CB2: Collaboration on Biobased Products

by Audra Noe

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. It’s something we’ve all heard for years.

Yet as consumers, buyers, manufacturers – are we getting any closer to a place of sustainability?

It’s of no surprise now that consumers want more sustainable products. Take the study by Nielsen that showed 55% of global online consumers are willing to pay more for products and services produced by companies committed to positive social and environmental impact.

This also shows that consumers not only want sustainable products, but they want to support sustainable companies. That means for most of us it’s time to take a long, hard look in the mirror and decide whether or not the products we provide are sustainable – along with the materials we’re putting into them.

That’s right – our supply chain and the backbone of our products are under the same scrutiny as the finished product ending up in our consumer’s hands.

So as a label and packaging provider, where do we make our mark?

Inland has always been in the driver’s seat when it comes to reducing our customer’s label waste, lowering the carbon footprint of label manufacturing and shipping, and driving out costs in label orientation, bleeds and trim outs. Yet we embrace the fact that there’s more to it than how we create our labels.

It also has a lot to do with the big picture.

You know, what packaging consumers find more valuable and why… How they’re using it… What happens to it when they’re done with it…

That’s why we’re super excited about our latest partnership. It’s allowing us to fully embrace our position in the supply chain – conveying what consumers and CPG organizations are looking for and pairing it with the science and expertise of packaging innovation.

Here’s the scoop…

Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites was founded in 2014 as a premier research center dedicated to biobased plastics and composites. It is a collaborative effort by the Biopolymers & Biocomposites Research Team at Iowa State University, the Composite Materials and Engineering Center at Washington State University and 23 other Industry Member companies. Including – you guessed it – us!

As a founding member, companies serve as mentors on specific research topics that are both commercially viable and research worthy. Inland, along with Berry Plastics, are mentors on the starch films project. This project, titled Improving Thermoplastic Properties of Starch for Food and Non-food Packaging Applications, has a long-term goal of developing starch-based packaging materials for a wider range of applications.

The pay-off: a domestically available supply of renewable resources for materials and products (think less dependency on petroleum-based sources), a better grasp on environmental pollution and the reduction of packaging’s carbon footprint.

Tricia Sime, Inland’s Packaging Innovation Director who has been spearheading this partnership, knows it’s a value added project for Inland. “It’s exciting to have a place at the table with industry members, university facility and undergraduate and graduate level students who are really passionate about practical and sustainable packaging innovation” shared Tricia. “The more we can serve as the voice behind our customers and end-users, the better chance we have at creating viable and resourceful alternatives to the more common, unsustainable options used every day.”

This project is just one of several that were funded at the Industry Advisory Board Kickoff event last November. For more on the CB2 foundation and their work with biobased products, visit http://www.cb2.iastate.edu/index.html.

2018