Be the Change You Want to See

'Be the change you want to see': Packaging Concepts makes commitment to lessen its footprint

By Anita Watts
FJI Concessions Editor

Last year I reported on the green movement making its way into the theatre industry and highlighted some concession companies that were changing their business practices to be more environmentally conscious and friendly. The movement continues to gain ground. One company that has made the choice to reduce its impact on the environment is Packaging Concepts Inc. (PCI).

PCI manufactures and distributes concession containers including popcorn bags and trays. A few years ago some of PCI?s customers, such as Disney, Universal and AMC, began asking, ?What are you doing to go green?? PCI had already started researching new products and materials and realized that the interest in changing their product line was both internal and external.

Brothers John and Tony Irace, owners of PCI, made the decision to change their products and revamp their entire operation at the same time. Both with their vendors and their internal operations, they decided to ?make a concerted effort to conserve energy and leave a smaller footprint,? says John.

PCI signed an agreement with Wausau Paper Company to develop and market their EcoSelect paper line to their customers, released to the theatre market in mid-2008. The product line is 100% biodegradable, with water-based inks on natural unbleached paper, Green Seal-approved. The popcorn bags use much less material than tubs and they are leak-proof at the same time. It?s also economically good for the theatre as well; because the EcoSelect products biodegrade, they produce less waste?which saves on waste management.

PCI already has many customers using this product line, including Carmike Cinemas, Malco Theatres, Metropolitan Theatres, Gold Medal Products and Vistar. Canada?s Cineplex Entertainment is using their recycled carry-out trays. PCI is committed to helping their clients advertise the qualities of this product line to the consumer with point-of-sale material. This allows the exhibitor to show the consumer its own level of commitment to corporate responsibility. You think the consumer doesn?t care? Think again. It?s all about change. The generation coming behind us believes in reducing our footprint, even if ours hasn?t fully embraced it. This generation comes to the movie theatre.

?From a theatre viewpoint, it?s the right thing to do,? declares PCI?s Martin Olesen. ?It?s a good product and gives the theatre a good image from the consumer?s perspective. Both PCI and its customers are trying to make a difference now and start with what we can do as an economic entity.?

This is the key. When we look at everything that can be done and needs to be done, it can be overwhelming. But if we just start with what we as individuals or companies can do to make a difference, it?s a significant improvement.

PCI has made the full commitment. They recycle everything possible, they are converting to eco-sensitive product lines, they have converted all lighting in their four-year-old facility to energy-conserving lighting, and they are investigating and converting other sources of energy to conservative alternatives where possible. PCI has joined forces with Ameren UE?s Pure Power program to reduce its carbon footprint by keeping 796,608 pounds of carbon dioxide, a leading greenhouse gas, from entering the atmosphere each year. This is equal to the CO2 reduction equivalent of protecting 82 acres of forest storing carbon for one year, or taking 78 cars off the road for one year.

Pure Power is sourced largely from Missouri's first commercial wind farm, Blue Grass Ridge, which is located in King City, Missouri. PCI purchases Green-e certified? renewable energy certificates from this facility and other Missouri wind farms. By retiring the renewable energy certificates on behalf of PCI, and having them Green-e Certified?, Ameren UE insures that the environmental benefits of the renewable energy production accrue to PCI.
PCI is leading the way for others to follow by demonstrating its commitment to the community and to environmental sustainability. Increasing the demand for renewable energy is an easy way to continue to support sustainable business practices, stimulate a growing part of the economy, and help the country increase energy independence. John Irace is determined that ?we will spend the money and effort to change and be better corporate citizens to future generations and to ourselves today.?

My children?s elementary school motto this year is ?Be the Change You Want to See in the World.? The students learn to apply this in every aspect of their school life, from recycling and reduced energy use to charity and character. It sounds easy, but in practice it takes work. The green movement can get a bad rap sometimes for having little effect against a mountain of bad habits. People and companies have to make their own decisions about when and where they can alter their behavior. PCI made the decision to embrace change throughout their business and make a difference today.

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