Cargill, the largest privately held corporation in the US in terms of revenue, has invested $10 million to install a bottling line at its Sidney, Ohio, crush and refinery factory which the company says is the most efficient bottling technology of its kind. The technology will deliver an annual 75% capacity increase over previous lines, reduce packaging material waste, and use fully recyclable PET plastic, Cargill says.
The bottling line for the company’s edible oil products includes smart technology to assess packaging elements and fill heights, ultimately reducing material loss and supporting increased efficiency. Cargill plans to install two additional lines later this year using the same technology.
In February, 2018, Cargill committed to reducing absolute greenhouse gas emissions within its operations by a minimum of 10% by 2025, using 2017 as a baseline. The commitment is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate agreement. The strategy to reach this commitment was developed in partnership with The Nature Conservancy.
Shining the Spotlight on Plastics
As consumer attention on plastic pollution increases, companies like Cargill and Unilever are taking advantage of the opportunity to engage with customers on topics like improving business practices to reduce waste.
Unilever is working with Dutch chemicals start-up Ioniqa and PET resin producer Indorama Ventures to develop a food packaging system that converts PET waste into virgin grade material. Non-recycled PET waste such as colored bottles are broken down to base molecule level, while separating the color and other contaminants, and are transformed to become PET that is equal to virgin grade quality, according to IVL.
If proven successful at industrial scale, in future it will be possible to convert all PET back into high quality, food-grade packaging, the three partnering companies say. They believe that this fully circular solution could lead to an industry transformation, since the new technology can be repeated indefinitely.
The Earth Day Network is one organization aiming to raise consumer awareness of plastic pollution, encouraging people to “educate, inspire and mobilize your friends, family, coworkers and community” about the scope of the problem. The group published a plastic pollution fact sheet in conjunction with Earth Day 2018 that offers “10 shocking facts” that it hopes will help motivate people to spread the word. For example, #9 states “there is more microplastic in the ocean than there are stars in the Milky Way.”