Environmentally Friendly Packaging

- January 01, 2016 -

Environmentally friendly packaging isn’t an optional item. It’s increasingly a mandate, due to corporate standards, consumer tastes, and/or government policies. Dow collaborates with brand owners, converters and machinery manufacturers to create solutions, combining sustainability with shelf appeal, freshness, safety, and cost-efficiency.

Making the Packages People Want

Conservation and waste reduction are becoming ever more integrated into everyday life. From the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent estimates, of the 250 million tons of trash generated in the country, 34.1% of it is now recycled, over five times the rate of 9.6% in 1980. For many companies, adapting to this rapid sea change while optimizing for cost and performance may appear daunting.

At Dow, we see environmentally friendly packaging as an immediate opportunity. By reducing their environmental footprint, companies can increase differentiation and brand loyalty with consumers and actually move form and function forwards.

At the same time, there is a chance to improve the business profile of packaging by reducing raw material costs and, in some cases, avoiding non-compliance fees while meeting – or anticipating – compliance requirements.

Four Key Factors in Environmentally Friendly Packaging

Dow is helping the packaging industry make gains in sustainability by focusing our research and development on four properties that significantly reduce environmental footprints:

Toughness: Stronger, stiffer materials support downgauging. They allow converters to cut material use while reducing product damage and waste and deliver smaller, more convenient and optimized packages without compromising protection.

Lightness: Lighter packaging makes transportation and distribution more efficient. With millions of tons of packaging materials used each year, the impact of just a few grams of weight reduction can quickly add up for both the environment and the bottom line.

Renewability & Recyclability: Advanced sealants and application development support can allow converters to achieve high-quality packaging by using material that was renewably sourced and can be recycled. In addition, full life cycle management can build efficient recycling into the production process, reducing overall costs and environmental impacts simultaneously.

Processability: Materials that enable better output and more efficient processing can cut down on waste and energy use while increasing productivity and reducing labor and materials costs.

Solutions for Greater Sustainability

Dow products give the packaging industry the solutions they need to develop better environmentally friendly packaging. Products making a difference include:

Modifier Resins: Dow™ modifier resins can improve mechanical properties, enhance the strength of materials and seals, increase adhesions and compatibility of different polymers, and modify viscosity to add melt strengthen and improve recyclability.

For example, our research shows that adding less than 5% of Dow™ Biomax® Strong to the renewably sourced polymer polyactic acid (PLA) not only increases its strength, but also reduces energy in its extrusion process by as much as 30%.

Sealant Resins: Dow sealant resins that are both strong and light can help companies maintain package durability and achieve reductions in packaging wastes and costs.

Dow™ Surlyn® ionomer resin can replace polyethlene materials and decrease the thickness of the sealant layer by more than half in many kinds of packaging, including paper-based pouches for dry foods, or thermoformed packaging for meats.

Compatabilizer Resins: Resins in the Dow™ Fusabond® functional polymers product line can help bond together dissimilar polymers in the recycling process and allow companies to reclaim more recyclable material.

Dow has a global presence with research facilities and testing laboratories located worldwide. Our experienced material scientists and engineers are dedicated to making environmentally friendly packaging to fit the challenges converters, designers, and brands face every day.