Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) has committed $1.6m to the University of Maine’s (UMaine) sustainable packaging efforts.  

The funds are earmarked for the establishment of the UMaine Sustainable Packaging Initiative, a research-based public and private consortium dedicated to developing renewable and recyclable packaging solutions from forest fibre. 

The donation will support the university’s Process Development Center (PDC), an open-access facility that provides research and development (R&D) technical services, as well as resources in pulp, paper, and material science. 

It will also facilitate the improvement of infrastructure and new equipment, to make the PDC one of the premier R&D or pilot labs for renewable packaging in the US. 

In addition, PCA’s contribution will support the Maine College of Engineering and Computing by leveraging a $75m matching challenge grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation.  

This initiative, which is part of UMS TRANSFORMS, aims to attract engineering and computing students and expand educational opportunities in fields such as AI and renewable energy. 

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PCA process control technology senior director Barbara Hamilton said: “As a UMaine graduate, I am happy to be part of PCA’s involvement in the UMaine Process Development Center. This investment will enable the PDC to expand research and development activities and industry support to include packaging grades.  

“Sustainable packaging represents a huge potential for the paper industry; it is exciting to be a part of this change both as a PCA employee and a UMaine advocate.”  

PCA has been extending its support to the university through the UMaine Pulp and Paper Foundation. 

This latest donation from PCA is part of a broader recognition of Maine’s leadership in the national forest sector. 

In October last year, the US Biden-Harris Administration designated Maine as a Forest Bioproducts Advanced Manufacturing Tech Hub.