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PAC Award Winner-Bronze

T-50 container

Overview

Our sustainable packaging submission is a container called the T-50 container which can be used as a replacement to styrofoam containers for the shipment of fresh fish to market. The structural design of the container has been done to optimize materials and natural energy using ice. It is a two part paper thermal container comprised of a body and a lid which can carry up to 50 pounds of fresh fish and 15 pounds of ice. The design of the T-50 container is a combination of corrugate and foil honeycomb. We source our honeycomb raw material from a supplier, Cascades Canada Inc., who has the highest percentage of recyclable content. In excess of 80% of the paper fiber used in the manufacturing of both the honeycomb and the corrugate comes from recycled product.

The process used to manufacture the T-50 container is completed in various steps. The first step is the manufacturing of the water resistant corrugated body and lid for the container by the corrugate manufacturer. The next step is the honeycomb foil panels which are manufactured on a hot melt panel line system designed specifically for this project and, to the best of our knowledge, it is the only one of its kind in North America. The foil panels are then die cut to form the thermal liner for both the body and lid. The container lid is assembled and bundled for shipping to the customer along with the corrugated body and thermal liners.

To assist the end user in putting the container body together we designed and manufactured an erecting machine. This machine accepts the corrugated body and thermal liner as an input and forms one container body as an output. The container body is then filled with the fish and ice from the processing line at the applicable fish plant after which the container lid is placed on the T-50 container bottom.

The structural design of the T-50 affords the necessary strength to allow greater pallet density during shipping. The increase in pallet density, combined with the more efficient shape of the T-50 container, results in, on average, a 25% reduction in greenhouse emissions by shippers utilizing the T-50 containers. A leak proof thermal liner is made from a honeycomb panel which has been covered on both sides with foil and die cut to form a liner. The liner utilizes the principles of radiant barrier technology and trapped air as an insulating barrier to achieve its substantial thermal properties.

In communities which practice a recycling program the T-50 container produces 95% less material for landfill disposal than the traditional styrofoam container. If only a landfill site exists, however, and there is not a recycling program, then the T-50 is still a much stronger solution than the styrofoam and produces 60% less material for landfill.

The T-50 container meets market criteria for both thermal performance and cost. In the area of sustainability it moves the current option from zero to 95%, thereby enabling companies to move their environmental packaging goals from the current levels of environmentally unfriendly methods to those of a much more acceptable level.

Motivation for Change

As the CEO of Trans Industrial Packaging, and a father of five children, I have always been concerned with the need to reduce the waste which goes to our landfills and protect the environment for future generations. We have been in the packaging industry for thirty (30) years and have always recognized the limited recyclability of styrofoam which is being used heavily within the packaging industry and, in particular, the seafood industry. When we were presented with the opportunity to purchase a project which was in the early stages of R&D which had the possibility to reduce styrofoam in cold shipping we were excited about the potential environmental gains it offered. We pursued the challenge because we felt it would bring environmental gains across North America and, in time, had the potential to be a profitable product line.

Cost Effectiveness

The overall price of the T-50 container compared with styrofoam is competitive. Our container also meets the target market criteria for thermal performance. Savings are realized in the area of

(i) shipping costs

(ii) reduction in product loss

(iii) reduction in transportation cost

(iv) reduced dumpage costs and

(v) enhancement of corporate image.

(i)Shipping Costs: T-50 containers are shipped flat unlike the styrofoam containers which are shipped formed. This translates into the ability to ship three T-50 containers for every styrofoam container.

(ii) Reduction in Product Loss: T-50 containers do not crack because they are flexible packaging while styrofoam containers are rigid. This flexibility results in less product loss through spoilage.

(iii) Reduction in Transportation Cost of Product: T-50 containers stack more efficiently to increase pallet density allowing maximum weight and capacity during transport

Performance

When a recycling program is available in the community the T-50 paper thermal container produces 95% less material for landfill disposal than the traditional styrofoam container and 60% less material for disposal if there is only a traditional landfill.

The T-50 container is safe and does not present health risks unlike the plastic component in the styrofoam which may leach into foods.

The new T-50 container provides improved transportation efficiencies of 25% due to its increased strength which provides enhanced pallet density. The new container does not crack and release it contents when too much stress is applied in the same way the traditional styrofoam container will, therefore, there is a reduction in re-packaging by the fish processing facility, fish broker and/or truck drivers.

Sourcing

Paper fiber accounts for over 95% of the raw material used for both the corrugate and foil honeycomb that make up the T-50. The balance of the non paper material is glue, ink, and polyolefin, a metalized liner which is a thermoplastic polymer. Over 80% of this paper fiber used in the manufacturing of the T-50 container comes from recycled paper. We have sourced our honeycomb core from Cascades Canada Inc due to the fact they have the highest percentage of recyclable core. We have investigated corrugate suppliers in our Region and identified Master Packaging Inc. as our supplier of choice due to their high level of recycled content. The cost of the raw material represents 75% of the total cost of the product.

Clean Production

An assessment was conducted of the production process for the T-50 container to identify all substances used in production, cleaning and maintenance. Any items that were identified that were not biodegradable or were hazardous were replaced.

Effective Recovery

In a community where there is a waste management system the optimal end of life scenario is the full disposal of the T-50 container. The paper thermal container is designed to be disposed of in four pieces. Two pieces are corrugate which are processed within the old corrugated container (OCC) recovery program and two pieces are foil honeycomb liners that are recyclable as part of the tetra pack recovery program. Alternatively they can be mixed with the corrugated pieces and the four paper products would then be placed into a pulpier, accompanied by water to make a slushy paper pulp called slurry. The slurry is then filtered and cleaned before processing into new paper.

Recovery occurs at the end user and is dependent upon the disposal process that takes place at that location. For many grocery chains within Canada a recovery system is in place for corrugate and recyclable items. The majority of the recycle plants in Canada can handle the processing of both the corrugate and foil honeycomb liner. Where no recovery does exist, however, the product is sent to the landfill where it is compressed and over time the paper fiber will decompose. The T-50 is a major advantage over the styrofoam container in the case of landfill disposal. The petroleum base of the styrofoam is a non-renewable resource which creates unnecessary waste taking up a large volume of landfill space.

Community Benefit

The T-50 container places fewer requirements for disposal in the landfills of communities in comparison to the existing styrofoam container. When the community has a recycling program then the landfill requirement is reduced by 95%.If the community, however, utilizes a landfill as its sole method of waste management, then the landfill need is reduced by approximately 60%.

The T-50 container can be introduced universally into the seafood industry and we anticipate further application outside this industry. There is definite application in the pharmaceuticals where trials are currently being conducted and in fresh foods (e.g. cheese, vegetables, etc).

Material Health

The components used in the manufacturing of the T-50 container represent no adverse or health risks. It is similar in its components to a juice pack or a bag of chips. Conversely, the styrofoam container, under government regulations must carry the label “#6 PS”. This label is an indication of the component of polystyrene plastic which can leach styrene into the contents of the container. Styrene is toxic to the brain and nervous system of humans and animal life.

Resource & Energy Optimization

The paper thermal container maximizes logistics in reusable packaging and transportation. Over 95% of the container is paper fiber which is turned into new paper products. The packaging is shipped to the customer flat thereby utilizing the trailer space more efficiently. The packaging ,when packed with fish and ice, is loaded into the trailer to near trailer weight capacity therefore ensuring transportation cost per pound of fish is close to optimal.

Categories: Food and Beverage Transport PAC Award Winner

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