Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
Carlsberg Partners With Suppliers to Embrace Packaging Upcycling

Carlsberg has joined with a group of global suppliers to develop the next generation of packaging products that are optimized for recycling and reuse, otherwise known as “upcycling.”

The term, popularized by William McDonough & Michael Braungart in 2013’s The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability — Designing for Abundance, espouses the idea that through proper design, humans can have a positive net impact on the social and ecological world. The Upcycle rejects the idea of merely being ‘less bad’ and proposes that we focus more on creating a positive footprint for future generations — all while generating profit.

Carlsberg says it has formalized the partnership through the Carlsberg Circular Community as part of the Carlsberg Group's work on sustainable packaging.

The founding companies working together with Carlsberg include:

Rexam: Cans

Arkema: Glass bottle coatings

O-I: Glass packaging

RKW: Shrink Wrap

MWV (MeadWestvaco): Paperboard Multipacks

Petainer: PET kegs for draught beer

The companies will use the Cradle to Cradle Design Framework®, created by professor Michael Braungart and EPEA Internationale Umweltforschung GmbH, to develop a Cradle-to-Cradle® roadmap and assessment of their products.

“Carlsberg and its suppliers are taking an important step on the roadmap towards creating new benefits with packaging,” said Braungart. “This co-operation is a great example of companies planning together for the future, creating solutions to the global challenges that face us all. I encourage companies to join Carlsberg in its efforts to develop innovative packaging and rethink the concept of waste.”

Carlsberg claims the current efficiency approach adopted by industry is unlikely to be sufficient to affect long-term sustainable change, with natural resources facing increasing pressure under ever-increasing demand. Upcycling will allow companies to reduce dependence on primary materials as the input to creating these consumer goods is one of the ways companies can secure continued sustainable growth.

With this initiative, Carlsberg aims to have new products undergo an assessment for upcycling potential using a Cradle-to-Cradle® analysis, which will reveal if the products contain any chemicals or additives that would reduce the value and quality of the materials. The targets are to include 15 partners and to have a minimum of three products Cradle-to-Cradle® certified by 2016.

Carlsberg says it is already using solutions that reduce reliance on natural resources, such as refillable glass bottles, which in some markets are used more than 20 times, and the beverage can which is infinitely recyclable. One of the key challenges that the initiative will focus on is creating solutions that are both sustainable and appeal to the consumer.

Following the first phase, further analyses will be done as regards how the initial findings can be used to create new products and solutions that can contribute to upcycling for a resource-efficient economy and society.

“We want to build our resilience and prepare for future growth in an environment of increased resource scarcity,” said Jørgen Buhl Rasmussen, President and CEO in Carlsberg Group. “And we want to develop solutions that benefit not only our business, but also the environment and the societies in which we operate. The packaging initiative and the cooperation with suppliers represent a big leap forward. By partnering with our suppliers, we can achieve far more than each of us can do alone.”

Ecovative was recently named one of 10 finalists in Cradle to Cradle's 2013 Product Innovation Challenge for its mushroom packaging insulation made from mushrooms. And the Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Institute recently recognized other packaging innovations from Aveda, Method, Replenish and more in its 2013 Innovation Stories.

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