USDA Awards Clear Lam Packaging, Inc. First Certified Biobased Product Label on its Renewable Thermoformed Produce Containers
Renewable thermoformed produce packaging developed by Clear Lam Packaging, Inc. has earned the industry’s first U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Biobased Product Label, part of a new voluntary labeling program to help purchasers choose products made with biobased commodities. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan unveiled the nation’s first products approved to display the new USDA product label at a biobased product meeting held near Cleveland, Ohio.
"These companies are proving that innovation and agriculture can grow together to build a foundation for future growth in rural America as we work to win the future," said Deputy Secretary Merrigan. "Consumer cleaning products, containers, and the ‘intermediate materials’ used to manufacture them – made from agriculturally-sourced ingredients – help add value to commodities, create jobs in rural communities, and can reduce our dependence on imported oil."
Biobased products are those composed wholly or significantly of agricultural ingredients – renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials. This new label indicates that the product has been independently certified to meet USDA BioPreferred program standards for biobased content. Clear Lam was among the first companies to submit applications for the USDA BioPreferred program, including five product lines in the packaging category.
"We’re proud to achieve this important distinction under USDA’s BioPreferred program as it will bring greater clarity to the marketplace and spur more leading product manufacturers and consumers to embrace materials that reduce adverse environmental impacts," said James Sanfilippo, President and CEO of Clear Lam Packaging, Inc. "Because many biobased packages look the same as petroleum-based products, the Biobased Product Label lets everyone know they can trust manufacturer’s biobased claims as they’ve been verified through a reliable, rigorous third-party certification process."
Clear Lam's renewable thermoformed produce containers are produced from over 93 percent plant-based bioplastics derived from Ingeo™ PLA (polylactic acid) along with ingredients that add performance characteristics such as enhanced impact and temperature resistance. These materials are part of the company’s Project EarthClear™ program and replace petroleum-based plastics with biobased ingredients developed to reduce the introduction of fossil carbon into the atmosphere.
In addition to Clear Lam’s renewable thermoformed produce containers that will now carry the Biobased Product Label, the company has four other applications underway for its flexible and rigid packages. Currently, Clear Lam works with several leading retailers and consumer packaged goods companies to supply renewable packaging. Walmart has been a leader in introducing sustainable packaging into everyday use. The Walmart private label Marketside branded Organic Lettuce containers are one of the first packages certified under the USDA BioPreferred program. These renewable containers are also used to package fruits, meats, cheeses, candy and nuts. Additional packaging Clear Lam has submitted for the BioPreferred program includes packages for condiments, salty snacks and dairy based items such as yogurt and cottage cheese.
Over the past seven years Clear Lam has implemented a process of continuous improvement to produce biobased plastics that perform as well as petroleum-based plastics. Developing innovative technologies that help protect the perishable product being packaged while using materials that have a minimal impact on the environment has been the key challenge to overcome.
Through implementation of the pre-existing USDA BioPreferred program, the Secretary of Agriculture has designated 5,100 biobased products for preferred purchasing by Federal agencies. The new label makes identification of these products easier for Federal buyers and will increase awareness of these high-value products in commercial and consumer markets. USDA estimates that there are 20,000 biobased products currently being manufactured in the United States.
USDA's BioPreferred program was created by the 2002 Farm Bill to increase the purchase and use of biobased products within the Federal government. Congress reauthorized and strengthened the program in the 2008 Farm Bill to further promote the sale of biobased products. With the launch of this new Biobased Product Label, USDA's BioPreferred program is now comprised of two parts: a biobased product procurement preference program for Federal agencies, and a voluntary labeling initiative for the broad-scale marketing of biobased products. To learn more, please visit www.biopreferred.gov.
For nearly a decade, Clear Lam has invested extensively in research and development to commercialize new packaging technologies that minimize the impact on the environment. These efforts include three product lines developed for Clear Lam’s Project EarthClear™ program: Flexible and Rigid Packaging made from renewable raw materials, bioplastics, cellophane and paper (not petroleum-based feedstocks); Flexible and Rigid Packaging made with recycled plastic or paper; and Lightweighting Materials to eliminate heavy cans, bottles and jars. Today Clear Lam is one of the world’s largest extruders and thermoformers of plant-based Ingeo™ PLA.
To learn more about Clear Lam and the Project EarthClear™ program, please visit www.projectearthclear.com.
About Clear Lam Packaging:
Founded in 1969, Clear Lam Packaging, Inc. is a leading manufacturer of rigid and flexible packaging materials for thousands of food, personal health care and other consumer products. With seven manufacturing facilities (four in the U.S. and three in China), Clear Lam employs over 700 people. Vertically integrated from design to manufacturing, Clear Lam has the largest thermoforming platforms in the world.
Ingeo™ is a registered trademark of NatureWorks LLC
EarthClear™ is a trademark of Clear Lam Packaging, Inc.