Single-Serve Package Reduces Carbon Footprint By Over 30%

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 29. September 2016

The Freshpack is tailored to workplaces and reduces emissions from raw material extraction by 40% by eliminating aluminum.


Increasing concerns in the coffee industry and beyond on the environmental impact of single-serve plastic pod packaging are bringing about innovative design alternatives that aim to minimize that impact.


One such example is the film-based new-generation Freshpack, recently launched by Mars Drinks, a business of Mars, Inc., headquartered in West Chester, Penn. The company’s exclusive focus with its single-serve business is offices and other workplaces globally. Its single-serve packaging is designed to work with Mars Drinks brewers.  


The company produces the Freshpack packaging at its LEED-certified West Chester, Penn. facility using a horizontal form, fill and seal process. They are made from purchased extruded film, including PP, PLA, and PE, and have the following dimensions: for coffee and instants, 70 mm (2.76 in.) wide and 101 mm (3.98 in.) tall; for tea, 50 mm (1.97 in.) wide and 101 mm (3.98 in.) tall.


The company achieved a 31% carbon footprint reduction in its single-serve packaging. This has been verified by ISO 14044:2006 Life Cycle Assessment—which analyzed environmental impact across all production stages—from raw material through distribution by Montreal-based engineering firm WSP Parson Brinckenhoff.


According to the company, “upstream” environmental factors were key to the new design’s creation. As part of that approach, Mars Drinks reexamined the entire Freshpack production process and identified the raw material extraction of aluminum as the most significant contributor to the carbon footprint of the raw materials in the original pack design.


The removal of aluminum resulted in a 40% emissions reduction from raw material extraction in the new-generation Freshpack packaging. This, according to the company, while maintaining its predecessor’s benefits, including proprietary brewing technology to preserve freshness and eliminate flavor cross-over from one drink to the next.


Meanwhile, the company also continues its Recycle Your Freshpacks program, offering its North American customers and easy way to divert 100% of Freshpacks from landfills. (Mars invested in a Texas-based wind farm that reportedly generates the equivalent amount of energy required to power all its U.S. operations, including Mars Drinks West Chester campus.)


Said Samantha Veide, Mars Drinks’ global director, corporate sustainable solutions, “Customers have told us their number one sustainability issue when it comes to workplace drinks solutions is solving the packaging challenge. That’s why we placed such a priority on rethinking our Freshpack design.”  As guided by its parent company’s sustainability commitments, Mars Drinks is focusing its 2016-2020 sustainability initiatives in three areas: sustainable agriculture, sustainable operations, and sustainable solutions.


Army Veteran, Unifi Producing American Flags from Recycled Water Bottles

By: Heather Caliendo 28. September 2016

The veteran’s company creates flags using Repreve recycled fiber made from 10 recycled water bottles.


There’s a lot of controversy right now regarding the National Anthem, the American flag and what it means to be patriotic. While it appears that debate is not going to end any time soon, perhaps everyone should pause and learn about a pretty cool initiative started by Sam Russo, a veteran of two combat tours in Afghanistan.


He’s working with Unifi’s Repreve brand to manufacture American flags that are entirely produced in the eastern U.S. So where’s the plastics angle? It turns out that Russo's company, RePatriot Flag, creates flags using Repreve recycled fiber made from 10 recycled water bottles. To date, RePatriot Flag has eliminated nearly 30,000 plastic bottles from our landfills.


"While I was in Afghanistan, I flew every mission with a flag from my grandfather, which was originally given to him when he returned home from World War II," says Russo, the founder and managing director of RePatriot Flag.  "After launching RePatriot Flag in 2013, I wanted service members to have a similar emotional connection, so I began sending my flags to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fact that my flags are eco-friendly, thanks to Repreve, and made in America are added bonuses that fit seamlessly into my mission of protecting and honoring our country."


The veteran-founded company also donates a portion of its proceeds to support veteran organizations such as Operation Enduring Warrior and Team Red, White and Blue. Both organizations enrich the lives of America's veterans by bringing them and their communities closer together through positive physical and social outlets, which often help veterans cope with the stress and hardships of war. RePatriot Flag donates one flag to every Team Red, White and Blue chapter nationwide, and offers discounts to both organizations. All veterans and first responders coast-to-coast are also eligible for discounts on purchases from RePatriot Flag.


"We are proud to be working with such an amazing organization that supports U.S. veterans and does so much to honor our country, while offering high-quality products that are American-made and environmentally conscious," says Jay Hertwig, vice president of global brand sales, marketing and product development for Unifi.


Russo graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and in 2006, was commissioned as an Army Aviation Officer. He completed two combat tours to Afghanistan with the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade.


"To me, the concept of recycled plastic bottles transforming into the RePatriot Flag makes our product the most patriotic American flag you can fly," says Russo. "They are environmentally friendly, veteran-founded and focused, and 100 percent made in the United States."


Photo caption: Sam Russo, founder of RePatriot Flag (far right), holding a RePatriot flag made from 10 recycled plastic bottles.


Is It Time For Injection Molding Machine Makers to Standardize Controls?

By: Tony Deligio 27. September 2016

If you looked at four machines from four different suppliers, you’ll find four different sets of icons and terminologies, all in different layouts.


Anytime Microsoft Office releases an update, my productivity drops and my muttering rises as I struggle to find key functions that I formerly could have clicked through to in seconds. That said, I know Office, and although even small changes seem huge at first, eventually that underlying familiarity helps me navigate the program and find what I need. In fact, a couple days after the update, I probably couldn’t tell you what the old layout even was.


Similarly, I’ve worked on Mac’s for the duration of my computing life. I can muddle through on a PC, but I won’t work as quickly; I won’t be able to exploit all its capabilities; and I might even screw some stuff up.


The average injection molder typically has a mix of various machines from various vendors, running disparate controls. For a process tech, it’s like working on a Mac running Office 95 one minute and then switching to a PC with Windows Vista the next. Every time they step up to a new machine, they need to take a few seconds (or more) to recalibrate. The difference between the shop floor and the office, however, is running the chance saving in the wrong file format versus ruining a mold.


This challenge for molders became clear to me in reading Robert Gattshall’s next feature for Plastics Technology. In our October issue, Gattshall, who is the engineering manager at Henkel’s Richmond, Mo. facility and who previously tackled how and why Scientific Molding can go awry, looks at how a lack of standardization in machine controls, for everything from key icons to basic terminology, poses a day-to-day challenge for injection molders.


Be sure to check it out and share any control conundrums (or workarounds) in comments. 


Are You in Film Extrusion?

By: Jim Callari 26. September 2016

Then check out the Extrusion 2016 Conference.


If your company is in the business of film processing check out Plastics Technology’s Extrusion 2016 Conference, scheduled for Dec. 6-8 in Charlotte, N.C.


Over the course of two-and-a-half days, you’ll be able to sit in on 24 different presentations on “general” extrusion topics—conveying, drying, additives, troubleshooting, size reduction, filtration, and lots more—as well as another 14 talks specific to blown and cast film.


Check out the complete agenda here. Use the tabs to view topics and presenters in the General Extrusion sessions, as well as the Film break-out session. Click on the Show Description button on the page to get more details on each presentation.


Plastics Technology’s Extrusion 2016 Conference is the one event of the year that brings the world of extrusion to one place at one time. In addition to sessions on General Extrusion and Film, there will be breakouts on Sheet, Compounding and Pipe/Profile and Tubing.


All told, you’ll have networking access to 80 of the top technical minds in the extrusion industry. And you’ll be able to visit an exhibit area with more than 50 suppliers.


Registration is open now. Click here for details.


Questions about fees and pricing?  Click here and take advantage of the Early Bird Discount by registering before Nov. 2.


And don’t get locked out of the hotel. Use this link to book your room.


Bill Gates Invests in Low-Carbon Plastics

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 23. September 2016


Pioneer for the conversion of biomass into cellulosic sugar technology can now start to move from lab into commercial use.


Earlier this year, startup Renmatix, Philadephia, a leading licensor for the conversion of biomass into cellulosic sugar and a commercial partner of NewBio, patented its Plantrose Process that can lead to cost-effective production  of industrial sugars on a commercial scale as an alternative to petroleum-based polymers in a range of industrial  processes. (Led by Penn State University, NewBio is a regional network of universities, businesses, and government organizations dedicated to building robust, scalable, and sustainable value chains for biomass energy in the Northeast.)


Now, Renmatix has secured a $14-million investment from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, which will allow it to begin the technology’s transition from the lab to industrial use. Before the U.N.’s Paris climate talks earlier this year, Gates corralled 28 high-profile investors to form the Breakthrough Energy Coalition and committed them to invest in low-carbon energy innovation to save the planet.


Said Gates, “To effectively address climate change, we need to develop an energy infrastructure that doesn’t emit greenhouse gas and is cost competitive. A critical component in this effort must be to decarbonize the industrial sector. Another is the possibility of cost-competitive biofuels. Renmatix provides and innovative process that is an exciting pathway to pursue.”


Menwhile, Belgium’s Total (U.S office in Houston), a global energy and back-integrated polyolefins and PS conglomerate, joined Gates in expanding its initial 2015 investment in Renmatix by signing a licensing agreement with the company for 1-million tons (2-billion/lbs) of annual cellulosic sugar production capacity, at Total’s discretion to build corresponding facilities.


The license represents significant revenue potential for Renmatix, extending over the agreement’s lifetime. “Our ambition is to become the responsible energy major. We want to make low-carbon businesses a profitable growth driver accounting for 20% of our portfolio in 20 years’ time. Meeting these goals in what has led to setting-up and expanding our collaboration with Renmatix,” Total Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanne said.


Renmatix’s Plantrose process uses supercritical water to reduce costs in conversion of biomass to cellulosic sugars, the critical intermediary for second-generation biochemical and biofuels. With faster reactions and virtually no associated consumable-expenses, Renmatix’s supercritical hydrolysis is said to economically enable a multitude of renewable process technologies and help access the market for ‘high-volume, low-cost, broadly-sourced’ cellulosic sugars. From this industrial sugars’ foundation, the company is expanding its product portfolio with additional bio-building block intermediates, including Omno polymers and crystalline cellulose.


The new investment in commercializing Plantrose is expected to help in the drive towards the first wave of Renmatix licensees building Plantrose-enabled biorefineries in diverse global markets like Canada, India, Malaysia, the U.S. and elsewhere. In parallel, such activity will facilitate further market development in downstream bioproduct applications. Renmatix CEO Mike Hamilton:


“This investment from Gates and Total together shows recognition of our technological achievements, and magnifies our commercial momentum. That acknowledgement and Total’s signing of the million-ton license are compelling indicators of our Plantrose technology’s maturation toward biorefinery scale.” 

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