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Joe Hotchkiss

MSU leading the way in green packaging


Joe Hotchkiss talks with Kirk Heinze on WJR

Joe Hotchkiss is the director of MSU’s School of Packaging and the Center for Packaging Innovation and Sustainability.

“I define packaging as a technical system for distributing and marketing products,” says Hotchkiss.  “So one of the major requirements of a package has to be that it communicates with the user.  The package is the only way you’re 100 percent sure you’re communicating with consumers.

“Consumers usually focus on the product and don’t think about the package. But more and more they’re looking at the package to see how it delivers what they want and what the environmental costs are.”

Hotchkiss points out the distinction between recycled and renewable materials.

“Recycling and reuse are important components of green packaging and so is the use of biological materials,” says Hotchkiss.  “We have spent more than 100 years deciding how to take that gooey black stuff that comes out of the earth that we call crude oil and make it into a water bottle, for example.

“It’ll take us a while to change that, but eventually that water bottle will be made from a renewable, biologically-derived source because the gooey stuff that comes out of the earth is going to get in shorter and shorter supply.”

Hotchkiss believes the main challenge ahead for the packaging industry revolves around the feed stocks used to manufacture packaging and the performance standards of these materials.

“They will change from petrochemical into renewable, biological sources,” he says.  “When you put something in a package, you have a number of technical issues in terms of distribution, product use, communication – all those things we call performance.

“The challenge is to take renewable resources and turn them into packages that have equal or better performance standards.”

Click on the arrow above to hear Hotchkiss’ December 3 Greening of the Great Lakes conversation with Kirk HeinzeGreening of the Great Lakes airs Fridays at 7 p.m. on News/Talk 760 WJR.

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