EcoPak and Ecocentric – What’s in a Name?

Organic Essence’s EcoPak
The single paperboard containers for Organic Essence USDA organic certified Pure Shea Cream and Pure Shea Butter are holding creams, balms and oil-based products without the need for additional interior plastic or glass jars. The label, printed with soy inks, is biodegradable, made of 100% PCR paper affixed with an organic adhesive and glaze. The containers have a rolled edge bottom.

90670-ecopakThe EcoPaks are manufactured by Chicago Paper Tube & Can Company, Inc., headquartered in Chicago, a leading manufacturer of custom, high-end, round paperboard containers exclusively manufactured in the United States. With more than 110 years, Chicago Paper Tube & Can claims to be the oldest paperboard tube manufacturer in the U.S.

Paperboard tubes are constructed by first wrapping a layer, or layers, of paperboard around a winder that generates tubes of a specified diameter in long lengths, about 6′ long. The printed graphics are applied, and the tubes are re-cut to the package size. Depending on the type of ends or closures needed, the tubes are then sent to one or more of a variety of different finishing machines.
Barrier liners of different types are required for different products. In case the tubes hold barrier liners and non-paperboard ends they are generally called composite cans.

Although tubes generally are not manufactured from board with recycled content, Sonoco uses up to 55% recycled content in its composite cans.

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Organic Essence claims that their new EcoPak paper jars are the ultimate in green packaging because even the label is biodegradable, meaning that consumers “can plant the product in the garden” and help the environment by doing so, is a monkey business. It might be biodegradable, but it is not in any way “helping the environment” as it doesn’t add any fertile value to the soil.

All their ‘pure natural’ claims should have been more sophisticated and true, if Organic Essence should have used PCR-paperboard in the first place (and not only for the labels) and embedded the paper layers with (flower) seeds, giving the consumer the pleasure of growing flowers by planting the empty jar. Organic Essence should have taken the packaging of Pangea as an example.

Pangea’s Ecocentric
61219-basilbox emailPangea’s packaging for Ecocentric body/skin-care products is plantable! Out of the box and into the garden, Pangea’s moulded fibre box is the first of its kind. Pangea Organics collaborated with Seeds to Change, the largest producer of organic seeds, to create the first ever, 100% compostable, biodegradable and plantable product packaging.  It is manufactured with zero waste and created from 100% post-consumer paper board, without glues and dies. Soak the box for one minute and plant it about 1” deep in soil. Before you know it, medicinal herbs, found in Pangea products, will spring up right before your eyes!

The Holiday Gift Box of Pangea Organics is a “clean” example of a visually appealing structure that supports a broader brand story. On the shelf, the product draws attention with its distinctly different design and its window through which the product can be smelled.
The typical design, the biodegradable nature of the cartons and the fact that they are embedded with wildflower seeds communicate the brand values. The inclusion of the seeds is not the least bit gimmicky. It embodies the full life cycle supporting the story of the Pangea brand: coming from the earth and going back to it. That’s what you can call Ecocentric.

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The moulded hinged fibreboard clamshell holding the body care products, is made with 100% recycled, biodegradable, compostable, post-consumer paper called Astrolite PC 100 (130-lb carton paper weight) from Monadnock, while the clamshells are moulded by UFP Technologies with zero waste, glue or dyes. This Forest Stewarship Council-certified paper undergoes chlorine-free processing and is uncoated. Colorado Blue Spruce tree seeds are embedded in the fibres of the carton sidewalls so that after being unpacked, the empty gift boxes can be buried to plant the seeds.

In the clamshell the products are cushioned with crinkle-cut kraft paper material also made with post-consumer recycled materials.

61219-Bar Soap PinkThe FSC-certified wraparound labels, provided and offset-printed by Johnson Printing, also are made with Astrolite PC 100 (352-gsm label paper calliper) and are printed using vegetable-based inks. Two PMS colours are used to print the outside of the label, and one PMS colour is used on the inside. Adhesive strips on the inside of the labels are peeled off to allow manual, press-on application of the labels to the gift boxes. The copy on two sides of the band details the company’s, handcrafted, organic and cruelty-free manufacturing principles, and facts about the package as well as instructions on how to plant the seed-embedded cartons.

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7 responses to “EcoPak and Ecocentric – What’s in a Name?

  1. Hi Anton,

    Thanks for featuring the biodegradable eco jar in your blog. As far as I know, it’s the first fibrous container to securely convey semi-solid and liquid products to consumers. The jar can and will be made with post consumer waste (PCW) paper, but to get the project off the ground we used kraft paper, which is surprisingly slightly more biodegradable than PCW paper. Either way, it’s a breakthrough package, that we hope will find wide market acceptance.

    I applaud and support Pangea’s efforts to green up their packaging, they are a great example, and show that plastic is not the only way to go. I am looking forward to a self-adhesive that is actually biodegradable to make it to market, that can free consumers from having to peel off labels before home composting; that’s why I developed a biodegradable glue and glaze for the label I used. I found that most labels that are grease resistant or durable use non biodegradable varnish or are even coated with plastic – which is not an option for a truly green package.

    Organic Essence has also developed the biodegradable eco tube which it uses for its USDA Certified Organic lip balms. You can see it at: http://www.orgess.com. Most natural lip balm manufacturers in the US have indicated that they are interested in using it for their products; the tube will be mass produced within a year. Many green consumers are hoping it will entirely replace plastic lip balm containers. The eco tube can also contain hundreds of different kinds of products; cosmetics, creams, underarm deodorants, lip stick, glue sticks, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, even frozen ice cream!

    Organic Essence’s IP arm, Eco Vision, is currently seeking patents for a truly functional and economical fibrous bottle that will be suitable for drinking water or consumer products such as liquid soap or lotion. This would make a great addition to any green gift pack! Eco Vision has also designed a fully biodegradable pump for liquid soaps, creams and sprays. To round it off, we also have designed positive and sturdy closures that don’t use standard threads, which are a design problem for fibrous containers that need closures, because fibrous threads are fragile and break easily.

    Another packaging solution Eco Vision is seeking patents for is a fibrous and biodegradable film solution to replace plastic fruit and vegetable ‘clamshell’ pacakges. The challenge was to make a fibrous tray that for example reveals strawberries at the bottom of the container, while also allowing the exact amount of moisture transpiration to keep the produce as fresh as possible. The answer is a fibrous molded basket with viewing holes that is lined with a biodegradable film calibrated to the freshness needs of the contents.

    Truly exciting packaging innovation is on the way to the market and promises to prevent tons of single use plastic from making its way to our overflowing landfills. Even if Organic Essence and Eco Vision packaging is not home composted and goes to a landfill instead, it won’t leach pthalates or last virtually forever like plastic will.

    The use of truly biodegradable packaging is a demonstration of peoples’ desire to become more ecologically responsible. As stewards of the Earth, it is everyone’s duty to care for our home, and use plastic for durable things, not single use packaging.

    Ellery West

  2. Thank you for featuring plantable packaging on your blog!

    Distant Village Packaging makes sustainable handmade packaging. Their design team develops custom branded packaging and their artisans now are able to make any style, size, shape of packaging which is plantable and will grow american wildseed flowers.

    I hope this innovation will pick up momentum…
    as Ellery mentioned, “As stewards of the Earth, it is everyone’s duty to care for our home”, and the fact that green packaging can now be planted is great news for the eco-conscious!

    Divya Hegde

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