoyt. While traditional plastic repels microbes, EcoPure-treated plastic attracts microbes, allowing the plastic to be metabolized into a nontoxic humus in an environment rich with microbial activity. In addition, the by-products are methane, which can be captured for clean energy generation, and carbon dioxide.

Better for the Consumer

For consumers, innovation provides solutions to psychological or physical needs; it presents useful alternatives and, in a word, value. Innovation gives individuals products that are of better quality at a reasonable price.