Editor’s word: This story is the primary installment in a month-to-month collection in style meals packaging improvements. Earlier articles sponsored by BMO Harris Financial institution will be discovered right here.
Till the time that Dustin Hoffman’s character within the 1967 film “The Graduate” was advised that plastics had been the longer term, every thing from shampoo to ketchup was bought in glass containers.
Flash ahead 50 years and now almost every thing in a grocery store is packaged in partitions of plastic that take 450 to 1,000 years to decompose. Not like plastic — which the Ellen MacArthur Basis estimates will outweigh fish within the oceans by 2050 — glass is a naturally inert materials that can disintegrate again into the setting.
Due to a chemical composition that makes glass protected to each eat out of and throw away, its smaller environmental footprint and its hyperlink to transparency in meals manufacturing, shoppers and producers alike are growing a newfound affection for glass packaging.
Rekindling an previous flame
After being almost overshadowed by different trendy packaging iterations, the mid-2000s is when glass started resurfacing within the mainstream market, Murray Bain, vice chairman of selling at packaging firm Stanpac advised Meals Dive. Bain defined that he attributes that resurgence to 2 important elements: the setting and new curiosity in small-batch, high-quality merchandise.
Joe Cattaneo, president of the commerce affiliation Glass Packaging Institute, had an analogous rationalization. He advised Meals Dive clients are coming again to glass due to surprising environmental issues with plastic, together with the fact that solely 9% of all plastic discarded since 1950 has been recycled, in accordance with a brand new examine by the Heart for Worldwide Environmental Legislation. Plastic packaging has additionally straight contributed to the worldwide rise in temperatures.
Cattaneo defined that “plastic is the abomination proper now in recycling.” Although some plastics are recyclable, others aren’t due to the totally different resins composing them and the relative lack of profitability of recycling plastic. Solely 14.6% of plastic containers and packaging generated in 2015 had been recycled, in accordance with the Environmental Safety Company.
As plastic continues to develop in recognition as a packaging choice — the Ellen MacArthur Basis discovered the worldwide share of plastic packaging elevated from 17% to 25% between 2000 and 2015, with volumes anticipated to quadruple by 2050 — the lack to recycle it has led shoppers to push firms to rethink their wrappers.
Out of accessible packaging choices like aluminum, metal, glass and paper, Cattaneo stated glass stands out because the clear winner. Not solely is glass extra environmentally pleasant than plastic, however the FDA has extensively deemed glass as usually acknowledged as protected (GRAS), a designation that Cattaneo factors out will not be given to different packaging supplies. GRAS is a designation that endorses the security of meals packaging and components to be used in touch with meals.
Glass has not solely obtained FDA’s seal of approval, but it surely additionally permits producers to supply merchandise in a manner that may result in increased high quality.
For generations, Europeans have been making yogurt and promoting it in glass jars. Yoplait, which started as a French dairy cooperative in 1964, was no exception. Though the model is now owned by Common Mills, the yogurt producer went again to its roots in 2017 to create Oui French-style yogurt. Not like different U.S. Yoplait merchandise, this yogurt is available in glass due to the jars’ distinctive position in yogurt processing and fermentation.
“Glass is the one packaging that the FDA has the approval of it as GRAS (Typically Acknowledged as Protected). No different product line has that class.”
President, Glass Packaging Institute
“Instead of culturing the product in very large vats first and then filling each cup with an already cultured product, we are culturing the product within the very same glass pot consumers pick up at the store,” Common Mills spokesman Mike Siemienas advised Meals Dive in an e mail. “It better protects the delicate product texture. Glass is very rigid and helps maintain the yogurt’s integrity, particularly since we do not add corn starch or gelatin to stabilize our yogurt base.”
Neither is yogurt the one product to learn from glass packaging. Craft beer can also be a significant power in glass packaging. As these brews proceed to guide the expansion within the American beer market, glass bottles proceed to reign because the dominant bundle selection, in accordance with knowledge from the Brewers Affiliation.
Equally, different industries are discovering a brand new curiosity in glass as nicely. School Inn, a producer of shares and broths, just lately diverged from its typical paper carton storage when it introduced the discharge of a brand new culinary-grade model of its inventory in a glass mason jar.
“The small batch process that we use with our glass line allows us to do things that we couldn’t do with cartons,” Del Monte Foods Marketing Director Rick Bingham told Food Dive. With cartons, you remove all the fat from the product and it’s that small amount of fat that you find as an ingredient in homemade stocks that gives it that rich mouthfeel that kind of lingers in your mouth and savors.”
Much less is extra
The notion of glass as a receptacle for high-quality merchandise additionally stems from its transparency — each actually and figuratively.
“From an aesthetic perspective, we think it gives you a really nice perspective on what the product is,” Bingham said. “You’re able to see the product, you’re able to experience the product in a way that you can’t otherwise.”
On a extra figurative stage, glass — a pure product comprised of silica sand, soda ash, limestone and sometimes recycled materials — is clear about its environmental impacts.
As the one packaging materials that doesn’t require a plastic or chemical liner, glass is definitely recyclable. Recycling applications for glass bottles and jars can be found to 81% of the U.S. inhabitants, in accordance with the Glass Packaging Institute. With 2.four million tons of glass being recycled yearly into new containers, in accordance with the Glass Recycling Coalition, that interprets to a few third of all glass jars within the U.S. containing recycled materials, defined Cattaneo.
For each Stanpac and Common Mills, the proportion of glass reforged into packaging is barely increased.
“The two main plants that we get our glass from are in the Chicago area and they’re above 40% (recycled),” Bain stated. Siemienas wrote that roughly 40% of the glass used within the manufacturing of Oui yogurt jars was recycled.
“Very early on we felt that … there was a place for (glass) and we happened to be right. Maybe we were naïve or lucky, who knows, but I like to think we were brilliant.”
Vp of selling, Stanpac
Even when glass will not be recycled, Cattaneo stated, its presence in a landfill will not be catastrophic. Damaged and crushed glass is used to cowl landfill waste to assist management odor and scavenging as a result of it won’t chemically react with both the waste or the setting. Additionally, over time, he stated, glass will disintegrate again into sand, its major type.
Breaking all the way down to the downsides
Sand as a substance is way weightier than chemically-compounded polymers. The result’s that cup is far heavier than plastic, which might contribute to elevated manufacturing and transportation prices.
A part of the rise in manufacturing price is company-specific glass packaging with fascinating shapes or firm logos. This implies firms buy particular person glass molds and pay extra in related manufacturing prices.
Though pricier, this distinctive side of glass containers is what first sparked the concept for Del Monte to place School Inn inventory again in glass jars, stated Bingham. Reaching again into historical past and renewing the usage of glass for packaging additionally prompted School Inn to revive previous inventory recipes that concentrate on premium substances and small-batch processing to create a higher-quality product for shoppers. The ensuing value will likely be a mirrored image of a top-notch inventory.
Bain argued though glass might have a heftier upfront value level, it’s really a less expensive packaging choice down the road, particularly for firms who ascribe to a refillable bottle philosophy.
“The single-use container, you’ve used once,” Bain said. “…The glass container, depending on the method of distribution, could be used 10 times or up to 40 times.”
Even together with the price of returning the bottles again to the dairy and washing them, Bain stated glass continues to be a extra economical choice. He famous an working mannequin that makes use of refillable bottles and jars isn’t applicable for giant CPG producers, however producers producing massive portions of merchandise in glass will profit from lowered costs per jar, due to economies of scale.
The apparent draw back to utilizing glass is its fragility. Cattaneo stated producers aren’t the one ones that like plastic for its low cost, light-weight nature.
“It’s a retailer issue too for us, because they prefer plastic. It doesn’t break,” he stated.
One phrase: Glass
Regardless of a resurgence in glass from the craft beer trade and quite a lot of CPG producers, there’s continued resistance from producers and retailers to increase glass packaging to extra merchandise. Cattaneo believes glass will stay an ecological area of interest selection, until plastic is banned and producers are pressured to depend on different packaging.
The reluctance is throughout many classes. Though Siemienas stated Oui was one of many class’s most profitable launches in years, incomes greater than $100 million in gross sales, glass packaging within the Yoplait line will likely be relegated to this one product.
For extra boutique producers and producers, nevertheless, glass often is the future.
“We have several new dairies per year that come on board because the trend for not using plastics is ever-increasing, and the trend of knowing where your food comes from is increasing too,” stated Bain.
Finally, it is going to be shoppers who decide which packaging choice prevails. Environmental issues are already prevailing in each boardroom conversations, as traders demand firms scale back their use of plastic and shoppers ask firms create environmentally pleasant packaging that doesn’t alter style. And firms are responding.
Final July, Kraft Heinz introduced its plans to make 100% of its packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. In April, Aldi introduced an analogous initiative and timeframe, to transform all of its packaging to reusable, recyclable or compostable supplies in six years.
Though there’s demand for packaging that is not plastic, manufacturing prices for sustainable choices are about 25% extra than conventional plastic. That leaves glass as a viable choice for the close to time period. With its prepared accessibility, heat reception from shoppers, lack of impact on style and inherent sustainability, glass often is the selection of the longer term.
“Very early on we felt … there was a place for (glass), and we happened to be right,” Bain said. “Maybe we were naïve or lucky. Who knows? But I like to think we were brilliant.”
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