Call it “greenwrapping.” From popcorn to peanut butter, from tuna to tea, the fancy food biz is increasingly looking to sustainable packaging to attract green-conscious consumers. Organic ingredients are no longer sufficient for green cred. What’s outside the product is starting to matter as much as what’s inside.
Tuna has made headlines in years past as a controversial catch, but now it’s the cans that are cause for conservationist’s contemplation. Metal cans use up more raw material than plastic pouches do, and they require more energy to transport. Now, Sea Fare Pacific is bucking tradition by packing wild-caught fish in sleek eco-friendly, BPA-free pouches.
Popcorn bags may seem inconspicuous enough, but they’re increasingly drawing scrutiny. It turns out that many commercial microwave popcorn bags are lined with PFOA, which the FDA labels a toxin. Other sketchy stuff in the bags ranges from plastics to Teflon, not to mention artificial butter substitutes. Into the breach Quinn Popcorn arrived with a Kickstarter campaign and plans to clean up the much-beloved snack.
Here’s how the Quinn founders’ site describes their mission: “First, we tackled the bag. Gone are the chemical coatings (PFOA, PFCs, Poly, etc.). We even pulled out the susceptor (gray metal/plastic patch). What’s left is a bag that’s made from paper and paper alone. Well, it is special paper that is pressed to make it grease proof. That wasn’t easy to figure out. Did we mention, it’s even compostable?”
Bags are bound for even more change. Pipcorn of Brooklyn is another new-style popcorn company selling mini popcorn made from hull-less kernels. It comes in hand-stamped, simple paper bags.
Even tea packaging can be greened-up. Numi now packs organic tea in biodegradable filter paper. And wine bottlers have gotten into the green game, too. Alternative Organic Wine commissioned a super-green wine bottle from The Creative Method, an Australian design firm. The resulting package — which won a 2012 design award from The Dieline, a leading package-design blog was organic from head to foot. It included balsa wood, organic string and wax, and even organic inks for the bottle’s images.
Creative packaging comes in myriad shapes and sizes. Morning Ritual packs its organic strained yogurt with a bamboo bowl and spoon set, while peanut butter up-and-comer Justin’s uses already-recycled plastic for its jars.
Sustainability-conscious retailers looking to deliver fresh goods outside of their local markets face another challenge: how to ship temperature-sensitive materials without compromising their green ethos. Thermopod offers a solution in the form of biodegradable, temperature-controlled packaging made of recycled textile fibers. Thermopods come in crates and envelopes of varying sizes designed to protect everything from organic foods to chilled wine.
For organic food purveyors already focused on premium consumers with a discerning eye for sustainability, the recent wave of greenwrapping is just the start. A survey last summer by research and consulting firm EcoFocus found that more than two thirds of those who shop for natural and organic foods consider it important to choose foods packaged responsibly. Whatever they’re buying, they want it green.
More from UPS:
- A Supply Chain for Temperature-Sensitive Pharmaceuticals Starts with Logistics
- Sustainability: Packaging Matters
- Sustainability Is a Key to Long-Term Success - Jeremy Caplan, Forbes