Projects by Coca-Cola, McCormick and Procter & Gamble led our top sustainable packaging articles of the year, with some of the highest page views of all stories posted this year on PackagingDigest.com.
And three out of our list of eight articles were published more than a year ago—proving the staying power of great ideas.
Follow us down a rewarding path of sustainable packaging achievements and new ideas, starting with a company that has 23 billion-dollar brands…
Procter & Gamble put its might behind fighting the marine debris problem with a project to reuse plastics collected from beaches.
P&G partnered with TerraCycle and Suez, the largest waste management company in Europe, “to source, develop and put out the first fully recyclable shampoo bottle made from up to 25% beach plastic for the world’s #1 shampoo brand, Head & Shoulders,” says Tom Szaky, TerraCycle’s founder/CEO and article author.
In this piece, Szaky also introduced our audience to the New Plastics Economy, a movement that challenges organizations to “move away from the existing linear, take-make-dispose economy” and rethink/redesign plastic packaging by applying the regenerative principles of the circular economy.
NEXT: McCormick spices up the sustainability of its packaging
Say ba-bye to overly masculine packaging graphics, tiny type and boring colors. As 2017 winds down, new emerging trends are showing these dated designs the door.
It’s a great time to be in the packaging industry. Small consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands have easier access to retail, making it possible for them to compete toe-to-toe with industry giants. This is great news for anyone thinking of starting a brand, and it’s great news for packaging designers.
If you ask us, packaging design is one of the most interesting and dynamic categories in our industry. It’s everywhere you look, and it’s always changing to meet the wants and needs of consumers. As the bar is raised within the industry, though, certain packaging design trends start to fade.
To help us gain better insight into these trends, we spoke with one of our top packaging designers here at 99designs, Martis Lupus, to see the top five packaging design trends on their way out in 2018—and learn more about what’s emerging in their place.
Here’s what we found…
1. Over-cluttered designs (in favor of simplicity):
Over-cluttered design is becoming a thing of the past, especially as we start to see a broader adoption of minimalism across design categories. In the coming years, we expect to see even the most classic “old school” CPG brands update their packaging to adopt a more modern, minimalistic style. As more consumers have come expect product packaging to convey the necessary information instantly, brands have started to adapt. As a result, only the most relevant information about the product plays a dominant role in the packaging composition, with a more careful use of white space and colors.
Minimalist packaging by 99designs designer O I O O I I O I for Zenji Matcha.
Stripped down to the essentials via Soylent.
NEXT: Nix small type
It’s been a busy year for packaging professionals in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. We’ve seen a number of exciting packaging advances emerge with the potential to transform patient care, and we’ve seen a lot of regulatory activity raise the bar for packaging and labeling.
Here we count down to the top 6 topics trending in healthcare packaging, according to the most popular articles PMP News published in 2017. We start with the 6th top category . . .
Ensuring package integrity is a top concern for pharmaceutical and medical packaging professionals. Bhaskar Ramakrishnan’s article, “4 options for in-line 100% seal inspection,” examines the potential of integrating machine vision into production lines for 100% non-destructive inspection of seal integrity. It was one of 2017’s top articles.
Several articles on package testing from past years also attracted attention in 2017. These include “Strength and integrity, part one: The basics of medical package testing” and “Strength and integrity, part two: Basics of seal-strength testing,” both by Stephen Franks, and “Package performance testing conundrum: Solved!” by Patrick Nolan.
Above image: Example of a Class III medical device seal that contains a hair that is undetectable to the human eye. Image courtesy DWFritz Automation Inc.
NEXT: Product identification
As I sat down to write this year’s review, I found it hard to decide where to start. Should I stick to sustainability or start with a comment on the fact that this year our progress has been under a cloud created by a president that denies humans are the cause of climate change and promotes coal over alternative energy? The good news is that the private sector and select cities and states are stepping in where our federal government has stepped back. This is happening in support of both environmental and social sustainability challenges.
With regard to sustainable packaging, key global trends continued to shape our space:
• Ocean pollution remains a key concern and could eventually threaten society’s willingness to use plastic materials. Study after study identifies plastic in sea life—from microplastics in mussels along the coast of Norway to plastic in the stomachs of salmon in the Puget Sound. Algae grows on the surface of plastic confusing fish and other creatures into thinking it is food. Universities are working together to create measurement protocols and standards to assess the issue and $150 million has been pledged to help create infrastructure in Asia to keep trash out of the oceans.
• China has embarked on a beautification program that includes tackling a variety of environmental issues. One area covered in the new program is an initiative to develop an internal recycling industry and to stop taking the world’s trash for processing. The U.S. and Europe have been sending #3 through #7 plastics to China for many years. Our discarded materials have been part of the land-based plastics entering the ocean in Asia. This new program in China has disrupted end markets for plastics and mixed paper but will result in improved domestic processing capacity and globally a better end result. It is time that we learned how to manage our own packaging. There is talk of significant investment in cleaning and processing technologies in the U.S. to produce clean pellets for export.
• Voluntary corporate accountability is on the rise. 2017 saw significant new commitments across the board for counting and reducing carbon and increasing recyclability of packaging materials from a diverse group of brand owners. Exceptional programs include Mars pledged of $1 billion to fight climate change and Walmart launched Project Gigaton to remove a gigaton of carbon from its supply chain. I hope that in 2018 companies will develop commitments to use recycled material and help create end markets for all the material that is now recyclable. Target’s new goals include creating more demand for recycled packaging by creating three new end markets for recycled materials by 2020.
• California took a step toward creating a mandatory comprehensive policy to manage all packaging in the state. It will include enforceable metrics and goals, and the authority to identify priority packaging and implement a suite of management tools. Plastic films, expanded polystyrene (EPS) and pouches are the first priority materials identified. Policy tools will establish stable funding, minimize generation of materials going to landfill, ensure clean streams and establish consequences. Each material type may be managed differently based on the best selection of policy tools for each material type. Seattle hosted a one-day symposium to explore innovative ideas for materials management beyond the traditional weight-based recycling rate. I believe measurement will be an important topic in 2018 and will include an exploration of the idea that changing how we measure may change and improve our outcomes.
• At the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) material sourcing took a step forward with the Forest in Focus (FiF) project. FIF is a new platform that uses publically available, scientifically credible data to assess woodbasket sustainability on a landscape level. This new tool will provide visualization in all major sourcing regions in the United States and evaluate risk. The tool is being developed by SPC in partnership with American Forest Foundation (AFF) with more to come in 2018.
• Material health saw a flurry of headlines around perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) used in foodservice packaging for water and grease resistance. There is a growing environmental concern about both short and long chain versions of these chemicals. SPC noticed an increasing interest in restricted substances lists and a desire to learn more about the chemicals used in packaging materials.
• More than 150 organizations backed the call by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to ban oxo-degradable plastic packaging. SPC supports this and has had a position against these and other similar additives since 2015. A new twist on this type of additive has occurred, promoting the use of additives to make materials more “landfill friendly.” The idea is the additives would enhance degradation in a landfill producing methane that could be captured. The risk to our environment, recycling stream and the jobs provided by recycling is enormous. This idea cannot be allowed to spread.
• The How2Recycle label saw rapid growth in 2017. Members now represent more than 500 major brands and most major retailers. The label will be more important than ever in reducing contamination in the recycling stream—and keeping consumers engaged in recycling. The new How2Recycle Member Platform allows brands and retailers to track, measure and improve the recyclability of their packaging portfolio by giving custom feedback and dynamic analytics on packaging data. ASTRX, a partnership between The Recycling Partnership and SPC, released a document on navigating the recycling stream that helps breakdown where the challenges and opportunities are for moving forward so we can make the future of recycling in America more resilient.
As we look ahead to 2018, we continue to hold true to the belief in the power of industry and innovation to make packaging more sustainable, as well as to advance the field of environmental sustainability to cater to the demands of consumers and to achieve ambitious corporate goals.
Nina Goodrich, director, Sustainable Packaging Coalition, and executive director, GreenBlue, came to GreenBlue with an industry background in R&D, innovation and sustainability strategy. She believes that innovation and sustainability are linked as key drivers for our future.
Great packaging design is the common denominator for articles about Kellogg’s on-the-go snacks, cannabis, millennials, smart packaging, influential kids, shaped aluminum and the “beauty” market. As we continue our end-of-the-year review, we now present our Top 10 list of packaging design-related items for the year based on page views at PackagingDigest.com.
One qualification: Packaging design-related articles that appear in other top-article lists are not duplicated here. For example, “Bag-in-box bulk water debuts in U.S.” definitely details the AquaViBox packaging design but because it hits #5 on our list of “7 best-read food and beverage packaging articles of 2017,” it does not show up in this compilation.
We start our countdown with…
Aluminum beverage bottles reached an apex around 2005 with the introduction of reclosable, shaped designs for Coke and Jolt soda brands. It has taken another decade to improve on that with technology that creates asymmetric shapes in register with printing.
The proprietary, patented uShape technology from Montebello Packaging helps brands stand out with a unique shape that provides powerful iconic brand equity. The technology allows Montebello Packaging to asymmetrically shape an aluminum bottle with flutes, embossing, debossing and various fine details.
NEXT: Kellogg’s kits packed for on-the-go snacking
First paper-based modified atmosphere packaging food tray in U.S. uses plastic coatings for barrier and shelf life, withstands frozen distribution and reheating in conventional and microwave ovens.
Retail and foodservice brands have a new food packaging option: The DeLight paper-based tray with modified atmosphere packaging-level barrier protection. It’s also a source-reduced alternative to traditional boxed plastic tray packaging for frozen foods and allows direct on-tray printing for a heightened presence in any outlet retail or otherwise.
The tray is supplied by sustainable food packaging-driven thermoformer PinnPACK, which acquired the rights as the exclusive North American manufacturer and distributor of DeLight Ltd.’s first-of-its-kind hybrid tray that’s made using renewable paper sources enhanced with plastic polymers.
Compared to current pressed paperboard products, the DeLight tray provides improved sealability and value-added functionality as the first MAP-capable paper-based tray. In addition to its barrier properties, the tray withstands frozen distribution and microwave or conventional oven reheating.
Jason Farahnik, director of the new PinnPACK division in Oxnard, CA, tells Packaging Digest “our DeLight tray is unique in that it is the first dual ovenable, freezer safe paper based tray that is also suitable for MAP applications. Additionally, it’s our belief that brands want a stronger way of expressing themselves. The marketing possibilities with DeLight are endless as we are able to print photo-resolution imagery directly on the tray, which is currently not possible with the CPET (crystallized PET) and polypropylene trays that dominate this space.”
Recycled content, 20 SKUs available
The paperboard is specially coated with a formulated PET or PP depending on the application. “We offer trays with recycled content,” he adds.
PinnPACK has more than 20 production-ready DeLight SKUs available and the company continues to add new tooling based on customer demand, PD has learned. Standard sizes range from 8oz to 54oz along with a specialty 100-oz foodservice tray.
“Our customer base is extremely excited about this offering,” Farahnik says, “beyond the fact that this expands our portfolio, allowing us the ability to become a full-spectrum provider of food packaging that permits our customers to differentiate themselves. There are commercial DeLight customers currently in Europe and Australia. For the U.S., we only recently acquired the rights and have brought the package to our sales force and customer base. Many are excited about this and have begun testing.”
The breakthrough format continues a tradition at the forward-thinking company, which has been an innovator in packaging for produce and bakery items, highlighted by its use of post-consumer recycled PET (rPET). It is a subsidiary of CarbonLITE, the world’s largest bottle-to-bottle recycling company, which recycles more than four billion plastic bottles annually. PinnPACK is distinguished as the only thermoforming company with its own exclusive stream of rPET post-consumer resin.
“It’s important for us to approach the issue of sustainability head on to help preserve natural resources,” Farahnik explains. “By using DeLight, customers are able to reduce their overall packaging requirements. The ability to print high-quality images directly on the tray eliminates the need for carton sleeves and boxes, a significant value proposition moving forward.”
Hungry for packaging information and ideas? You’ll find that and a whole lot more served up in generous portions during WestPack in Anaheim, CA, February 6-8, 2018. For more information, visit WestPack.