Coca-Cola puts money on study in university green push

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Coca-Cola has provided $400,000 to one US-based university to encourage development of new sustainable forms of packaging through a scheme that could see other beverage and food manufacturers following suit.

The funding will be used to support a proposed Packaging Innovation and Sustainability Centre at Michigan State University (MSU), which has been devised to focus on evaluating pack sustainability from a scientific perspective.

Susan Selke, acting director of MSU’s School of Packaging, said that the centre was seeking further support from other commercial groups both in terms of initial and longer-term support that it hopes could come, in part, from the beverage industry.

Back to school

In light of growing interest in devising sustainable, cost-efficient pack and processing solutions, academic institutions are increasingly being supported and sought after by companies and retailers to find potential operational benefits.

Just last week, UK-based retailer Tesco announced it was working with one veterinary university in England in a bid to encourage greater academic collaboration over supply chain challenges. Groups like packager Sealed Air have also announced a similar team up last year with South Carolina-based Clemson University to create a teaching, research and service facility.

Sustainable direction

While discussions are ongoing at MSU over an initial direction for start up projects at the centre, Selke added that the project’s executive board will soon vote on planned avenues for research.

MSU claims the launch of the innovation centre, which will he housed at the university’s existing packaging building, will be an extension of work towards alternative packaging already undertaken at the university.

“We have over the years participated in a variety of activities that advance the field of packaging,”​ stated Selke. “Since the centre was not yet in existence, it obviously was not involved, but many of these advancements are in areas that could have come through the auspices of the centre.”

According to the university, its previous work in the field of packaging has included facilitating new means for reducing and returning pack materials.

Other projects that have come under the auspice of MSU research and are likely to be continued also include biobased and biodegradable packs, active products and research into the human/package interface, Sleke claimed.

“We are already engaging in activities in areas encompassed by the centre, which will of course continue,”​ she stated.

According to MSU, a date for the official initiation of the centre is yet to be set, with talks expected to take place soon.

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