Merging Sustainability and Innovation at Sealed Air
Ron Cotterman, vice president of innovation and sustainability at Sealed Air, talks about the company’s recent investment in Plastic Energy, an advanced recycling company.
In order to move the circular economy forward, sustainability can’t happen without innovation. This is why global packaging provider Sealed Air has merged the two. Ron Cotterman, vice president of innovation and sustainability at Sealed Air, said the company will do its part through innovation and collaboration to meet the sustainability needs of its customers.
In 2018, Sealed Air pledged to design and advance packaging solutions that are 100% recyclable or reusable by 2025. As part of the pledge, the company has a target of 50% average recycled content across all packaging solutions with 60% of that coming from post-consumer recycled content.
Recently, the company announced it has signed a collaboration agreement with Plastic Energy, a company involved in advanced recycling technology. Additionally, Sealed Air has made an equity investment in Plastic Energy Global, the parent company of Plastic Energy.
The Sealed Air pledge also includes a commitment to lead collaborations with global partners to increase recycling and reuse rates, which aligns with the investment in Plastic Energy.
“We needed the ability to handle multilayer materials that are highly regulated,” Cotterman said. “The advanced recycling technology is very well-suited to help us achieve the goals we set.”
Sealed Air has worked with recycled material for decades. But they know the limitations that can come with mechanical recycling for certain packaging applications. Cotterman said that with advanced recycling, you don’t have to compromise on the packaging solution.
Plastic Energy has a technology platform that enables the diversion of waste plastic away from landfills, with the goal of processing 300,000 tons of plastic by 2025. Plastic Energy transforms post-consumer plastic waste into new recycled oil that can be used to create essential packaging solutions, including protective packaging for food, thereby enabling plastic to become a new resource.
Cotterman said that Plastic Energy stood out as they have commercial experience and two operations in Spain.
“One item to point out is that we did an equity investment and that’s important as we are trying to encourage the value chain to grow,” Cotterman said. “When you look at the circular economy, don’t look at isolation—but look at upstream and downstream of what can we do to achieve circularity. In our case, it was a technology gap, an engineering solution, that will meet the performance and provide the circularity need. It’s a new way of thinking of what we do with the value chain.”
Sealed Air continues to invest in an expanding portfolio of sustainable solutions such as food packaging made from Plantic plant-based starch and recovered materials, EcoPure plant-based cushioning foams, Cryovac Darfresh skin packaging options made with recycled PET materials and curbside recyclable temperature assurance solutions.
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