At FP International, we don’t take our motto of Protecting What Matters lightly. Beyond our quality packaging products and keeping the contents of your boxes safe, we have a vested interest in protecting the environment through the development of better packaging materials that use less resources and create less waste.
Though we’ve explained our stance on plastics use in the past, we’d like to take a moment to show how we back those claims every day.
Our company has a proud heritage of sustainability that encompasses not only environmentalism, but also the economic and social dimensions that stem from it. Before FP International began over 50 years ago, our founder Arthur Graham headed the Safe-T Pacific Company, known for their soda fountain supplies – in particular, their paper soda straws. The manufacturing process for those straws resulted in leftover “straw ends” about ¾-inch long. But Graham knew those ends deserved a better destiny than the landfill.
He began to sell the straw ends to several local businesses as packaging material. In fact, the straw ends did so well that Safe-T Pacific began making them specifically to keep up with demand.
Fast forward to 1989 when FP International carried on Graham’s tradition of sustainable innovation through its development of a plastics reclaim system to recycle used packaging. Our FLO-PAK loosefill is comprised of post-consumer expanded polystyrene (EPS) and has accounted for the recycling of over 145 million pounds of EPS since 1990.
Though we agree plastic waste is of great concern for the well-being of our planet’s health, for the sake of sustainability, it is important to look at the long view. When compared to paper, plastic packaging is less damaging to the environment overall. Creating and recycling paper is more ecologically taxing than creating or recycling plastic. Moreover, when used as packaging, only 5 feet of our air cushions offer the same amount of protection as 40 feet of paper packaging.. Choosing air cushions means choosing less – less damage to the environment during creation and less resulting waste.
In tackling sustainable problems, it’s important not just to innovate new materials but to reexamine how we use existing ones. By determining how to use less with better results, whether it’s time, money, or resources, FP International strives to keep redefining the status quo for the sake of a better world.
You can learn more about our sustainable mission here.
Reusing and recycling is part of our identity at FP International. For example, in the past two and a half decades we have helped to recycle over 145 million pounds of EPS. To put that into perspective, just one million pounds of EPS would fill a football field over 50 feet deep. As an active member of the Plastics Environmental Council (PEC), we’re dedicated to helping businesses and consumers make earth-friendly decisions involving the recovery of end-of-life plastics.
Here are a few ways you can help recycle our packaging:
Learn where to send EPS packaging – including packing peanuts and other loosefill materials – by contacting one of our plants directly or by visiting our Hopkinsville, KY location. Our FLO-PAK and SUPER 8 loosefill products can be returned for reuse at over 1,500 locations. For more information, call the Plastic Loosefill Council’s Peanut Hotline at 1-800-828-2214 or visit their website to find a location near you.
FP International air cushion products such as CELL-O, NOVUS, and PILLOW PAK air cushions can be recycled curbside in a growing number of communities. If you’re unsure, call your local waste management company and ask how they handle LDPE 4 air cushions. Alternatively, many ecologically-friendly grocery stores will accept our deflated air cushions alongside recycled grocery bags. We’re excited to announce that we’ve partnered with Safeway, Inc.’s nationwide grocery stores who’ll happily take any used FP air cushions you’d like to recycle. You can learn more about Safeway’s environmental programs by visiting their website or by calling your local store.
Our FASTTrack PAPER PAK’R paper can be recycled curbside in most communities alongside other paper-based recyclables. As always, if you’re unsure, we encourage you to contact your local waste management company for more details on how they’d like you to dispose of these products.
You can learn more about on how to recycle FP and other packaging materials here.
FP International takes great efforts to minimize its impact on the environment. One of our breakthrough innovations has been the creation of biodegradable films.
Just as strong and protective as our conventional air cushions, our biodegradable plastic contains a special additive that accelerates biodegradation when in the presence of microorganisms. This additive promotes the growth of a microscopic bio-film that helps the microorganisms break down long polymer chains into smaller pieces to better digest the plastic itself. Though the microorganisms do not eat the entire piece of packaging, the remaining molecules are converted into inert substances such as carbon dioxide, methane, water, and inorganic compounds – none of which result in the leaching of heavy metals or harmful chemicals into the environment.
The rate and effectiveness of degradation is determined by a variety of environmental conditions. Our cushions biodegrade in both aerobic and anaerobic environments. Full degradation may take up to 900 days – a vast improvement from the thousand or so years conventional plastic takes to break down.
You can learn more about our biodegradable films and how they work here.
FP International is working with the State of California and the Plastics Environmental Council (PEC) to encourage and foster the growth of sustainable innovation. Since it came into effect January 1st, 2013, California’s Senate Bill 567 has prohibited the sale of plastic products within the state labeled with the term “biodegradable” or any similar term. The legislature took the position that there is no way to provide an adequate disclaimer qualifying the use of the term “biodegradable” or a term that suggests degradability, without relying on an established scientific specification.
Since the passage of the law, FP International has been partnering with PEC as well as other groups and individuals including North Carolina State University and Georgia Tech to develop an appropriate standard specification for adoption by the ASTM. While our biodegradable films pass ASTM tests D5511 (anaerobic biodegradability in a simulated landfill), D5338 (aerobic biodegradation under controlled composition conditions) and D5209 (aerobic biodegradation in the presence of municipal sewage sludge), without the adoption of an ASTM standard by the bill’s deadline, it was impossible to obtain legislative approval at the state level.
However, once the ASTM standard is passed and adopted and a new law is established, new testing can begin to ensure compliance with Californian state law. Until then, however, we are prohibited to sell our biodegradable films within California state lines; this applies, by extension, to resellers who retail our biodegradable and green films.
Despite this, FP International is not prohibited to label its products as biodegradable within the rest of the United States and can freely sell them in other states as sufficient testing has been done to satisfy legal guidelines elsewhere. You can learn more about FP International and its compliance with California law here.