Sustainability alert: Unifi launches Our Ocean recycled fibers
Igloo unveils biodegradable cooler

Sustainability alert: Unifi launches Our Ocean recycled fibers

Plus shareholders seek to reduce plastic pollution at fast food companies and more sustainability-related news.


Greensboro, North Carolina-based Unifi Inc. has launched a new sustainable product that it says enables customers and consumers to play a role in solving the problem of ocean plastic.  To deal with the root cause of ocean plastic, Our Ocean fiber is made from bottles collected within 50 kilometers of coastlines in countries or areas that lack formal waste or recycling systems, the company says in a news release.

"Our Ocean is a premium collection of fiber and resin sourced from bottles at high risk of entering in the ocean," says Jay Hertwig, group vice president of global branded sales for Unifi. “We have long cared for our air, land and natural resources by transforming billions of plastic bottles into Repreve recycled fiber. With Our Ocean, we offer a unique opportunity for brands to tell an ocean-focused story.”

Each year, at least 8.8 million tons of plastics make their way into the ocean, which is the equivalent of dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute. In addition, at least 80 percent of plastic flows into the oceans from land, and at current rates, there will be more plastic by weight than fish by 2050, according to the United Kingdom-based Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

“Forward-thinking brands that want to take a stronger stand in addressing ocean pollution and want to make an even more specific statement about protecting the environment now have a new option,” Hertwig says.

Unilver launches ‘wrapper-less’ ice cream pack

London-based Unilever has launched the first “wrapper-less" ice cream pack for Solero Organic Peach, with 35 percent less plastic compared with the original Solero Organic pack with individual plastic wrappers. The trail is part of Unilver’s #GetPlasticWise five-point plastic plan, which aims to “rethink plastic” in the U.K.

Made from a specially designed polyethylene coated cardboard, the new box has built-in compartments, so the individual ice creams can be inserted without a plastic wrapper and the box can be widely recycled in the U.K., the company says in a news release.

Earlier this year Unilever launched its #GetPlasticWise campaign, a holistic approach to rethinking plastic. This launch reflects its commitment to ensure that globally all of its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, and to using more recycled plastic content in its packaging. The initiative includes working with partners to educate consumers on how they can reduce plastic consumption.

The wrapper-less ice cream is being trialed at supermarket Ocado to “test the new packaging and gather consumer response.”

“If successful and the feedback from customers is positive, this innovative pack could reduce the amount of plastic we use in the future to package our ice creams,” says Noel Clarke, vice president of refreshment at Unilever.

Shareholders seek to reduce plastic pollution at fast food companies

Nearly $15 billion of shareholder value supported Berkeley, California-based environmental nonprofit As You Sow shareholder proposals at two U.S. fast food brand companies in recent votes seeking reduced plastic pollution by banning polystyrene foam packaging and plastic straws and providing on-site recycling. 

A shareholder proposal at Restaurant Brands International (RBI), parent company of Burger King and Tim Hortons, got approval from 22 percent of shares voted, worth $7.4 billion. The results suggest that most independent shareholders support the proposal, according to a news release. Last month, a similar proposal at Louisville, Kentucky-based Yum! Brands, parent company of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, attracted support from 33 percent of shares voted, worth $7.1 billion. 

The proposals asked the companies to develop environmental leadership commitments on plastic pollution and recycling by eliminating plastic straws and polystyrene foam and “setting high levels of recycled content and recovery goals” for packaging, ensuring that “recyclable packaging gets recycled on-site at restaurants."

Seattle-based Starbucks agreed to ban plastic straws by 2020 following an As You Sow proposal with 29 percent support. McDonald’s Corp. agreed to eliminate polystyrene foam packaging and enact on-site recycling following a 2017 vote with 32 percent support.

“We are seeing a stream of very high votes this year on plastic pollution affirming increasing investor concern about brand risk for discarded packaging that ends up fouling beaches and waterways and potentially harming marine life worldwide,” says As You Sow Senior Vice President Conrad MacKerron.

Igloo unveils biodegradable cooler

Katy, Texas-based Igloo has unveiled Recool, its first "eco-sensitive" cooler made from 100 percent biodegradable materials. Recool was created to “provide customers with an economical and environmentally conscious alternative to single-use foam coolers,” the company says in a news release announcing the product.

Pending patent, Recool is comprised of 100 percent biodegradable materials and is made in the U.S. from molded pulp. The cooler can retain ice for up to 12 hours and can hold water without leaking for up to five days.