SOLUT! Environmental Sustainability

forest of trees

The business press has laid claim to many terms that once belonged exclusively to environmental scientists.  To wit; sustainability, biodegradability, compostability, recyclability, environmental stewardship, and many more.  Most companies desire to be viewed in the light of proactive environmental responsibility, and hence market their products as “sustainable,” in one way or another.  The result has been obfuscation of the facts and a great deal of general confusion.  We are not environmental scientists and will not attempt to clear up this confusion.  We can only claim what we know to be fact, and that it is our desire and goal to produce products which have a minimally negative impact on our environment, from production, to distribution, to disposal.

SOLUT! manufactures what is generally referred to as “packaging.”  Though packaging can often influence buying behavior, generally the product purchased by the consumer is that which is contained by the package, and not the package itself.  The package is therefore a means to deliver a product and is generally thrown away after the product is removed or consumed.  Unfortunately, this process of “throwing away” is often not an act which contributes in a positive way to the healthy ecology of our planet.  Nonetheless, packaging is necessary in our modern economy, and certainly some packaging is better than others. 

The predominant raw material used in our process is paper, and we feel very comfortable that the use and disposal of paper-based products has a significantly smaller negative environmental impact than many other forms of packaging.  The fact is that paper comes from trees, trees that are grown and harvested as crops and undisputedly revered as renewable resources.  In the United States, the source of  100% of our paper , 49% more trees are grown than harvested every year and  93% of all paperboard made in the United States is manufactured under the guidelines of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.  Yes, papermaking is often criticized as being an energy intensive process.  However, 60% of all the energy used by U.S. paper mills comes from renewable biofuels, including bark and wood residues.  Furthermore, 63% of all paper consumed in the U.S. annually is recovered and the paperboard that SOLUT! uses contains, on average, approximately 75% postconsumer waste.  We proudly manufacture our packaging products from paper—paper that is readily recycled, re-pulped and turned back into “new” paper, rather than being ‘thrown away’ into a landfill. 

Some of our products utilize compostable and recyclable aqueous coatings, but admittedly many of our products in fact have a very thin layer of plastic (PET) film to provide a functional moisture and grease barrier.  Unlike paper, PET is made from non-renewable resources (oil, natural gas), has a less established recycling stream, and generates more CO2 in the production process than does paper.  However, it is important to note that the plastic content of our products is less than 5% by total package weight.  Because of the very low level plastic content, many of our products have been independently tested by Western Michigan University and approved as  “Repulpable and Recyclable” under the strict guidelines established by the Fiber Box Association’s Voluntary and Recyclability Standard- and we ourselves, recycle our paper-based manufacturing waste.

In conclusion, in an often confusing world of environmental chatter and contradicting claims, we are proud to manufacture paper based packaging products for our customers, and are committed to reducing our environmental footprint through more efficient production, operating and transportation processes to make for an even better planet.

Learn More About SOLUT! Sustainability:

Yes-our food service packaging products are recyclable and repulpable!  All of the corrugated SOLUT! catering trays, deli platters, sheet cake pans and disposable bakeware products, (with the exception of cups) are made of corrugated paper; utilizing unique, environmentally friendly, FDA compliant surface coatings and laminations.

The corrugated industry, led specifically by the Fibre Box Association and the Corrugated Packaging Alliance (CPA), has worked diligently to develop recyclability and repulpability standards that allow for the testing and certification of alternative material combinations. In late 2009, SOLUT! retained an independent laboratory to test some of our food service packaging products. Our Kraft Naturals and Black Elegance lines of deli and catering trays, serving platters and Black Elegance disposable bakeware products were put to the test under the stringent FBA guidelines and test protocols.  We are very proud that these SOLUT! food service packaging products were proven to meet these standards and accordingly, all these products are now certified as both recyclable and repulpable.

So, not only are SOLUT! food service packaging products made of sustainable, renewable paper fiber, but they are now also certified as recyclable and repulpable. Importantly, 87% of Americans now have access to curbside or drop-off paper recycling programs, and 57.4% of all paper in the U.S. was recycled in 2008.  Furthermore, there are now 12 million more acres of forestland in the U.S. than there were 20 year ago, all growing more fiber each year that exceeds the amount harvested and lost to fire, pests, or other causes. So, help us save the planet, and please recycle your SOLUT! food service trays.

Evidence of materials that are FBA-certified for recycling is indicated by either of the following two symbols:

Recyclability Standard LogoRecyclability Standard Logo

Manufacturing food service products that are sustainable, recyclable and repulpable is very important to SOLUT! We will continue to provide affordable, quality solutions for disposable bakeware and deli & catering trays. Call SOLUT! today to discuss your food service packaging needs.

All SOLUT! packaging products are manufactured using primarily corrugated paper or solid paperboard materials. Let’s take a look at these factors in detail to see how they contribute to the sustainability of SOLUT! packaging.

Renewable Resources are the Basis for All SOLUT! Food Packaging Products 

Corrugated paper and solid paperboard products are made of truly renewable resources - trees.  By comparison, over 85% of the raw materials for PET plastic are made from oil and natural gas, which are both non-renewable resources.

  • 49% more trees are grown than harvested every year in the United States (USDA Forest Service)
  • The North America forest products industry plants 1.7 million new trees every day (Sustainable Forestry Initiative)
  • 93% of all corrugated paperboard in the United States is supplied by Sustainable Forestry Initiative participants (Fiber Box Association)
  • Nearly 60% of the energy used by the US Paper Industry comes from renewable biofuels, including bark and wood residues (American Forest and Paper Association- AF&PA)
  • All SOLUT! Raw material is sourced from Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified paper mills; SFI is an independent organization responsible for the world's largest forestry certification program.

Recycled Content Used to Manufacture SOLUT! Sustainable Food Packaging

SOLUT! products contain up to 100% recycled content; and up to 95% post consumer content; and can often be modified in custom applications to satisfy customer specifications.  Please inquire regarding the specific recycled content of any particular SOLUT! product.  As an example, our  Kraft Naturals product line contains  100% recycled paper content.  For high volume applications, SOLUT! can specify 100% recycled fiber material to ensure sustainable food packaging and maximize the amount of recycled fibre content.

Recyclable and Repulpable Food Packaging from SOLUT!

The majority of SOLUT! corrugated products are certified as repulpable and recyclable by the Fiber Box Association's Voluntary Repulpability & Recyclability Standard (testing performed by Western Michigan University). As with other containers, consumers are often encouraged to rinse food waste off packaging before depositing it in a recycling bin/receptacle.

  • In 2010, 87% of Americans have access to curbside or drop-off paper recycling programs (AF&PA)
  • 85.1% of all corrugated paper containers, and 63.5% of all paper consumed in the US, we recovered for recycling in 2010 (AF&PA)
  • In 2010, only 29% of PET (#1) plastic bottles and jars were recycled (US EPA)
  • SOLUT! products have not yet been tested and certified as compostable under ASTM standards.

Less Green House Gas Emissions (CO2 carbon dioxide) Make SOLUT! Food Packaging a More Sustainable & Greener Choice

Corrugated paperboard produces 85% less carbon dioxide greenhouse gas causing emissions than PET plastic in kilograms per kilogram of material produced. (American Chemistry Council).

Trees (used to make 100% of corrugated paper and planted at a rate of 1.7 million per day in the United States), absorb carbon dioxide, thus further reducing the effects of greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainability is the basis from which all of SOLUT!’s food packaging is manufactured – a conscientious standard that we hold ourselves accountable.  We continue to provide quality disposable bakeware and catering trays that are very durable and meet environmentally sensitive expectations of sustainable food packaging.  Give us at call at (877)609-9450 to discuss an affordable solution for your standard or custom paper packaging.

YES! The Wal-Mart Packaging Scorecard is a unique and innovative system for sustainable packaging. It was developed by Wal-Mart to measure and compare the sustainability of every supplier's total packaging system for all products sold to Wal-Mart and Sam's Club within a defined product category. As of February 2008, all direct suppliers to Wal-Mart and Sam's Club are required to complete a sustainable packaging scorecard within the Wal-Mart Retail Link system. The Wal-Mart Packaging Scorecard is a tool used by Wal-Mart buyers to influence purchasing decisions based on the comparative packaging sustainability of products within a given category.

The Wal-Mart Packaging Scorecard evaluates and compares each package within a given product category in the following seven areas:

  1. Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  2. Sustainable Material
  3. Average Distance to Transport Materials
  4. Package to Product Ratio
  5. Cube Utilization
  6. Recycled Content
  7. Recovery Value

SOLUT! sustainable packaging options provide unique benefits in each of these areas when compared to traditional food packaging materials such as CPET plastic, aluminum foil, and traditional paperboard trays. The benefits of SOLUT! paper tray technology will significantly improve your Wal-Mart Packaging Scorecard results. In fact, SOLUT! can use the actual Wal-Mart Packaging Scorecard system to compare your current packaging with a SOLUT! alternative. This will demonstrate how SOLUT! disposable paper baking pans and foodservice trays can help improve your Wal-Mart Packaging Scorecard result.

The benefits of SOLUT! sustainable packaging evaluated by category of the Wal-Mart Packaging Scorecard system are described below:

  1. Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions: SOLUT! paper trays are made largely with unbleached corrugated paperboard. The Wal-Mart Packaging Scorecard metrics below indicate that the process of making corrugated paperboard generates far less carbon dioxide (greenhouse causing gases) than any other material commonly used for food packaging.

    Co2 Emissions per Ton (lower is better)
    Aluminum Foil 17.12401
    PET & CPET Plastic 1.76
    Polystyrene Plastic (e.g. Styrofoam) 1.84
    Unbleached Corrugated Paper 0.843544

  2. Sustainable Material: Simply stated, Paper is Good! The reality is that, among these options, paper is the only truly renewable packaging material source. Plastic is derived from oil and natural gas which are non-renewable resources. Aluminum is also a non-renewable resource. Paper is derived from trees which is one of the most renewable resources on the planet.
    - More wood grows in our nation's forests than is harvested (about 49 percent more), documenting wood fiber as a renewable resource. (USDA Forest Service)
    - The forest products industry plants 1.7 million new trees every day, contributing to the long-term viability of North American forests, preserving wildlife habitats, sequestering carbon dioxide and offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. (SFI)

  3. Average Distance to Transport Materials: All SOLUT! sustainable packaging, disposable baking pans and food trays, are made in the USA. All of our raw materials are sourced from domestic (and often local) suppliers. Our 100% domestic sourcing and manufacturing eliminates the high costs of transportation and energy required by importing.

  4. Package to Product Ratio: By using fewer raw materials, SOLUT! packaging weight rates highly on the Package to Product Ratio metric in the Wal-Mart Packaging Scorecard. SOLUT!'s unique corrugated paper tray technology effectively utilizes the inherent strength in the engineered structure of corrugated paper to reduce total raw material usage, especially in large format tray sizes. Plastic and aluminum tray manufacturers must add much more raw materials to achieve greater strength. This is a very important distinction… the structure of corrugated board allows for added strength without significant added material, for instance through the use of a larger flute profile. This is sustainable packaging at its best.

  5. Cube Utilization: SOLUT! offers comprehensive custom size tray design for your sustainable packaging, prototyping and manufacturing to maximize your profitability by minimizing your costs for excess packaging, storage, and transportation costs. Typically, a company could feel pressured into using a 'stock' plastic, aluminum foil, and traditional paperboard tray because the lead-times or high tooling costs to 'right size' the packaging to fit your product have traditionally added unnecessary additional costs.

    SOLUT! can design a custom sustainable packaging to fit your product with quick lead times and low tooling costs that can be half the cost of custom tooling for plastic or aluminum trays.

  6. Recycled Content: All SOLUT! paper baking trays and disposable plates and platters can be designed to utilize recycled paper content, and even post-consumer paper fiber if desired. The Wal-Mart Packaging Scorecard metrics below reflect the fact that paper is a highly recycled packaging material:

    Industry Avg. Post Consumer Content
    Aluminum Foil 51%
    PET & CPET Plastic 3%
    Polystyrene Plastic (e.g. Styrofoam) 0%
    Unbleached Corrugated Paper 35%

  7. Recovery Value: In the Wal-Mart Packaging Scorecard, the measure of Recovery Value is based on the actual Wal-Mart recycle rate of each packaging material below; and paper clearly ranks as the best rated material for recovery.

    Wal-Mart Recovery Value (lower is better)
    Aluminum Foil 2
    PET & CPET Plastic 3
    Polystyrene Plastic (e.g. Styrofoam)
    Unbleached Corrugated Paper 1

    SOLUT! can deliver a unique, cost-effective, functional, and sustainable packaging alternative that will help you significantly improve your Wal-Mart Packaging Scorecard results. However, don't just explore your options to improve your Wal-Mart score, but explore your options to improve your life and our planet. Give us a call today.

Sustainability Facts

Sustainability Fact Sheet

All SOLUT! sustainable food service packaging is manufactured using renewable, recyclable corrugated or solid paperboard materials. From SOLUT!'s disposable bakeware to our catering food trays and disposable custom bakeware, SOLUT! food packaging is environmentally friendly and sustainable.