Almost half of U.S. households have access to carton recycling






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Posted by Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor — Packaging Digest, 1/9/2014 6:56:14 PM





 

Carton recyclingTwo thousand and thirteen marked a year of significant expansion of carton recycling. Thanks to collaborative industry efforts and support from communities nationwide, 48 percent of U.S. households now have access to carton recycling. Meeting the Carton Council of North America’s goals for 2013, access increased by 16.4 percent and expanded from 43 to 45 U.S. states. 

The Carton Council, a group of carton manufacturers united to deliver long-term collaborative solutions in order to divert valuable cartons from the landfill, credits this exceptional growth to voluntary private and public collaboration that includes industry companies and organizations, recycling facilities and local governments. Since 2009, the Carton Council has focused efforts on building infrastructure and improving access to carton recycling nationwide. At that time, just 18 percent of U.S. households had access to carton recycling. Currently, 56.1 million U.S. households have access to recycle cartons. 

“We are proud of the progress made in 2013,” says Jason Pelz, vp, environment, Tetra Pak North America, and vp of recycling projects for the Carton Council of North America. “Carton recycling access has increased 160 percent in just four years. School-aged children are learning about the importance of recycling their milk and juice cartons as part of their larger contribution to the environment, and are then taking these lessons home to their parents. Citizens, who are buying more food and drinks in cartons than ever before, now have more ways to recycle these containers. Communities are treating cartons as ‘must recycle’ items. All of these are examples of the huge strides made, working together in a collaborative way.” 

A number of large-sized communities added carton recycling in 2013, including Tampa, FL.; Memphis, TN; and Columbus, OH. In total, 7.9 million households gained access in 2013. As more communities have expanded their recycling programs to include cartons, the Carton Council has also launched a series of comprehensive public education campaigns to get the word out to local residents. The campaigns have included direct mail, television public service announcements, advertisements in local newspapers, and community event outreach, along with online digital ads and social media activities.

2013 Carton Campaign Communities where CCNA ran education campaigns. (The list of communities added is much longer.)
Columbia, S.C.
Columbus, Ohio
Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas
Des Moines, Iowa
Lansing, Mich.
Memphis, Tenn.
Tampa, Fla.
Twin Cities, Minn.

“We expect access to continue to expand in 2014 as more recycling and waste management industry professionals, as well as local governments, recognize the value of cartons and the ease by which they can be added to their community’s recycling program.” Pelz says. “We also want to make more Americans aware that cartons are recyclable and will continue our efforts on broadening awareness in 2014.”

Additionally, the industry has been taking notice of the strides made to improve access to carton recycling:

• In August, the California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC) awarded the Carton Council with the 2013 Bow and Arrow Award for Coalition Building to recognize efforts in building strong, effective partnerships not only between competitors in carton manufacturing, but also across the entire recycling supply chain with recycling professionals, sorting facilities and paper mills. 

• The Carton Council was also recognized by the State of Texas Alliance for Recycling (STAR) in November with its 2013 Outstanding Recycling Partnership Award. 

Made mainly from paper, a renewable resource, lightweight and compact in design and with a low carbon footprint, cartons have proven to be a sustainable packaging solution that is growing in use for a variety of liquid and food products. Including cartons as an accepted material in every curbside recycling program offers a better, more cost-efficient option than other proposed recovery solutions.

The Carton Council currently has a campaign designed to help counties and municipalities, as well as recyclers, bring carton recycling to their residents. For more information, visit www.CartonOpportunities.org

Source: The Carton Council

 

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Resealing capabilities






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Posted by Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor — Packaging Digest, 9/18/2013 6:33:43 PM





 

Resealing capabilities

 

The PrimePeel peel-and-reclose process allows packages to be easily opened and reclosed while maintaining the integrity of the contents. It helps preserve perishable food items such as produce, cheese, and cookies, and other products like cleansing wipes. A pressure-sensitive adhesive label is used with LaserSharp technology. When designing the opening, the laser-scored pattern is not limited to any shape or size, giving the flexibility to create a specific pattern to meet specific packaging needs. The peel and reclose process is suitable for a variety of film structures and packaging types, including trays, stand-up pouches and pillow pouches. For convenience, an easy-open pull-tab is added to the package.

LaserSharp FlexPack Services, 651-789-8800
www.flexpakservices.com
Pack Expo 2013 Booth #C-4440







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Dei Fratelli expands tomato products line in shelf-stable cartons






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Posted by Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor — Packaging Digest, 8/1/2013 9:45:23 AM





 

Dei Fratelli Truly

Hirzel Canning Co. & Farms, the family-owned and operated company that produces the Dei Fratelli brand, has added Dei Fratelli Truly Tomatoes to its extensive line of tomato products. The three product varieties include Petite Cut Tomatoes in a Light Puree; Finely Chopped Tomatoes in a Light Puree with Onion, Carrot and Celery; and Rustic Cut Tomatoes in a Light Puree. The three new products are the first chopped tomatoes grown, produced and packaged in the United States that are available in shelf-stable carton packs from SIG Combibloc. The Dei Fratelli Truly carton packs will be available beginning of August 2013.

 

 

Crafted for “home chefs,” these products offer a premium tomato product packaged in an environmentally friendly carton pack, say company officials. The modern packaging allows Hirzel Canning Co. & Farms to provide optimal protection for foods that retains high quality over a prolonged period without the use of preservatives or refrigeration. The BPA-free carton packs are convenient to store, handle and dispose.

 

The aseptic carton pack is composed up to 75 percent wood fibers, a renewable resource, which is verifiably obtained from controlled sources and responsibly managed forests. Carton packs have a smaller environmental impact and use fewer fossil resources than other food packaging for long-life food products. And they are100 percent recyclable where facilities exist.

 

Dei Fratelli Truly Tomatoes are grown on local, family farms in the rich, fertile soil of the Lake Erie Basin. After a short journey from their growers’ fields, the tomatoes are carefully selected for the distinctive Truly Tomato products. Moreover, the tomatoes are preserved within a maximum of 10 hours after harvesting. This innovative concept and
traceability is called “Field to Carton.” The tomatoes are packed in a delicate, light puree providing a rich tomato flavor and contain no artificial additives or preservatives.

 

“It’s about quality. When a product’s ingredients are so simple, they have to be quality and that has always been a focus for the Hirzel family. With local growers, we are able to monitor every aspect of the production from seed to shelf—ensuring that only the highest quality tomatoes make it into our products,” says Stephen Hirzel, president. “Each variety of our Truly Tomatoes offers ‘home chefs’ a premium foundation for authentic soups, stews and sauces. We anticipate this new line of products generating renewed enthusiasm in the shelf-stable tomato category.”

 

Source: SIG Combibloc

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Dairy industry life-cycle analysis results (video)






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Posted by Kari Embree, Senior Digital Content Editor — Packaging Digest, 7/18/2013 12:11:20 PM





 

Gail Barnes

 

 

Gail Barnes, partner, Personify, speaks with Lisa McTigue Pierce, executive editor of Packaging Digest, at the 2013 Global Food & Beverage Packaging Summit about some surprising results from a dairy industry life-cycle analysis study, which Barnes covered in her presentation on Day 1 at the conference.

 

Click here to watch the video on Packaging Digest’s YouTube site.

 

 

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Packaging is the gateway to a deeper conversation about sustainability






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Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor — Packaging Digest, 7/15/2013 9:58:11 AM





Jim HannaJim HannaHow do you use packaging to communicate your sustainable strategy to customers? Come and find out.

 

On July 17, 2013, Jim Hanna, director, environmental impact, Starbucks Coffee Co., will speak at the Packaging Digest Global Food & Beverage Packaging Summit conference in Chicago. His topic: “How we build successful sustainable packaging.”

 

Here, he gives us a preview of some key points in his presentation. For more information about the conference and/or to register, visit www.fbpackaging.com.

 

Q: What is the Starbucks approach to sustainable design in packaging?

Hanna: Our approach is to focus on the entire life cycle of the packaging from raw material sourcing all the way to end of life and to where we can use the life cycle approach assessment to determine the true sustainability of packaging. A lot of folks focus on materials or on end of life specifically. As a company that is focusing pretty heavily on climate change as one of our primary environmental drivers, the climate footprint of our packaging is one of the essential pieces that we take a hard look at.

 

Q: Why is this holistic approach so successful?


Hanna:
It’s successful because it’s credible. Unfortunately, there’s still lot of green washing in sustainable packaging out there. Our approach is agnostic to type of material. It looks really at where the true inputs are going into manufacturing and packaging. How do we design packaging in the best way to not only reduce all the environmental impacts of it but make it appropriate for existing end-of-life management infrastructures out there? 

We’re not a company that has a zero-waste goal because zero-waste goals are often the distraction from reality. We will always create some waste. We’re not a company that focuses on landfill diversion as the only definition of sustainable packaging because, again, landfill diversion doesn’t necessarily equate to environmental efficacy or environmental mitigation. We try to take a credible, long term approach and not get trapped into a lot of the fads and trends we see out there today, which play a role at raising awareness of the issues of packaging’s footprint—but often don’t tell the complete story by locking on to one specific metric of a package’s sustainability. 

Also, we’ve always taken a collaborative approach to defining sustainable packaging because, if we’re going to be successful as an industry, we have to be working together as an industry to create the necessary scale and break down some of the largest barriers to issues like waste management and harmonization of materials. We’ve done number of initiatives over the years that have brought stakeholders into the room from up and down the entire value chain to create a sense of thinking like an integrated system toward a common purpose.

 

Q: Why do you think it’s beneficial to engage the community in your sustainability efforts?


Hanna:
When we define our community, it’s the 60 million people that walk through our doors as customers every week, it’s the places where we operate our stores and the impact that we have on those towns, as well as the place that we hold within those communities as a contributor to their livelihoods. It’s also the nearly 200,000 partners that put on the green apron as employees of Starbucks every day.

Finally, we see our community as the stakeholders who have influence in our company and are keen on how our company operates because of the size and the ubiquity of our brand and the reach it has on a global scale. Whatever their area of focus, these stakeholders have a key interest in the betterment of our world and they are looking to corporate leaders to solve these tough global issues. 

If we’re not engaged with those folks, then we’re not relevant with them. Obviously, from a customer base, that impacts sales. But from a community base, it impacts the place that we hold within those neighborhoods, and our ability to operate successfully within them. It’s beneficial for every company to be directly engaged with their communities—however they define them—because it’s critical to their success.

 

Q: How do your customers influence your sustainable packaging initiatives? 


Hanna:
That’s an interesting question because often I think that we, as companies, aren’t necessarily aligned with what our customers expect from us around sustainable packaging. 

Here’s a good example: We were the first large company in the world to take the use of food-contact post-consumer fiber to scale. With our supply chain partners, we went through the challenges of getting FDA approval (to the FDA, “approval” is defined as a “no objection”) for food-contact post-consumer fiber. It took us a number of years to make that happen and, although we’re still one of the only companies out there using post-consumer fiber at scale for food contact in our hot paper cups, we haven’t necessarily seen a significant resonance within a customer base around that leadership model. 

You don’t see customers out there asking “Why are you only 10 percent PCF Starbucks? You really should increase that to 20, 30, 40, 50 percent” or whatever the number is. 

Consumers, especially in the U.S. and Canada, define sustainable packaging by focusing on end of life. That’s caused us to focus a lot of effort and resources into creating solutions for our packaging because we know that’s what resonates most with our customers. Yes, we work to mitigate the footprint of our packaging from cradle to grave. But we need to realize that our customers, and most consumers, are locked in on end-of-life as their definition of sustainable packaging today.

We need to create solutions for our customers so we can have broader conversations about the true sustainability of packaging and about the sustainability of our businesses. 

Here’s another example: Around 75 percent of our environmental footprint comes from the operation of our stores. Three years ago, we made a commitment to reduce that operating footprint and set out to build every company-owned store in the world to be LEED-certified. If you’re familiar with the challenges of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification system, that’s a really big deal. That being said, if you ask any customer what is Starbucks’ greatest environmental footprint, most of them will assume it’s our cups. 

I always jokingly say, I would much rather customers come into our stores and say ‘I choose to shop at Starbucks because you guys have this super-efficient HVAC system, because as a conscious consumer, I get that this is where the rubber hits the road when we talk about Starbucks’ environmental impact and good for you guys for addressing it!’ 

I know to even attempt to get to that point, what we’re going to have to do is solve for the most pressing and prominent issue in their eyes-which is our packaging. It’s essential that we at Starbucks, and that we as an industry that’s using single-serve packaging, solve these end-of-life issues for our customers regardless of the contribution they make to our total footprint, so that we can shift the conversation to more pressing environmental issues.

If you look at the global problems we face around environmental degradation, climate change, water scarcity and other pressing issues, citizens and consumers have to be focused on what really matters if they are to play an impactful role in shifting the direction of current negative environmental trends. It’s our job as businesses to help them understand where the real impacts lie and how the choices they make every day as consumers have a huge impact on the environment. 

If we as a business sector are just placating their current perception of environmental impact—which we often do, unfortunately—we’re not going to be able to cross that hurdle to really focus on solving the true and massive environmental issues we face. Yes, we cannot downplay the importance of solid waste management, including the impact that recycling and diversion have on climate change. But the conversation can’t end here.

 

Q: How can packaging help show a brand’s commitment to environmental responsibility? How can your packaging communicate all of what you just said? 


Hanna:
Packaging is that tangible, touchable, seeable thing that is our first and primary touch point with our customers. Packaging must tell the right story to begin the conversation around sustainability. 

Packaging is the starting point and is the gateway to great conversations. It’s essential that we get that part right because that puts our customers and consumers on the path of either trusting the brands they’re using or not trusting them. If we can build that level of trust, if we’re doing the right thing around packaging, then that gives us the ability to engage in deeper conversation around our total environmental footprint and how our customers can play a role in driving that impact down by “voting” with their dollar. 

Addressing end-of-life specifically, and how we should think about brands’ “responsibility,” it’s no longer acceptable for the business community to simply accept a lack of recycling infrastructure in the communities where they operate or assume that we have no influence in driving development of that infrastructure to move our single serve packaging out of the landfill pipeline. We know the necessary pieces in solving the infrastructure puzzle, including market development, material optimization, creating material scale for recyclers to invest in their capacities, along with local policies that catalyze the factors and drive consumer behaviors. But, frankly, we don’t tap into the power we have as a business community to proactively impact local environmental policy.

 

Sure, we are great at playing defense and activating our trade associations to (rightly) oppose material bans or Draconian fees on packaging. But we’ve never been effective at sitting down with local lawmakers ahead of time to hash out good policy that drives infrastructure development and acceptance of our products into recycling streams, leaving us vulnerable to bans, fees, extended producer responsibility (EPR) and other last-resort policies to divert our products from landfills. We need to take a second look at our engagement strategies as an industry.

For example, I can’t tell you how many cities I’ve gone to that, when I walk in their doors, they weren’t accepting Starbucks cups into the recycling system at either the commercial or residential level. By educating and helping policy makers understand that our business goals actually aligned with the city’s/county’s environmental goals, and by aligning all of the players within the local recycling “system” we’ve been able to break through those barriers in a number of cities and get our cups accepted. What we can’t do is sit on the sideline and just throw up our hands and say “The infrastructure or the markets don’t exist”—because it’s our job to make sure that, if they don’t exist, we do everything we can to drive those markets. 

That was a longwinded answer to how packaging can demonstrate brands’ environmental leadership, but that’s really one of our commitments here at Starbucks: To lead the initiative to ensure that our packaging, and our industry’s packaging, is able to reduce its environmental footprint in every way from cradle, to use, to end of life.

 

Q: How does Starbucks balance the need for packaging that’s eco-responsible with packaging that fulfills the consumer’s desire for convenience? 


Hanna:
We try to take a holistic approach to our packaging in a way that, rather than focusing on the packaging, it focuses on the needs. Starbucks’ need is to deliver the best cup of coffee we can to our customers in a way that creates brand connection and elevates the experience for our customers every day beyond what our competitors can do. 

We’ve taken the approach of focusing on our packaging goals from a broader perspective of how to deliver this great cup of coffee to our customers in a way that reduces our environmental footprint while enhancing (or at least maintaining) their experience. 

We have a three-pronged approach at Starbucks. 

Number one is—and this may not sound too exciting to the folks in the single-serve packaging industry—we’re trying to get our customers to use fewer of our paper and plastic cups. We have a program to incentivize people to bring their own reusable cups into our stores. When they do that, we’ll wash it for them and prepare their beverage in those cups, whether it’s a tumbler or a travel mug and we’ll give the customers a discount for their efforts. We have a target at Starbucks that, by 2015, 5 percent of all of our transactions occur with customers who bring in their own reusable mugs.

Unfortunately, we’ve hovered around 2 percent since the inception of the incentive program. The numbers dance around that a bit, but that’s been where we’ve been locked in for years. What we discovered is that the discount we offer is great, but it’s only a driver for a limited number of consumers. Most consumers are bringing in their own mugs because they simply enjoy the beverage that way or they have their own sense of environmental consciousness and this is how they’re doing their part every day to reduce their environmental footprint, regardless of whether or not they get a discount. 

It’s also a convenience issue, as carrying around a big bulky mug that may or may not be clean or may have been sitting in your car for a week, often negatively impact people’s ability or choice to bring in their own reusable mugs. 

In January 2013, we introduced a new concept. It’s a $1 reusable mug that’s made out of 100 percent polypropylene, the lid and the cup. The cool thing is the convenience factor is solved and the cost factor is solved because it’s only a buck, instead of our standard price between $10 and $18 for our mugs. It looks and feels like our existing paper cup, maintaining the brand attachment and Starbucks experience. For folks who were previously comfortable with our single-serve cups, this gives them an option for a reusable cup. And, because it’s only a buck, if you forget it at home or in your car or office, you can buy another one. After the introduction of the $1 reusable cup, we saw a significant bump in the purchase of reusables overall. But, more importantly, we also saw a marked increase in the number of people bringing their mugs back into the store to be reused.

Number two is encouraging our store managers to learn which customers typically enjoy their beverages in the stores and serve them in ceramic mugs, again, to reduce the use of single-serve packaging. You’d be surprised at how many customers don’t even know that we offer ceramic mugs in our stores. 

Number 3 is, for customers who choose to use single-serve cups, how do we do that in a way that provides that great Starbucks experience they’ve come to expect, delivers their beverage safely and conveniently every time, and has the lowest environmental footprint. 

That’s where we can really look at materials innovations, such as the post-consumer fiber we already use, innovation in coatings on the paper to impact recyclability and industry-wide material standardization to create scale for recyclers. Finally, when I talk about our 2015 goal of declaring our cups recyclable, what I’m talking about is access to recycling. The industry often defines recyclability or compostability based on the materials of our packaging, when we should be defining it based on access that our customers have to recycling or composting services. This isn’t Jim Hanna making up his own definitions. It’s the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guide that defines recyclability in that way and that’s the definition we use for our target.

For Starbucks, we define recyclability as follows: When our customer chooses to dispose of their cups—whether it’s in our stores, in their homes, in their offices or in a public space, if they don’t have access to recycling at that point, then the cups aren’t recyclable. They’re going to go into a landfill. That’s what we’re focusing on—building those infrastructures for recycling and end of life so that, hopefully, by 2015 we can actually cross the Federal Trade Commission’s 60 percent access threshold and declare victory.

 

Q: How do your packaging designs used in the foodservice environment at the point of consumption differ from some of those used in your retail products and why?


Hanna:
They don’t—and that’s a good thing. We take a holistic approach to packaging design whether it’s for retail stores or in our foodservice operations. 

We also look at our transport packaging, the movement of packaging from our distribution centers into our stores or the packaging that comes directly into the stores. We have significant focus on our supply chain to be able to help them minimize over packaging—which has been a pet peeve of our store partners (employees). Nothing galls them more than to get a small delivery in a big box. We know that cubing efficiency and standardization of packaging sizes is essential for efficient transportation, but we know there’s a significant footprint associated with transportation that can be significantly reduced if done right. 

We’ve been making significant progress in balancing efficient transportation with minimization of packaging, while balancing the need to maintain integrity of the items being transported. This includes introduction of durable, reusable transport packaging across our distribution network. While we’ve made huge progress, other retailers out there live and breathe this stuff, especially the ones that own their entire distribution systems, and have had significantly more leadership in this area that we can learn from.

We want to be game changers in the industry. But we’re also willing to follow game changers in areas where they either have more influence, more exposure to the issue or a greater ability to be those game changers. That’s one exciting culture of our company: We put a stake in the ground where we think we can change the world. We also know that there are many other companies who can do the same thing and we’re glad to follow them.

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Museum builds Recycle Reef exhibit with protective packaging






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Posted by Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor — Packaging Digest, 6/15/2013 11:25:26 PM





 

Hexacomb Recycle Reef

 

 

An ocean reef made from a paper-based packaging structure? Not what one would typically expect. But that’s exactly what visitors will see this summer at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, TX.

 

Hexacomb, a Boise company, has donated several hundred sheets of its honeycomb protective packaging material to the Perot Museum to build Recycle Reef, a temporary summer exhibit that opens to the public on Mon., June 17.

 

Hexacomb honeycomb is being used to fabricate an elaborate 4,000 sq ft reef ecosystem—complete with kelp beds, a shipwreck and deep sea sections. The exhibit’s foundation will be made entirely of honeycomb, including a shipwreck and kelp plants rising up from the sea floor.

 

Called Recycle Reef, the exhibit has been designed to promote recycling and also allow visitors to actually participate in creating the exhibit. A 2,000 sq ft section immediately outside the main exhibit, called the “making” area, will feature tables and bins also made from Hexacomb honeycomb. The area, stocked with child-safe tools and recyclable materials, will be the place where visitors can construct their personal masterpieces. Examples include fish, corals and other marine life, which they can choose to take home or add to the Recycle Reef. Every evening, a fresh layer of Hexacomb kraft paper will be placed on the tabletops so that the next day’s visitors will have clean work surfaces.

 

Hexacomb is made primarily from renewable wood fibers that have been engineered into a proprietary honeycomb configuration. The product offers excellent strength, superior cushioning and blocking/bracing, and is typically used to protect a range of durable goods in transit. These attributes also make it suitable material for a demanding structural project such as the Recycle Reef exhibit.

 

“I had seen Hexacomb being used in packaging applications before, so when we were evaluating options for building this exhibit, the material seemed like a perfect choice to support our recycling message. In addition to donating the material, Hexacomb has provided technical information and fabrication assistance. They have been a great partner throughout the project,” says Mike Spiewak, director of exhibits, Perot Museum.

Recycle Reef is intended to be dynamic as the exhibit evolves with each newly-contributed sculpture. In keeping with the theme, the entire exhibit will be recycled after it closes on Aug. 25.

“Hexacomb is pleased to partner with the Perot Museum on an exhibit that supports environmentally-positive messaging in such a creative way. Customers in North America and Europe typically select Hexacomb for both its performance and environmental attributes. We are thrilled that our material is now part of an educational and interactive consumer experience,” says Darlene Kober, director of global marketing and strategy, Hexacomb.

 

Source: Hexacomb, a Boise company

 

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Grab-and-go beverage sales soar






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Posted by Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor — Packaging Digest, 6/14/2013 11:40:47 AM





 

Written by Suley Muratoglu, vp, marketing and product management, Tetra Pak Inc. U.S & Canada

 

Beverage portabilityRemember when the impulse-purchase racks at the grocery store only offered toys, gum and celebrity gossip magazines? Now single-serve beverage coolers are taking up sizeable real estate “front-of-store” at grocers, convenience stores, drug stores, mass merchandisers and more thanks to a strong and seemingly universal demand for a range of grab-and-go drinks.

 

Sales figures prove the point. Companies attuned to the convenience trend reaped high rewards last year. “Grab-and-go” packaged beverages yielded growth of 6 percent in traditional stores and 11 percent in the convenience channel in 2012—both significantly outpacing the beverage category as a whole, which grew at 2.6 percent, according to IRI estimates.

 

But these figures also offer clues about how to tap into this trend. Here are what beverage producers and marketers should keep in mind when formulating new products.

 

1. Combine hydration and nutrition
It’s not just the usual soda suspects jockeying for position in the coolers. The most impressive growth is in on-trend nutritional beverages that include coconut water and ready-to-drink tea, juices and energy drinks. Convenience isn’t enough; consumers are also clamoring for beverages “with benefits”—be it health or lifestyle-enhancing properties-to play to their on-the-go lifestyles. For example, the single largest category, energy drinks and shots, has grown into a nearly $7 billion business by some estimates – a full third of the beverage market as a whole by IRI figures. Coconut water, which is naturally electrolyte-rich, is making significant inroads as a sports recovery drink.

 

2. Focus on natural and organic properties
Consumers are scanning labels for more than just nutritional information, and properties such as “natural and organic” reign supreme. And beyond organic, back-to-nature ingredients adding label allure include cane and beet sugars, naturally derived colors (such beta carotene) and natural rather than synthetic preservatives. Organic foods and beverages are still niche players—less than five percent of the overall market—but they grew at an estimated 9.5 percent in 2011 versus 4.7 percent growth in conventional products according to the Organic Trade Assn.’s most recent annual survey. And this category is poised to continue its strong growth of recent years.

 

3. Right size-and upsize
Single-serve packaging experienced tremendous growth in the convenience-channel; according to IRI figures, the numbers were up 12.3 percent in ready-to-drink coffees, 10.1 percent in ready-to-drink teas, 7.1 percent in sports drinks and 4.6 percent in waters. But the meaning of single-serve has broadened to include a wider range of these smaller sizes, and companies are beginning to offer the half-liter as grab-and-go packaging and experimenting with even larger 1-liter size drinks aimed at men or day-long consumption. Beyond size, these packages should be easy to hold, with caps that are easy to drink from and resealable.

 

4. Go green
Even as customers demand the convenience of single-serve drinks, they are mindful of the environmental impacts of its packaging. In fact, consumers have indicated in some studies that they are willing to pay marginally more for products in sustainable packaging that can be recycled. This last finding has one key consequence for beverage makers and marketers: To take advantage of where the growth is now, and will be for the foreseeable future, any newly developed products—along with existing ones—should be offered in single-serve yet sustainable packaging.

 

Retailers will continue to open up space for on-the-go alternatives, and for a good reason. Consumers are asking for products that respond to their immediate needs and are ready for consumption. As the beverage category grows ever more crowded, smart companies will heed consumers’ call for more health-conscious drinks, sustainably and astutely packaged to match the busy and mobile lifestyles that now predominate.

Suley Muratoglu, vp, marketing and product management, Tetra Pak Inc. U.S & Canada, currently runs the company’s presence in core categories, including dairy, beverage and food.

 

Source: Tetra Pak

 

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Biodegradable film, pouches






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Posted by Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor — Packaging Digest, 6/10/2013 1:24:35 PM





 

Biodegradable film, pouchesThe BioFlex Pack is a biodegradable laminate for dry products. Components for the packaging are made from biodegradable materials, including the adhesive, and are compostable according to European regulation EN 13432 and U.S. ASTM D6400. Approximately 70 days after disposal, 90 percent of the material will be composted. Advantages include little to no curing time, and availability as printed roll stock and as premade pouches. Suggested packaging applications include dry cereal or grains, tea and coffee products, powders or tablets, and wholesome or natural products.

Ampac, 800-543-7030
www.ampaconline.com

 

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10 key trends in global retail packaging






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Posted by Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor — Packaging Digest, 6/7/2013 12:59:20 PM





A cross-functional team of 10 managers from resealable-closure company Zip-Pak recently completed an intensive 18-month global packaging study.

Zip-Pak’s goal in conducting the study was to openly observe the packaging landscape and the global consumer to better understand and identify prevailing trends, and the drivers behind them. The study involved in-depth interviews with more than 75 industry insiders, including consultants, media, research personnel, packaging school professors, equipment manufacturers, converters, consumer packaged goods executives and retailers. The voice of the consumer played an equally important part in the report.

Top global retail packaging trends

Upon completing the study, Zip-Pak’s team reported on 10 key trends.

1. Changing Demographics and an Aging Population
As many economies face aging populations, packaging and retail stores must accommodate an aging consumer base with more easier-to-open packaging formats, increased readability of packaging and larger font sizes. Retailers will achieve this through access-improved store layouts, improved lighting, stocking popular items on mid-level shelves, and the introduction of a greater range of “healthy product.”

2. Prepared Foods
Although highly mobile, consumers have demonstrated an increased involvement in meal preparation at home. As a key indicator, the study pointed to the growing number of meals that are being cooked in the kitchen by combining additional ingredients to pre-prepared foods. This interest has been supported over the past decade by the considerable growth of pre-prepared, heat-and-eat, or grab-and-go food and meal choices. This trend is expected to continue with increased variety, high quality offerings and more competitive pricing.

 

Supporting this consumer behavior presents an opportunity for packaging development of portion-specific sizes and formats that further extend product life and offer ease of use. Packaging supply chain partners are anticipated to contribute to this shift as well, through the advancement of solutions that deliver enhanced product protection and preservation, tamper indication, and added convenience.

3. Liquids in Flexible Packaging
A growing number of liquid-based brands are adopting flexible packaging formats. From soups to coffee, wine, baby food and energy drinks, consumers appreciate the convenience and portability of a flexible pouch. The packaging supply chain will continue to contribute through advancements in film construction, pouch-forming equipment, and new dispensing technologies. Globally, the trend is growing in the breadth and width of product offerings with some of the greatest inroads made along the Pacific Rim. As one member of the Zip-Pak study team commented, “If you really want to see innovative liquid packaging, just go to Japan.”

4. Sustainability
Environmental responsibility and stewardship have been, and will continue to be, areas of global focus and innovation. A prime example of this is the progression from rigid to flexible packaging, with sustainability being cited in the study as the leading driver. The shift to flexible has also resulted in packaging material reduction for many brands as well as cost reduction when compared to their rigid counterparts. A recent consumer lifestyle research study points to this trend as a “win-win” for brands, as the shift strongly appeals to a growing community of environmentally informed consumers who seek out brands and products that share their concern for the environment.

5. Theft and Shrinkage
Theft and shrinkage remain key concerns for retailers. Packaging companies are being called upon to provide new security measures that safeguard products from theft throughout the entire supply chain, without compromising the consumer’s experience at point-of-sale or during check-out. The industry response has been the introduction of packaging technologies that both enhance the appearance of the products and protect from theft at the same time. Retailer demand for new and innovative approaches to theft prevention is clear; and for inventive packaging suppliers, anti-theft solutions represent an abundance of opportunity.

 

6. Over-Protective Packaging
In the interest of theft protection or tamper-resistance, packaging can often be “over-engineered.” This is evidenced by the hundreds of reported annual emergency room visits for injuries to hands and fingers, the result of unsuccessful consumer attempts to access products “protected” by virtually impenetrable packaging. Packaging solutions that strike a smart, reasonable balance between content and theft protection, and easier-to-open functionality post-purchase, are expected to grow in demand.

7. Compliance Packaging
Driving the advances in compliance packaging has been the universal desire to significantly reduce the number of deaths in the U.S. associated with lack of medication adherence by patients. This fourth leading cause of death in America has associated costs to the healthcare system estimated to be as much as $150 billion annually.

 

Innovative materials and advancements in technology are having a significant impact. Among the many solutions to the issue are enhanced unit dose packaging that offers medication protection and a growing array of blister card packs that improve ease of use and provide more robust patient information. A highly progressive approach to this national concern for patient safety is resulting in the introduction and development of leading-edge packaging solutions designed to help patients remember and follow drug regimens.

8. QR Codes and Mobile Technology
QR codes are continuing to provide a wealth of information for consumer brands, including expanded product information and costs savings in packaging, as products require less in the way of inserts or printed information. Complementary to this are the growing numbers of smartphones and tablets used by consumers to access and share information about products and brands. This behavior shift has resulted in the emergence of “apps” that help guide consumer purchases and decision-making.

 

Thanks to these “apps” the well-known “moment of truth” at point of sale is rapidly being replaced with a “zero moment of truth” as consumers have completed their fact-finding and decision-making process before even entering the store. As a result, packaging with interactive, scan-able links to information resources will continue to grow as brands seek more “screen time” with consumers on their mobile devices. This trend represents a further shift in the ways that retailers and brands effectively engage more knowledgeable, information-equipped consumers.

9. Flexibility vs Speed
Flexibility in the supply chain has become a key driver as large companies have been transitioning into smaller, de-centralized groups of “brand” companies. Equipment makers and manufacturers are facing the demand for shorter runs, more rapid changeovers and the ability to accommodate variety in size, shapes and graphics. Prior to this focus on flexibility, packaging machinery and processing companies were primarily concerned with speed as brands largely approached products with a “one size fits all” mentality. Today, with consumers demanding individual attention and more customized solutions, speed’s reign appears to be on the wane.

10. Increasing Influence of Store Brands
The growth of retail brands represented a noteworthy trend in the study. Nearly 20 percent of all products currently sold by retail stores are store brands. Increased product quality and the appearance of more sophisticated packaging are just two factors contributing to this growth pattern. Retailers are trending “up-market” with best-in-class brands to satisfy a growing segment of premium-quality shoppers. They indicate a willingness to invest in opportunities that represent a differentiated package option from those presented by national brands.

A product’s physical packaging continues to be a key factor in establishing differentiation and preference with consumers. In many product categories, today’s shoppers base their opinions on the quality and value of a product by the physical characteristics of the packaging itself, which include materials and shape, applied graphics and package closure.

This is particularly relevant for store brands marketed in flexible packaging. Here, findings revealed an increased percentage of consumers indicating a preference for resealable closure options that could deliver convenience, maintain freshness, and perform reliably throughout the entire product lifecycle. They also viewed resealable flexible packaging as an enhancement to a brand’s perceived and realized value.

Thanks to a growing list of innovations in both technology and equipment compatibility it is becoming increasingly faster and simpler for companies to capitalize on these preferences and perceptions. In many instances, a resealable solution can be integrated into an existing flexible package in as little as five-to-six weeks, often with no additional capital expenditures required in the product’s supply chain.

Summing it all up
In the dynamic and ever-changing world of packaged goods, opportunities will always abound. One simply needs to be an attentive student of consumers, and the drivers that influence them, to convert forward-thinking and innovative ideas into the packaging success stories of tomorrow.

Source: Zip-Pak

 

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Plastic converter joins The Coca-Cola Co. and Danone in PEF bottle development






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Posted by Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor — Packaging Digest, 6/3/2013 12:12:17 PM





AvantiumAvantium, a renewable chemicals company, and ALPLA Werke Alwin Lehner GmbH, one of the world’s leading plastic converters, have announced their Joint Development Agreement for the development of PEF bottles. After The Coca-Cola Co. and Danone, ALPLA is the third company to collaborate with Avantium on PEF, a bioplastic based on Avantium’s proprietary YXY technology. The goal of these collaborations is to bring 100 percent biobased PEF bottles to the market by 2016. 

“Avantium is very excited to have ALPLA enter the Joint Development Platform for PEF bottles,” says Tom van Aken, CEO of Avantium. “With ALPLA’s extensive and proven know-how in PET conversion, bottle design and bottle manufacturing, ALPLA will be a major contributor to accelerate the commercial rollout and industrialization of PEF. Jointly we can make PEF available for packaging in innovative markets and traditional applications. Together we have taken up the challenge to develop the supply chain for PEF as sustainable biobased packaging material to the beer and alcoholic beverage markets. As one of the world’s most innovative converters, ALPLA will be a key enabler to develop PEF bottles meeting the technical requirements for the market.”

Günther Lehner, ALPLA CEO comments: “By signing this agreement, ALPLA once again demonstrates its leadership in innovation in this industry. In the 1980’s ALPLA was the first to introduce the two-step PET bottle which started the transition from PVC to PET. Today, we are able to take innovation a step further and introduce our customers in the food, home care and personal care area to the next generation of biobased polyester: PEF. Sustainability is a key driver for growth for ALPLA and its customers. We are therefore pleased to collaborate with Avantium to bring the first 100 percent biobased and recyclable PEF bottles to the market.”

YXY technology
Brand owners are leading the transition from fossil resources based packaging materials like PET (polyethylene terephthalate), to biobased materials. Biobased materials should be compliant with existing recycling solutions. The YXY technology platform is a cost competitive ground-breaking catalytic technology to convert plant based materials into chemical building blocks for bioplastics, like PEF (polyethylene furanoate). PEF is a novel generation of 100 percent biobased and recyclable polyester which has the potential to replace conventional fossil resources based durable materials like PET. PEF has properties superior to PET such as a significantly higher barrier to oxygen, carbon dioxide and water, extending product shelf life and reducing production costs. An independent life-cycle-analysis study by the Copernicus Institute at the University of Utrecht has demonstrated the carbon footprint of PEF is about 50 to 70 percent lower than today’s PET.

PEF bottles
ALPLA will develop PEF bottles for personal care/ home care applications (such as cosmetics and detergents) and for food applications (such as sauces, dressings, baby foods and edible oils). ALPLA and Avantium will furthermore work on the development of bottles for beer and other alcoholic beverages. Today Avantium is supplying its development partners with PEF made from material produced at its Geleen pilot plant. Avantium is currently planning a 50,000 ton commercial plant, which is projected to be operational in 2016 to enable the full commercial launch of the first PEF bottles to consumers.

 

Source: Avantium

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