Emperor Bloomberg is trying to inflict as much damage to the economy as he can prior to his exit as New York City Mayor by cramming through a ban that would stagnate job growth and raise consumer prices all while doing nothing to solve their litter issue. I think the most disturbing thing in that piece, was the video where all the school children were marched out by their “teachers” to chant against the polystyrene workers who came in support of their jobs. Typical it seems these days of certain groups. Demonize and belittle that which they do not agree with or which doesn’t fit into their ideology. A sad day for those poor school kids and shame on those “teachers” for forcing their personal views upon them.
I was recently in the San Francisco airport and noticed that most of fine food establishments were serving their food in containers that were marked as compostable. We’ve talked about compostable containers many times before, in this blog. In fact as a company, we sell quite a lot of compostable packaging under our Harvest product lines. What struck me as odd was there were no collection points set up for these containers. The only option for disposal was into the trash receptacles. Once they go into those garbage cans, they are headed for the landfill. Unfortunately, most people mistakenly assume that the container will compost or go away in the landfill. This is not the case.
Studies have shown that even organic materials (food waste, lawn clippings) last a very long time. So I guess the question is, did these food operations decide to “go green” thinking the containers would be composted, were they forced to by legislation, or did they just make a conscious decision to do this as an internal initiative based on consumer feedback. In a perfect world, the answer would be the last. I believe the markets and consumers need to be the force behind these types of decisions, but it is my guess that in this case, they were forced to since most every food outlet was using compostable packaging. I find it hard to believe that every individual food operation in that airport thought the same way in terms of their food packaging.
Just to be clear, I’m packaging neutral when it comes to the substrate used since I work for a company that sells most every type available. Paper, plastics, hybrids and yes 100% certified compostable products. I just think it is best to allow the markets (consumers) decide which materials are desired. This goes against the thinking of many in the political arena who would rather pick on materials that are deemed easy targets due to customer misconception and internet folklore. One needs to really ask what their motives are. Is it because it’s the will of their constituents or that they want to have some sort of perceived accomplishment? You decide.
From time to time companies launch products that have the chance to make a real impact on the way we view things. For the food packaging industry, this is one of those times. Generations is the very first of its kind; foam food service packaging that is produced using 25% post consumer recycled content. What makes this so special you ask? Well let’s cover the highlights.
- Purchasing products that contain post consumer recycled (PCR) content such as Generations, help divert millions of pounds of materials from landfills.
- Products manufactured with PCR content help keep jobs domestic.
- Generations foam food packaging products use less natural resources as a result of the PCR content.
- Patronizing products with PCR content will help support local recycling programs. Remember, if there is no after-market for the recycled material, recycling efforts will fail. Generations foodservice packaging fills that previously unmet market.
- Using Generations products helps sustain the environment for future generations.
And last but certainly not least…
- Generations foam food packaging provides an economical solutions for customers that want a greener packaging profile but can’t quite afford some of the expensive alternatives available today.
Now, I’m not a big fan of throwing stones at the competition, but I do feel compelled to make you aware of claims being made regarding “recycled content” in foam packaging. Here is the straight skinny on that. Most all foam food packaging companies, us included, have always used their own internal scrap back into the production of their products. That is just standard operating procedure. Nothing new or special about it. But some companies are making claims that mislead consumers to believe their products contain post consumer recycled content. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is the case. Look for the words “post consumer” and only then you’ll be certain of the source for the recycled content.
In case you didn’t click the link up top, I’ll tell you our Generations brand products will consist of large & medium hinged dinner containers, large sandwich container, large all purpose container and a 5 compartment school tray. We should have all these products in stock and ready for sale by mid June. If you are traveling to the National Restaurant show this weekend (5/5), stop by our booth (#4045) and you can see some of the products first hand.
Sure, you’ve always know Genpak as the place for quality rigid food packaging solutions. And you’ve known us for our cutting edge product developments on that front as well. Our BPI Certified compostable Harvest Fiber line of dinnerware and hinged containers are a huge hit with restaurants, colleges and food service operations looking for alternative packaging. And our Green Restaurant Association endorsed Clear Hinged Deli line along with our Harvest Starch & Smart Set Pro lines have also been successful with customers looking to stay within the 3R’s approach for food packaging which is Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. (okay that was the blatant commercial lead in to the main point)
But you may not have know we also have a flexible packaging side as well. We produce square bottom bags, window bags and zipper bags for many industries including bakery, retail, pet food and food processing. Since it’s us and you’ve come to expect big things, we are very happy to announce a major breakthrough in compostable bag technology. Working in conjunction with our friends at Innovia Films we have helped to develop the Boulder Canyon Foods compostable chip bag! Click here for Innovia’s press release on this exciting new material. Long story short, it’s a compostable substrate that does the job and won’t make you go deaf. For those of you who don’t get the “deaf” joke, Sun Chip has recently pulled their compostable bag because it was deemed as too noisy by consumers. If that really is the reason, this tells us that consumers want a transparent transition from traditional to alternative substrate choices. Or, at the very least, they want as little noticeable changes as possible. Some consumers went as far as creating a Facebook page called “I can’t hear you over the Sun Chip bag”. Others posted You Tube videos going on about the noisy bags. Some of them were actually pretty funny.
I think the main lesson that should be taken away from this though, is that the consumer rules roost (as it should be). If they don’t like it, they won’t buy it. Period, end of story. And they may even take their dislike of a product to the cyber streets as is the case with Sun Chips. Check it out on You Tube. Just type in Sun Chips Bag. There are pages upon pages of videos basically griping about how loud that bag was.
For our part, we here you consumers…loud and clear (over the bag). Hey we’ve taken our lumps too. That Harvest Fiber line I plugged earlier is actually our second generation of Harvest products. The first line was okay, but it didn’t really hold up to hot food applications. We did have sales to some niche markets where hot food wasn’t on the menu, but wholesale acceptance was never obtained. So we went back to the drawing board and Harvest Fiber was born. Microwave safe, hot foods, cold foods and still compostable. I’m sure it won’t be too long though and there will be more new materials that will be even better to use. One thing is certain. We’ll be leading that charge to keep our loyal customers and soon to be customers up to date with the very latest options.
The image to the right encompasses our mission in the sustainable effort and has been designed to appear on our 100% compostable show bag debuting this month!
Each new Affordable, Earth-Friendly line is Sustainable (designed to meet current needs without compromising the needs of future generations), using the 3R approach of Reduce (practice of doing the same or even more with less – excellent way to lessen the burden of consumption), Reuse (ability to use packaging more than once – for the same or new purpose) & Recycle (local level curb side collection/compostable: back to nature).
Utilizing one or more elements of the 3R approach to minimize waste, please find below, the defining attributes allowing each new line to be considered sustainable…
Harvest Fiber (Bowls, Plates, Containers, Tray)
Reduce: Produced using 100% natural and annually renewable resources, reducing the dependence on non renewable resources! Recycle: BPI Certified Compostable! Returned back into nature in the form of rich, useful compost used for soil enhancement.
Harvest Starch (Bowls, Plates, Containers & Utensils)
Reduce: Produced from a hybrid material that replaces 60% of the polypropylene resin with natural and annually renewable starches!
Smart Set Pro (Rectangular & Round Containers/Trays with Lids)
Reduce: Produced with revolutionary textured material allowing up to 30% part weight reduction, reducing the draw on resources.
Reuse: Top shelf, dishwasher friendly, ideal for additional use at home!
Recycle: Based on local municipality.
* Added bonus: Harvest Fiber, Harvest Starch & Smart Set Pro are each microwave safe *
Reduce: Produced with up to 50% post consumer recycled content (PCR), reducing the requirement for virgin material!
Reuse: With an easy to use lid, these are perfect to use more than once – for the same or new purpose!
Recycle: Made using PET (Polythylene Terephthalate), the most recycled form of plastic available today – #1 recyclable!
Reuse: For smoothies, cut fruit, parfaits, cut vegetables, salads and so much more!
Recycle: As the name suggests, produced using PET (Polythylene Terephthalate), the most widely recycled form of plastic available today! #1 recyclable!
Flexible Packaging (Bags & Laminates)
Reduce: Uniquely produced to reduce draw on non renewable resources by using recycled materials!
Reuse: Available for use time and time again!
Recycle: Select, unique substrates are compostable – returned back to nature in the form of rich, useful compost for soil enhancement!
Oh, and please don’t hesitate to request a complimentary sample package!!!
To contact us, click on the Home field at the top of the screen to visit our Home Page, choose Contact Us from the option list, complete the required fields and press SEND.
We also may be reached by phone, 1-877-670-0066.
Feel free to post a comment, we value your thoughts!
Genpaker – Hello this is Genpak
Caller – Hi my name is Jane and my 10 year old son attending our local school that is using your 5 compartment serving trays in their cafeteria.
Genpaker – Hey that is fantastic!
Caller – Well not so fast. His science teacher has told the class that the Styrofoam used to make these trays is not biodegradable and are clogging up our landfills. He also said the trays could leach toxins into the foods and make him sick. What do you have to say to that?
Genpaker – Okay let me start by saying the material used for these school trays is called foamed polystyrene. Styrofoam is actually a registered trademark of Dow Chemical.
Caller – Oh okay I didn’t realize that.
Genpaker – No problem. Anyway it is certainly true that foamed polystyrene is not biodegradable in a landfill environment. But did you know that pretty much nothing is biodegradable in modern landfills?
Caller – Really?
Genpaker– Yes. Most people think of landfills as giant compost piles where stuff thrown in just sort of goes away or biodegrades. But a better description of a landfill would be a giant mummifier where things just sort of stay as is. Did you know there have been digs done on landfills where they have found carrots that still snap and 5 year old newspapers that are still legible?
Caller – Huh
Genpaker– Yep. Also one of the reasons landfills are made like this is to reduce the amount of methane dispersed into the atmosphere from landfills and the amount of leachate that makes its way into our aquifers.
Caller – What is leachate?
Genpaker – It’s water that has sifted down through the landfill that has picked up particles and other nasty stuff.
Caller – Ah
Genpaker – Anyway, so even if the school system did use a biodegradable or compostable option, which by the way we do carry in our Harvest Fiber line, and continued to toss them into their solid waste stream, they’d still end up in the same landfill where they stay for a very long time.
Caller – Okay but what about the issue of these products clogging up the landfills?
Genpaker – Well I can tell you that according to a 2006 EPA study, plastic, single use food service items only accounted for 1.2% of all material heading to a landfill. The main item filling up landfills was actually paper and paperboard products.
Caller – How about that?
Genpaker – Right. And remember what we talked about regarding things not biodegrading? Now on to the whole safety issue.
Caller – Yes this is a big concern for me as I don’t want little Johnny growing a third eye or anything.
Genpaker – Rest assured he won’t grow a third eye from eating off our school tray. In fact a study was done on single use food packaging versus reusable or permanent foodservice ware that showed the single use products had significantly lower microbial levels. Also, since foamed polystyrene is such an excellent insulator, foods stay at optimal temperature longer thereby reducing food spoilage.
Caller – So you are saying they are totally safe.
Genpaker – Yes that’s exactly what I’m saying. Here’s one other thing to consider. Let’s say your school system did decide to switch away from single use school trays to a permanent tray option. They would need to construct or retrofit a special room to house an industrial strength dish washing system complete with all the wiring and piping. They’d need to staff that room, pay for the electricity to heat the water and run the washer, pay for the industrial strength detergents used and pay for the massive water consumption of a large washer, not to mention the waste water generated from such a washer. Now consider that a case of our 10,500 school trays costs…say around $18.00 for a case of 500. That translates to costing about 4 cents to per student. What do you think the permanent tray solution costs? I’ll bet it is more than 4 cents. That could translate to higher taxes for you.
Caller – Okay okay you made your point. I guess the foam school trays really aren’t bad for the environment or for the students after all.
Genpaker – That’s right. I’m glad you decided to pick up the phone and find out for yourself right from the horses mouth. If I may suggest, the American Chemistry Council produced a fairly decent pamphlet that covers most of what we talked about here today. You should get a copy and send it to school with your son. Since this topic came from his science teacher, I’m sure he or she would trust information coming from them as a valid source. Thanks again for calling and feel free to call us any time.
Over the last couple of days I attended a conference put on by Nature Works, who is a domestic supplier of PLA. PLA (polylactic acid) is an alternative resin source made entirely from corn and is meant to be used in replacement of PET, OPS and other clear petrochemical based resins. This conference came off the heals of another meeting I attended called the Biopolymers Symposium, which had a very similar theme to the aforementioned NW conference.
Both events were fairly well attended, and not just by chemists and engineers (thankfully). One message I took away from both events was the goal of many companies to practice and become more sustainable. Sustainability by definition is not rocket science, but to me more of a common sense practice. However the extent to which some companies have embraced sustainable practices does teeter on the verge of mind blowing. Not just the big companies either. I saw most impressive presentations from all sized companies including smaller regional companies, national niche market companies right on up to multi-billion dollar multinational brand name companies.
Clearly the largest companies have the most aggressive and far reaching game plans due to greater resources. Once such plan that was talked about was a goal to make a manufacturing facility of one such large company, 100% self reliant. To be taken totally off the grid for power, water and other utilities. This wasn’t just some lofty goal on paper to say “look what we are thinking about”, but according to the presentation, well under way to becoming reality. I can’t go into all the details of everything they were doing, but it was very impressive. Especially the water reclamation part. This is because the facility was located in an arid location and the company used a great deal of water in their particular process. They not only figured out how to clean and purify the water, but to repipe it back into their process to be used again and again.
There was one common detail that each and every company who talked about sustainability initiatives stressed though. That was a return on their investment. Let’s face it, companies are in business to turn a profit. No profit and the doors close. These forward thinking companies each had a clear objective to turn their sustainability programs into a healthier bottom line. They not only wanted to be better stewards of the environment but wanted a stronger company as a result of it. Again, there were lots of examples provided showing where and how a payback and return was realized, but I think the most important aspect that each organization practiced was a top down approach to sustainability. In each and every case that was presented, the company’s top management was completely committed to their program and, they got all their employees on board. You can have an excellent plan on paper, but if the mother hen is not fully committed, the chicks will surely scatter. These companies were not afraid to step back and take a critical look at themselves to ask “how can we do this better and what can we do differently that will not only enrich the environment, but enrich our profits as well”.
I urge you to do the same. Whether you have or work for a company as well as in your personal life. Ask yourself the questions. Do you really need to drive to the market for that gallon of milk, or could you walk or ride a bike? Turn off the lights when you leave a room and power your computer down when you’ll be away from it. These may seem like little things but just remember, one or two tiny snowflakes falling won’t add up to much, but millions falling can enact a blizzard of change.
March. Now here’s a green month if I ever saw one. Of course there is March Madness where I typically loose around 50 green backs in the office pool. St. Patrick’s Day is good for several pints of my favorite green lager. And let’s not forget that Dr. Seuss was born in the month of March. What’s green about that? Hello, Green Eggs and Ham! One other thing is that Uranus was discovered in March. No there’s nothing green about that. I just wanted to type Uranus (insert your own crude joke here).
Now that you are thinking green (those of you still on Uranus can come back to us now) let’s talk about our Deli containers. Crystal clear yes, but green non the less. I read somewhere that people like bullet points, so instead of a paragraph of info, here’s the bullet point version:
- Made from APET which is #1 curbside recyclable
- Made using up to 50% post consumer recycled content
- And now is endorsed by the Green Restaurant Association
That’s right, our deli line is now endorsed by the GRA! If you know the GRA you’ll know they only endorse products that meet there very strict standards and guidelines. Restaurants and food service operator can earn up to two points from the GRA by utilizing our Hinged Deli Containers. This will get them two points closer to becoming a Certified Green Restaurant. Also, I’m happy to report that our Clear Hinged Deli food containers are the only clear hinged products that currently carry their endorsement.
The other great features of this line are:
- Patented 360° seal
- Patented hinged closure
- Freezer safe
- Works with automated fill & seal equipment
Heard enough? If not, just shoot us a note and ask for some samples so you may give it your own test. I’m confident you’ll like what you see.
The Federal Trade Commission defines recycled content materials as those that have been recovered or diverted from the solid waste stream. Recycled content can be broken into two categories. Post consumer and pre-consumer, which may also be referred to as post industrial. Post consumer content, as its name implies, are materials that have been used by consumers. Examples are clear plastic water and soda bottles made from P.E.T. that carry the #1 recycle symbol. Post industrial is scrap that is generated during the normal manufacturing process that is recycled back into its raw material state and used again.
At Genpak, we began producing our clear Hinged Deli products using post consumer recycled (PCR) content back in early 2007. Since then we have expanded that program to include all of our clear APET products.
The EPA states “There’s more to recycling than setting out your recyclables at the curb. In order to make recycling economically feasible, we must buy recycled products and packaging. When we buy recycled products, we create an economic incentive for recyclable materials to be collected, manufactured and marketed as new products. Buying recycled products has both economic and environmental benefits. Purchasing products made from or packaged in recycled materials saves resources for future generations.”
For our part, just in 2009 we used nearly 14 million pounds of post consumer resin for our APET products. To put that into perspective, it is the equivalent of diverting nearly 280 million water bottles from landfills! Breaking it down even further to a customer level, you can say that for every 200 cases of our very popular AD16 purchased, you have helped us divert 17,600 bottles that were destined for a landfill. Not only are our Deli containers made with up to 50% post consumer recycled content, but they are also still #1 recyclable! It’s a win-win.
For more information or to request samples just drop us a line and we’ll get you everything you need to know.
It’s a brand new year and we’ve got a brand new product line to talk about. Before we get into that, let me lay a little ground work if I may. We had a national sales meeting up here in sunny Glens Falls a couple weeks back. After a few of our fair weather sales people stopped complaining about the snow, we got down to business and had a couple productive days. I think the main theme I took away was summed up by a phrase that will reign true throughout this year and years to come. That phrase was, “this is not your mother’s Genpak“. We were challenged to think outside our comfort zone and not to fall back on that comfy security blanket we call the foam hinged container. The gauntlet was laid to sell a greater mix of our ever growing product offering and push the envelope into the markets that will benefit the most from our superior designs and substrates. By the end of the meetings our entire group was pumped up and ready to dive into 2010 with both feet and with a bag full of new products…which leads me to our January spotlight. Harvest Fiber!
Harvest Fiber is our next generation of eco-conscious food packaging products. Before you ho hum yawn this one away as another Johnny-Come-Lately line of earth friendly products, remember who you are dealing with here! Genpak was first to market over three years ago with a full line of eco products. And, as a leader in the single use food packaging industry and one of the pioneers of “green” food packaging, we wanted to make sure these products could meet our motto of Quality To Go.
Now, what really sets our Fiber products apart from the field is our design. I’m not going to try to mislead you or gloss over facts here. Like everybody else who supplies products made from Bagasse, they are made in China. This mainly due to the lack of supply for that type of raw material here in the US. Please rest assured that we did not partner with the lowest bidder however. We visited, talked with and audited suppliers until we were 100% comfortable with our choice. One of the main reasons we went with who we did was we needed a company that would make products to our own design specifications. In other words we did not buy off the rack as everyone else has done. We took our time and had custom molds made to our spec so the products we did launch, looked and worked just like the Genpak products our customers are used to. If you’ve ever fumbled and cursed at that typical slot and tab type closure that is rampant in the fiber hinged market, you will absolutely love our hinged containers. Why? Because it is our Snap-It style design. Easy to close and stays closed.
Another feature on our Harvest Fiber hinged products that you’ll notice is the stacking rim. Yet another feature left off by our competition, but not over looked by us. Our thought here was, why skimp? This is what the food service market is used to so that’s what we are going to do. Other features include:
- GMO free material.
- Non-absorbent finish
- Microwave safe
- BPI certified compostable
- Annually renewable, non food source substrate
For you visual types, to see more pictures of our new Harvest Fiber food service products, just follow this link. If it is samples or more information you are after, just drop us a line and we’ll get right back to you.
Let us know what you think. Reply back (make it clean) and we’ll post your comments.