Neotech Products, a neonatal and pediatric medical-device manufacturer and Certified B Corporation, is committed to sustainability in all aspects of its business. That includes packaging made from renewable, plant-based material that spares trees.
Earlier this year, the Valencia, CA-based company switched from conventional tree-based paperboard packaging to folding cartons made from bagasse, a sugarcane byproduct, for its NeoBar endotracheal tube holder.
The NeoBar cartons, made of virgin Tree-Free Paperboard, are compostable; biodegradable; and free of chemicals, bleach, chlorine, bisphenol-A (BPA), and dyes. Neotech previously used solid bleached sulfate (SBS) cartons, coated on one side. NeoBar is the first product for which the company is using Tree-Free Paperboard packaging.
Like all of Neotech’s packaging, the bagasse-based cartons are printed with soy ink. The NeoBar cartons are packed manually, and the switch from SBS to Tree-Free Paperboard required no changes to Neotech’s packaging line.
Chatsworth, CA-based Weston Graphics, West Coast distributor for Tree-Free Packaging, engineers, prints, and converts the material into folding cartons for Neotech.
Ernie Cavazos, marketing manager at Neotech Products, and Adam Weston, president of Weston Graphics, answer Packaging Digest’s questions about the Tree-Free packaging and how it is printed and converted.
Does Neotech plan to switch to Tree-Free cartons for additional products?
Cavazos: Our goal is to use the Tree-Free as much as possible, but we may be limited by paper stock size and weight. Some boxes, because of their size and/or durability requirements, will need to print on a larger sheet or heavier stock than what is currently available for Tree-Free.
Are the functional characteristics of the Tree-Free paperboard equivalent to traditional paperboard?
Cavazos: The Tree-Free is not quite as bright white, but otherwise it is very comparable. The Tree-Free has no added chemicals or bleaches. When you consider how much better it is for the environment, sacrificing a little bit of brightness is well worth it.
Do the Tree-Free cartons cost more than conventional tree-based paperboard cartons? If so, what’s the price difference?
Cavazos: The price difference we see is in the configuration of the boxes. We generally print several product boxes at a time, and Weston Graphics configures them like a puzzle to fit as many as we can on one sheet.
Because the Tree-Free is limited in size, we may not be able to fit as many as on the traditional paperboard, which means the print run may not yield as many boxes. So, while the paper itself is no more expensive, the price per box goes up because of the lower yield. The first run of NeoBar boxes cost approximately 5% more.
Can Weston Graphics use its regular cutting, folding, gluing, and printing equipment to create Tree-Free folding cartons?
Weston: Yes. We run the stock on the same press, die-cutter, and folder/gluer.
What equipment brands and models does Weston Graphics use to print and convert Tree-Free folding cartons?
Weston: Here’s our line-up:
• Custom-configured 8-color Komori Lithrone S40P, one of North America’s first H-UV presses, pioneering green print
• 6-color Komori Lithrone SX29, which handles standard, ultraviolet (UV), and a variety of specialty inks, and has the ability to print on unique substrates like plastic, styrene, vinyl, and foil paper
• 4-color Komori Lithrone S40P
• Bobst NOVACUT ER die-cutter and in-line blanker
• Bobst SP 104 BM hot-foil stamper, embosser, and die-cutter
• Bobst EXPERTFOLD with the ACCUCHECK automated quality-control system, for folding and gluing
Does Weston Graphics sell Tree-Free cartons to brand owners in other industries?
Weston: Yes. In addition to medical, we supply food, cosmetic, and beauty national brands. Neotech is our first customer in the medical industry.