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Our mid-year review of what articles are trending shows that sustainable packaging dominates the top-read features, two of which involved Nestlé.


We depart from the regular monthly reviews of the top-read articles to assess the top-read food and beverage features of the first half of 2019 that provide a broader snapshot of what topics are hot and trending.

In this case, it’s a single topic, sustainability, that’s drawing keen interest—it permeates all five articles in whole or part.

So let’s get to it in traditional reverse order: the #5 article is all about dating products, though there is a sustainable angle here too, related to reducing food waste. It’s been proposed that standardizing "Best If Used By" for date-code labeling might reduce food waste as consumers become more educated about voluntary date codes for quality, not food safety, which is a fundamental distinction. Three key U.S. regulatory agencies agree, and have identified six priority areas, which are to:

1. Enhance interagency coordination.

2. Increase consumer education and outreach efforts.

3. Improve coordination and guidance on food loss and waste measurement.

4. Clarify and communicate information on food safety, food date labels and food donations.

5. Collaborate with private industry to reduce food loss and waste across the supply chain.

6. Encourage food waste reduction by federal agencies in their respective facilities.

Pay special attention to #4, which is the one that food brands and their packaging suppliers will be watching most carefully.

Get all the information in Best If Used By date code recommended for food labeling, published in May.

Next: An exclusive video brings the world’s largest food and beverage company’s sustainability story to your screen

In this 28-minute presentation given at WestPack 2019 in February in Anaheim, CA, Walt Peterson, Nestlé USA’s manager of packaging innovation and sustainability, talks about the company’s ambitious goal of moving to 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025. In How Nestlé is innovating its way to 100% recyclable or reusable packaging, hear and see how the global consumer packaged goods company is harnessing partnerships and cutting-edge technology to get there, including its participation in the ground-breaking Loop initiative.

Next: Plastics or paper? This on-trend foodservice company offers a half-dozen choices

#3 A crucial aspect of the $62 billion plus restaurant and catering business is the increase in regulations to ensure that the raw materials used are recyclable, such as plastic, paper and paperboard, and cellulose. A recent study notes that the challenge is that these sustainable materials are often higher in cost higher than their non-biodegradable counterparts.

A case in point: supplier Novolex product lines are seamlessly aligned with the ongoing foodservice packaging shift toward economical sustainable solutions. Six products from the company’s portfolio that exemplify effective solutions for eco-minded food and beverage purveyors include:

  • A pair of fresh options featuring a tamper-event carryout bag;
  • Bagasse as a food packaging source;
  • No-foil sandwich wrap options.

Check out these and two bonus options in Paper or plastic? 6 sustainable foodservice packaging options for both.

Next: This food category’s design story trends toward minimalism, atypical tactics, nudes and no plastics


#2 Encompassing everything from traditional treats and indulgences like chips and cookies, to wellness products and meal replacement bars, the snack industry is expansive. Brands are responding to this demand by offering more products and snack choices than ever before.

With this in mind, snack package design is playing an increasingly important role to communicate what the product is, who it’s for and projects a value proposition to the consumer. The article looked at how some of 2019’s hottest packaging design trends are influencing the world of snack packaging.

1. Minimalism is the trend that keeps on giving, and for good reason. When it comes to compelling packaging design, less can definitely be more.

2. Atypical designs

3. Nude color palettes

4. The future is plastic-free

Read February’s 4 design trends shaping the snack industry for the whole story.

At #1, this big CPG company’s big sustainability story is told by the company’s manager - packaging sustainability

2019 has already been a banner year for the introduction of ambitious sustainable packaging initiatives, programs and collaborations with major brands playing a prominent role. Exemplary of these is Nestlé, which in mid-January laid out its vision and plans for accelerating the global packaged food provider’s sustainable packaging goals in the most popular food and beerage packaging story of H1 2019.

The company’s packaging sustainability manager, Walt Peterson, told Packaging Digest this: “Our vision is that none of our product packaging, including plastics, should end up in landfill or as litter, including in seas, oceans and waterways. To achieve this, our ambition is that 100% of our packaging is reusable or recyclable by 2025.”

Peterson discloses his vision in Nestlé clarifies its sustainable packaging vision from March.

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Shifts in sustainability focus, ecommerce challenges and food packaging issues continue to lead the trends we’ve been tracking this year. With half of 2019 behind us, let’s look at the packaging stories our global packaging community deems most important.

Based on page views from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2019, here are the top seven articles your peers are reading on PackagingDigest.com (in reverse order):

7. 5 packaging trends emerging in 2019

In March of this year, CEO Charles Haverfield of U.S. Packaging & Wrapping LLC identified five predictable packaging movements and their drivers:

• Flexibility: Flexible packaging is set to become more popular in 2019, Haverfield predicts, due to new developments in sustainability and consumer functionality, as well as from its cost benefits. 

• Changes in ecommerce: Ecommerce is set to grow faster than ever in 2019, and packaging can help brands stand out, either with personalized packaging designs or by right-sizing packaging to protect products adequately without being excessive.

• Environmental awareness: Sustainable packaging has steadily become more important to consumers over the years—and many brands have changed their packaging accordingly, in various ways, to great success.

• Less is more: Minimalism will continue to maintain its relevance throughout 2019—partly due to minimalist styles being linked with the reduction of materials. But its greatest strength today is clarity. As Haverfield explains, “Consumers are more skeptical of what brands are trying to sell them than they once were; being bombarded with information will make them feel like brands are trying to distract them from a hidden catch.”

• The power of nostalgia: Vintage or retro packaging taps into the consumers’ rose-tinted emotional response to trusted brands, partly because of the package’s air of authenticity.


NEXT: Nestlé’s sustainable packaging vision


For those curious about the top articles from just last month (June 2019), here’s that list:

1. Most food cans no longer use BPA in their linings (SPOILER: also a top article in this half-year list)

2. 8 impressive developments in packaging automation

3. 10 tasting trends: See what’s ahead for snacks and sweets

4. 3 food-packaging matters spring up in early 2019

5. 5 packaging trends emerging in 2019 (also a top article in the half-year list, as you already know!)


6. Nestlé clarifies its sustainable packaging vision

Nestlé USA packaging sustainability manager Walt Peterson comments on the company’s sustainability vision and goals. By 2025, the world’s largest food company plans to make 100% of the company’s packaging recyclable or reusable.

Peterson also talks about their focus on avoiding plastic waste, saying, “Our vision is that none of our product packaging, including plastics, should end up in landfill or as litter, including in seas, oceans and waterways.”

Additionally, Peterson shares more about the company’s participation in Loop, a new circular shopping platform built around reusable packaging, in his 28-minute presentation given at WestPack 2019.


NEXT: Ready for a bunch of sustainable packaging surprises?

5. 10 sustainable packaging surprises in 2018

At the end of the year, Packaging Digest editors compile lists of topic-based top articles. One of our most popular reviews is about sustainability—no surprise considering how ingrained it is in the minds of most packaging professionals today.

Here were the top 10 articles about sustainable packaging from last year:

1. Amazon incentivizes brands to create Frustration-Free Packaging

2. L’Oréal’s paper bottle: Easy on the earth but tough in showers

3. 4 sustainable truths impacting food packaging today

4. P&G’s PureCycle cleans recycled PP to ‘near virgin’ quality

5. How Conagra rewards packaging line workers for cutting waste

6. How packaging recyclability can shift sustainability expectations for startup beauty brands

7. Japan’s Kao Group makes sustainability look raku raku (‘so easy’)

8. 5 factors affecting sustainable packaging moving forward

9. 5 environmental advantages of corrugated packaging

10. Sustainable packaging innovators earn kudos


NEXT: An early adopter of high-end reusable packaging

4. Decadent Delici dessert packaging designed for Costco

An early adopter of reusable, high-end packaging—which is seeing a resurgence of interest these days—Delici engineered its packaging design to best present the visual beauty of these decadent desserts. Even though this article was posted Apr. 19, 2016, it continues to enjoy high readership to this day for its relevant messages about packaging design.


NEXT: Packaging engineers speak out! Again!

3. More ‘packaging engineer’ quips: Gallery

How do you know if you are a packaging engineer? When we asked, you told us! Our original entertaining slideshow revealed insider quirks and pet peeves of you and your peers.

We followed it up with a sequel (which made it to #3 on this list!) and are still getting great new responses. (Do you have one?! Add it here!) Stay tuned for a threepeat!


NEXT: The biggest packaging news of the year…

2. Loop and big brands boldly reinvent waste-free packaging

The biggest packaging news of the year (so far) has been the development and launch of Loop, a new ecommerce shopping site totally designed around reusable packaging. The brainchild of TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky, Loop has the backing of major brand owners like Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Seventh Generation—all of which have created special upscale packaging designed to be refilled.

Packaging Digest also got feedback on the Loop concept from packaging professionals, who are some of the most sympathetic supporters and some of the harshest critics.


NEXT: Are you still worried about BPA in packaging?

1. Most food cans no longer use BPA in their linings

This was the best-read article in May 2019, despite the fact it was originally posted Feb. 20, 2018. Last month I wondered, “Where can it possibly go from here???”

Well, even higher, it seems! It is now our top article of the year.

Honestly, I think people are clicking on this because it has been appearing in our lists of “Top Articles” for several months. However, the underlying interest is valid: Because consumers are still concerned about chemicals in packaging that might migrate into their food (and thus into their bodies), food companies and their packaging departments need to be concerned too.


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A new grip-able sleeve for pharmaceutical autoinjector pens makes it easier for patients with reduced dexterity due to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) to handle the medical device and perform self-injections, which can help improve health outcomes. Adding the molded-rubber sleeve also doesn’t require pharma companies to incur time-consuming and costly packaging revalidation.

Noble, an Orlando, FL, company that provides drug delivery device training solutions, fulfilled a pharmaceutical client’s request to develop a product that functions in tandem with a pre-existing autoinjector to improve RA patients’ overall injection experience. The pharmaceutical company declined to participate in this article to maintain its privacy.

However, Josh Hopkins, engineering manager at Noble, answers Packaging Digest’s questions about the design and functionality of the autoinjector+sleeve.


When was the sleeve introduced into the market?

Hopkins: The sleeve was introduced into various markets in early 2019 and will continue to launch in global markets in the following years.


Why was it important that the grip feature be added on to the pre-existing autoinjector, instead of, say, incorporated into it?

Hopkins: Autoinjectors are typically selected as the drug delivery system in the clinical trial phase before a drug launch and are validated as part of the human factors testing for the drug delivery system. Changing the autoinjector form factor after a drug launch is a costly effort and incorporating a large ergonomic grip into an autoinjector design is typically not considered.

Adding a sleeve as an accessory and developed separately from the autoinjector was important, as it allows users to save the sleeve and dispose of the autoinjector after their injection process.


From the photo, it looks like the grip is sold separately and can be used multiple times. Is this correct?

Hopkins: Yes, the sleeve can be used multiple times and is not disposed after the user performs a self-injection.


Is the grip also sold as a kit with an autoinjector? Why or why not?

Hopkins: The sleeve is provided in various ways depending on how each individual market prefers to supply the sleeve to their patients.


How much does the grip cost?

Hopkins: We typically don’t disclose the sleeve price, as it is indicated for use for a specific autoinjector and patient population.


How does the RA patient (with reduced dexterity) insert the autoinjector into the grip?

Hopkins: The patient simply inserts the sleeve onto the top of the autoinjector and twists the sleeve to attach it. The sleeve was designed specifically with ease of attachment and detachment in mind for these patients.


How is the autoinjector removed from the grip?

Hopkins: When patients complete their self-injection, they can simply twist the opposite direction to remove the sleeve. Again, this simple detachment was created with patients with reduced dexterity in mind.


How is this grip more ergonomic, especially for RA patients?

Hopkins: The outer diameter of an autoinjector can be small, which can be difficult for patients with moderate to severe RA to hold and perform the self-injection. When the sleeve is attached to the autoinjector, it is easier for RA patients to grip the autoinjector, and they do not have to press the button with their thumb to activate the injection.


How is the autoinjector activated once the sleeve is on?

Hopkins: The autoinjector is activated by the patient using the sleeve and pressing firmly down towards the injection site.


Did you do any usability testing? If so, what were the results?

Hopkins: Noble performed the human factors testing during development and validated the sleeve during the final human factors testing. Patients had an overwhelmingly positive response to using the sleeve and preferred using the sleeve whenever they performed a self-injection.


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The recently launched FlexClean air-rinsing machine offers healthcare and cosmetics packagers a flexible option for cleaning bottles prior to filling with liquid products. The unit “rinses” bottles by blowing out unwanted particles.

Because the machine from groninger has an oval design, bottles are upended and rinsed longer than on a rotary-design unit. In addition, the FlexClean machine’s base holders can accommodate various transport carriers, boosting operational flexibility. One, two or three containers (depending on size) may be mounted on the base holders, with line speeds increasing accordingly.

Michael Steck, design team manager at groninger, answers Packaging Digest’s questions about the system.


What types of bottles are compatible with the FlexClean machine?

Steck: Any type of bottle and material is compatible with our FlexClean air-rising machine. In most cases, customers ask for glass or plastic, but metal would also be possible.


What is the size range for bottles going through the FlexClean?

Steck: It depends on different aspects. First, the shape of the bottles—whether they are cylindrical or not. Second, the size of the bottles. Cylindrical bottles are differentiated between small (16 to 40 millimeters), medium (40 to 60mm) and large (60 to 100mm) size. In place of one large bottle, you can either process three small ones or two medium ones. This means an output of 180, 120 or 60 bottles per minute.


What types of products are typically filled into bottles?

Steck: It is up to the customer, of course. Using the FlexClean machine especially makes sense if you want to fill liquids in the consumer healthcare or cosmetics industries. So far, the bottles cleaned by the FlexClean are being filled with eye drops and cough syrup. But almost every kind of liquid product in the consumer healthcare and cosmetics industries—for example, oral hygiene, health supplements, diagnostic, skincare and haircare products—can be processed.


What line modifications need to be made when adding the FlexClean machine to an existing filling line?

Steck: The ready-engineered approach of the FlexClean machine makes possible a quite simple integration into an existing packaging line. It does not have its own control system, so there are hardly any modifications to realize. And if needed, groninger can also design it as a standalone machine, though not ready-engineered.


Does FlexClean have commercial installations yet?

Steck: Although we only just launched the FlexClean machine concept, one FlexClean is now on its way to getting installed, and a second one is just being built in Schnelldorf, Germany. Both lines will be installed to fill cough syrup.


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Not long ago, refilling packages was something typically associated only with the granola set—picture Birkenstock-clad shoppers lugging their pantry jars to the co-op grocery. Today, the practice is going mainstream, with some of the world’s biggest brands signing on to participate in the new Loop circular shopping platform, which eschews disposable packaging for more durable vessels designed to be refilled.   

P&G was the first consumer packaged goods company to sign onto that initiative, and now the company is wading even deeper into the waters of sustainable packaging. Early in June, it announced that its Olay beauty brand would test refillable packaging, making it the first mass retail skincare brand to do so.

Starting this fall and running through the end of the year, the brand will offer full jars of its Olay Regenerist Whip moisturizer with a refill pod that can be placed inside the jar when it’s emptied. Additionally, the package will be sold and shipped in a container made of 100% recycled paper without an outer carton. The refill pods are also recyclable. Pricing has not yet been announced, but the products will be available in select retail stores and on Olay.com in the U.S. and UK.

The pilot will run for three months, and through it Olay hopes to gain insights about whether consumers are open to refillable beauty products and test the user interface of its refillable packaging concept.

“The ultimate goal is to find and adopt many more sustainable packaging solutions, and the refillable Olay Regenerist Whip package is the first step of that journey,” Anitra Marsh, who leads the global sustainability task for P&G’s Global Skin and Personal Care brands, said in a press release. “It’s really important for us to get it right because only then can we bring this concept to market at scale.”

If the concept is rolled out more broadly, it has the potential to save over 1 million pounds of plastic from the landfill, an estimated 5 million jars’ worth, according to the company.”

Through the Loop initiative, P&G has designed durable, refillable packaging for its Pantene, Tide, Cascade, Crest, Ariel and Febreze brands. It has also created refill solutions for its Oral-B, Gillette and Venus products and will test recycling for used Pampers and Always hygienic products.

Additionally, Olay is taking aim at the issue of waste in skincare through initiatives like Olay Skincare Advisor, an online application that uses artificial intelligence technology to help customers determine the right product for them, and Olay Labs, which matches customers with a four-week skincare regimen.



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Flexible packaging is on the rise, accounting for about one-fifth of the $167 billion U.S. packaging industry, according to stats from the Flexible Packaging Association. But the move to flexible formats poses challenges for another growing trend in packaging: automation.

In particular, vacuum-based automated systems can drop or deform flexible packages, leading to slower cycle times, stoppage and, ultimately, shrinkage and lost productivity for manufacturers. However, a new series of vacuum cups with specially designed bag lips from Piab seeks to solve these problems. 

The company’s piGRIP cups feature a plastic insert that prevents flexible packages from being sucked up into the suction cup of a vacuum-based automated system, as well as a flexible lip made of soft 50-Shore silicone that helps it to conform to the irregularities of a bag’s surface. These features help to prevent unattractive pucker marks and dropping of the packages, especially when working with thin bag materials such as plastic film.

A special fitting also allows more vacuum flow through the cup, enabling cups to be cycled faster.  

“The idea of having more of the cup’s surface area on the bag surface along with the cup’s strong body allows the user to increase speeds on their production lines without the danger of missing bags or losing bags,” Mike Tuohey, Regional Marketing Manager – Americas for Piab, tells Packaging Digest via email.  “More cup on the bag means a strong tight grip without risk of failure.”

A case study on Piab’s website details the experience of an Italian customer that was handling bags filled with coffee pods. Working cycles ranged from 20 to 40 picks per minute with standard suction cups, and heavier bags were sometimes dropped, resulting in production stoppages. When the customer switched to piGRIP suction cups, it was able to maximize speeds while eliminating dropping, thus increasing productivity.

Piab also touts potential cost savings due to the fact that the cups feature exchangeable bag lips.

“A suction cup, traditionally, is a one-piece unit plus perhaps a fitting,” Tuohey says. “If the lip starts to wear out on the cup, you need to replace the whole cup.  But, with the configurable piGRIP suction cup line, the lip is a separate part from the body of the cup, so when the lip wears out, you only have to replace one part of the suction cup, not the whole thing, and that is a very cost-effective solution.” 

The company says the bag lips were designed to handle dry food bags as well as stand-up pouches filled with liquid or dry or wet food or other substances. They can also accommodate matte finishes.

“On a smooth flat surface like a matte finish, the Piab cups have great friction capabilities that would make picking them up a breeze, more from the soft silicone lip that is key for a good strong grip,” Tuohey says.

Six diameter sizes (25, 34, 41, 48, 63 and 80 mm) can accommodate packages as small as fast-food ketchup packs or as large as animal feed sacks. Both the lip material and internal retainer piece are made from FDA-approved materials.


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A handful of medical packages, each outstanding in its own way, have won AmeriStar Awards this year: the Orthofix Medical Tray, Target Simply Balanced Vitamins packaging, Klearfold Keeper CR, theDuallok child-resistant packaging systemand GlaxoSmithKline’s Allergy Relief Nasal Spray packaging.

Overall, the 2019 competition included more than 50 entrants and 17 product categories. These five medical winners were entered in the Drug and Pharmaceutical, Medical Device and Other categories. The Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) administers the AmeriStar Awards competition annually.


1. Orthofix Medical Tray

Entered in the Medical Device category, the Orthofix Medical Tray by Placon is a custom-designed package that holds medical screws used for surgical implantation. The primary package comprises a retainer tray and tray cover; two medical screws are secured within the retainer tray, with each screw head locked into the tray and the body of each screw suspended inside the tray. This configuration protects the hydroxyapatite coating on the screws from abrasion during shipping and handling.

The filled, covered retainer tray fits inside a pair of double sterile barrier trays, and the assembled components are packed in a paperboard carton. Orthofix had previously validated the double sterile barrier trays and uses them for an array of other medical products. Incorporating the pre-validated trays into the screw-package design saved more than $50,000 in package validation costs.

“Our design team continues to lead the industry to innovative packaging design in the medical market space. This packaging design was a result of customer collaboration to find a solution that we hope will carry forward a long-term success for this product,” says Derek Skogen, senior product manager at Placon.

“The unique feature that sets this package apart is the ability to suspend and hold the medical screw in place without touching anything that could cause any rubbing or abrasive friction that might result in the hydroxyapatite coating being removed or scuffed prior to use in the medical or operating room,” Skogen adds.


NEXT: Target Simply Balanced Vitamins


2. Target Simply Balanced Vitamins

Packaging for Target Simply Balanced Vitamins, developed by TricorBraun, was an AmeriStar winner in the Drug and Pharmaceutical category this year. This premium packaging for a new line of upscale nutraceuticals offers operational efficiencies, child-resistance and senior-friendliness.

One bottle and closure design, in standardized sizes, is used for the product line, streamlining packaging-component manufacturing and storage. The bottle has an oblong shape, which differentiates the products from competitors on-shelf. The oblong packages are also more space-efficient than round bottles, which adds storage, distribution and merchandising efficiencies.

The bottles are designed with a wider-than-usual mouth, which enables faster filling and easy, hygienic dispensing. The transparent bottles give consumers a view of the product at retail and let them monitor how much is left in the package over time.

Color-coded labels and closures make it easy for shoppers to identify the various products in the Simply Balanced Vitamins line. The push-and-turn child-resistant closure pairs a colorful round cap with a clear, oblong overcap. The closure keeps children from opening the bottle but is easy for older consumers to open; directions for opening are embossed on the overcap.

It’s obvious when the consumer has not replaced the closure on the package correctly, because the cap juts out horizontally from the bottle. When the closure is flush with the oblong shape of the bottle, the package is securely closed.

The recyclable bottle and overcap are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and the resin used for the bottle is formulated with a UV inhibitor to extend the products’ shelf life.


NEXT: Klearfold Keeper CR for cannabis


3. Klearfold Keeper CR

The Klearfold Keeper CR carton from HLP Klearfold, a transparent, child-resistant package for legalized medicinal and recreational cannabis, was a winner entered in this year’s Other category.

This clear plastic package showcases products on-shelf at cannabis dispensaries, elevating the items’ brand image and enabling consumers to see what they are buying. The tray-and-sleeve design conforms with Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) standards for child-resistant (CR), senior-friendly packaging.

During CPSC certification, “we quickly learned that because the test-subject children, aged 42 to 51 months, could see the CR package contents, they were significantly more motivated to try to get inside,” says Pat McGee, vp, marketing, at HLP Klearfold. “It was critical that the Klearfold Keeper CR be designed to provide security commensurate with the increased attention level of these very motivated children.”

To open the locked pack requires pressing a release tab on the carton; this unlocks the internal tray, which contains the product. Per CPSC requirements for multi-use packaging, the tray remains attached to the package after opening. Instructions for opening are printed on the package.

“In addition to delivering product visibility, the Klearfold Keeper CR’s plastic substrate offers far greater tear resistance than paperboard,” McGee says. “And the Keeper CR’s glue seams, often a failure point with paperboard CR cartons, are chemically bonded to provide an added measure of product security. The substrate resiliency allows for a simple but very effective locking mechanism, permitting the package to re-lock many times for multiple-use applications.”

Klearfold Keeper CR packages can be made from durable box-grade and thermoforming-grade recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) containing 30% post-consumer recycled content; bio-PET with 30% of the material derived from plant-based sources; or amorphous polyethylene terephthalate (APET).For product protection, the internal trays are molded to the precise shape and size of the cannabis product.


NEXT: Duallok child-resistant packaging system


4. Duallok child-resistant packaging system

The Duallok child-resistant packaging system, designed by Burgopak for nutraceuticals and legalized cannabis, won a 2019 AmeriStar Award in the Drug and Pharmaceutical category. The pack’s child-resistant design complies with the federal government’s regulations for poison-prevention packaging (16 C.F.R. 1700).

Duallok packages feature a patented double-lock design that thwarts children’s attempts to open the pack while remaining intuitive for adults. By pressing two tabs on the sides of the package and then pushing the tray out, adult users can easily access package contents. The tabs are part of a thin polypropylene component housed inside the package.

The package structure includes a sleeve, inner tray and product-specific insert to hold the contents in place; these components are all made from paperboard. A layer of biaxially oriented polyethylene terephthalate (PET) film on the board enhances tear resistance.

In addition to safeguarding children, the Duallok system offers a luxury-packaging alternative for cannabis and other controlled substances. Because the child-resistant feature is so easy for adults to use, only a few simple opening instructions are required on the outside of the package. During user testing, even consumers with arthritis could easily operate the pack.

The Duallok package can be customized for various products, including vape cartridges, pre-rolled cannabis cigarettes and pharmaceuticals.


NEXT: Finally, GSK’s Allergy-Relief Nasal Spray

5. Allergy-Relief Nasal Spray

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer Health took home an AmeriStar Award for sustainability improvements to GSK’s allergy-relief nasal-spray packaging.Entered in the Other category, the redesigned nasal-spray packaging significantly reduces plastic use and shrinks the packaging’s carbon footprint by up to 50%.

The Flonase and Sensimist nasal-spray brands are the first in GSK’s respiratory category to receive a a complete sustainability assessment. The brand owner assembled a cross-functional team to make all parts of the nasal-spray packaging more environmentally friendly without sacrificing product performance or patient safety.

The team worked on the nasal-spray pump and actuator assembly, thermoformed clamshell, drug-facts labeling and product literature. All changes have been approved by relevant health agencies.

GSK has vowed to reduce its environmental impact by 25% by 2030 (versus the baseline year of 2016) by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water use and by repurposing waste for “beneficial use.”


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We drill down into the details of the efficient and unique Platformer inline rigid tray former from Harpak-ULMA Packaging, LLC.


There’s such a thing as boasting, but as my dad, a former multisport all-state athlete says, “son, it ain’t bragging if you can back it up.”  That seems to be the case with the unique Platformer thermoformer available in two models that supports the claim by machinery maker Harpak-ULMA Packaging, LLC that the revolutionary system is “a disruptor in the tray supply and sealing market.” Introduced at Pack Expo International 2018 last fall Chicago, I came across the machine at a return engagement to McCormick Place in March in the West Hall during the ProFood Tech Expo.

Jim Ryan, Senior Vice President of Harpak-ULMA, responds to Packaging Digest’s questions in this Q&A.

What’s different if not unique about this thermoformer?

Ryan: The platformer is unique as it is a rotary thermoforming system that does not require chains or a gripping device to transport the rigid film where the scrap savings is achieved.  Platformer utilizes 98% of the film with only 2% scrap whereas traditional chain driven thermoformers use up to 15% scrap.

The film is cut to the appropriate size, heated, formed with the smooth turn downs and rounded corners, then is placed on a conveyor belt for an automated in-line production supply.

The turn downs created on the Platformer are almost 90 degrees to the flange where traditional thermoforming creates a “return flange” that sticks out and is a “lip” that can create issues when using premade trays for stretch or overwrap applications.

What’s the significance of the turned-down flanges and how is that achieved?

Ryan: The turned downs provide increased rigidity to the tray design and eliminate the “return flange” or lip that is common with premade trays that can cause challenges with different tray wrapping applications.

The technology to produce the turndowns is a patented proprietary technology.

What tray materials and sizes can it handle?

Ryan: The Platformer is currently approved to handle rigid films from 300 microns to 800 microns. Film types include APET, PET/PE, PET/EVOH/PE, HIPS, HIPS/PE and HIPS/EVOH/PE.

We continue to work closely with several film suppliers to test various structures as we wish to include recycled content and other attributes for our customers.

The tray sizes are defined by the size of the Platformer tooling with a maximum and minimum size as to effective form and transport the finished trays to the exit conveyor. To best optimize the scrap level, it is recommended to maintain a square/rectangular design. Trays can be wide open for larger products or have multiple cells for snack-type applications.

What methods and product types can it accommodate?

Ryan: The Platformer was designed to work seamlessly with the Trave line of tray sealers therefore handling all types of sealing needs i.e., heat seal, stretch, modified-atmosphere packaging (MAP), vacuum-skin packaging and Darfresh on Tray. Also known as DOT, that’s a joint propriety technology for skin-packaging from G. Mondini and Sealed Air.

The Platformer can create a wide variety of trays sizes and depths, and hold a wide variety of food, non-food, medical or even industrial products.

What’s the industry standard for scrap on a conventional thermoformer? And how was the company able to reduce scrap to just 2% with this machine design?

Ryan: In speaking with thermoforming experts, the scrap produced when cutting out premade trays from a large sheet is approximately 15% or more, based on a standard #3 tray. This is due to traditional thermoformers needing to hold the rigid film web, e.g. with chains, as it is transported through their process.

The Platformer utilizes 98% of the film as the film reel is sent to the customer already cut to the width required to make the width of the tray including the turndowns. The length required is cut after the film enters the Platformer’s Film Guide and Cutting Station. The film is cut to the appropriate length for an individual tray and the part that is cut out and ejected, referred to as the “dog bone”, has been calculated as the 2% scrap material. The individual sheets are separated and transported on a vacuum belt where a pick-and-place device transports the individual sheets in unison and positions them onto the heating platen.  

Under what conditions can it operate at the stated maximum of 200 trays/min?

Ryan: One of the first installations in the United States is currently producing 200 trays per minute. The tray size has a smaller footprint as it is made for snack-type products. These trays are currently being produced on our Platformer 1200 series in a two-lane configuration. The tray forming mold produces 10 trays per lane or 20 trays per cycle using the customer-selected film that includes the proper structure, film thickness and product line requirements.

For a standard #3 size tray, the Platformer 1200 produces up to 120 trays per minute. The small Platformer 800 series produces up to 60 #3 trays per minute.

What can you say about the automation and controls?

The Platformers operate using several servos for precision movement.

Currently the Platformers utilize controls from B&R Industrial Automation, but future models will utilize Rockwell Automation Allen-Bradley Controls.

How long does a changeover take?

Ryan: Changeovers depend on what is being changed. For a tray with same dimension but with a different depth, the whole process takes a matter of 3-4 minutes. For a more dramatic changeover, say from a small two-cell snack tray to a large #9 tray or up to 5 pounds of product, the changeover will take 20-25 minutes as there are more parts to change-out to accommodate the larger tray footprint.

What options are available?

Ryan: Platformer comes in both single-lane and dual-lane configurations in both the 800 series and 1200 series. Customers can choose from either a flat belt or flighted conveyor for the exit belt, depending on their needs.

What’s been the feedback and interest from potential customers?

Ryan: The interest has been very high as customers have engaged by joining a Webinar we conducted at the end of 2018, by visiting our booths at various tradeshows to see the Platformer in operation and by visiting our facility in Taunton, MA, for a more focused discussion on how the Platformer can impact their business.

We created a return-on-investment (ROI) calculator for our customers to plug-in their figures to see more accurate figures of the various savings they can achieve through material savings, labor, warehousing, operational costs and waste disposal costs. 

Our lead customer has installed and has been running two of each of the Platformers, the 800 series and the larger 1200 series. The Platformers integrated seamlessly into their line and have been running very well.

Anything else to mention?

Ryan: Besides the cost savings when a customer converts from premade trays to roll-stock, there are additional areas of savings from warehousing, equipment wear and tear, production and waste/ recycling disposal costs.

Customers will have more choice with regards to their suppliers as there fewer choices when it comes to the manufacturers of pre-made trays compared to manufacturers of rigid roll-stock film.

As PET is the most recycled plastic in the world and here in the U.S., it is the preferred material, especially to replace expanded polystyrene (EPS) trays as more and more ordinances are being enforced throughout the U.S.

Lastly, what sealers can this be paired with?

Ryan: The Platformer was designed to seamlessly integrate into a Trave Tray Sealing line where an in-line solution produces the greatest opportunity for savings. For our customers who are challenges by space in their facilities, we are working on several options such as hole-through-the wall scenarios as producing in a separate room to “Remote Production” where the Platformer is producing trays ‘off-line’ for multiple lines and/or multiple plants.



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The Coca-Cola Co. and Mondelēz asked packaging students to reimagine either the Coke Fridge Pack or the ecommerce Variety Pack of Oreos, Ritz and Chips Ahoy. Solutions to these real-world design challenges showcase the creativity, skills and talents of tomorrow’s packaging design professionals.

The 48-Hour RePack Student Awards Competition, organized by the Institute of Packaging Professionals, Southeastern Chapter, celebrated its 10th year in 2019.

Each year for the challenge, students are given just 48 hours to research, design and physically produce a redesigned package of a common household product, which changes each year. They also have to create a video presenting their idea and package.

This year, 25 teams from universities and colleges across the United States with packaging programs participated, with three teams earning awards and getting recognized for their innovations at NextPack 2019, an annual event put on by IoPP’s Southeastern Chapter.

The Coca-Cola Co. and Mondelēz sponsored the 2019 competition. Scott Biondich, president of the IoPP Southeastern Chapter, says, “Every year I am blown away by the creativity and incredible amount of work that these students manage to accomplish in just 48 hours.”

Judges for this year’s competition were:

• Bimal Kumar Lakhotia, director, Plastic R&D COE, Coca-Cola North America.

• Brian A. Rice, senior director, Design & Packaging Innovation, Georgia-Pacific.

• José Reyes, founder and creative director, Metaleap Creative.

Plans for next year’s competition have been set for Jan. 24-26, 2020, with the winners to be recognized at NextPack 2020, scheduled for next April 28.

And now, here are the winners of the 48-Hour RePack Student Awards Competition…

1st Place: Modular multipack helps Coke Fridge Packs fit into small spaces

Clemson University students Ryan Neilson, Tyler Gunter and Theresa Ciccarell won first place for their creative redesign of the Coke Fridge Pack, earning $3,000. Their NEW Break and Take Pack is a modular 8-can multipack that separates into dual 4-packs, thanks to a center perforated strip, so they can fit better into crowded or small refrigerators while still offering all the convenience features of the typical 12-can Fridge Pack.

Since the shape of the package resembles a boom box, the students created related graphics, with an AM/FM tuner, volume and selection dial on the principal display panel. Additionally, a speaker-driver shaped area doubles as placement for the Coke Zero Sugar logo. The video shows the flexibility of the multipack’s multiple orientations, as well as how new handles allow people to carry the pack on their shoulder, like a boom box.

Click here to watch the video.


NEXT: Mondelēz variety pack is efficient, reusable


2nd Place: Mondelēz variety pack is efficient, reusable

Virginia Tech students Emilee Wooten, Katelyn Farkas and Gillian Cubbage placed second, and earned $2,000, for their Mondelēz Intl. variety pack holding currently available family-size packages of Oreo cookies, Chips Ahoy! cookies and Ritz crackers (all Mondelēz brands that are often purchased in one order). The variety pack meets the requirements for Amazon’s SIOC (Ships in Own Container) ecommerce packaging and provides an efficient direct-to-consumer transport. It consists of an outer E-flute case that holds three paperboard trays that slide out like drawers, with handholds making that easy. Each family-size package sits inside the drawer and, except for the Ritz crackers, can be opened and closed while still inside the drawer/tray. Trays can be reused by refilling with family-size packs bought at the store or by holding other products.

Case graphics are simple brand logos on a comforting blue background.

Click here to watch the video.


NEXT: Variety pack ‘unfurls,’ revealing contents and whimsical graphics


3rd Place: Variety pack ‘unfurls,’ revealing contents and whimsical graphics

Earning $1,000 for third place, California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo, students Blaine Boyd, Carson Barnes, Marilyn Nguyen, Von Balanon and Shea Irwin also tackled a redesign of the Mondelēz Variety Pack for ecommerce. Inspiration for their solution comes from the ease and simplicity of mailer boxes used for shipping textbooks.

For the new design, die-cut boxes are shipped flat, with integral pop-up spacers/cushions, for maximum efficiency from the box maker to the seller. SIOC shippers are then formed and packed with products. The rectangular shape of the E-flute corrugated pack also meets Amazon’s Frustration-Free Packaging (FFP) guidelines for easy stacking during storage and shipping. And playful graphics using brand colors evoke feelings of nostalgia with hand-drawn images of cookies and crackers.

To open the pack, consumers tear a perforation across the entire top of the box (no scissors needed). This allows all four sides of the box to “unfurl” and reveal the contents, which appear in their correct orientation—the Ritz carton remains upright, while the Chips Ahoy! and Oreo packs lay flat. According to the entry: “Our team intended for the products to be presented in this manner to the consumer because it accentuates the way that the primary packaging of the products are intended to be opened.”

This style of opening also lets consumers enjoy the whimsical interior graphics.

Click here to watch the video.


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It is AmeriStar Award season once again, and the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) has announced the competition’s 2019 winners. A panel of 12 judges (including our own Executive Editor Lisa McTigue Pierce) evaluated more than 50 packages entered into 17 categories, ultimately awarding the top three 2019 AmeriStar Awards to:

• Clinique iD by The Estée Lauder Companies—for Best of Show.

• O-I : EXPRESSIONS—for Design Excellence.

• Krylon Industrial Quik-Tap Aerosol by Sherwin-Williams—for Sustainable Packaging.

(Click here to view all 23 winners in the 2019 AmeriStar Awards, along with the four student award winners.)


Here are exclusive details on each of these three top winners.


Best of Show: Clinique iD by The Estée Lauder Companies

Clinique, a brand of The Estée Lauder Companies, took home the Best of Show award for its dual-pump Clinique iD package. The packaging concept enables consumers to combine a hydration base product with a specialty booster serum and dispense both formulas with one press of the actuator.

The base product is filled into a bottle that is similar to the iconic Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion (DDML) container in proportions and shape. The Clinique iD bottle’s mouth is larger, however, to accommodate the insertion of a tube-shaped cartridge containing booster serum.

The consumer removes the closure from the Clinique iD base bottle and screws the serum cartridge into the bottle. The cartridge houses the dual-pump mechanism, which includes a dip tube for dispensing the hydration base.

Consumers have a choice of three Clinique Dramatically Different base products, and five serums in color-coded cartridges; the various serums address skin issues such as lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone and fatigue. In all, 18 Clinique iD combinations are possible.

The dual pump dispenses different doses of the two products (base and serum), for optimal mixing at the time of use. “It is unique to have a dual-chambered pump with different dosages,” says Bob Crescas, executive director, Clinique skincare packaging. “The lotion is 230 microliter, and the serum booster is 30mcl.”

He add that the “pump design is very tight and compact, meeting the goal of keeping the overall package in proportion to existing DDML [stock-keeping units]. The dual-pump/bottle package solves the problem of getting two formulas with one push of the actuator, boosting hydration and addressing individual skin concerns.”

The brand owner also redesigned the secondary packaging for Clinique iD products, to boost on-shelf appeal. DDML cartons have historically been green, but the Clinique iD cartons are white with a four-color process image of the hydration-base bottle or the brightly colored serum cartridge.

The Clinique iD bottles and cartridges are recyclable; the cartons, which are made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) paperboard, may be recycled or composted.

“The most challenging part of commercialization was managing a global supply chain,” Crescas notes. “We are a global company, so it was not a new challenge; however, we sourced components from three continents, bringing them all together to our final manufacturing plants both in New York and London. We had a whole team of people in Korea, Europe and the U.S. working to make this launch a success.”


NEXT: O-I’s Design Excellence Award

Design Excellence: O-I : EXPRESSIONS

This year’s Design Excellence Award honors Owens-Illinois Inc. for O-I : EXPRESSIONS, a technique that uses direct-to-glass digital printing to decorate bottles. The O-I : EXPRESSIONS RELIEF version of the technology takes the concept a step further, creating tactile effects on glass packaging.

O-I : EXPRESSIONS, which is positioned as a late-stage packaging design option, offers the benefits of flexible production volumes and nimble response to market demands. The technology is also environmentally friendly, using organic inks that do not hinder the glass package’s recyclability. Packagers’ ability to maintain smaller inventories also helps reduce packaging waste.

“In my opinion, the premium version of O-I : EXPRESSIONS, called O-I : EXPRESSIONS RELIEF—named after the sculptural technique—is the most innovative feature of our personalization service offering,” says Yolanda Fernandez, marketing communication specialist, O-I Europe Sàrl.

She explains that the digital/relief technology “takes brands a step beyond what was previously thought possible in terms of customization and premiumization,” via customized three-dimensional printed effects such as embossing and colored embossing.

“This will enable brands to interact with consumers through the sense of touch. This is the feature that is generating the most ‘wow’ responses from customers, not only because of how it looks, but because it really opens up new opportunities for smaller volumes,” Fernandez adds. Those smaller runs may include limited-time package designs, seasonal packaging and promotional bottles.

“In our opinion, digital printing should not be seen as a solution that will replace existing offerings and solutions, but rather it offers new opportunities for personalizing glass packaging and transforming packaging design through late-stage differentiation,” Fernandez says. “Our O-I : EXPRESSIONS service transforms a bottle into a canvas with speed and ease and helps brands create consumer experiences.”


NEXT: Finally, Sherwin-Williams’ Sustainable Packaging Award

Sustainable Packaging: Krylon Industrial Quik-Tap Aerosol by Sherwin-Williams

Sherwin-Williams won the Sustainable Packaging Award for its Krylon Industrial Quik-Tap paint package, which is an aerosol package design in which the valve and actuator are separate from the aerosol can.

The concept pairs aerosol cans with the reusable Quik-Tap tool. The user screws this device onto a Quik-Tap can, puncturing the sealed can and enabling the paint to flow to the valve and actuator for spraying.

Sherwin-Williams developed the package for a customer that uses spray paint for underground-utility identification. Technicians mark the ground above buried utility lines so contractors and others don’t accidentally damage the lines when digging.

Environmental benefits of the Krylon Industrial Quik-Tap design include hazardous-waste reduction and improved recyclability. Disposal of conventional aerosol paint cans typically requires diversion to a hazardous-waste stream, as the used cans remain sealed and pressurized, and they often still contain liquid paint.

In contrast, a spent Quik-Tap can—which is no longer sealed or pressurized after the Quik-Tap tool is unscrewed—may be recycled or disposed of with regular, non-hazardous waste.

The Quik-Tap packaging also produces less packaging waste than conventional aerosol paint cans, because the cans do not contain actuators or valves. The cans don’t need a protective overcap, either, because they can’t accidentally spray during shipping and handling.

Quik-Tap cans offer cost savings for users, as well. Sherwin-Williams reports that its ground-marking/utilities-locating customers use several million aerosol cans of paint each year. With conventional aerosol cans, this has required industrial users to pay for hazardous-materials dumpsters for can disposal. The new package design eliminates that expense.

Users find their paint going further with the Quik-Tap design, as well, because the package provides maximum evacuation of the product. After the residue remaining inside the used cans has dried, they are ready for recycling or trash.



MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) is where serious packaging professionals find technologies, education and connections needed to thrive in today’s advanced manufacturing community. See solutions in labeling, food packaging, package design and beyond. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo. Register to attend today!


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