With the unofficial start of summer, Simon discusses the various packaging solutions needed for the all-American BBQ.

Hello Friends, Hello Summer,
 
The days are longer and the temperatures as rising, summer has returned to us. Welcome back to my favorite season and a wonderful time of year. I still get excited at the onset of summer, likely because as the husband of a teacher I’ve never stopped planning my life around breaks in the school year. Perhaps it’s because the plants and flowers are still in beautiful bloom after spring and we’re not yet in the extreme heat of the ‘dog days’ of summer, but that’s a topic from a different post. I hope that you’re in equally happy spirits, if only to dust off the white clothes you couldn’t wear since last Labor Day. For any non-Americans reading, you might need to do some more research on this topic.
 
Although the meteorologists may disagree, the recent US Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer season in the US, with Labor Day marking its end in early September. Created as a day to honor deceased members of the US military after the Civil War, it has broadened to become the nation's foremost annual day to mourn and honor its deceased service men and women, according to the National Cemetery Association. Since 1971 it has been observed on the last Monday in May, solidifying an annual holiday weekend during the transition from spring to summer.
 
Building on those solemn roots, Memorial Day has become a time for families to come together for their first summer barbecue; the second biggest day for cook-outs in the US after July 4th. Diets and preferences will vary, but there are some mainstays that dominate the grilling scene. According to a few articles I’ve collected, hot dog consumption takes off around this time of year. During the summer season between Memorial Day and Labor Day, it is estimated that Americans eat 818 hot dogs…per second!... consuming 7 billion of them before the season comes to an end. A small portion are consumed during the annual Nathan’s hot dog eating competition, held in Coney Island, NY. While I can’t claim to eat 76 hot dogs in 10 minutes, the current record, hot dogs are always a mainstay of our BBQ spread.
 
Many of these get-togethers are held outdoors where the convenience of disposable plates, cups, and utensils ensures you can enjoy all the fun of the day without the eventual, dreaded cleanup. There’s been a lot of industry focus on these particular food service items in recent years. The drive for sustainability has pushed suppliers and converters to consider changes that combine the disposable nature of these articles with the ability to increase circularity. Sustainable goals vary widely across and within countries and companies. Paper plates, for example, are less readily recycled as the food contamination on them creates odor and attracts vermin to the MRF (Materials Recovery Facility, i.e. the recycler). In these cases, the industry considers compostability to be a more desirable end of life as the dirty plate in question can then break down. Compare this against the supplier of the hot dogs, the buns, the condiments, the chips, etc… and you’ll likely get different answers on what is most important.
 
For my team at BASF, we’re working on a variety of sustainability routes that give our customers and the industry options that make sense for their products and the way they’re used out in the world. Whether it’s carbon offset, bio-renewable content, recyclability, or compostability, we have an impressive array of tools that the industry can leverage to move us all towards society’s broader packaging goals. I’ll point you to some great sustainable packages in the future that you can add to your future barbecue tables.
 
H.A.G.S. (Have a great summer),
-Simon

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