Poland Spring bottled water and the University of Maine are trying to develop new packaging materials from trees grown in the state.

The bio-based materials could become alternative packaging for Poland Spring Brand 100% Natural Spring Water products, sold largely in plastic bottles. The brand’s springs are in Maine, and it operates three bottling plants there.

Parent company Nestlé Waters North America is trying to reduce use of nonrenewable materials derived from petroleum, which fits with the goal of the university’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute to develop and commercialize applications for fiber byproducts from sustainably harvested Maine wood. The idea is to move toward a circular economy model by using all parts of the natural resource.

"The University of Maine is pioneering new renewable and sustainable wood-based materials and processes that can be used as an alternative to petroleum-derived products, making them the ideal collaborator as we strive for a low-carbon, waste-free future," says David Tulauskas, VP and chief sustainability officer, Nestlé Waters North America.

Finding diverse uses for the wood byproducts is crucial to the state’s forest economy, says Patrick Strauch, executive director of the Maine Forest Products Council. "The expanded use of forest-based biomass in areas such as packaging, infrastructure, equipment, novel materials and even biofuels is a key development objective for the Maine forest sector, and this initiative between Poland Spring and UMaine is a great start.”

For more information, visit www.nestle-watersna.com.

Read more about Nestlé Waters North America’s sustainability efforts with water. And more bottlers are looking to paper-based materials to hold liquids, including Diageo and PepsiCo, which announced plans for plastic-free drink bottles.