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New application of ocean-bound plastic

Sunnyvale, CA-based Juniper Networks, an industry leader in automated, scalable, and secure networks, has begun using protective cushioning made of 100% ocean-bound plastic.

Server in protective packaging made from 100% ocean plastic.
Server in protective packaging made from 100% ocean plastic.

The cushioning material is thermoformed by Reflex Packaging. That firm had been supplying Juniper with cushioning made of 100% recycled plastic for several years. But when management at Juniper heard that Reflex had been evaluating ocean-bound plastic, Reflex was asked to provide samples that could be used for shipment of Juniper’s SRX4600 Firewall Security system. After trial runs involving varying percentages of ocean-bound plastic ranging from 25% to 100%, Juniper opted for the 100% version. It represents, says Juniper Packaging Engineering Manager Brad Hannula, a serious commitment to the ultimate goal of removing material from a waste stream that pollutes our oceans.

“Juniper Networks has always sought to design and execute environmentally friendly materials within our packaging solutions,” says Hannula. “We are committed to being a global leader in green packaging, including the use of unique materials such as ocean-bound plastic. When it came to a decision about what percentage of Ocean Bound Plastic to use in our cushions, cost was not really our first consideration. In fact, compared to cushions made with the recycled plastic we were using previously, the cost increase was very modest and cost neutral compared to virgin plastic materials. It was a small price to pay when we considered the additional environmental benefit.”

It should be noted that ocean-bound plastic, which gets exposed to natural elements that begin to break down essential properties such as elasticity, presents design and manufacturing challenges completely unlike material reclaimed from managed waste systems. As Reflex President Forrest Smith puts it, “Thermoforming a part using this material is the equivalent of trying to blow a bubble with old chewing gum. But having nearly two decades of experience designing parts to utilize recycled material has really helped us in dealing with the shortcomings of raw material that has been subjected to the elements.”

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