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08/11/2022

Consumer Demand Leads to New Sustainable Materials, Processes in Packaging

At the Store Brands Industry Forum on Sustainability, Dawn Nowicki, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Mold-Rite Packaging, and Ashley Elzinga, Director of Sustainability & Outreach at the Foodservice Packaging Institute, discussed new developments in sustainable packaging.
Zachary Russell
Associate Editor
Zachary Russell profile picture

With sustainability gaining steam as a major purchasing factor for consumers, choosing sustainably packaged products is often a first step in making more eco-friendly decisions.

At the recent Store Brands Industry Forum on Sustainability, Dawn Nowicki, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Mold-Rite Packaging, and Ashley Elzinga, Director of Sustainability & Outreach at the Foodservice Packaging Institute, discussed the importance of retailers incorporating Earth-friendly packaging into more items.

“With the challenges facing our industry, there continues to be new ways to provide a more sustainable offering,” said Nowicki. “The biggest thing is the use of post-consumer recycled materials. There’s a lot of sensitivity around reducing the amount of waste that’s generated and deflecting that product from landfills, so that post-consumer resin provides a lot of benefits.”

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Greg Sleter, Dawn Nowicki, Ashley Elzinga
Greg Sleter, Dawn Nowicki, Ashley Elzinga

Nowicki added that 'lightweighting,' or using less plastics in a packaging product, also helps reduce the amount of virgin plastic that is used. It can also be economical and make for lighter shipping loads, impacting supply chain sustainability.

“Lightweighting really provides a way to reduce shipping costs, become more e-commerce friendly, and when you combine that with the recycled resin, you really get a nice opportunity to get a more robust sustainable package,” she said.

Elzinga said that other new materials used in packaging aren't limited to just recycled materials.

“We’re seeing new coatings on fiber products, new bio-based plastics, and also materials that are being used in different ways,” she said. “For example, molded fiber is not just for drink carriers anymore. You’re seeing it in bowls, plates and trays, so there’s a lot of innovation going on around packaging right now. We’re always looking for the next material or product.”

The full forum can be viewed on-demand here.