Published: Jan. 23, 2009

MSU wins $400,000 from Coca-Cola Company to create packaging innovation, sustainability center

Contact(s): Susan Selke School of Packaging office: (517) 353-4891, Francie Todd ANR Communications office: (517) 432-1555, Ext. 168, Wanda Rodwell Communications, The Coca-Cola Company office: (404) 676-2121

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Improving the global sustainability of product packaging took a meaningful step forward with a new collaboration proposed by The Coca-Cola Company and Michigan State University. Coca-Cola awarded $400,000 to MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources to help establish a new Center for Packaging Innovation and Sustainability.


The planned center, to be housed in the MSU School of Packaging, will serve as a think tank for packaging innovation and sustainability and a research and education hub to measure and reduce packaging’s environmental impact. The Coca-Cola grant represents the initiating gift in a campaign to establish the global center.

"The Coca-Cola Company is honored to collaborate with Michigan State University in its quest to bring corporate, academic and packaging professionals together to foster new ideas in sustainable packaging,” said Ingrid Saunders Jones, senior vice president of global community connections for The Coca-Cola Company.

“Our company has set ambitious environmental goals to not only deliver quality products, but to also have minimal impact on the environment. Research and work generated through this collaboration with MSU will assist us in reaching our goals,” she said.

Saunders Jones is well-known to the MSU community. A 1969 MSU graduate (BA, Education), she set up a $1 million endowed scholarship in 2007, part of which will support the Multicultural Business Programs in the Eli Broad College of Business.


The center will involve the MSU colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources (School of Packaging), Engineering and the Eli Broad College of Business (Department of Supply Chain Management). It will provide a platform for both collaborative, nonproprietary research and proprietary work conducted by industry partners, both in partnership with and independent of MSU researchers, to develop innovative packaging solutions that reduce production costs and improve sustainability.


“The center will offer an entry point for industry to have easy access to MSU expertise. It will serve as a bridge between corporate and packaging industry professionals and university scientists in engineering, packaging, business, the environment and other areas,” said Satish Udpa, dean of the MSU College of Engineering. “The center will be a clearinghouse that disseminates information and encourages action that speeds the adoption and implementation of sustainable practices.”

“By bringing together university and industry resources in supply chain, packaging and engineering, this center will be able to effectively address issues of sustainability, discover environmentally and economically operative solutions and consider new ways to manage environmental impact throughout the value chain,” said Elvin Lashbrooke, interim dean of the Eli Broad College of Business.


The center will include state-of-the-art technology for bench research and testing of packaging materials and will offer academic, outreach and continuing education programs. It is anticipated to eventually expand its reach internationally through research, development, education and training facilities in Dubai and Shanghai.

“Packaging is ubiquitous throughout the food system and a critical component to the quality, safety and sustainability of the products we buy and eat,” said Jeffrey Armstrong, dean of the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Coca-Cola’s funding commitment to establish the Center for Packaging Innovation and Sustainability will move us toward an unprecedented level of industry collaboration that will have global implications for improving packaging performance and sustainability.”

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) reported 2007 global sales of $28.86 billion.

Scott Vitters, group director of global sustainability for Coca-Cola Company, will speak at noon at the School of Packaging’s Packaging Executives Forum II Jan. 27 at the MSU Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. An afternoon program there will be the first opportunity for packaging professionals to meet with the deans of the involved colleges and the acting director of the School of Packaging to learn more about the center and discuss its launch. Details are available at

Established in 1952, the MSU School of Packaging is the first and largest packaging program in the U.S. The school supports the packaging industry through education, research and outreach focused on solving problems and developing improved technology.




The Coca-Cola Company. is the world's largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 450 sparkling and still brands. Along with Coca-Cola®, recognized as the world's most valuable brand, the company's portfolio includes 12 other billion-dollar brands, including Diet Coke®, Fanta®, Sprite®, Coca-Cola Zero®, vitaminwater, POWERade®, Minute Maid® and Georgia® Coffee. Globally, it is the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, juices and juice drinks and ready-to-drink teas and coffees. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy the company's beverages at a rate of 1.5 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, the company is focused on initiatives that protect the environment, conserve resources and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. For more information, visit




Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.