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May 2022 Gordon Robertson- Rational Thoughts on Sustainable Packaging.pptx

May 2022 Gordon Robertson- Rational Thoughts on Sustainable Packaging.pptx

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May 2022 Gordon Robertson: Rational Thoughts on Sustainable Packaging

With 30 years of experience across the food science and packaging spectrum, Dr Claire Sand through her company, Packaging Technology & Research, offers clients solutions using Strategy, Technology, Consulting and Coaching. ​
 
Want to know more about how this article affect your business? Reach out to Dr Sand on Linked In - https://www.linkedin.com/in/clairekoelschsand
 
Want to keep learning from Dr. Sand? View more of her presentations and articles at https://www.packagingtechnologyandresearch.com/expertise.html
Dr. Claire Sand | Owner, Packaging Technology & Research, LLC; Adjunct Professor, Michigan State University; Columnist for Food Technology Magazine
http://www.packagingtechnologyandresearch.com/

May 2022 Gordon Robertson: Rational Thoughts on Sustainable Packaging

With 30 years of experience across the food science and packaging spectrum, Dr Claire Sand through her company, Packaging Technology & Research, offers clients solutions using Strategy, Technology, Consulting and Coaching. ​
 
Want to know more about how this article affect your business? Reach out to Dr Sand on Linked In - https://www.linkedin.com/in/clairekoelschsand
 
Want to keep learning from Dr. Sand? View more of her presentations and articles at https://www.packagingtechnologyandresearch.com/expertise.html
Dr. Claire Sand | Owner, Packaging Technology & Research, LLC; Adjunct Professor, Michigan State University; Columnist for Food Technology Magazine
http://www.packagingtechnologyandresearch.com/

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May 2022 Gordon Robertson- Rational Thoughts on Sustainable Packaging.pptx

  1. 1. Gordon Robertson: Rational Thoughts on Sustainable Packaging May 2022 Connect with me at 612-807-5341 or claire@packagingtechnologyandresearch.com Dr Claire Sand’s article in IFT’s Food Technology Magazine
  2. 2. performed reliably at a commercially acceptable cost. This area must continue to be a research priority. Q: What exactly is it about biodegradable food packaging research that makes you want to let loose and scream? Robertson: Many academics appear to think that they can help the environment by developing a biobased, biodegradable film, and many of their grad uate students have been set this task-which is not that difficult. However, converting a laboratory-de veloped film into a commercially viable packaging material is hugely expensive and time-consuming. To appreciate this effort and expense, we can reflect on the development of polyethylene furanoate, a wonderful, biobased polymer that is close to mar- ket release after almost 20 years of intense work. It always surprises me that so many food sci ence researchers in academia start from the position that biodegradation is essential for any packag- ing material, without critically examining the basis of this assumption. Glass and metal packaging materials do not biodegrade, and neither do most plastics. Biodegradation and composting of packag ing materials result in the conversion of a solid into greenhouse gases, in sharp contrast to conserving packaging material via recycling. Q: With your blend of indus try and academic experience, you are quite refreshingly ratio- nal in terms of thinking about developing more sustainable food packaging. Why do you think a more rational approach can be successful here? Robertson: Sustainable pack aging is the topic du jour that dominates conferences, trade magazines, published litera- ture, and social media. Despite attempts by many to provide a meaningful definition, it essen tially means whatever the current user of the term wants it to mean. This has led to huge confusion (much of it intentional, I suspect) concerning plastics, bioplastics, and compostable packaging. The paper industry has been quick to capitalize on this irra tional hatred of plastics by offering paper substitutes that often don't provide the same bar rier properties as plastics and thus result in a reduced shelf T h eindus t ry n e e d st o public ize well d o c u m e n t e d c a s es t u d i e s thatd e m o n stratet h e pos it iv erole 0 1p a c k a g i n g inp r e v e n t i n g a n dm i n i m i z i n g f o o dwa s t e . life. So they are not viable replacements for plas- tic. The sheer quantity of greenwashing in this area is out of control, and the Federal Trade Commission really needs to step up and put a stop to it. Adopting simplistic approaches to sustainable packaging is not helpful and can actually be coun terproductive. For example, last year a company that marketed a package made from 100% recy cled PET [polyethylene terephthalate] received an international award for having developed a sus tainable package. If only it was that simple! When a UK supermarket recently switched from HDPE [high-density polyethylene] bot- tles to cartons for milk, there was online outrage because the cartons have a much lower recycling rate than the HDPE bottles. However, recycling rate is not a reliable indicator of environmen- tal impacts such as carbon footprint. A life cycle assessment confirms that 90% of the impacts occur before end oflife (EOL) options such as recycling. While there is much talk about a circular economy, the brutal reality is that most used packages have a negative value at their EOL, and therefore money (and energy) is required to collect, sort, and recycle them. At the risk of being accused of heresy, disposing of them in a modern sanitary landfill is the most environmental and econom ical option in many cases. Achieving high recycling rates for most pack aging materials will require huge subsidies, which ultimately will be paid for by consumers. And the environmental and economic costs may exceed any benefits. Q: Do you think the renewed extended producer responsi bility (EPR) movement within the United States and Canada will lead to improved pack aging sustainability? Robertson: Extended producer responsibility is the term used to describe laws that mandate respon sibilities for manufacturers/brand owners for EOL management of their products. EPR shifts EOL financial-and sometimes physi cal- responsibility upstream to the producers and away from the public sector, and it can provide incentives to producers to incorporate envi ronmental considerations into the design of their products and pack aging. According to proponents of Gordon Robertson's classic textbook, first published in 1992 and now in its third edition, is available in three languages. Gordon L. Robert5on 60 Food Technology I May 2022
  3. 3. • Claire Sand is a Global Packaging Leader with 35+ years of broad experience in the food and packaging science spectrum in industry - from basic research to marketing - and in academia - tenured professor and director. • Sand's mission is to enable a more sustainable food system with science and value chain innovations that more sustainably increases food shelf life and prevents food waste. • She solves packaging and food industry challenges using a blend of packaging and food science and value-chain expertise. • Dr. Sand holds a PhD in Food Science and Nutrition from the University of Minnesota and MS and BS in Packaging from Michigan State University. Questions? Let’s Connect! Call 617-807-5341 or email claire@packagingtechnologyandresearch.com www.PackagingTechnologyandResearch.com

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