Green Century Packaging

EPIC Sustainable Living Show, Vancouver 2008 – Ironic that the styrofoam box that protects your restaurant leftovers for two days will be in the landfill until the year 3000. So who’s responsibility is it to deal with? According to Green Century, business should be doing a lot more.

“We took it upon ourselves to educate Consumers and Businesses alike, as to the available solutions to develop a more “Eco-Compatible” Philosophy.” says Maggie Chen, a representative from Green Century with whom I exchanged e-mails after the conference. “By providing a Product that is Engineered to replace all applications where Styrofoam, Polystyrene, Plastic, and Paper are currently being used, we believe that Business can take the responsibility back from the Consumer, for the disposal of Ecologically dangerous materials.”

The packaging products on display at the Green Century booth were reminiscent of those comfy molded cardboard containers most eggs used to come in before they switched to that annoying squeaky Styrofoam. But with a cleaner finish. They had on display a variety of package shapes, and the representative I spoke with assured me that was just the tip of the iceberg. He explained that the material was easy mold into any shape, from a specialty food container to a custom-fit clamshell case for electronics.

So what is this miracle product made of?

“It is 100% organic” says a handout sheet available at EPIC. “Made from a completely renewable supply of Sugarcane Bagasse Pulp and Water, it will naturally biodegrade within three months after discard, and return to earth to feed and nurture the soil. There is absolutely no chemical residue left behind, or carbon discharge into the atmosphere.”

Sugarcane Bagasse Pulp is a by-product of the sugar-refining process. To date, most paper products made from it (up to 20% of paper production in South America and India) have used chlorine bleaching, although new enzyme-based processes have recently been developed. At press time I had not heard which processes are being used by Green Century.

But Green Century’s commitment to change is inspiring. Ms. Chen further describes their philosophy. “Our biggest challenge to date is educating Businesses and Consumers that there are alternatives to common problems that are creating immense negative Ecological impact. That we don’t have to reach a Crisis situation in Waste Management, like so many other countries around the World today are currently facing.”

The Green Marketing Brief: These products look like winners. But the Green Century brand may look too new to compete. From my point of view, the marketing messaging was heavy on references to packaging disposal and the toxic nature of current packaging, and light on case studies and ROI comparison that business could take to the executive suite. And for the eco-geeks, a reassurance on the bleaching issue could avoid trouble down the road. From a creative perspective, some communication to packaging designers selling them on the creative possibilities of the custom-molding process might land them some good case studies to leverage for more contracts.

This is a feel-good story and a good-feeling product just waiting to wrap up the packaging market. Let’s hope they make it big!

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