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Trade group makes case for environmentally sound packaging

Posting in Energy

Group will advocate on matters of public policy, producer responsibility.

Last week, it was sustainable apparel. This week, an array of big-name consumer products companies revealed that they are banding together in the name of creating "environmentally and economically sound" packaging.

The new trade association, called AMERIPEN, describes itself as an advocacy group that will evangelize on behalf of everyone from material producers to retailers to recovery organizations. The founding companies include The Coca-Cola Co., Colgate-Palmolive, ConAgra Foods, The Dow Chemical Co., DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers, Kellogg Co., MeadWestvaco, Procter & Gamble, Sealed Air Corp. and Tetra Pak.

There is a precedent for this organization: It is modeled after similar groups in Europe and the United Kingdom. And the reason for its creation is pretty simply: the focus on producer responsibility across the United States, especially when it comes to many of the recycling policies that are cropping up at a state level.

Says Gail Tavill, vice president of AMERIPEN:

"With the emergence of extended producer responsibility and other potential packaging legislation in the coming years this is a critical time for our industry to offer a compelling voice. We're committed to providing necessary expertise and insight to ensure sustainable management of packaging throughout its life cycle."

For companies like Coca-Cola, this initiative could be instrumental in helping the company develop an entirely new revenue stream. The company's PlantBottle recyclable beverage packaging made partially from plants, which it developed internally to make its own packaging policy more sustainable and was recently licensed by Heinz for its ketchup bottles. So, it has an interest in keeping a finger in the development of packaging policy.

For companies that have been experimenting with packaging alternatives and that have found the process of vetting these new materials with state and local municipalities challenging -- consider the case of Dell and its bamboo boxes -- this group could help take a load off.

Either way, this is another sustainability advocacy group worth watching over time.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure