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From the proliferation of stand-up pouches to the expansion of the PlantBottle, the plastic packaging industry saw plenty of innovation and continued growth in 2012.However, it wasn't all champagne and roses for the industry as bans on plastic bags and even PET bottles, started to pop up in various cities. Also, the chemical industry is still working to figure out what place BPA should have, in any, in packaging.As 2012 draws to a close, we take a look back at some key and notable stories from PlasticsToday involving plastic packaging in 2012.

Heather Caliendo

December 21, 2012

20 Min Read
It’s a wrap: Looking back at the year in plastic packaging

From the proliferation of stand-up pouches to the expansion of the PlantBottle, the plastic packaging industry saw plenty of innovation and continued growth in 2012.

However, it wasn't all champagne and roses for the industry as bans on plastic bags and even PET bottles, started to pop up in various cities. Also, the chemical industry is still working to figure out what place BPA should have, in any, in packaging.

As 2012 draws to a close, we take a look back at some key and notable stories from PlasticsToday involving plastic packaging in 2012.

Winter 2012

P&G plans to eliminate PVC from packaging

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. 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. "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."

Kraft Foods to trim the fat from its packaging

bag-ipad.pngPlasticsToday talked with Kraft Foods about its Yes Pack, a stand-up pouch with dual handles, and a rigid screw cap closure that replaces the traditional rigid plastic container for salad dressings. A Kraft Foods spokesperson told PlasticsToday the Yes Pack is a flexible nylon-polyethylene blend film made in house, and it is produced with about 60% less plastic when compared to the rigid gallon container. The company stated the product is more compact than rigid jugs, and flattens when empty, which can provide easier disposal and lower waste-removal costs.

Non-bottle rigid plastic recycling up to 72%

The report, prepared by Moore Recycling Associates Inc., found that in 2010, nearly 820 million lb of post-consumer rigid plastics were collected for recycling nationwide, an increase of 72% from 2009 and 154% since 2007. The ACC said that "non-bottle rigid plastics" include nondurable items (or packaging), such as dairy and deli tubs, lids, yogurt cups and similar food containers, and durable items, such as pallets, crates, carts, 5-gallon buckets and electronic housings. The collection and recycling of non-bottle rigid plastics is relatively new and calculated separately from plastic bottles.

Spring 2012

Goodbye, water bottle; hello, pouch?

R. Charles Murray, CEO of PPi Technologies Group, sees nothing but opportunity for delivering hydration through a pouch. "The banning of the bottle as a package to deliver hydration water, which is freely available from many water outlets at little cost, is to my mind the 21st century solution and in time will save lots of money and energy and reduce the recycle bottle handling process," he told PlasticsToday. "To fill the gap for an economic portable hydration water package, it takes a lot to beat the pouch."

Murray said while the latest water bottles on the market are lighter than before, he believes they are still hard to handle, stack, and open. The pouch stands up just like a bottle, but once it empties, the area it occupies is much less than a bottle, he said. In addition, the pouch uses a fraction of PET material compared to standard PET bottles.

It ain't easy being green: Industry experts talk green plastic packaging marketing challenges, opportunities

The global market for sustainable packaging is predicted to reach $142.42 billion by the year 2015, according to a report by the Global Industry Analysts. While green plastic packaging is ripe with potential, industry experts discussed with PlasticsToday marketing challenges and opportunities for the sector.  Dennis Salazar, president and co-founder of Salazar Packaging Inc., writes about sustainable packaging on his own blog, Inside Sustainable Packaging. He said one problem the plastic packaging industry faces is that of consumer perception.

Wine producers serving greener packaging

Heavy, glass bottles were the norm and served the wine industry for hundreds of years. As many in the wine industry look to reduce packaging weight, some wine producers are thinking outside the bottle. While wine glass bottles are still the majority, the opportunity for alternative packaging is increasing, said David Schuemann, owner and creative director of CF Napa Brand Design, a firm specializing in branding, which includes packaging and structural designs, for the wine, spirits, and beer industries."There is a big change happening in the business, and the younger generation, who are green conscious, are the ones leading it into the future," he said. "Alternative packaging definitely has legs and it's here to stay. I don't see it as a fast fad in any way."

FDA won't ban BPA in food packaging

The Food and Drug Administration has rejected a petition that would have banned the plastic-hardening chemical bisphenol-A from all food and drink packaging, including plastic bottles and canned food. The agency said that petitioners did not present compelling scientific evidence to justify new restrictions on BPA. The National Resources Defense Council petitioned the FDA to ban BPA as a food additive, including all uses in food or beverage packaging, to "protect consumers from the health effects of BPA."

Plastic waste into fuel: a new form of recycling?

A few startups believe the answer to both the world's waste issues and oil concerns can be solved with plastic. Plastic waste, that is. "There's no lack of plastic waste," John Bordynuik, CEO and president of JBI inc. told PlasticsToday. "It seems to increase every day." And only about 7% of plastic waste in the U.S. is recycled each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Companies like JBI Inc. hope to increase that number by converting plastic waste into fuel. The company's patent pending Plastic2Oil (P2O) process is a commercially viable, proprietary process designed to help solve some of the country's plastic waste recycling challenges.

Off the bottle: Town votes to ban plastic water bottles

Concord, Mass. is traditionally identified as a historic small town whose most prominent citizen was writer Ralph Waldo Emerson. But after Wednesday night, the town is now known as the first in the country to ban PET bottled water. After about two hours of debate at Wednesday night's town meeting, Warrant Article 32, the Drinking Water in Single-Serving PET Bottles Bylaw, narrowly passed by fewer than 40 votes, according to reports. The bylaw bans the sale of single-serving PET bottles of 1 liter (34 ounces) or less in Concord, and stores could be fined up to $50 for violating the ban.

Green bottles: Coca-Cola and Eco Plastics joint recycling venture opens in the UK

Calling it a first for the UK recycling and beverage industries, Coca-Cola Enterprises and plastic recycler Eco Plastics have established a recycling facility in the U.K. dedicated to processing both PET plastic bottles and other polymers simultaneously.The joint venture, known as Continuum Recycling Limited, is a U.S. $24 million (Euro 18.7 million) recycling facility predicted to increase the amount of bottle-grade rPET currently produced in the UK to more than 75,000 tonnes a year. A Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) spokesperson told PlasticsToday the purpose-built recycling facility will more than double the amount of rPET produced in Great Britain.

L.A. bans plastic bags

 Los Angeles became the largest city in the nation to approve a ban on plastic bags at supermarkets. The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 to phase out single-use plastic bags over the next 12 months at an estimated 7,500 stores, according to reports. After a year, retailers can charge 10 cents for paper bags. The city's program would be modeled after bag bans in other California cities. This ban is expected to take effect later this year once a four-month environmental impact report of the bag ban is complete and the council adopts an ordinance.

Summer 2012

Five major U.S. brands collaborating on plant-based PET

Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Co., H.J. Heinz, Nike, and Procter & Gamble have joined forces to accelerate the development and use of 100% plant-based PET materials in their products. Together, these five brands have formed the Plant PET Technology Collaborative (PTC), which will support new technologies in an effort to evolve today's material that is partially made from plants to a solution made entirely from plants. A PTC spokesperson told PlasticsToday all the companies share a common commitment to sustainable practices, including research and technologies focused on 100% plant-based PET materials. 

Greener Supermarkets Part I: Bags and beyond, how retail chains are adopting sustainable packagingcarying-plastic-bags_0.jpgpractices

Many national supermarkets and retailers have taken a role in adopting sustainable packaging practices in an effort to increase recycling rates while also reducing waste. For instance, Walmart has a goal to eliminate landfill waste generated by its U.S. operations by 2025. In 2010, the retail giant reduced the plastic bag waste across its global operations by 47.95 million pounds, or approximately 3.5 billion bags. Ron Sasine, senior director of packaging for Walmart, told PlasticsToday the company has made positive strides in using more renewable and recyclable packaging, along with in-store recycling.

Greener Supermarkets Part II: Sustainability of the supply chain

It's rare to have a conversation about packaging sustainability and not mention the Walmart packaging scorecard. But when Walmart introduced its scorecard five years ago, even the company was surprised at the response."I don't believe Walmart at the time foresaw the size of the impact," said Ron Sasine, senior director of packaging for Walmart. "We knew we were providing tools others might use and said, at the time, we were developing something that we want the industry to feel free to benefit from. But the scale and size of impact has been larger than we anticipated."

Eastman Chemical files lawsuit over Tritan estrogenic activity claims

Eastman Chemical has filed a civil action lawsuit against PlastiPure and CertiChem claiming the companies made false or misleading statements regarding estrogenic activity (EA) coming from Eastman's Tritan line of copolyester resins, PlasticsToday has learned. According to PlastiPure, the lawsuit stems from the company's findings that are in conflict with Eastman's claims that its Tritan resin line is EA-free. Eastman contends that PlastiPure relies on the results from a screening test (called the MCF-7 test), "which is known in the scientific community to be a non-definitive, non-final test for making determinations of EA and from results of other unreliable testing protocols," according to an Eastman spokesperson.

BPA in packaging: A lucrative past, a controversial present, and a tentative future

PlasticsToday and sister publication Packaging Digest have combined resources for a comprehensive report on bisphenol A (BPA), including its history and future, as it relates to packaging.

Bisphenol-A. Has an organic compound divided the world as much as this synthetic estrogen? While this chemical compound instills much controversy, anger, fear, and frustration on one side, the other side merely sees it as a protector of food that helps packaging withstand the high temperatures of the sterilization process and, overall, increases products' shelf life. "If you stop 10 people on the street, and ask them about BPA, they know right away that it's supposed to be considered bad," Stuart Yaniger, VP of research and product development at PlastiPure, told PlasticsToday. "But if you ask a follow-up question about why it's bad, expect to get a blank look because they don't know why."

BPA in packaging: Market outlook, PC alternatives, ongoing lawsuits

Baby-Bottle-BPA-Free.jpgOne of the strengths of polycarbonate is its toughness, combined with transparency, and a high-temperature resistance. But despite that toughness, polycarbonate has taken a major hit when it comes to packaging demand. Negative publicity has had a detrimental impact on the packaging sector worldwide, especially with the introduction of legislation banning the use of polycarbonate in containers intended for children, but also due to pre-emptive actions by producers and retailers, according to a recent IHS Chemical global market study.

FDA bans BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups

BPA can no longer be used in the manufacture of baby bottles and sippy cups, the Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) in October 2011 asked the FDA to revise certain regulations on BPA to clarify for consumers that BPA is no longer used to manufacture baby bottles and sippy cups and will not be used in these products in the future

A smarter package? Bemis and Thinfilm to develop intelligent packaging platform

Plastics packaging powerhouse Bemis Company Inc. and Thinfilm Electronics have partnered to create a flexible sensing platform for the packaging market. This new category of packaging will collect and wirelessly communicate sensor information, for use by food, consumer product and healthcare companies.

London 2012: Going green is the new gold

With 10,500 Olympic athletes and 4200 Paralympic athletes competing, an estimated 11 million visitors, 21,000 journalists and around 200,000 staff members, there will be a lot of mouths to feed at the games, which in turn, means a ton of packaging required. With the eyes of the world set on London, the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) made a bold move. Zero waste.

Polystyrene bans continue to grow in California

Another California city has put the lid on expanded polystyrene packaging. The Hermosa Beach City Council has officially approved a ban on polystyrene food packaging, which is expected to impact about 30 businesses in the beach town, including restaurants and grocery stores.  PS foam is a lightweight petroleum-based plastic material commonly used for serving or transporting prepared foods, such as plates, bowls, clam shells and cups.

Author imagines a world without plastic

Plastic-eating bacteria was unleashed on the world, which has devastated everything from food packaging to medical equipment to debit cards. Rest assured, we are not suffering from a worldwide disaster. That hypothetical scenario is the inspiration behind the novel, "The Rest is Silence". Scott Fotheringham, a specialist who holds a PhD in molecular biology and genetics from Cornell University, explores a slow apocalypse due to a loss of plastics in the world. The reader learns about the state of the world through the observations of a man who had withdrawn himself and is living in the backwoods of Nova Scotia, Canada.

Heinz sued over Dip & Squeeze packaging

When Heinz launched its "Dip & Squeeze" ketchup packet, consumers were dipping their food with appreciation for thisHeinz_dip_and_squeeze_CHF_4202.jpg new form of packaging. All Scott White could see was red. White, an independent inventor, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Heinz, alleging that the ketchup giant stole his idea when the company launched the Dip & Squeeze product.

First-hand account of the Hong Kong plastic pellets clean up

When Tracey Read first saw the initial plastic pellets spill washed up on Hong Kong beaches, it had a familiar look. "The initial spill looked like snow on several beaches and in quite a few areas the pellets were knee deep," Read, a local cleanup volunteer, told PlasticsToday. "Because Hong Kong is made up of 220 islands it was very difficult to know how bad the spill was." About 150 metric tons of plastic pellets were dumped into the sea when Typhoon Vicente hit Hong Kong on July 23.

Inventor dreams of spicing up the caps & closure segment

Linda Wood calls herself a "guppy in a shark's pond." She contacted PlasticsToday and talked with me about her invention, the Tri-Spice cap.One night Wood attempted to multi-task her chores around the house. She told me she had her cooking measuring spoons in one hand and a laundry soap cap in her other hand. Just as she was pouring the laundry liquid soap into the cap, she noticed the line in the cap designed to measure out all sizes of loads. "Then I looked at the measuring spoons and thought to myself, 'I use spices all the time and sometimes I can't find the right measure spoon,''' she said.

Fall 2012

Plastics and Politics: Senators visit machinery plants

The future of the U.S. manufacturing sector is a hot political topic as this year's presidential election has made the issue of shipping U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas a central focus. While the country is in the midst of election season, several senators have made it a priority to visit their local plastic machinery firms in recent months. Plastics auxiliary, robots and injection molding machinery manufacturer Wittmann Battenfeld recently hosted Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) at its U.S. headquarters in Torrington, CT.

Engel, Cantoni combine injection and blowmolding into one process

Engel Austria GmbH and Italian-based Cantoni have developed a new process that combines the injection molding and blowmolding processes into one injection molding machine.The process, called the inject2blow method, is a system that offers injection molders the possibility to produce blown containers without switching to a different technology, Christoph Steger, VP Business Unit Packaging for Engel told PlasticsToday.

Myth vs. Reality still plagues 'sustainable' packaging

It's a topic that seems to crop up-if not dominate-almost every plastics industry conference: Sustainability. Ian Murdoch, director at PricewatershouseCooper Corporate Finance Beratung GmbH in Vienna, Austria, broached the subject in his presentation "Sustainable Packaging: Myth or Reality" at the recent IML/IMDCON, an annual meeting that addresses the technology and advances in inmold labeling and inmold decorating.  Even after nearly a decade of using the S-word, Murdoch noted that when talking to people about sustainability, "they are hard-pressed to give you a definition."

Coca-Cola GM of PlantBottle packaging talks new partnerships, future growth

It's hard for Scott Vitters, GM of the PlantBottle packaging platform, to contain his excitement about the future for the Coca-Cola PlantBottle packaging. "We're in a phase of the journey of not just highlighting the technology but helping people understand how we build a supply chain that is truly sustainable," Vitters told PlasticsToday. "We have been able to drive top line growth for innovation for both loyalty and purchase intent. While we're still learning how to best leverage the technology on different brands, we are encouraged by the consumer reaction to the technology."

Klöckner Pentaplast talks global expansion plans

German plastics manufacturer Klöckner Pentaplast is investing $51.8 million to add to its global production capacity in its facilities in Suzhou, China; Cotia, Brazil; and Santo Tirso, Portugal. About 137 employees will be added worldwide. Klöckner Pentaplast says the company is the only rigid films producer with manufacturing sites located in the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Nancy Ryan, Klöckner Pentaplast group director of corporate communications, told PlasticsToday the company's 2013 expansion plans reflect its dedication to servicing customers' needs now and in the future.

Berlin Packaging CEO talks growth-by-acquisition strategy

Andrew Berlin, chairman and CEO of Berlin Packaging, told PlasticsToday that the company has experienced decades of organic growth. However, with the recent announcement that the Chicago-based supplier recently bought United States Container Corp., it marked the fourth acquisition for Berlin Packaging in three years. "We do see acquisitions as platforms for growth," he said. "As such, we integrate them quickly and fully into our operations, taking the best practices of both companies as we go."

Ocean Plastic: Method turns pollution into packaging

When Adam Lowry took a trip to the Hawaiian Islands, it was a real eye-opener. Lowry, co-founder of Method, a supplier of environmentally conscious household and personal care products, saw firsthand the extent of the marine debris problem-witnessing beaches covered with plastic for as far as the eye could see, Rudi Becker, Method's director of packaging, told PlasticsToday. Instead of sitting back and conducting business as usual, he suggested a pretty ambitious project: produce packaging made from ocean plastic.

Part I: Is estrogenic activity (EA) in plastics the next BPA?

While BPA is the most widely known chemical that may exhibit estrogenic activity (EA) in plastic products, according to Ninja_300dpi_0.jpgsome, it may not be the only one. In fact, some believe BPA is just the tip of the iceberg, as one report claims many types of plastic materials often test positive for leaching of chemicals having EA, including those advertised as BPA-free.With so many issues involved such as health risks, business profits, lawsuits and slander, EA in plastics has all the makings of a Hollywood drama or a horror, depending on your point-of-view.

EA in Plastics Part II: Eastman Chemical Co. v. PlastiPure

In January 2012, Eastman Chemical Co. filed legal action against PlastiPure and CertiChem claiming the companies made false or misleading statements regarding EA coming from Eastman's Tritan line of resins and products using these materials. Court documents titled "Eastman Chemical Co. v. PlastiPure" verify the nature of the suit is "Intellectual Property-Trademark." The file date was Wed., Jan. 18, 2012 at the Texas Western District Court. At press time, PlasticsToday was awaiting an update on the status of the litigation.

EA in Plastics Part III: Science is still developing

The relationship between endocrine system diseases and exposure to environmental contaminants is poorly understood and scientifically controversial, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spokesperson told PlasticsToday.In recent years, some scientists have proposed that chemicals might inadvertently be disrupting the endocrine system of humans and wildlife. A variety of chemicals have been found to disrupt the endocrine systems of animals in laboratory studies, and compelling evidence shows that endocrine systems of certain fish and wildlife have been impacted by chemical contaminants, resulting in developmental and reproductive problems, the spokesperson said.

End of 2012

42 plastic packaging products launched by Dow in 2012

Dow Chemical's performance packaging group created 42 new products for the packaging sector in 2012. This equates to nearly one new product per week in the year. Some key customer demands and trends, according to Dow, include packages that keep food fresh longer; packages that are lighter, yet stronger; and closures that are easy to open and reseal, which enable new levels of consumer convenience. "Some people say packaging isn't sustainable, but packaging is probably the most sustainable innovation in the 21st Century," Bunker said. "If we didn't have packaging, we wouldn't be able to sustain ourselves as a planet."

Plastic packaging M&A activity strong in 2012

In a year that featured the U.S. presidential election and strong interest in private equity, global plastic packaging M&A registered healthy levels of activity, according to P&M Corporate Finance (PMCF), a middle market investment bank that provides merger and acquisition advisory services. According to PMCF's Q3 2012 report, plastic packaging actually recorded a small year-over-year increase versus 2011. John Hart, director of PMCF, co-leads the plastics and packaging group, told PlasticsToday there are a number of factors at play for this increase in activity."I think in general the space is viewed as strong and recession resistant; there are strong margins and opportunity to get a return on investment," he said.

What to expect in 2013 for plastic packaging

When asked about packaging trends, it didn't take long for Scott Steele, president of Plastic Technologies, to come up with an answer. "It's the same factor that always drives us and that is cost," he told PlasticsToday. "That's never going to change and probably won't ever change. Packaging will always look to provide an economical way to protect the goods. The brand image, shape, form and function all enhance the product but, in principle, it's all about cost." In addition to cutting costs, as 2013 fast approaches, we're taking a closer look at what is driving the industry forward.

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