Flexible packaging pays it forward
The 2013 Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards winners highlight sustainability, printing and technical innovation, raising the bar for package looks and performance.
Kate Bertrand Connolly, Contributing Writer -- Packaging Digest, 2/27/2013 3:00:00 AM
Flexible packages continue to shine in the marketplace. The array of innovations displayed by packages entered in the Flexible Packaging Assn's 2013 Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards competition drives home the point.
Of the 78 packages submitted for consideration in this year's competition, 25 received awards in categories such as Packaging Excellence, Printing Achievement, Technical Innovation and Environmental & Sustainability Achievement.
Judges for the competition were Larry Alehman, master faculty, Western Michigan University; Michael Richmond, Ph.D., vp, Packaging & Technology Integrated Solutions, a division of HAVI Global Solutions Direct LLC; and our own Lisa McTigue Pierce, executive editor of Packaging Digest.
Here are the Gold Award winners:
Foodservice salad-dressing pouch says YES
The Kraft YES Pack won the competition's top honor, the Highest Achievement Award. The award reflects the judges' view of the package, a 1-gal pouch for salad dressing, as the entry making the biggest contribution to advancing flexible packaging. The Kraft YES Pack also won a Gold Award for Packaging Excellence and a Silver Award for Environmental & Sustainability Achievement.
Kraft's pouch, designed for foodservice applications, was designed as a replacement for 1-gal rigid plastic jugs typically used for salad dressing in commercial and institutional kitchens. Made from a high-strength, multilayer, nylon/polyethylene film, the pouch was designed for the rigors of a busy food-prep area. Exopack LLC supplies the film.
The acronym "YES" is shorthand for the pouch's Yield, Ease-of-use and Sustainability features. With regard to yield, Kraft reports users can squeeze up to 99 percent of the dressing out of each pouch, which means they get about 2 oz more creamier dressing out of the YES Pack than from a rigid gallon jug—and without the mess.
Ease of use is a function of the pouch's structural design. With dual easy-grip handles (there is a handle at the bottom of the pouch, too), the four-corner-sealed pouch is easy to carry. A spout fitment on the top of the pouch, together with the handles, enables precision pouring.
As for sustainability, the Kraft YES Pack "requires 50 percent less energy during manufacture of the packaging compared to a rigid jug," says Barbara Pritikin, senior manager, Kraft Foodservice, Integrated Marketing Communications. Compared with rigid gallon jugs, the emptied pouches take up 50 percent less landfill space, and transporting the pouch film generates 70 percent fewer carbon dioxide emissions.
The Kraft YES Pack also reduces foodservice operators' garbage volume and handling, because the pouches take up 86 percent less space in garbage cans.
Exopack LLC, 877-447-3539
Pop-open pack design adds fun factor to portion control
Winning a Gold Award for Packaging Excellence, the Amcor PushPop from Amcor Flexibles combines portion control, easy opening, convenience and just plain fun.
The PushPop pouch is designed with top and bottom gussets, and the top gusset is laser scored. Consumers simply push their thumbs into marked areas on the top gusset, give a little tug and the package pops opens along the score lines. The bottom gusset lets the PushPop stand up and makes it possible to eat one-handedly from the pouch.
"Amcor and brand owners have packaged both savory chips and sweet cereal snacks in PushPop, and the package has been a hit with consumers," says Wally Hasselbring, product manager at Amcor Flexibles. The PushPop package currently is produced in Europe and North America. Packaging Digest editors have seen Sun Chips from Frito-Lay in this package.
Significantly, high-speed vertical form-fill-seal equipment can be retrofitted for about $50,000 to make and fill the PushPop pouch, which is made from a laminated film.
Although the pouch is sold in multipacks, the shape and the size of the side panels provide a billboard for brand graphics after the consumer opens the secondary package.
Amcor Flexibles, 847-362-9000
Flexible sheet converts into recyclable medical-device tray
Thanks to its innovative design and use of materials, the flexible tray for a heart catheter won two Gold Awards—one for Environmental & Sustainability Achievement and another for Technical Innovation.
The CardioFocus balloon catheter die-cut tray, produced by Beacon Converters Inc., is made from a sheet of 100 percent virgin, 0.035-in. thick, flexible HDPE. A series of tabs creates the tray's triangular sidewalls, which run the length of the package. The tray design includes carabineer hold-downs to secure and protect sensitive parts of the product, which is a medical device used in ablation therapy for atrial fibrillation.
The package offers several environmental benefits vs the rigid PETG trays commonly used to package medical devices. Beacon reports that the HDPE tray has 32 percent less volume and weighs 50 percent less than comparable PETG trays. And less energy is required to manufacture the HDPE trays.
In addition, "after use, the [CardioFocus] tray can be knocked down into its original flat format and compactly segregated into the recyclable waste stream," says Alison Tyler, technical director at Beacon Converters.
The HDPE trays also provide a benefit for cardiologists, acting as a catheter-prep tabletop and serving "as an organizer in close proximity to the sterile field," Tyler adds.
Beacon Converters Inc., 201-797-2600
Recyclable pouch pioneers new territory for flexible packaging
Savvy Green Eco-Clean Laundry Detergent, packaged in the new Ampac No. 2 Pouch, won a Gold Award for Environmental & Sustainability Achievement. This pouch represents a breakthrough in flexible packaging, as it is one of the first primary flexible packages designed to be recycled.
The pouch is made from a coextruded HDPE blend and can be recycled with post-consumer shopping bags at grocery store drop-off points. Conventional pouches are typically made from laminated films and are not currently recyclable.
The Savvy Green LLC stand-up pouch also has a smaller eco-footprint than conventional pouches, because pouch manufacturing is vertically integrated. Ampac extrudes and prints the No. 2 Pouch film and converts it into pouches at its Seattle plant. The Savvy Green pouch is surface printed in nine colors, using solvent-based inks. The high-definition flexography delivers sharp print resolution.
A specialized matte varnish is applied over the printing. "The overlacquer provides a much more natural look and feel and also protects the print from the product during filling," explains Millie Nuno, marketing manager, Ampac.
By eliminating the lamination step, the energy, materials and waste associated with laminating also are eliminated. Ampac reuses the scrap from pouch production, converting the unused material back into resin pellets that are used to manufacture other products.
The pouch complements the brand owner's environmental mission while attracting attention at retail. Savvy Green "wanted to stand out on the shelf among the other organic cleaning products. They also wanted a recyclable packaging solution," Nuno recalls.
Ampac has adopted GreenBlue's Sustainable Packaging Coalition How2Recycle Label for the No. 2 Pouch. And Trex, the largest user of recycled HDPE, has approved the pouch for use in its decking and railing products.
Motor oil producer turns to flexible packaging
Two awards went to the Eco-Ultra Motor Oil FlexPak pouch: a Gold Award for Environmental & Sustainability Achievement and a Silver Award for Packaging Achievement.
Star Packaging Corp. produces the package for brand owner Universal Lubricants LLC at facilities in Tampa, FL, and Atlanta. According to Star, the package is the first stand-up pouch used for an automotive lubricant product in the U.S. The 1-quart pouch is made from a three-ply lamination that's reverse printed, flexographically, in seven colors using digital photopolymer plates.
The pouch provides both environmental and ease-of-use features. With regard to sustainability, the FlexPak pouch contains more than 70 percent less plastic than a conventional 1-quart HDPE bottle used to package motor oil.
The lighter-weight, more-compact package significantly reduces transportation-related emissions and fuel use because the empty, pre-made pouches take up a fraction of the space of empty HDPE bottles on pallets and in trucks. The empty pouch's smaller size also reduces post-consumer landfill waste.
Landfills also benefit in another way, because 1 percent or less of the oil in the pouch remains in the package when it's thrown in the trash vs up to 3 percent of oil remaining in HDPE bottles.
As for consumer benefits, the spouted pouch makes precise pouring easy—without a funnel—and the oil pours more quickly than with a bottle. The pouch also fits better than a bottle into tight engine spaces.
Star Packaging Corp., 404-763-2800
Twistable stick pack dispenses cough drops, one at a time
A micro-perforated stick-wrap package for cough drops, the Halls Twistoff pack, won a Gold Award for Technical Innovation. The overwrap material—micro-perf'd between each drop—is produced at the Sonoco Flexible Packaging-Edinburgh (Indiana) plant for brand owner Mondelēz Intl.
The package is designed so individually wrapped cough drops can be removed from the package without affecting the other drops in the pack. To dispense a single cough drop, the consumer simply twists the package.
The package design, combined with the overwrap's barrier properties, assures that all the cough drops stay fresh until they're taken from the stick pack and eliminates the problem of single drops rolling around in a pocket or handbag. The overwrap material, a foil/paper extrusion lamination, is printed via rotogravure.
"By adding registered, precision-scored perforations along the length of the package, we've incorporated both an innovative easy-open and product-containment feature while maintaining the stick-pack format that is part of the Halls brand essence," says Pete Gioldasis, marketing manager, Sonoco.
Sonoco Products Co., 800-377-2692
Pouch for gourmet Peruvian snacks conveys quality
A sophisticated in-line print job earned the Kusi Wayta pouch a Gold Award for Printing Achievement. Peru-based Peruplast prints and converts the film for the resealable stand-up pouch.
Four types of snacks, all formulated with indigenous Peruvian seeds and fruits, are packed in 140- and 100-g sizes of the pouch.
The pouch film is made from 12-micron PET and, for its barrier properties, 7-micron aluminum foil. The PET layer is reverse printed in seven colors with solvent-based inks via rotogravure. The reverse printing, which is sealed into the multilayer film, protects the eye-catching artwork from scuffing. A matte lacquer is printed on the exterior surface of the PET.
"Inks and matte varnish are applied to the PET film in the same pass. The reverse print is performed first. Then the matte varnish is surface printed in registration with the reverse print, providing the matte effect on some of the areas of the artwork," explains Eduardo Barberena, innovation and development manager at Peruplast.
Kusi Wayta means "Flower of Joy" in the Quechua language, and the package graphics incorporate native Peruvian imagery.
Peruplast S.A., +51-1-630-8801
Strength and beauty come together in bulk flour pouch
The judges awarded the Aashirvaad Select Atta pouch, which is both good looking and robust, a Gold Award for Printing Achievement. Manufactured and printed by Paharpur 3P, Ghaziabad, India, the pouch holds 5kg of premium-quality atta flour.
"Our customer wanted a vintage look on the graphics and a premium look of the package to assure the customers that this was the same age-old, trusted brand that carries flour from the best wheat grains in India," says Debarshi Ray, head of quality assurance and process improvement at Paharpur 3P.
But at the same time, the pouch had to be strong. Ray explains: "The biggest challenge was to give the package a premium look and the ability to withstand rigorous handling in Indian conditions. We were able to achieve this by a matte-gloss combination of inks, and we beefed up the structure to cope with the rough transportation and handling issues."
The pouch is made from biaxially-oriented nylon (BON) laminated to polyethylene, with the polyethylene used as the food-contact surface. The film is reverse-printed in nine colors via rotogravure using a polyurethane-based ink system. The use of polyethylene in the film structure gives the pouch high dart-impact strength.
For shelf impact, the graphics are rendered in a combination of matte and high-gloss finishes. To highlight certain parts of the pouch, such as the brand name, Paharpur 3P used a spot gloss treatment and softened surrounding graphics using a registered matte coating.
Paharpur 3P, +91 120-4389-100
Stand-up pouch delivers premium look and feel for chocolate
The judges gave a Gold Award for Printing Achievement to the Lindt Lindor Assorted Chocolates package, which incorporates a combination of matte and gloss treatments. The all-film, resealable stand-up pouch replaces a square-bottom bag made of paper and film. The package holds 198g of product.
Careful use of matte and gloss finishes on the pouch draws the eye to specific parts of the package, and tightly registered rotogravure printing provides high-quality reproduction of the graphic design's colors and details. American Packaging Corp. prints the pouch material.
American Packaging Corp., 585-254-9500
Click here to read about the Silver Award winners.