Solutions to the plastic packaging conundrum vary

We’re drowning in plastic packaging waste, according to some sources, and need to act now to fix it. Should we boost recycling rates? Develop non-plastic alternatives? Educate consumers on the many valuable aspects of plastic packaging? Yes, yes and yes.

A review of the best-read articles posted on in October 2019 show a fixation on plastic packaging sustainability. It’s not surprising, considering all the brand-owner activity in this area in response to consumer sentiments (see “Consumers want non-plastic packaging options”).

Here is what the global Packaging Digest audience has been voraciously reading the last several weeks:


5. Ball Corp. presents the plastic-replacing aluminum cup

The switch from plastic drinking cups has already started at major entertainment venues and concessionaires across the U.S. In August, Ball Corp. announced a number of parks and food outlets would start using new 20-oz aluminum cups in September 2019, with the change continuing throughout 2020.

In addition to being lightweight yet sturdy, the recyclable metal cup stays cool to the touch, offering consumers an enhanced beverage drinking experience.

“The aluminum cup is a game-changer for the industry,” Sebastian Siethoff, Ball general manager, tells Packaging Digest.  “We hope that our customers and consumers view the aluminum cup as a sustainable and easily recyclable alternative to plastic cups, which are currently a mainstay of stadiums, restaurants and beaches and often end up in the trash or on the ground.”

NEXT: #4 article in October 2019


4. Non-plastic packaging isn’t the only sustainable solution

Senior manager Trina Matta with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition reminds us that “creating sustainable packaging involves considering questions of sourcing, efficiency, recovery, health and safety.”

With this in mind, Matta says, “…turning away from plastic whole hog isn’t necessarily the best way forward for everyone…”

She concludes, “As sustainable packaging leaders, we have an obligation to help the public understand that there is more to sustainability than shifting away from plastics entirely. Finding packaging that is recyclable is not the silver bullet; finding packaging that is resource efficient is not the silver bullet; eliminating all plastics is not the silver bullet.”

I agree!

NEXT: #3 article in October 2019


3. Most food cans no longer use BPA in their linings

Regular readers of Packaging Digest will probably recognize this article. It’s been in our “top articles” lists nearly this entire year. Originally published in February 2018 (almost two years ago!), this exclusive Q&A with Robert Budway, president of the Can Manufacturers Institute, covers the development of new food can linings that replace previous ones that contained the controversial chemical bisphenol-A (BPA).

NEXT: #2 article in October 2019


2. Remedies for single-use plastic packaging

TerraCycle founder/CEO and sustainable packaging visionary Tom Szaky amazed the world early this year with the introduction of Loop, a new circular shopping platform that gives consumers the opportunity to buy their favorite products in durable, not disposable, packaging.

But reusable packaging isn’t the only answer to today’s single-use plastic packaging backlash. In his latest article for Packaging Digest, Szaky outlines a new RB Health & Nutrition Recycling Program—launched in time for cough, cold and flu season. This national recycling program recovers health-and-wellness packaging from RB, as well as from any brand, in these categories:

• Vitamins, minerals and supplements 
• Sexual health and well-being 
• Infant formula and child nutrition 
• Personal care and foot care

Szaky outlines, “From blister packs to baby formula tubes, even condom wrappers and personal care product tubes, the program accepts the many, varied types of packaging that deliver the products we use in everyday life. It also allows retail stores, colleges, gyms and other organizations to sign up as a public drop-off site and build up the recycling network.”

Click to learn more or to participate.

NEXT: #1 article in October 2019


1. 9 innovative food and beverage packages from around the world

Amid all the anti-plastic packaging sentiment, we also celebrated innovations in plastic packaging in October 2019 with our review of select winners in the 2019 Packaging Innovation Awards, the prestigious awards program originated by DuPont that has been continued by Dow after the two companies merged in 2017. We focused on winning entries in the food and beverage markets.

The competition is open to any packaging innovation, not just those using plastic. However, notables in these nine entries that specifically address plastic packaging sustainability are:

• The Diamond Runner up: Amcor’s Paperly thermoformable paper-based packaging on Page 3, which gives processed meat and cheese packaging a rustic look and feel (image above).

• A Gold Award: DuPont Teijin Films LuxCR Depolymerisation Process on Page 9, which helps to overcome challenges of mechanical recycling and food contact compliance for recycled plastics. It depolymerizes mechanically recovered PET back into the BHET monomer unit that’s indistinguishable from virgin monomers.


These top articles from October 2019 on are just a few of the activities taking place to address consumer and industry concerns about plastic packaging sustainability. CLICK HERE to sign up for our newsletters to stay informed about this critical packaging issue.


WestPack-2020  WestPack 2020: Ideas. Education. New Partners. Feb. 11-13

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