Article |

Plantable nursery pot biodegrades in soil

Taking root in independent nurseries around the country, Ball Horticultural Co.’s new SoilWrap® bio-based plantable, compostable plant container is said to completely eliminate 100% of the environmental impact of the package, while reducing related fuel emissions.
FILED IN:  Sustainability  > Strategy
The bottomless pot design—a winner in the Non-Food Primary Packaging category—depends upon the use of Mirel polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) sugar-based resins from Telles, a Metabolix and Archer Daniels Midland Co. joint venture.SoilWrap was developed to address the massive landfill waste associated with horticultural plastic. According to 2007 data from Penn State, quoted by Ball, every year, 350 million lb of horticultural plastic is used in the U.S., while only 4% is recycled.

“The intention was to design a pot that can be planted in the ground,” explains Greg Trabka, new product development manager for West Chicago, IL-based Ball. “We chose Mirel because it is soil-biodegradable. When you introduce it into the soil, it is actually seen by microbes as a food source.”

The wraparound plastic “sleeve” eliminates the use of a bottom panel on the pot, which allows plant roots to make immediate contact with the soil upon planting, encouraging faster growth. Trabka notes that the plantability of the pot also ensures greater product success. “From our experience, a lot of plants are destroyed by people who don’t know how to remove the plant from the pot,” he says. “With SoilWrap, you avoid damaging the root system.”

ADVERTISEMENT
While SoilWrap degredation begins as soon as soil is placed in the pot, the process accelerates only after the pot is planted, allowing plenty of time for use in the greenhouse and garden center. Once in the ground, the pot is said to completely biodegrade within 12 months.

Says Greener Package Awards judge Eric Hartman of Product Ventures, “This is a great example of the development of a biopolymer and its ultimate use in a biodegradable application.”

Another sustainability advantage of SoilWrap cited by Ball is the space it conserves on pallets. The company says that two and a half times more assembled SoilWrap packages can fit on a pallet compared with traditional 3.5-in. petroleum-based plastic pots. “With 60 pallets of SoilWrap on a truck, that results in 243% more SoilWraps per truck, which reduces the number of trucks to less than half,” Trabka says, adding that this results in less carbon-dioxide emissions. The space savings, he says, also extends to storage and warehousing.

SoilWrap is currently available in a 3.5-in. size, with a 4.5-in. design soon to be released. Goex extrudes the resin into an 11-ga sheet, which is converted by General Converting, Inc. Unlike natural-fiber pots, which are also plantable, the Mirel SoilWrap package can be preprinted with marketing material and UPC bar codes for an attractive, on-shelf appearance.

Comments(0)

Add new comment

E-BOOK SPECIAL REPORT
42 Best Package Designs: 2014 edition
Sign up to receive timely updates from our editors and download this e-book consisting of our editors' picks of most notable package designs. Updated for 2014!
x

 

Newsletters
Don’t miss intelligence crucial to your job and business!
Click on any newsletter to view a sample. Enter your email address below to sign up!
GENERAL INTEREST

New Issue Alert

Packaging World Magazine

eClip

Breaking packaging news

Packaging Insights

Pertinent packaging issues

PACKAGE DESIGN/
DEVELOPMENT

Greener Package

Sustainable packaging

Shelf Impact

Package design strategies

Each newsletter ranges in frequency from once per month to a few times per month at most.