TC Transcontinental Packaging in Chicago, IL was named the Winner for Innovations in Sustainability in the 2021 Sustainability Excellence Awards for its Integritite 33 percent post-consumer recycled collation shrink film.
TC Transcontinental Packaging is a leader in flexible packaging in North America, with operations in Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and China. In collaboration with AHA Sparkling Water, a brand of The Coca-Cola Company, the company created a sustainable collation shrink film that diverts plastic waste from landfills, is itself recyclable at store drop-off locations and contains post-consumer recycled content without sacrificing performance, strength and durability.
“Our R&D team created a sustainable collation shrink film that is close to par with virgin plastic resin performance, is pre-approved by the How2Recycle for in-store drop-off, looks great on the shelf, and appeals to the consumer’s desire for a cleaner environment,” says Joey Walsh, manager, innovation and sustainability at TC Transcontinental Packaging. “This PCR-containing film also has lower impact on the environment compared to a virgin Integritite shrink film.”
Walsh notes that the team performed a life cycle assessment using the COMPASS Comparative Packaging Assessment software developed by Trayak LLC and endorsed by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC). The analysis showed that the Integritite 33 percent post-consumer recycled resin collation shrink film:
- Uses less fossil fuel, because using PCR resin displaces virgin polymer production, reducing the use of fossil fuel feedstocks as raw materials
- Lowers greenhouse gas emissions, because using PCR resin displaces virgin petrochemical-based resins, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by the processing of raw materials
- Uses less water, because processing PCR resin requires less water than manufacturing virgin resin
The main challenge in developing the shrink film was to find the right recipe between the post-consumer and virgin resins, so that performance was not sacrificed. In order to deliver on the performance and maintain the quality of the film, TC had to manage the composition and quality of the PCR material.
The company looked at more than 50 types of post-consumer resins, evaluated all of them and selected the best PCR material. TC notes that replacing the virgin content can be very difficult, since it’s important to avoid disrupting the balance between the polyethylene (PE) grades that control the film’s properties.
“We created a proprietary blend that delivered on manufacturing efficiency in The Coca-Cola Company’s operations and consumers’ convenience for carrying such heavy and large multipacks,” notes Walsh. “Our film does not sacrifice graphic and shelf appeal. The AHA brand colors are outstanding; no gels or imperfections are visible to the naked eye.”
The new packaging can be found in the AHA Sparkling Water printed case wrap appearing on select Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club store shelves this fall in Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Indiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi and Delaware. The company is now making strides in developing shrink wrap with PCR content in the film as high as 50 percent.
“At TC Transcontinental Packaging, we share the vision of a circular economy for plastics, where plastics never become waste,” says Walsh. “With that in mind, we will offer packaging products that contain recycled plastic and we will accelerate the creation of a circular economy for plastics that is beneficial for the environment and for communities.”