Clemson Students Receive Sustainability Awards

November 2, 2023

Three students were recognized as recipients of academic awards in sustainability at the FRESH Food, Packaging & Sustainability Summit, which took place September 18 – 19, 2023 at Clemson University. 

Sarah Dumont – Printpack Sustainability Scholar

photo of Sarah Dumont

Sarah Dumont is the inaugural Printpack Sustainability Scholar. This scholarship supports students in pursuit of sustainable packaging initiatives and education.  Sarah is a senior from Goose Creek, SC. She is studying Packaging Science with an emphasis in Food and Health Care Packaging and completed a summer Co-Op with Burt’s Bees where she was involved in identifying alternative sources of plastic resins to expand the company’s use of sustainable materials.

During her time at Clemson, she has been involved in the Clemson University Tiger Band, multiple Creative Inquiry programs and is a member of Phi Kappa Phi. She has experience in zero waste event planning, as well as in the research of the sustainability of aluminum beverage cups and the compostability of sustainably sourced materials used in dinnerware alongside Sonoco FRESH. Additionally, she has coordinated game day recycling within the Tiger Band community as a part of the nationwide Game Day Recycling Challenge. Currently working in research and development as a part of the packaging team at Burt’s Bees, she has been involved in identifying alternative sources of plastic resins to expand the company’s use of sustainable materials. She looks forward to graduating with a B.S. in Packaging Science in May 2024.

Blake Greene – Sonoco Graduate Research Assistant in Sustainability 

Blake Greene, the first Sonoco Graduate Research Assistant in Sustainability, earned his undergraduate degree from Clemson University in 2014 and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Food, Nutrition and Packaging Sciences.

photo of Blake Greene

His research with Dr. Duncan Darby focuses on heat-sealing technology in flexible packaging. Seal failure is one of the most common causes of food spoilage and waste in flexible packaging. Blake’s research is focused on polymer diffusion at the material interface in heat sealing, how this diffusion is affected by sealing temperature and dwell time and how these factors relate to the strength of peelable seals. The research is aimed at improving the fundamental understanding of heat sealing and seal strength and has the potential to inform the design of more sustainable packaging films and improve sealing operations to reduce energy usage and food waste.

Meredith Clem – the Student Leader of the Relentless Challenge Grant

With mentorship from Dr. Andrew Hurley, Meredith is the student leader of the South Carolina Department of Commerce 2023 Relentless Challenge Grant that was awarded to Sonoco FRESH to help develop the next generation of innovators in sustainability.

photo of Clemson students

Dr. Hurley’s class is working on an experiment to determine whether or not compostable packaging materials leave traces within our plants. The students are working with a compostable fiber material, which they composted using a home composting system called Lomi. They then used various percentages of this compost to create a substrate for lettuce to grow in. Through testing multiple criteria, they will track components from the compost and other variables to determine where they end up over time. The goal is to test lettuce leaves for any trace of components that came from the compostable material.

Meredith earned her undergraduate degree in biochemistry at Anderson University and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Packaging Science.