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A Natural Fit

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: October 26, 2006, from the October 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

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In some cases, naturally sourced materials are not available, and, instead, materials that can be recycled or that have been recycled and contain the maximum post consumer waste must be utilized. Other times, according to Setzfand, suppliers are not aware of material choices.

“With the growth of natural products and the increasing concern about the impact we are having on the planet, suppliers are recognizing their ability to make a difference, while enhancing their product portfolio profitably,” said Setzfand. “(They) are excited about the opportunity to bring something unique to the marketplace.”

Environmentally friendly polylactic acid (PLA), derived from corn, is one such type of product. The biodegradable natural polymer is being positioned as a replacement to PET, and Cargill Dow has invested $800 million into developing PLA and bringing it to market for food and drink containers—a market that often forecasts trends in personal care markets.

In 2006, AGI/Klearfold and NatureWorks LLC partnered to introduce NatureSource Visual Packaging plastic folding cartons, and the companies claim that, in addition to its environmental benefits, the packaging’s clarity and durability aids brand performance. According to FoodProductionDaily-USA.com, Wal-Mart plans to replace existing packaging with NatureWorks’ PLA products in a series of phases through the supply chain.

Gilbreth Packaging developed PLA shrink labels. In addition to being an alternative to petroleum-based feedstock, the packaging allows marketers to meet the BDIH dictate of minimal use of packaging. Products from both suppliers also are becoming very price competitive as the expense of PET rises with continued oil price increases.