What's New in Sustainable Shipping Solutions

Suppliers develop earth-friendlier materials for packing and shipping
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
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Gel Pack
As sustainability becomes a greater priority throughout the supply chain, companies like Minus Works are offering alternative plant-based materials.

The flurry of new product introductions around Earth Day includes materials for more sustainable shipping.

This week, the Scotch brand from 3M unveiled a protective wrap made from 100% recycled paper, created to be an alternative to plastic wrap. The new Cushion Lock protective wrap expands by up to 60 times its original volume to fill packaging boxes and can be part of a circular economy.

“Plastic bubble has been a trusted shipping solution for decades. We wanted to create a product that replicates the protective and cushioning qualities of plastic bubble while eliminating the need for plastic. Cushion Lock is a curbside recyclable product that expands, protects and cushions shipping products," explained Mark Copmanpresident of 3M’s stationery and office supplies division.

Meanwhile, Cruz Foam, out of Southern California, has garnered attention and investment backing from celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Ashton Kutcher for its compostable packing foam made with upcycled shrimp shells. The material offers a similar durability as Styrofoam but breaks down in soil and actually serves as a fertilizer by promoting healthy soil growth.

“We are excited to enter a new phase of growth with our new facility enabling the scaled production of Cruz Foam products which is currently being utilized in a series of pilot programs,” reported John Felts, CEO and co-founder.

Kutcher weighed in on his involvement through the SoundWaves climate-focused investment group. "We see huge potential in the adoption of Cruz Foam's consumer packaging as the industry moves away from petroleum-based products and towards new biomaterial technologies," he remarked.

In another a plus for the environment, Minus Works has introduced a plant-based gel pack for the shipment of perishable foods and goods, including online grocery orders, meal kits and some biopharma products. Made with a biodegradable plant-based substance, the pack is designed to be leak proof.

"We see this product as a sustainable alternative to the freezer brick, which many shippers use as a leak-proof refrigerant that keeps its shape over freeze/thaw cycles,” said CEO Ben Shore, noting that freezer bricks are made with less earth-friendly open cell phenolic foam. “We believe offering an eco-friendly product of equal performance can help provide shippers with greener options."

As suppliers offer more sustainable solutions for product transport, those who ship grocery products to consumers are taking other steps. Imperfect Foods, for example, sends orders to customers in 100% recycled boxes and takes back packaging for additional reuse or recycling. In late 2021, Amazon rolled out a new curbside recyclable packaging for chilled and frozen products.

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