Paul Earl-Torniainen

Username: Paul Earl-Tornianen


Minneapolis, MN, United States





Job Title

Sr Packaging Engineer


General Mills Inc


Paul Earl-Torniainen
Sr Packaging Engineer
General Mills Inc

15yrs in packaging

Advisory board for fall 2008 Sustainable Packaging Forum

Member of IoPP Sustainable Packaging Technical Committee

Presented at or participated in panel discussion at: Sustainable Packaging Forum (St Paul), PACE (Vienna), PROOF (Chicago), SustainPack (Prague), Worldpak (Lansing), Pira (London)

Recent Blog Entries

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  • re: judging bias?

    An anonymous reader suggests that there was judging bias because novel materials from small companies did not win awards. As David points out, any company can nominate themselves - there is no inherent bias against small companies. It's my hope that many more companies, small and large, will submit entries for next year's awards. In the meantime, material suppliers (small and large) can consider submitting data for the greener package database - use the link "Packaging Suppliers: Sign up to be notified when you can submit your data". I think this a great way for material suppliers to highlight the benefits of their materials or package systems to a large audience of potential customers. Regarding how the entries were judged, I can tell you that I rated entries on novelty, impact, and how challenging it was to implement. Given the reader's criticism, I have examined my thought processes and discovered a bias that I didn't realize before. I am biased towards materials/solutions that have data to support their claims. I think this is appropriate in a field where unsubstantiated claims are common and there is never a single choice that is sustainable in all aspects. However, I do see how this could make it more challenging for small companies marketing novel materials - perhaps they don't have the resources to conduct testing to assess their material's environmental footprint. (To be clear, I did not encounter this dilemma judging the 51 entries for this year's awards.) There is a webcast on Oct 26 to learn more about 3rd party review of claims - this could be helpful for small companies to learn about what kind of data is required to make substantive claims. In conclusion, I would like to thank the reader for challenging us. I believe that the judging process was indeed fair and the award winners represent the best of the entries.

  • biodegradable plastic additives...

    Jeff, I think biodegradable plastic additives claims that you hear should be scrutinized very carefully on two levels - can they deliver what is being claimed? does the incorporation of the additive worsen the overall packaging footprint? Regarding the first point, check out the biodegradable products institute website at for guidance on what tests should be done to verify compostability/biodegradability. Steve Mojo has a deep understanding of this topic. Regarding the second point, realize that biodegradability is only part of the life cycle impact of a packaging material. According to a Tellus institute study from the 1990's, the vast majority of the environmental impact of a packaging material is in the extraction and conversion of the raw material (ie. crude oil, trees,etc.). If in the process of incorporating the additive you need to add more resin to achieve the same performance, you are likely going the wrong way on the overall environmental footprint. Finally, within your particular industry I would also recommend assessing the impact of an additive on recyclability. Does the additive affect the performance of recovered PET?

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