Plastic. Who needs it?

Plastic. Who needs it?

How about everybody?


Besides the fact that plastic is everywhere, what amazes me most is the amount of time and innovation we spend improving both the process and the material itself – adapting to ever-increasing demand for products that are both cost effective and environmentally friendly.

In the last month alone, my news feeds have been brimming with new ideas and innovations on just that:

Ecoprime, the first PCR plastic approved by the FDA for food packaging use.

First, PepsiCo’s Naked Juice brand announced adoption of the 100% post-consumer recycled reNEWabottle packaging across their full line of juices and smoothies.  In this one move, Naked Juice claims it will save some 7.4 million pounds of virgin plastics every year.  Added to the other benefits of this single change alone, the bottle  itself is about as good for the Earth as what they put in it might be good for you.

Then I caught some headlines about Envision Plastic’s commercial introduction of the first food-grade PCR plastic – they’ve actually had the technology to produce this for a decade or so. Only now the market is more primed and ready than it had been before.

Dubbed “EcoPrime,” this plastic is the first (and so far the only) fully recycled HDPE plastic to be FDA approved for use in packaging food and beverages.

Envision is building a business on the present-and-growing demand for greener packaging options – as eco-friendly as it is fascinating!

But plastic innovation isn’t just about finding better ways to recycle and reuse what we’ve already made.  It’s also about improving the process of making it in the first place:

A few days after I learned about Envision Plastics I came across this announcement about a new bio-composite plastic made with up to 40% soy based ingredients.  Bio-composites may not be new in theory, but what sets Panacea apart is the claim that these plastics retain the “same characteristics of the base plastic” while being cost-competitive with their 100% petroleum-based counterparts.

Beyond bioplastics, upcycling, and recycling are the ongoing efforts to shrink conventional packaging appropriately, reduce raw material usage and waste from the top down, and use more sustainable manufacturing processes to make (and remake) it all in the first place.

Plastic is more than just important, it’s crucial to our way of life.  The fact that we continue to innovate and push for better ways to produce and use it – to learn from what we’ve done and constantly improve on it – sets it apart as one of the most versatile materials we have to work with.

What’s the most interesting news in plastic you’ve seen lately?