Packaging material made from corn cushions and insulates

While many packaging materials are not industrial compostable, this new, green packaging material washes down the drain.

By ·

As companies grow increasingly concerned about environmental stewardship—or about ensuring their customers’ positive perceptions of the same—there’s been a significant uptick in shippers moving away from polystyrene, polyethylene and polyurethane protective packaging.

“All three can be recycled, but it’s not convenient for most recipients and most communities do not accept polystyrene,” explains Tim Colonnese, president and CEO of KTM Industries. “The materials wind up in your garbage, and ultimately in landfills. With more people using meal delivery services—including my household—customers are complaining about all the packaging waste. My wife was complaining up a storm about this last week.”

Shippers are therefore investigating packaging materials billed as being compostable. “Yet, most companies and consumers don’t understand that ‘compostable’ really means ‘industrial compostable’—as your backyard compost pile doesn’t get hot enough to break down such materials,” says Colonnese. The dirty little secret behind ‘compostable’ is that only 1% of Americans has access to industrial composting. It’s far less than have access to polystyrene recycling facilities.”

That means almost all compostable materials also wind up in landfills. And while one may think the packaging will just decompose there, it’s not true, as landfills also don’t reach the level of heat required to break it down.

As an alternative, KTM offers Green Cell Foam. Colonnese explains that the starch foam material is made from corn, and it can be deployed for cushioning, (replacing polyethylene and polyurethane) or for thermal insulation (matching the performance of polystyrene).

“The material is certified compostable and biodegradable, but the real beauty of it is that it dissolves in water. You can put it in your sink and wash it down the drain—and it’s gone,” he adds. “We’ve worked with several municipalities to verify that it does not pose any environmental or pollution threat to the water supply, and we’ve tested it as being safe for pipes, septic systems and water systems. When it comes to disposal, there’s just not a more convenient material out there.”


About the Author

Sara Pearson Specter
Sara Pearson Specter has written articles and supplements for Modern Materials Handling and Material Handling Product News as an Editor at Large since 2001. Specter has worked in the fields of graphic design, advertising, marketing, and public relations for nearly 20 years, with a special emphasis on helping business-to-business industrial and manufacturing companies. She owns her own marketing communications firm, Sara Specter, Marketing Mercenary LLC. Clients include companies in a diverse range of fields, including materials handing equipment, systems and packaging, professional and financial services, regional economic development and higher education. Specter graduated from Centre College in Danville, Ky. with a bachelor’s degree in French and history. She lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley where she and her husband are in the process of establishing a vineyard and winery.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

Packaging Corner · Sustainability · · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Totes keep produce fresh from field to store
A two-part reusable plastic tote features a frame that cradles produce in a recyclable, replaceable sleeve.
Download Today!
From the December 2017 Modern Materials Handling Issue
Confronting an aging materials handling system and new channels of business with new customer expectations, Rocky Brands installed a put-to-light and sortation system to ramp up fulfillment.
The Big Picture: Navigation Gets a Reboot for Automatic Vehicles
Top 20 3PL Warehouses 2017: Growth amid change
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
The State of the DC Voice Market
A lot has changed in the last 10 years, especially in voice technology. This webinar will cover the state of the voice market, review two leading voice solutions and help you gain a better understanding of the options and capabilities available today.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
System Report: Rocky Brands Sees the Light
Confronting an aging materials handling system and new channels of business with new customer...
Top 20 industrial lift truck suppliers, 2017
The top lift truck suppliers list is changing with industry acquisitions causing a dramatic...

Lodge Manufacturing: Distribution Cast in Iron
In a new facility, iPhones and a new WMS allowed cookware manufacturer Lodge to double its business...
Rochester Drug Cooperative: Robots ready for work
It’s still early stages, but Rochester Drug Cooperative is proving that mobile robotic piece...