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Period: April 1, 2014 to April 15, 2014
Comment & Opinion or Companies, Organizations or Consumers or Controversies & Disputes or Deals, M&A, JVs, Licensing or Earnings Release or Finance, Economics, Tax or Innovation & New Ideas or Legal, Legislation, Regulation, Policy or Market News or Marketing & Advertising or Other or People & Personalities or Press Release or Products & Brands or Research, Studies, Advice or Supply Chain or Trends

Food Companies Try To Settle The Argument Over Paper Versus Plastic Foam Cups

Plastic foam cups do a great job of keeping cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. But there is a perception among many consumers – and even some companies – that foam cups are not environmentally friendly because they do not recycle well. Scientists continue to debate the issue, but in the meantime retail restaurants like Starbucks, McDonald’s and Jamba Juice have turned to paper cups, particularly the more expensive double-walled ones that provide extra insulation. The big challenge for food companies is to find cups that work as well as plastic foam, don’t end up costing the consumer more and are more recyclable, according to industry analysts.

"Hot Drink Debate: Paper or Plastic?", The Wall Street Journal, April 10, 2014

Computer Models Show That Solar Farms Can Harvest More Than Electricity

Stanford University scientists have developed computer models that use the principle of co-location of crops and solar panels on solar farms to harvest biofuel plants as well as electricity. The idea would work especially well in sunny, arid regions where water is scarce. Photovoltaic solar farms run on sunlight, but water is used to wash away dust and dirt from solar panels to ensure maximum efficiency. Water also dampens the ground to prevent the spread of dust. Crops planted beneath the solar panels capture runoff water used to clean the panels, optimizing the land. The plant roots help anchor the soil and foliage reduces the ability of wind to kick up dust.

"Stanford scientists model a win-win situation: growing crops on photovoltaic farms", News release, Stanford News Service, April 09, 2014

In A Time Of Food Scarcity Around The Globe, European Retailers Waste Megatons Of Produce

To demonstrate the magnitude of produce wastage by European retailers, Feeding the 5000 and partner organizations prepared free lunches in Brussels on April 1 with edible food about to be discarded for frivolous reasons. Tons of produce from as far away as East Africa were used to prepare the meals. In Kenya farmers were found to be trashing 40 percent of what they grew because of  “unfair and unnecessary trading practices” of European supermarkets. Waste handlers who collect unwanted edible produce must guarantee in writing that none of the “green waste” will be used to feed people. Produce is discarded because European retailers have cancelled a forecast demand at the last minute, or because the produce has not met “ultra-fussy cosmetic standards”.

"Fill bellies, not bins!", News release, EurActive, April 06, 2014

PepsiCo’s Biodegradable Snack Bag Was A Disaster – At First

PepsiCo’s attempt to boost its snack brands image and perhaps help ease an environmental problem began with the development of a compostable snack bag but nearly ended after a public relations calamity. The biodegradable bag made from plant material was first marketed in 2006 with the SunChips “healthy snack” product, but quickly drew consumer ire because it was a lot noisier than the old bag.  A social media uproar ensured, and the bad publicity created a dilemma for PepsiCo: should they abandon the new bag or push on with it? They pushed on, eventually creating a quieter version. In a business management journal article, Gregory Unruh discusses three lessons that can be drawn from the PepsiCo experience.

"Pepsi's biodegradable backlash: The snack bag that was too noisy", GreenBiz, March 18, 2014

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