By Dante Zuniga-West

While the worlds of product packaging and environmental stewardship are rarely associated with one another, Eugene harbors an adamantly progressive company that goes out of its way to bridge this gap. As the rising tide of business and sustainable practices continue to swell for this locally owned, globally focused company, it stands at the forefront of quality packaging products and ethical practice. PakTech is truly one of a kind.

Established in 1991, PakTech makes recycled-plastic food and beverage handles that fasten to bottles or cans of soda or beer. PakTech’s packaging is entirely constructed out of used and re-used materials, all designed manufactured, and serviced from their facilities in Eugene and Cottage Grove. Not only is this an innovative feat in the domain of product packaging, it is also something that PakTech has been after from the beginning.

“PakTech believes that sustainable behavior is absolutely required to preserve and maintain our quality and diversity of life and the Earth’s ecosystems on which it depends,” says Jim Borg, PakTech president.

Although the company’s origins are humble and homegrown, its impact has grown exponentially. PakTech manufactures millions of recycled plastic food and beverage handles to secure cans and bottles for brands such as Campbell’s, Heinz, and Welch’s. Such national notoriety is impressive, but PakTech’s commitment to the growth of smaller local businesses in Eugene is as staunch as the company’s environmental practices.

It’s no secret that our city of the arts and outdoors also happens to be a hotbed for craft brewing start-ups that continue to find success throughout the entire Pacific Northwest. PakTech plays a role in the success of these locally owned breweries and beverage companies by partnering as a co-packer for these start-ups. This greatly benefits grassroots businesses by allowing them to save a substantial amount on upfront costs such as paying for a packaging facility, purchasing packaging equipment, hiring workers, or acquiring permits.

At the heart of PakTech’s success is not only the innovation of completely recycled and recyclable injection-molded packaging handles, but also the company’s specific desire to work with businesses that share its value system of sustainable environmental practices.

Since 2012, the company has repurposed the equivalent of 400 million recycled milk jugs. That number alone is staggering, but what is perhaps even more remarkable is the impact this has on the environment. Repurposing those 400 million recycled milk jugs kept an estimated 55 million pounds of plastic from ending up in our local landfills or waterways. This, in turn, saved 22 acres of land from landfill waste. The company also launched its own recycling program for its handles so that they can be reused. This program now has more than 300 partners, a dozen of which are here in the Eugene-Springfield area.

There are some who argue that sustainability and profitable business cannot possibly coexist together. Balancing the social, environmental, and economic elements of sustainability with business may in fact be a tedious feat, but this is precisely something PakTech has achieved and continues to do. Simply put, their success both nationally and locally is more than enough proof that finding this kind of balance is nothing a company can’t handle.

“By incorporating maximum sustainability into our work culture, business practices, and products, we strive to fulfill our collective responsibility in protecting our environment and enhancing social and economic aspects of society,” Borg says. “It’s the right thing to do.”

PakTech, 1680-B Irving Road, Eugene, OR 97402, 541/461-5000,