Central to the company’s business strategy are a series of innovation platforms designed to serve not just customers and employees, but an abiding commitment to environmental responsibility. “We developed a technology that we apply to multiple different products called Dura-Lite® ,” noted Brian Hankin, SVP of Strategy, Innovation and Business Development.
“We are able to take up to 20 percent of the plastic weight out of a bottle while maintaining or improving the strength and performance on all dimensions. While it seems like a simple thing, it's actually a pretty big breakthrough that enables cost savings and an environmentally responsible story for our customers.”
The technology results in bottles that are up to one-fifth lighter.
“We're always exploring advanced and renewable materials so that we can be efficient and better stewards of the resources that we do use,” Hankin said. “We have a wholly-owned recycling division called Envision Plastics, where we actually reclaim recycled material—both domestically and internationally—and recycle it into new resin that we either use ourselves or sell to our customers.”
One of Envision’s signature initiatives, OceanBound, transforms plastics from coastal areas in communities around the globe that do not have access to municipal recycling facilities into high-quality, recycled resin that can once again be used in the production of new bottles. Consolidated and Envision are battling the ocean plastics issue by reclaiming plastic before it reaches the ocean.
“We’re investing and proactively reclaiming that material and turning it back into usable products. It's a major initiative and investment, and we're trying to encourage our customers and even our competitors to also invest in this offering,” said Hankin.
The Envision group is half-way to reaching its goal of reclaiming 10 million pounds of ocean-bound plastic in just two years.
“We believe that plastic bottles are a great alternative to substrates like glass and aluminum. Whether high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), new packaging can be created using up to 100 percent recycled resin; and that package can be recycled again and again. It's also much lighter in the supply chain, more efficient to use, and much safer because there's no breakage. There are a lot of reasons why the responsible use of rigid plastics produces a better long term solution.”
Another platform on Consolidated’s innovation front is shipping and logistics. The firm is developing packages designed for the e-commerce supply chain.
“Most packages that we know of today are designed to be sitting on a store shelf. There's very different thinking going into packaging designed for an eCommerce supply chain and we're actively working on those solutions,” Hankin said.
Consolidated is also tackling the issue of content integrity, with the development of advanced materials that ensure the contents of a package remain in optimum condition, impervious to potentially damaging external elements like light or oxygen.
Studio PKG, Consolidated’s state-of-the-art customer innovation center, brings customers together with designers to collaborate on new products in real time, enabling the company to meet whatever challenges and opportunities their customers present.
“We can virtually model these solutions to show what innovative packaging looks like on the shelf, in the kitchen, in the refrigerator, and in the laundry room,” Hankin enthused.
One of the first manufacturers in the world to provide 100% recycled plastic bottles (excluding colorant), Consolidated currently holds over 150 design and utility patents. The company is also the second largest recycler of HDPE in North America.