Jac. Vandenberg wins U.S. Plastics Pact Sustainable Packaging Innovation Award

Jac. Vandenberg, Inc., based in Tarrytown, N.Y., won the compostability category in the second annual U.S. Plastics Pact Sustainable Packaging Innovation Award. The award showcases companies that are eliminating problematic and unnecessary plastic packaging while taking actions to ensure that 100% of plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. Vandenberg is recognized as a business making strides to advance sustainable packaging solutions that contribute to a circular economy.

The award was presented by Ashley C. Hall of Walmart and Emily Tipaldo of U.S. Plastics Pact during GreenBiz Group’s Circularity 23 conference in Seattle on June 6th. The conference featured a slate of international speakers and dozens of local presenters including representatives from Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, REI and Nordstrom.

Vandenberg’s PackNatur® cellulose tube netting was chosen as the compostability winner by a panel of expert judges in circularity and packaging engineering from leading retailers and sustainability organizations. Criteria was based on the improved environmental impact of the product, likelihood of commercial viability and the level of potential impact in moving the industry toward circularity. The PackNatur® netting is made 100% from beechwood sourced from FSC® or PEFC-certified forests and offers a sustainable solution for the fresh produce industry’s standard plastic mesh netting (PP #2) and film wrap (PP #7) bags typically used for citrus, avocados, potatoes and other products. Plastic mesh netting and films are not recycled, due to the mesh netting jamming machinery at recycling facilities and the film being a poly-based plastic material that can rarely be recycled. The Packnatur® netting is certified home compostable, turning into nutrient rich dirt within 12 weeks of being placed in a home compost heap.

“We are thrilled to receive this recognition from the U.S. Plastics Pact and Walmart. This award proves that there is an immediate compostable, plant-based solution that gives everyone in the fresh produce industry the opportunity to reduce their plastic and carbon footprints to help improve the environment,” Jac. Vandenberg Brand Marketing and Sustainability Manager John Paap said in the announcement. “There is simply no time to wait, let alone another two years. We know the solution exists today for this particular packaging. It’s time that we as an industry make this switch as part of our collective efforts to tackle the climate crisis.”

The compostability category judges how well a product meets Biodegradable Products Institute’s (BPI) composting certification standards. In addition to passing ASTM D6400 and D6868 standards, BPI Certified products must be associated with the diversion of feedstocks desired by compost manufacturers and cannot be a redesign of a product that’s a better fit for recycling. In addition to being certified TUV Home Compostable, the Packnatur® netting is also certified TUV OK Biodegradable in Marine, Freshwater and Soil environments. Vandenberg prints a QR code on the netting tag to provide consumers with information about the package – such as the package’s carbon footprint, guidance on to how to compost at home and where to find an industrial compost facility nearby.

“We need to be comfortable with unlearning and innovating. That means letting go of how things have looked and felt previously and open minded to new solutions which may look different, feel different but in the end are bringing value to what’s important to all of us – the health and prosperity of our species and planet,” says Paap. “Change isn’t easy. It’s scary. But the alternative is a whole lot scarier. At Vandenberg, we are deep believers in doing not what’s easy but what’s right.”

Vandenberg’s Packnatur® netting will be visible in the Walmart Circular Connector as an award-winning solution. You can listen to Vandenberg’s Sustainability Manager, John Paap, speak with Cory Connors of the Sustainable Packaging Podcast about the netting in the coming weeks.