Organic Consumers Association

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Sustainable Packaging Makes Outside of Products as 'Green' As What's Inside

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's All About Organics page and our Organic Transitions page.

Call it "greenwrapping." From popcorn to peanut butter, from tuna to tea, the fancy food biz is increasingly looking to sustainable packaging to attract green-conscious consumers. Organic ingredients are no longer sufficient for green cred. What's outside the product is starting to matter as much as what's inside.

Tuna has made headlines in years past as a controversial catch, but now it's the cans that are cause for conservationist's contemplation. Metal cans use up more raw material than plastic pouches do, and they require more energy to transport. Now, Sea Fare Pacific is bucking tradition by packing wild-caught fish in sleek eco-friendly, BPA-free  pouches.

Popcorn bags may seem inconspicuous enough, but they're increasingly drawing scrutiny. It turns out that many commercial microwave popcorn bags are lined with PFOA, which the FDA labels a toxin. Other sketchy stuff in the bags ranges from plastics to Teflon, not to mention artificial butter substitutes. Into the breach Quinn Popcorn arrived with a Kickstarter campaign and plans to clean up the much-beloved snack.

Here's how the Quinn founders' site describes their mission: "First, we tackled the bag. Gone are the chemical coatings (PFOA, PFCs, Poly, etc.). We even pulled out the susceptor (gray metal/plastic patch). What's left is a bag that's made from paper and paper alone. Well, it is special paper that is pressed to make it grease proof. That wasn't easy to figure out. Did we mention, it's even compostable?"

Bags are bound for even more change. Pipcorn of Brooklyn is another new-style popcorn company selling mini popcorn made from hull-less kernels. It comes in hand-stamped, simple paper bags.

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