The packaging design for Toast cannabis cigarettes is sophisticated and upscale, positioning Toast as a luxury lifestyle brand for adults who smoke marijuana socially, the way cocktail-party guests sip mojitos.
Toast is based in Colorado, where marijuana is legal for recreational and medicinal use. As the retail cannabis environment continues to evolve in such states, packaging is becoming an essential merchandising tool for marijuana products—the way it is for other consumer packaged goods (CPGs).
The Toast package is a rigid box containing filtered cannabis cigarettes; each cigarette is referred to as a Slice. The package design evokes the Art Deco styling of the 1920s, with the brand name and other details highlighted in metallic gold.
In addition, each Slice is decorated with the brand’s “social butterfly” icon stamped in gold foil on royal-purple filter paper. Viceroy Creative developed the structural and graphic design for Toast’s packaging.
Gabrielle Rein, chief creative officer at Toast and creative director at Viceroy Creative, answers some questions about the brand and its packaging, including Toast’s emphasis on responsible cannabis consumption.
When did Toast launch?
Rein: Toast launched in Aspen, CO, on Feb. 10, 2017. Toast has since grown across the state, with plans to expand to other states this year.
Please describe Toast’s package structure.
Rein: The box is high-quality paperboard with meticulously crafted details. We took a very high-quality, crafted approach to creating something that was enjoyable to use. The package is recyclable. Or you may want to just hold onto it for a secondary use! It has a magnetic closure.
Was the Toast package designed to appeal to women?
Rein: The Toast packaging is a unisex design that skews feminine; however, men love the pack as well. I know a ton of men are asking for this pack and using the product. Luxury brands are becoming more gender-neutral every day.
Was this package structure designed specifically for Toast?
Rein: The entire branding and packaging concept was created by the Viceroy Creative team and is 100% custom. We have a group of talented individuals who specialize in branding, structural design and graphic design, and who work together to create the best possible result for the market and brand. I am simply the team leader; it’s a group effort.
What materials are used to make the Toast package?
Rein: Paperboard, regular paper and tissue paper.
How is the paperboard component of the package decorated?
Rein: We used foil stamping, embossing and metallic inks to create special features.
Please describe any child-resistant features.
Rein: The Toast box comes with a branded and custom childproof exit bag, which has a pinch-twist-pull opening that is compliant with Colorado regulations.
[Editor’s note: All marijuana products sold at retail in Colorado must be placed in opaque and child-resistant packaging before leaving the store.]
How does Toast communicate the “dosing” aspect of the product—that one puff of a Slice cigarette is like a sip of a cocktail, and smoking the entire Sliceis like drinking the entire cocktail?
Rein: Each purchase comes with a responsible-consumption guide. It is printed on a piece of paper that is slipped into the exit bag. You can view the infographic here: https://www.wetoast.com/toast-responsibly
How does the brand encourage responsible cannabis consumption?
Rein: This is part of our DNA and ethos. It’s not a marketing tagline, but part of our mission, and it drives our decisions to shape the burgeoning cannabis industry toward responsible consumption. Beyond the messaging, the product itself was specifically designed for responsible consumption. With Toast, you know exactly what you are consuming, and we do not hide the cannabis by cutting it with other ingredients. The Slice is custom-dosed for the consumer to be able to consume the entire Slice and remain in control. Toast gives control back to the consumer, which establishes a level of trust that is powerful.
As a combustible product, the feedback is immediate, similar to when you consume a cocktail, and you can immediately regulate your intake accordingly. The low potency enables consumers who enjoy a variety of cannabis experiences to add Toast to their portfolio of products.
Moving beyond the product itself, Toast is working with communities to provide legal and safe access to consumption via our Mobile Cannabis Lounge partnership with Loopr. Toast is also working with communities and governments to educate consumers. This includes educational seminars, educational material distributed across cities and the educational infographic provided with every purchase of Toast.
Were there any shelf life issues to consider as you designed the packaging?
Rein: Shelf life is always an important factor in design and will continue to be for future innovations in our product road map. Our exit-bag material is a proprietary blend of laminated films that are child-resistant, provide excellent printability and have superior barrier properties.
Shelf life is contingent on a number of factors, which we designed our supply chain to manage so that it’s not an issue. It also helps that a number of our stores have trouble keeping it on their shelf!
Is the product sold only in brick-and-mortar dispensaries in Colorado?
Rein: Yes. In Colorado, that is the only legal method to sell cannabis products.
How important was shelf appeal in the design of the Toast package?
Rein: Shelf appeal is a major concern for any CPG. We want the product to sell! Customers consistently enter the store and are immediately drawn to Toast due to the beautiful packaging, which stands out on the shelf along with the custom-designed store displays.
How have consumers responded to the Toast package so far?
Rein: Everyone loves the packaging and experience of using the product. The product is selling out of top dispensaries in Aspen already!
Why did Toast choose to create a smokable product when so many publicplaces don’t permit smoking?
Rein: There are a number of reasons that we chose a smokable. The most authentic form of consuming cannabis is smoking a joint. It was important for Toast to not shy away from cannabis and instead celebrate it while innovating and modernizing the culture and providing consumers with a sophisticated experience that encourages social and responsible consumption. As part of that responsibility message, Toast is also partnering with communities to enable legal consumption.
We are constantly evaluating other consumption form factors and have a strict set of guidelines that include compliance, social but responsible consumption and high-quality ingredients that meet our standards. I am sure you’ll continue to see many exciting innovations from Toast in the future!
As more cities begin to leverage circular economy principles to reach ambitious zero waste goals, ensuring that packaging is both “recoverable” and “recovered” will be hallmarks of any successful plan. In recent years, cities have become bolder in categorically banning or mandating certain packaging types in attempts to match what packaging is being sold or distributed and what a given city’s recycling and composting systems can currently process.
The first wave of city-led packaging bans largely honed in on foam (expanded polystyrene or EPS), perceived by many cities as a problematic packaging substrate due to the confluence of several factors. Namely, less than 20% of Americans have access to recycling infrastructure for EPS, and yet we see a high incidence of EPS packages and EPS microplastics in marine environments. After a few of early outliers, more than 96 distinct city ordinances have banned EPS since 2008.
However, in the last few years, several cities have changed tack in approaching packaging requirements. Though straight-forward bans are still being implemented in many areas, cities like Washington, D.C., Seattle and Minneapolis have gone a step further and passed ordinances that deem recyclable and compostable packaging compliant and non-recyclable or -compostable packaging non-compliant. While common in Europe, this tactic is certainly more progressive for American cities. The practice of more hands-on specifications for packaging has even permeated national governments in Europe, led by France mandating that all single-use food serviceware be home compostable by 2020.
Yet, the compliant and non-compliant packaging established by Seattle, D.C. and Minneapolis paint packages with broad strokes. In terms of compliant packages that are recyclable, Minneapolis categorizes “glass bottles, aluminum cans and some plastic food and beverage packaging” as recyclable and names polyethylene terephthalate (PET), high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP) as preferred plastics since robust markets exist. In a similar, but slightly more specific way, the Mayor’s List of Recyclables and Compostables for D.C. considers packaging to be recyclable if “made solely out of one of the following resin types”: PET, HDPE, LDPE, PP and PS.
Overall, it’s exciting to see cities start to curate packaging that’s sold or distributed to match the local recycling infrastructure and note the importance of strong end markets. But, needless to say, just because a package is made of a recyclable resin, problematic colorants, inks, fillers, labels, adhesives, additives, barrier layers or closures could render a given package unrecyclable according to the Assn. of Plastics Recyclers’ Design Guide. Even though PET has a strong end market, for instance, if a PET package is opaque, it dramatically reduces the resale value and is considered detrimental to recycling by APR.
Among the compostable packaging sections of these packaging ordinances, there are big differences in how comprehensively each addresses compostability. For instance, some city packaging ordinances strictly govern packages and consider the many incidental items that are associated with food serviceware to be out of scope.
Minneapolis, for one, exempts utensils and straws from its Environmentally Acceptable Packaging Ordinance as “they are not packaging items.” The California county of Santa Cruz, on the other hand, is much more comprehensive in its Environmentally Acceptable Packaging Materials Ordinance, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2017. Santa Cruz illustrates in its guideline for restaurants that plastic straws and plastic stir sticks are unacceptable and that “all to-go cutlery must be certified compostable.”
For composters, a more holistic view is critical in mitigating contamination of post-consumer pick-ups. Principal and managing director of the Compost Manufacturing Alliance, Susan Thoman, elucidates that “With all the best intentions, foodservice operators often spend time and effort procuring compostable serviceware, only to substitute what they may believe to be incidental non-compostable components to go with them.”
Thoman further explains, “For instance, when appropriate compostable hot or cold cups are sourced, yet the straws and lids used with them are not compostable, the entire set is tossed into the compost collection bin, creating a significant source of contamination for the compost facility.”
Justen Garrity, founder and president of Baltimore-based Veteran Compost echoes Thoman’s thoughts, lamenting that plastic straws and stirrers are Veteran Compost’s most challenging contaminants. While Veteran Compost regularly works with clients to use compostable serviceware, they have had to force the issue when plastic straws have persisted in the organics stream.
Municipality packaging ordinances are generally thorough in detailing compostable items that are within scope, however. St. Louis Park, MN, for example, communicates on its Public Works website that “Unfortunately many paper foodservice items are lined with plastic, so without a marking that it is compostable or other indication it is not lined, these items should go in the trash.” Moreover, the Minnesota city provides a phone number for residents to ask specific questions and encourages residents to look for signage or to ask restaurant staff. All of these strategies help prevent contamination and stimulate opportunities for further education.
Minneapolis and D.C. also demonstrate important attention to consumer education. Minneapolis’ online program materials explain why terms like degradable, biodegradable, oxo-degradable, and earth friendly are unreliable and don’t mean the same thing as compostable. D.C., on the other hand, draws attention to the fact that, while foodservice operators will have to comply with their ordinance and use BPI Certified packaging starting Jan. 1, 2018, there will be a separate acceptance list for compostable materials for all other entities and people once collection services are established in the District. This works to preempt confusion for residents who could mistakenly assume their requirements would match that of commercial foodservice operators in the near term.
D.C. also qualifies its Mayor’s List of Recyclables and Compostables by noting that “In the future, additional product and material types and processing types may be added to the list of what is required to be recycled.”
In lieu of the outright ban of yesteryear, these packaging ordinances allow cities to have more flexibility and adapt to changing technologies and innovations that increase recyclability of certain packaging types in the future. St. Louis Park’s ordinance even calls out a mandate to review what packages are acceptable annually. The St. Louis Park ordinance, which was passed unanimously by the City Council, is supported by one resident who clarifies that “If we just pick on polystyrene, we’re really not talking about zero waste.”
With pushback an undeniable consequence of these changes, increased costs will likely arise for businesses selling or distributing food serviceware. But Sue Sanger, a Councilmember of St. Louis Park, underscored that, in reality, these businesses are currently “off-loading their costs” and that “They may be saving a little money, but the environment is paying the price and frankly the taxpayers are paying the price. Taxpayers are funding the incinerators, the landfills and so on.”
While local businesses in Sanger’s area will only have months to comply for most packaging types, some exemptions are in place for small portion cups and PS lids for the time being.
Elsewhere, we can expect cities to reduce the quantity of exemptions and shorten the time periods that using non-recyclable or compostable packaging is tolerated.
Indeed, as more cities move closer to 2020, 2025 and 2030 zero-waste goals, it is likely that other cities will adopt packaging ordinances similar to those of D.C., Minneapolis and St. Louis Park. And, those that have already adopted packaging ordinances will, without a doubt, continue to tighten and refine what it means to achieve compliance.
Hopefully, second-generation packaging ordinances will provide clarity where the pioneering ordinances were vague. Including food serviceware incidentals like straws, utensils and stir sticks will make palpable differences in composters’ operations. And, getting more granular with what constitutes a recyclable package will go far in ensuring that recyclers are able to collect the highest-value materials that sort and reprocess correctly. In both cases, the bottom lines for composters and recyclers would improve.
As cities are hoping zero-waste achievements will be lasting solutions, ensuring recyclers and composters have strong business models is a fundamental that must be remembered.
Charlotte Dreizen, now a project associate for the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, joined GreenBlue as an intern in March 2016, focusing on the development of compost-related programs. Assisting with the creation of the Sustainable Composting Collaborative and research efforts to quantify the value of compostable packaging, she contributes experience from leading food waste research efforts, as well as supporting residential and higher-ed composting programs.
The patent-pending resealable SmarterSeal claims to be a better, more practical solution for brands to address consumers’ hygiene worries associated with drinking beverages and other canned products.
Ever have doubts about how clean that can top is before drinking from it? Product developer and innovator William Battaglia has, but reacted like most have not by inventing a new way to protect the tops of cans with an inventively protective, stretchable overcap.
While there have been number of previous over-the-can methods to preserve the food-safe top of a freshly filled can, Bataglia’s maintains that those prior “can toppers” have higher manufacturing and retail costs, are not resealable or reusable and do not provide 100% protection against bacterial contamination.
“Even if the top of a beverage can is not dirty, the perception still exists that it is,” says Battaglia, who responds to Packaging Digest’s questions in this Q&A about his patented solution, SmarterSeal.
Have you had a prototype manufactured? What is it made of?
Battaglia: Yes, I have had prototypes made and I am giving away samples of SmarterSeal as part of the reach-out and discussion stage with companies and manufacturers.
SmarterSeal will be injection molded of polypropylene or low-density PE. The idea is for it to be soft enough to be pliable, yet also be durable.
What kind of cost premium would it carry?
Battaglia: The beauty of SmarterSeal is that it is a very-cost-effective manufacturing solution for high-volume applications. For pennies, the lid adds 100% protection of beverage cans to keep the top free from any bacterial, chemical or environmental contamination. It can also prevent insects and wasps from entering an opened can. It provides the cheapest resealing solution for beverage cans and food cans with the benefit of being easily removable for can recycling.
How is it better than the simple aluminum foil cover I’ve seen on San Pellegrino premium canned beverages, for example?
Battaglia: Aluminum foil is not bad and has its place, however my product is better because not only does it provide a clean lid to drink from like foil, but it also has the benefit of resealing beverage can, which foil cannot do. Foil can be harder to recycle if contaminated as well. Also, foil has a tendency to become a littering issue, since its only purpose is to protect lid… once a consumer removes foil, consumers have a tendency to drop it on the floor. My SmarterSeal product stays attached to can and is less of a littering issue.
How would it be applied?
Battaglia: SmarterSeal can be manufactured to either be over-molded to a can or it can be separately molded and attached/snapped onto can during manufacturing process. SmarterSeal can either be applied as an “overmolded” option to a can end and then seamed onto the can as normal after filling. Alternately, it can be applied in a separate post-canning process by snapping it onto the cans before it is packed and shipped. The method is whatever best suits the manufacturer’s need.
What’s been the reaction from those in packaging?
Battaglia: The reaction I’m getting is “wow, that’s such a simple idea” or “that’s interesting.” People realize how simple of a solution the SmarterSeal is, how applicable it can be and how much it has to offer to the many millions of consumers who use beverage and food cans every day.
What’s the biggest current hurdle?
Battaglia: The biggest challenge is proving to companies and manufacturers that spending the several pennies more per can is worth it to them and the consumer. Companies typically do not want to spend even a penny more even if it is clear that it is beneficial to consumers. My answer is that SmarterSeal will make up for it with more loyal consumers for a simple reason: SmarterSeal shows consumers that the company cares about their health, their safety, their time and their convenience.
The fact that every other beverage package except cans—such as bottles, pouches, etc.—are protected from germs, bacteria, dust, dirt, bees, insects and other contaminants before consumers open and then drink from them is absolutely appalling. I believe consumers should demand better. You can search “dirty can lids” and you will find numerous websites and articles about how dirty beverage cans really are.
People then buy the product and put their mouths directly on those cans without even thinking about what’s on them. Those that do wipe the cans on their shirts or use napkins or water to clean the lids, if they have access to any of those solutions.
In Japan, consumers buy beverage cans in the millions from vending machines, which are exposed to harsh environmental conditions. The cans collect dust before the consumer purchases them. When was the last time you’ve seen a vending machine cleaned?
What’s the current status?
Battaglia: I am in the process of reaching out to beverage and food companies that may be applicable for SmarterSeal. I have had very strong interest from companies and have had several phone call discussions with major national brands and manufacturers about potentially using SmarterSeal on beverage cans, food cans, and wet pet-food cans.
What’s the next step?
Battaglia: The next step is to commercialize SmarterSeal, so that it can provide all the benefits that comes with its design and function. I’m having highly positive talks and negotiations with companies and manufacturers and think it’s only a matter of time before a handshake and an agreement is in place.
Lastly, I think the can is due for a lid change. We have gone way too long in accepting the reality that beverage cans may be dirty. As with many consumers, I avoid using cans, and have gravitated to bottled beverages because they are indeed cleaner to drink from, easier to close and are more convenient. SmarterSeal is the cheapest, most sensible solution to this problem.
I believe SmarterSeal will help change the perception of dirty cans and even bring back consumers who have pledged to never drink from cans again.
For more information, contact Battaglia via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 973-495-9081.
For more beverage, food and other packaging, attend PACKEX and four other events that are part of the Advanced Design & Manufacturing (ADM) Expo Toronto—Automation Technology Expo (ATX), PLAST-EX, Design & Manufacturing and Powder & Bulk Solids (PBS)—on May 16-18 in Canada. For more, visit admtoronto.com.
The best in sustainability—people, packaging, partnerships and processes—sparkled on Monday night, April 24, at the 2017 SPC Innovator Awards celebration. Organized by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, the competition recognizes outstanding ideas, efforts and achievements in sustainability and packaging.
The winners of this year’s contest received their awards on the first night of the SustPack 2017 conference, jointly produced by SPC and Smithers Pira, and with Packaging Digest serving as the media partner.
This is the third year of the competition, renamed from the previously known Trashies Awards. As Steve Mahler, design manager and sustainable package development manager at Caraustar Industries—an SPC member and the originator of the competition—explained at the award presentation ceremony, “After two years of having this event, we realized that everyone in this room is not just a packaging person—you’re an innovator. So we decided it was time to call this award what it really is: an innovator’s award. Without innovation, we can’t progress, we can’t come up with the new ideas to shape everything.”
SPC awarded one winner in each of the competition’s four categories: Outstanding Person; Packaging Innovation; Outcome of a Partnership; and Breakthrough Process.
The winners are:
Page 1. Outstanding Person: Chad Kreye, senior packaging engineer, Target
Page 2. Packaging Innovation: CleanFlake Solution from Avery Dennison
Page 3. Outcome of a Partnership: Hefty Energy Bag program partnership between The Dow Chemical Co., Reynolds Consumer Products, First Star Recycling, ConAgra Brands, Recyclebank and Systech Environmental Corp.
Page 4. Breakthrough Process: Keurig Green Mountain materials recovery facility (MRF) Flow Study Methodology
Look at his smile! Chad Kreye, Target’s senior packaging engineer, owned brands packaging, shows his appreciation for winning the 2017 SPC Innovators Award in the People category.
1. Outstanding Person: Chad Kreye, senior packaging engineer, Target
With passion, tenacity, technical expertise and “memorable warmth,” Kreye has made the daunting task of adding the How2Recycle label to thousands of products over years’ time look easy. He initiated a custom work flow process that has allowed the retailer to apply the How2Recycle label to a “wildly diverse and voluminous array of packaging types, with the highest level of efficiency and quality,” according to the entry.
As leader of Target’s How2Recycle team, Kreye has spurred the passion of the entire group, inspiring them to achieve a remarkable feat. No other How2Recycle member company has added the label to as many packaging types as Target. As of today, more than 1,700 Target items use the How2Recycle label.
But the real kicker is that it’s not just Target that benefits from Kreye’s energetic work ethic. “Since Chad has driven Target’s implementation of How2Recycle in the label program’s early days, the operational insights and solutions Chad has helped not only uncover and solve—but also proactively predict—will benefit all future How2Recycle member companies.”