P&G plans to eliminate PVC from packaging

January 19, 2012

In a move to help eliminate all uses of PVC in its packaging, Procter & Gamble's Oral-B manual toothbrush is now made with Octal Petrochemicals' proprietary DPET (direct PET) sheet, a P&G spokesperson told PlasticsToday.

Prior to this, P&G had used PVC for its toothbrush packaging. The company began to avoid the use of PVC in its packaging in the early '90s, and PVC currently represents less than 1.5% of P&G's total use of its plastic packaging materials, according to the company.

P&G made the switch to PET because it is easier to recycle. In addition, PVC has also been the source of recurring controversy regarding its disposal to household solid waste incinerators, and its compatibility with plastics recycling, the company stated.

"It is a challenge to find technically effective and affordable alternatives to PVC for some applications," the spokesperson said. "However, in partnership with our packaging suppliers, we have overcome many of these barriers."

Octal COO Joe Barenberg said companies, such as P&G, are finding DPET an attractive solution due to its process for production of PET sheet, which provides a substantially lower carbon footprint than traditional PET. 

Compared to traditional plants, Octal's DPET sheet uses 67% less electricity; a fact the company said has been verified by independent, third party sources.

Octal's DPET sheet can run on thermoforming equipment already being used for PVC, HIPS, and OPS with only minor modifications of hardware and processing parameters, according to Octal.

Through proprietary software programs and process control technology, Octal maximizes roll-to-roll uniformity in every batch for DPET and achieves a caliper variation of 1%, which is lower than industry standards, Barenberg said. This enables thermoformers to down-gauge, thereby using less overall material in the final tray.

Manufacturers of personal care products, such as P&G, can reduce costs by ordering thinner gauge sheet while knowing exactly how much packaging it can manufacture from the material it buys, according to Octal.

With growing pressure for companies to adopt eco-friendly practices, Barenberg said he believes more companies will convert to PET.

"More companies are making the switch to PET because of its recyclability, sustainability and great appearance," he said.

Part of P&G's long-term environmental sustainability vision includes using 100% renewable or recycled materials for all products and packaging, and having zero consumer and manufacturing waste go to landfills.

"P&G will consider DPET, as well as other variants of PET, in evaluating packaging options that delight the consumers, protect the product through the distribution network while balancing the sustainability and environmental needs," the P&G spokesperson said.

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