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Zume and ABB are Accelerating the Transition from Single Use Plastics

Zume and ABB are joining forces to create 100% compostable packaging made from plant-based agricultural material to remove trillions of pieces of plastic from the global marketplace.

Want to make the switch to sustainable packaging?

The all-in-one sustainability solution

Zume and ABB are working together to create 100 percent compostable packaging made from plant-based agricultural material available at global scale to help reduce reliance on single-use plastics. This collaboration comes at an important time as global leaders, companies and manufacturers look for sustainable and cost-effective alternatives to plastic packaging to help solve our climate crisis.

Accelerating the transition to sustainable packaging

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“By 2050, we estimate that the world’s oceans will have more plastic than fish, so it is critical that we move everyone away from single-use plastics. The flexibility and scalability of ABB’s robots enable an efficient automated manufacturing process so we can offer a viable, cost effective, compostable alternative to plastic. By working with ABB, we can revolutionize packaging and help manufacturers to become more environmentally-friendly.”
- Zume CEO and Chairman Alex Garden 
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“Automating production of Zume’s sustainable packaging with ABB robots makes this a viable and economic alternative to single-use plastics. With Zume we have the potential to remove trillions of pieces of plastic from the global marketplace, preserving scarce resources and supporting a low carbon world. Today, robotic automation is expanding possibilities, making the world more sustainable through more efficient production that reduces energy use, emissions and production waste. Our collaboration showcases what is possible when organizations that are committed to pursuing a low-carbon society work together.”
- President of ABB Robotics & Discrete Automation Sami Atiya

Zume and ABB FAQ:

What's the story?

Zume and ABB are joining forces to accelerate the transition from single-use plastics. ABB will supply robotic cells that will enable the production of sustainable packaging on a global scale, helping to reduce reliance on single-use plastics.

What is Zume's role?

Zume has developed and patented an innovative manufacturing process to make compostable packaging for anything from food and groceries to cosmetics and consumer goods. Zume’s packaging material is made from sustainably harvested plant material left over from agricultural waste, including bamboo, wheat and straw. By combining Zume’s molded fiber manufacturing technology with ABB’s robotics, global food brands are now able to transition from plastic packaging to sustainable solutions without significant disruption to their manufacturing processes or their bottom line.

What is ABB's role?

Through the framework agreement, ABB will supply Zume with robotic cells that will enable the production of its sustainable packaging on a global scale. Over the next five years, ABB plans to supply, integrate and install 2,000 robots at customer sites worldwide. With each cell processing up to two tons of agricultural material every day, the collaboration has the potential to produce millions of molded-fiber packaging annually, while helping to reduce our reliance on single-use plastics.

Why now?

This collaboration marks an important milestone for the packaging industry in the wake of the United Nations’ IPCC climate change report, which sounded 'code red for humanity.' Out of the 380 million tons of plastic produced globally, less than 10 percent is recycled, the rest ends up in landfills or our oceans. There’s an urgent need to reduce our dependence on plastic, and at Zume we’re working to provide a sustainable alternative that is just as cost-effective and convenient as plastic packaging but without the detrimental cost to our environment. Unlike plastic, Zume’s molded-fiber packaging is made from plants and is 100 percent biodegradable, which means it breaks down after use, instead of sitting in landfills. Through our collaboration with ABB we are working to expand our sustainable molded-fiber packaging to manufacturers on a global scale, to remove trillions of pieces of plastic from the global marketplace.

What does this mean for the food and packaging industry?

Everything that moves is in packaging, and while thousands of brands have made commitments to swap plastic for sustainable alternatives, the infrastructure to realize these promises is not available. Our collaboration with ABB works to change the narrative by providing an all-in-one solution that makes it easy for manufacturers to build new or upgrade existing packaging floors to support the production of molded-fiber goods and move away from plastic.

Will the program disrupt current supply chain issues?

Everywhere you look, the global supply chain is under pressure. Our collaboration thinks globally and acts locally: by a country, for a country, in a country. Instead of creating goods in one place and then shipping them out as part of a traditional global supply chain, Zume and ABB are bringing global manufacturing to a local level by creating jobs, creating less waste, and shortening supply chains, which benefits reliability and reduces C02 emissions.

When will the program be ready for manufacturers?

A pilot project has already been installed by Zume and ABB at Satia Industries Limited, one of India’s largest wood and agro-based paper manufacturers, creating a facility of 50 manufacturing cells that will process 100 tons of wheat straw daily creating 100 percent compostable packaging for a range of industries. Other planned pilot installations include Parason, a leading global pulp and paper industry supplier, also based in India and Jefferson Enterprise Energy, the first 100 percent renewable energy powered compostable packaging factory, based in Texas, USA.

Earth-shattering statistics:

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Out of the 380 million tons of plastic produced globally, less than 10 percent is recycled, the rest ends up in landfills or our oceans (UN)

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The average American generates ~287 lbs. of plastic waste per year (Statista)

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By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean (UN)

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Plastic pollution costs $13 billion in economic damage annually (UN)

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More than 1.3B tons of plastic will be dumped on land and in oceans by 2040 (Science)

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Global research shows the flow of plastic into the ocean each year could triple by 2040* (Science)

*Cumulative amount of plastic in the ocean could reach 600M tonnes - equivalent in weight to 3M+ blue whales

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Reinventing Sustainable Solutions

  • Zume’s mission is to fix the unsustainability in the food supply chain by providing a sustainable alternative to plastics and styrofoam across the entire global marketplace.
     

  • Zume packaging consists of moldable fibers such as bagasse (sugarcane fiber), bamboo, wheat, straw and blends of various grass fibers.
     

  • Plant material uses significantly less water and energy and reduces CO2 emissions when compared to the production and disposal of plastic packaging.
     

  • Unlike plastic, plant-based material is 100 percent biodegradable and simply breaks down after use.

  • Zume offers a plant-based replacement that is certified for compostability, creating a fully closed-loop cycle.

  • Zume products are created to seal in hot food and beverages, keeping them at high temperatures, contained securely and reliably, especially for food delivery services.

  • Zume’s latest line of compostable plant-fiber-based bowls, meal boxes, 3-compartment trays and cups are among the first in its class to provide an anti-leak solution with a corresponding snap-fit lid to prevent spills.

  • Zume has created the world’s most advanced molded fiber manufacturing equipment and patented technology that provides global food brands across 25+ countries and growing with an alternative to single-use plastic.

  • Zume has industrial partnerships now in India and the US, with growing conversations in the UK, Canada, Mexico, Romania and Spain.