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The University of Maine partners with Poland Spring for a greener solution to packaging

On Sept. 29, the University of Maine and Poland Spring announced that they would be working together to discover greener, more sustainable packaging options for their water bottles. UMaine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute (FBRI) will be teaming up for this research with Poland Spring, as part of UMaine commitment to creating resources for a greener, more sustainable college community. 

In collaboration with Poland Spring UMaine plans to substitute plastic bottles for bottles made of wood product from Maine trees.  This will not only help the environment, but boost Maine’s economy by using the wood as a recycled material. Currently, Poland Spring and UMaine are collaborating to examine the technology. This opportunity to explore alternate resources to provide more sustainable packaging could also provide a boost for Maine’s forestry and forest product processing industry and economy. 

According to a report produced by the Maine Forest Products Council, “$1 out of every $16 in Maine’s gross state product and one out of every 20 jobs is associated with the forest products sector.” This means that finding another outlet for the use of Maine wood would boost our already thriving forestry economy. Moreover, using an environmentally sound material such as wood to produce sustainable packaging will also lessen the ecological footprint left by manufacturers such as Poland Spring, making this project an endeavor that is beneficial in many aspects.  

The university community will be impacted in a number of ways, including the team at the FBRI. FBRI is a group of researchers, scientists and partners at UMaine who are passionate about sustainability, with a focus on forest-based bioproducts. Per their website, FBRI’s mission is, “to advance understanding of the scientific underpinnings, system behavior and policy implications for the production of forest-based bioproducts,” and “to provide and promote technology validation and partnerships that will meet societal needs for materials, chemicals and fuels in an economically and ecologically sustainable manner.” This new project certainly captures the essence of what FBRI has set out to do. 

The press release put out by Poland Spring explains how UMaine was able to participate in this research project. Nestle Waters North America (NWNA) sponsored a convention at UMaine in May of 2019. Here relationships were fostered between financial stakeholders and scientists which allowed this joint effort between UMaine and Poland Spring possible. 

Poland Spring’s parent company, Nestle Waters North America (NWNA), announced in another press release their ambitious commitment to use 50% recycled plastics by 2025. Excitingly, Poland Spring will be using 100% recycled plastics well before that date by 2022 and it will be the first major bottled water company in the U.S. to do so. 

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