September 30, 2020
This annual award celebrates the people and organizations behind the biggest achievements in sustainably innovative packaging
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA — The Sustainable Packaging Coalition® congratulates the three winners of the 2020 SPC Innovator Awards. This annual award recognizes meaningful contributions and advancements towards more sustainable packaging in the following categories: Innovation in Responsible Sourcing, Innovation in Design Optimization, and Innovation in Recovery. A panel of judges, composed of SPC staff and Executive Committee members, selected the winners from twenty finalists that exemplify the creative and significant work done by industry to advance sustainable packaging.
The winners were announced during Virtual SPC Advance on September 30, 2020 and sponsored by Trayak.
“The SPC Innovator Awards is intended to inspire the sustainable packaging community to look beyond incremental progress and pursue bold, creative improvements,” said Adam Gendell, Associate Director of the SPC. “Our winners demonstrate that it is possible to decouple from fossil resources, make dramatic reductions in packaging, and create effective reusable packaging systems. We are delighted to give them the recognition they deserve.”
Innovation in Responsible Sourcing Winner: UPM Raflatac, Forest Film
UPM Raflatac developed and commercialized Forest Film™, the first wood-based polypropylene film label material in the market. Made from UPM BioVerno naphtha, a 100% wood-based solution based on crude tall-oil generated as a residue of pulping processes, Forest Film™ is a drop-in bioplastic with 54% less cradle-to-gate greenhouse gas emissions compared to the conventional equivalent made of fossil feedstocks. The supply chain is ISCC certified so that the origin of the raw material can be traced and verified.
Bio-based versions of conventional plastics are important because they are molecularly identical to their conventional counterparts, meaning their performance and aesthetic properties match the standard expected by the industry (and their equipment) and compromises aren’t required in order to capitalize on a new material with a novel feedstock source. To date, most activity in this family of bio-based drop-in polymers has focused on polyethylene and the ethylene glycol portion of PET, so the introduction of bio-based polypropylene in itself represents a significant expansion. Forest Film is unique compared to many other bio-based plastics in that its feedstock is derived from trees, for which several standard systems are established to provide assurance of responsible management, and especially as this feedstock is created as a byproduct of pulp production, there is an interesting synergy that lends itself to system-wide solutions.
“We are honored to receive the 2020 SPC Innovator Award for Innovation in Responsible Sourcing for UPM Raflatac Forest Film,” said Tyler Matusevich, Sustainability Manager, Americas, UPM Raflatac. “We continuously strive to be a leader in sustainable labeling, and for us, it all starts with responsible sourcing. This product is a shining example of our company’s vision of ‘labeling a smarter future beyond fossils’ brought to life.”
Innovation in Design Optimization Winner: YFYJupiter, Revamped Bicycle Packaging
YFYJupiter addressed a category of bulky products that is being shipped more than ever due to the rise of e-commerce but has gone 50 years without significant change in the established package design thinking. YFYJupiter created a new and improved design that reduced the number of different materials used from six down to four and reduced the number of individual packaging components from an astounding 67 to just 13.
This company leaned into a formidable design challenge and emerged with a sophisticated, simpler design with tremendous gains in material efficiency. By using creative design thinking and skilled engineering, YFYJupiter found innovative ways to use corrugated components and dramatically simplify packaging for a product with complex needs.
“The bicycle industry has not changed its packaging in 50 years”, said Eric Abraham, Director Sustainability, YFYJupiter, “If everyone has to think outside the box, maybe it is the box that needs fixing.”
Innovation in Recovery Winner: Graham Packaging Company, REFPET Generation III
Graham Packaging Company made a creative upgrade to their 33-year-old line of returnable refillable PET containers and addressed a nagging deficiency: the inevitable scuffing of reusable PET containers, which limits their practical number of reuse cycles once the container’s aesthetic properties become unacceptable in the market. Graham Packaging Company added texture to the container in the form of small bubbles at the areas most prone to scuffing, so that when that scuffing inevitably occurs, it actually adds aesthetic value by creating the frosted bubble look that many consumers are familiar with, increasing the containers’ average number of reuse cycles from 17 to an impressive 25.
This upgrade is an expression of artful ingenuity and exemplifies the idea that a problem can be solved by accepting it rather than seeking to avoid it. This small tweak is much more than a superficial adjustment to the visual appearance of the container – it addresses a meaningful challenge to the practical number of reuse cycles for the container – and does this by adding aesthetic value rather than simply mitigating a loss.
“We are honored to have been selected to receive the Innovator Award for Innovation in Recovery for our REFPET bottle,” said Tracee Auld, Chief Sustainability Officer at Graham Packaging Company. “For us, sustainability is a part of everything we do, and innovation is core to who we are. To be recognized by a body such as the Sustainable Packaging Coalition says a lot about where we are already and where we need to continue to focus our efforts to deliver innovative, sustainable products.”
A well-deserved round of applause in congratulating these three outstanding organizations for their forward sustainable packaging thinking. Together, minds like these make the world a more circular place.
Do you have any innovative sustainable packaging ideas? The 2021 SPC Innovator Awards will open in the Spring of 2021.