Posted by Barry Silverstein on October 14, 2010 12:00 PM
Yogurt-maker Stonyfield Farm prides itself on being a good steward of the Earth. In addition to producing organic yogurt, Stonyfield gives 10% of its profits to efforts that help to protect and restore the planet (that's over $12 million so far).
Now the New England-based company is introducing "one of the first plant-based containers for the dairy industry and believed to be the first for yogurt," according to AP.
Stonyfield will begin packaging its yogurt in containers using PLA, the polyactic acid polymer made from corn. The packaging may be created from a renewable source, but typically it uses genetically modified corn as the basis for production.
In an unusual environmental quid pro quo, Stonyfield will pay corn growers in Nebraska more money to grow corn without genetically modified seeds to make up for the genetically modified variety.
Anne Johnson, director of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, tells AP, "In addition to the package itself, it's following through really to the source of the feedstocks for their packaging and trying to make sure there is best practice there."
Stonyfield's impetus for the PLA packaging is the health concern being raised about widely-used polystyrene, which contains potential carcinogens. Stonyfield says the PLA packaging beats out polystyrene "in terms of energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and human health." The company will still use polypropylene and polyethylene for some of its containers.
More and more, consumer goods manufacturers are seeking out ways to package their products in more biodegradable and safer packages. Marcal Small Steps uses entirely recycled paper in its paper products, and Coca-Cola successfully introduced a 100% recyclable "PlantBottle" made of up to 30 percent plant-based materials.
Not all biodegradable products are a hit, however. Frito-Lay just pulled its eco-friendly Sun Chips bags from the market because, believe it or not, they were too noisy. The company is currently seeking a quieter alternative.
Well, at least it's unlikely Stonyfield will have to worry about consumers trying to crumple up its yogurt cups.