Sports Team Uses Compostable Packaging to Reduce Waste

biodegradable packaging, plastic packaging, zero-waste goalsThe Seattle Mariners, one of the greenest teams in Major League Baseball, debuted a compostable snack bag prototype at Safeco Field in Seattle, Wa.

The Seattle Mariners, a member of the Green Sports Alliance with aggressive zero-waste goals, partnered with BASF, The Chemical Company, to introduce the sustainable snack packaging to the American public.

"Snack food bags have been one of the biggest barriers preventing us from getting to our [zero-waste] goal," said Scott Jenkins, vice president of operations for the Mariners.

Jenkins says the Mariners has increased the rate of waste it diverts from landfills from 12 to 85 percent since 2006 by switching to biodegradable service products. The team's landfill diversion rate reached a plateau because traditional plastic packaging, such as candy wrappers and peanut bags, cannot be recycled, he said.

"Flexible packaging made with BASF biopolymers could represent the holy grail of greening for our waste stream," Jenkins said. "Whenever there are contaminants in our compost stream, like regular snack bags and candy wrappers, we have to pay a premium to have them removed by hand. If all of the snacks sold at [the stadium] came in compostable packaging, it would represent a significant savings of time and money for the team and get us a whole lot closer to achieving zero waste."

BASF has made a breakthrough towards sustainable snack packaging by using biopolymer technology, which allows multi-layer plastic packaging to be composted and may help companies and communities reduce their waste output.

Traditional snack packaging is composed of several layers joined by adhesive that cannot be easily separated once bonded, leaving the packaging unable to be recycled or composted.

Using BASF technologies, the new packaging material is composed of six individually compostable layers that meet the barrier requirement for consumer packaged goods and offer a more sustainable end-of-life solution than traditional packaging materials.

"Flexible packaging with this BASF technology is a big step forward for the snack food industry," said Kimberley Schiltz, Market Development Manager Consumer Packaging at BASF. "It means that popular snack foods can be brought to market in compostable packaging that delivers needed shelf-life at a competitive price point."

The snack packaging is an advance in sustainability that balances economic and environmental interests while meeting consumer expectations.

As municipalities grapple with how best to implement green initiatives and engage citizens, compostable packaging materials could represent a more convenient alternative to the punitive approach already in place in some cities.

"Compostable snack food packaging made with BASF's advanced technology can put us much further down the path to a zero-waste world, much faster," said Stephan Banchero, general manager at Cedar Grove Composting.