Examining the value of healthcare plastics recycling

Recycling programs in hospitals are reportedly expanding, but given the amount of waste produced each day, there’s definitely opportunity for improvement. A new program organized by the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council promises to demonstrate the value of plastics recycling.

U.S. hospitals and healthcare facilities generate significant amounts of waste each day—according to Practice Greenhealth, it’s about 14,000 tons each day. Some of that waste seems to be making its way into recycling streams, because according to the association, 83.6% of it’s award winning hospitals have initiated clinical plastics recycling programs. However, there’s opportunity for further progress, given that a survey Practice Greenhealth conducted last year along with HPRC found that 66% of responding hospitals are recycling 40% or less of what could be recycled. 

To further the promotion of recycling, Tod Christenson, HPRC’s executive director, says that the group is announcing a project in Chicago to demonstrate the economic viability of healthcare plastics recycling. Called the “100 Tons Project,” the program aims to recycle 100 tons of noninfectious plastic products and packaging from hospitals. “We are excited to have participants from across the value chain including hospitals, waste transporters, [and] recyclers, and we even [have] an end-user that wants all the polypropylene we can generate,” he explains. “We are going to get that number.” 

According to HPRC, initial Chicago-area hospitals participating in the project include Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and NorthShore University HealthSystem Glenbrook, Evanston and Skokie campuses. Other area hospitals are also considering the opportunity to join the project, it was reported at time of press release.

The potential materials being targeted for collection and recycling include primarily polypropylene and polyethylene resins in the form of sterilization wrap, irrigation bottles, basins, pitchers, trays, Tyvek, and rigid and flexible packaging materials, HPRC reports on its Web site. “Companies providing logistics and recycling support include Waste Management of Illinois Inc., LakeShore Recycling Services, and Antek Madison. Key Green Solutions LLC, a sustainability management software service provider, will collect and maintain project metrics. Barger, a division of PLACON, will lend additional financial support to the project as interested end-users looking to create new products from the recycled materials, and Petoskey Plastics will supply specialized bags to accumulate and transport the plastic materials,” HPRC reports.

With some recyclers reporting changing demand, I asked Christenson how the drop in oil prices would impact recycling. “It’s a concern, because it changes the basic economics,” he says. “As the price of oil drops, so does the price of virgin resin, so recycled material loses its luster.”

Christenson says he “likes to believe it won’t hinder our efforts. Economics is still a driver for hospitals, but the reality is they are already moving materials, and the cost to hospitals to recycle is minimal. There’s also a strong internal driver from doctors and nurses—there are expectations of their organizations to do something to avoid just throwing all this material away.” 

Recycling also plays a significant role in EUROPEN’s Circular Economy Package, announced in December 2015. HPRC is contemplating forming a European chapter to not only leverage its work in the United States, but also get involved in the Circular Economy dialogue in Europe. “We are thinking about how it applies to healthcare plastics,” he says. “It is not waste anymore—it’s thought of as a resource stream. I understand the initiative as taking one person’s waste and making it someone else’s asset.” 

The idea is to add value. Sorting plastics waste, for instance, adds value. “And if you go back upstream to design products so that they can more easily be sorted by material type at end-of-use, that adds value, too,” he says. “It’s thinking about the end at the beginning. 

“We more and more will be living in a resource-constrained world, so we cannot afford to waste anything,” Christenson says.


Source Article from http://www.packagingdigest.com/sustainable-packaging/pmp-examining-value-of-healthcare-plastics-recycling-16-03-30

Fighting words: How ‘unboxing’ videos are reshaping consumer purchasing behavior

In this mobile device-enabled era of Instagraming, snapchatting, texting, tweeting and periscoping, it’s often more surprising when an event, thought, idea or experience isn’t captured and posted online than when it is. Consumers armed with anything from a basic smartphone to a portable GoPro to broadcast-quality video cameras are supplying the world with digital content that not only entertains, but in some instances informs, educates and, now, even influences purchasing decisions.

Following closely on the heels of the YouTube sensation of “haul videos”—where shoppers shared the booty of their retail treasure hunts with anyone willing to watch—brands, retailers and even packaging converters are now the target of “unboxing” videos. The unboxing phenomenon is unfolding literally as we watch, sometimes in collective amazement and sometimes with a shared horror.

By and large, unboxing videos are produced and shared by otherwise everyday consumers unpacking consumer goods ranging from food to electronics to shoes purchased either at retail or online. These videos are most often posted in all their unedited glory where both product and package are the target of their uncensored opinions and, when they discover something they find unpleasant or, in their opinion, wrong, their rants.

Unboxing videos can vary in length from 30 seconds to 10 minutes or more. As of Mar. 18, 2016, there are more than 39 million search results on YouTube for the term “unboxing.”

The popularity of unboxing videos can be attributed to consumers’ interest and most importantly, trust, in online reviews. According to Mintel’s January 2016 US Beauty Retailing report, 39% of U.S. adults who are social media users and have purchased beauty products in the last 12 months agree that social media posts encourage them to buy particular products. Thirty-five percent of the same adult group like sharing their product experience on retailers’ social media channels. Clearly, social media has become a major influencer of purchasing decisions, which poses challenges and creates opportunities for brands to reach consumers in ways not previously possible.

Accordingly, unboxing videos have begun to weave their way into the zero moment of truth (ZMoT), when consumers begin to form purchasing opinions well before they enter a brick-and-mortar or online retail environment. Unboxing videos have taken both ZMoTs to a new level—moving it beyond the control of retailers, brand owners or even packaging converters. Unboxing is creating a genre of wanna-be social media reality stars who now get first crack at consumer engagement and influence.

It’s because of that influence, and even power, that unboxing videos hold the potential to persuade or dissuade purchasing behavior. In kind, brand owners and even packaging converters need to embrace, rather than ignore them. Ignoring the uncensored reality of unboxing videos is akin to putting a lid on a pot after it has boiled over. By embracing, or even sponsoring, unboxing videos, brands can create a new level of consumer engagement and, potentially, a new level of trust with consumers.

Unboxing videos should also become part and parcel of new product and packaging development projects. They are teachable moments, albeit after the fact. But they can be used to gain key insights into what consumers like and dislike. They can be used to gauge reaction, sentiment and even ideas on how to improve a product or package.

And most importantly, and perhaps productively, if brands would actively engage in the comments sections of unboxing videos—to include the recognition of constructive comments as well as non-condescending education regarding why a product is packaged the way it is—unboxing could be a valuable and reliable tool in brand marketers and packaging converters’ toolboxes.


David Luttenberger is the global packaging director at Mintel. He has 24 years’ packaging experience. He can be reached at dluttenberger@mintel.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @packaginggeek.

Source Article from http://www.packagingdigest.com/packaging-design/fighting-words-how-unboxing-videos-are-reshaping-consumer-purchasing-behavior-2016-03-30

Ikea, Keurig Green Mountain, SC Johnson, Wegmans, Target, Dell and many more to headline at SustPack 2016

Will you be at SustPack 2016?

As a sustainable packaging professional, there are many reasons why SustPack 2016 needs to be on your calendar this year. Whether it’s the 50+ presentations from over 60 speakers,  two keynote presentations from Ikea and Un-School of Disruptive Design, the three interactive workshops or the six sustainability tours being offered, SustPack will allow you to share your passion with over 450 sustainable packaging colleagues.

Being held in Chicago, a city actively putting forward initiatives to preserve the environment, reduce waste and control energy consumption, SustPack 2016- April 11-13- will also “walk the walk” by featuring sessions devoted to Cities that Lead and What It Take To Lead, Sustainability Goal Setting, The Circular Packaging Design and Compostable Packaging.

Additionally, SustPack will take an in-depth look at issues the industry is currently facing, such as what is needed to overcome the main challenges currently faced with glass recycling, how packaging can be hurting your brand, aluminum and how it’s transforming the packaging industry and are we heading into a waste management crisis?

Both experts in the field of packaging, David Simnick, CEO & Co-Founder of Soapbox Soaps and Eric Mai, Director for Global Accounts in the Can Value Stream at Novelis recently sat down with Smithers Pira to expand on these challenges.

According to Mai “As companies look to minimize cost and inefficiencies in a continual drive to increase profitability, the answer may be aluminum packaging. Today’s aluminum can represents the near-perfect evolution of sustainable packaging – it is completely recyclable, offers excellent product protection, is lightweight and efficient.”

In terms of packaging and brand challenges, Simnick states that “Packaging is important. Obsess over it. It is your last chance to sell your product and can be just as important as the product itself.  It’s hard to master the packaging challenges of sharing your mission effectively without being too cluttered, without guilt, and while still communicating the ingredients, benefits, and RTB’s of the product.”

In addition to Novelis and SoapBox Soaps, other sustainable leaders from Target, Mars, Seventh Generation, Pepsi, Campbell’s SC Johnson, Dow, O-I, Pratt Industries, and Keurig Green Mountain will be on hand to give cutting edge presentations at this year’s program.

As a proud partner and supporter of SustPack 2016, Package Design magazine has secured an exclusive conference price of $1,399. Use promo code PDM2016 during the registration process. Learn more about this year’s conference at http://www.sustainability-in-packaging.com

Melissa Adams is senior marketing specialist at U.S.events at Smithers,
a partner of Package Design magazine and ST Media Group International.



How to reduce risk and optimize shipping performance with packaging lab testing

The way we transport products from point A to point B has changed dramatically over the years. We’ve gone from domestic railcar and trucks to worldwide air and sea shipping. While this evolution has been critical to our global economy, each stage has presented new challenges for safely securing products in transit.

Since 1948, the International Safe Transit Assn. (ISTA) has led the industry in developing test protocols to ensure products survive the risky and hazardous global distribution market. Whether by land, air or sea, these tests allow manufacturers to predict and adjust their load containment practices to “manage risk while optimizing the supply chain.”

Since “One good test is worth a thousand expert opinions!” we’ve broken down the testing process and procedures available to help manufacturers make informed decisions for current and future packaging practices.


Benefits and timeline

As the quote above alludes, testing palletized units can save considerable time and money. Today’s laboratory testing procedures allow manufacturers to replicate real-life scenarios in a shorter timeframe. For example, a cross-country journey on a truck can be replicated in a few hours on a random vibration table (explained further below).

In addition, further savings can be added to the bottom line. Testing eliminates fuel, personnel and equipment needed to perform the actual journey and proactively isolates and helps solve perceived challenges.

Understanding these benefits is the first step to greater unit containment. So when is the right time to put your packaging method to the test? The simple answer is anytime: after product damage, during package redesigns, to meet customer demands, prior to product launch or to proactively test your packaging design. Ideally it’s best to test as early as possible and it’s recommended to do so during the packaging design phase.

There are a number of ways to approach testing. Three distinct approaches and services are:

1. Customer Application Review: Conducted onsite, an evaluation of current packaging methods followed by a comprehensive report of analyses and recommendations. Whether looking to upgrade a packaging system with new products or looking to identify further savings, this one to three day review can help.

2. Field Engineering: Services are performed onsite. It can include developing a new package or providing support through an existing project. The package can also be followed through the entire supply chain environment.

3. Packaging Laboratory Testing: Products are tested in a controlled environment on various ISTA-certified equipment to ensure the packaging solution can withstand various harsh handling and shipping conditions.

Of the services listed, the most common is the laboratory testing because it is effective and efficient. It also helps prove that recommended unit containment solutions will work in the real-world. For more complex or early-stage products, field testing is highly recommended. According to our laboratory packaging engineers, on average 40 hours of engineering work is required to properly test a unit. Timelines can vary based on the product conditions and testing parameters.


Testing solutions

So what tests are available? From vibration tables to environmental chambers, there are a number of solutions available to ensure products arrive in their intended condition.

One of the most popular tests is the Random Vibration Simulation machine (see photo above), which reproduces vertical vibration that packaged products experience during shipping and handling.

As mentioned earlier, the random vibration equipment can simulate long-distance travel at a fraction of the time and cost without risk. For example, a 30-day railcar trip can be simulated on the random vibration table in just several hours. The key element to the machines’ success is a portable shock and vibration recorder equipped with a time and date stamp. The recorder collects transportation-specific data that can be replicated later on the random vibration table. In conjunction with a separate GPS (global positioning system), the exact location of product impact, shock or vibration can also be determined. For products transported via ship or railcar, a Rotary Motion Vibration machine is best used to simulate its unique transportation conditions.

There are also shocks and impacts that typically occur during truck shipments and railcar coupling. An Incline Impact Machine (see photo below) can simulate railcar coupling and truck shocks for packaged products.

Before a palletized unit is placed on a truck or railcar it’s most likely being transported throughout the warehouse and storage yard via forklift trucks or other equipment. A Rough Handling Test (see photo below) can be used to recreate shock and vibration during handling.

In other instances, testing the environmental conditions of the product throughout the supply chain is most critical. This is especially true for refrigerated and frozen foods, produce and dairy applications. Whether the requirement is to test hot or cold temperatures, a Conditioning Chamber (see environmental chamber photo below) can duplicate conditions from -20-deg F. through +100-deg F.

When looking to test how unitized products perform when stacked or subjected to stacking weight, a Compression Test apparatus is used. This test is especially important for customers that stack settling or shrinking type units in warehouses or big-box stores. To condition the unit for warehousing, compression strapping is recommended. A compression test can generate forces up to 20,000 lbs.

Other common tests include a Drop Test, to illustrate product performance when less than a 150 pound packaged product is literally dropped.


The future
There will always be a need to transport goods from a manufacturer to a destination. As transportation evolves and new products are developed, testing will endure to be an effective and efficient way for ensuring properly secured packaged products, as its benefits are felt throughout the supply chain.


Neil Weisensel is brand and marketing director at Muller. As part of the Signode Industrial Group (SIG), Muller frequently solves customer load containment challenges in the SIGApplication Development and Research Laboratory (commonly referred to as the “SIG Packaging Lab”). The lab is equipped with ISTA certified simulation equipment designed to reproduce the forces that products experience in transit.



See a host of new ideas in packaging machinery, materials and more at EastPack 2016, June 14-16, in New York City.


Source Article from http://www.packagingdigest.com/optimization/how-to-reduce-risk-and-optimize-shipping-performance-with-packaging-lab-testing-2016-03-28

5 groundbreaking sustainable packaging options from Europe

Sustainable packaging innovations for food and beverages highlighted during a European trade event included technologies for trays made of potato starch and others made from grass, beverage cartons that are 100% renewable or fold conveniently for recycling and high-definition printing onto wooden packaging.


Packaging was part of the mix at the Food Ingredients Europe (FIE) exhibition held late last year and we were fortunate to have an unofficial “stringer” on hand to report back to us. Part 1 of our FIE coverage last month highlighted 4 examples of Euro-style functional food packaging. In this Part 2 we take a look at a selection of sustainable packaging that was on display in a special display of some of Europe’s greenest packaging. The on-site photos of displays are courtesy of my former colleague and foodie techie Claudia O’Donnell, a principal with Global Food Forums.


Our first example shown above and at the top is an elegantly simple, yet ingenious idea that helps not only in food waste reduction, but in material recovery: Elopak’s Pure-Pak Sense is a prescored carton that folds easily for recycling. According to the placard shown: “Liquid brick with crease lines to make folding the empty pack easier. Reduces the amount of food waste inside the pack and uses minimal space in the garbage can.”

One thing we’d like to see is that the folded beverage carton ends up in a recycling bin as is done in this editor’s local municipality rather than the garbage can.

You can find more information including a video at the Elopak website.

If you have an interest or any advice to share about reducing food waste, please take our anonymous and short 4-question poll.

Next: Carton “sweetened” by 100% renewable materials.

Source Article from http://www.packagingdigest.com/sustainable-packaging/5-euro-style-sustainable-packaging-innovations1603