The long-running DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation recognizes packaging projects that exhibit collaborative innovations across a wide array of geographies and market segments
For the 22nd DuPont Awards, judges evaluated packaging projects that respond to consumer needs while reducing financial and/or ecological impacts. Carolann Haznedar, global business and market director of DuPont Packaging and Industrial Polymers, explains: “This year we focused the DuPont Awards program on the essential elements needed to drive breakthroughs in packaging. Innovative new developments, along with cost/waste reduction and improved sustainability, are what packaged goods companies and retailers are seeking to respond to consumer needs. The winners demonstrate the kind of collaborative innovation that is needed to solve such multi-dimensional problems.”
Winners were chosen by an independent expert jury panel, led by John Bernardo, president of Sustainable Innovations LLC, which evaluated 160 entries from around the world and selected winners representing excellence in these three areas. Other members on the jury panel include Peter Clarke, founder and CEO of Product Ventures; Sara Hartwell, environmental specialist at the U.S. EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery; Ray Germonprez, chief technology officer for Bemis Co.; Frederick J. Renk, vp of external technology at MeadWestvaco; and Gail Tavill, vp of sustainable development at ConAgra Foods.
The following projects were recognized for excellence in cost/waste reduction, innovation and sustainability.
Making aluminum bottles a mainstream packaging option
Exal Corp. and Alcoa Rigid Packaging
Exal Corp.’s new Coil to Can (C2C) aluminum bottle manufacturing technology features recyclable aluminum alloy and enables marketers to consider aluminum bottles for large-scale beverage applications. This hybrid process marries the manufacturing speed and lightweight characteristics of standard drawn and ironed aluminum beverage can technology with shaping technology that at one time was only available with heavier walled extruded aluminum containers to create highly stylized bottle design options. Bottles using Exal’s C2C manufacturing technology and made from Alcoa’s bottlestock sheet use less material and are manufactured at faster speeds to enable a significant weight reduction at a cost comparable to PET or glass.
C2C aluminum bottles weigh about 40 percent less than impact-extruded aluminum bottles, and while the wall thickness of the C2C container is thinner than the wall of the impact extruded bottle, the C2C bottle is stronger in the areas of container deformation and burst strength. In addition, the benefit of less metal and a higher run speed offers a competitive price when compared to an impact-extruded aluminum beverage bottle.
Enabling safer transport of medical supplies
Entropy Solutions Inc.
Noting that challenges in shipping temperature-sensitive materials, such as pharmaceuticals or blood supplies, cost the pharmaceutical industry $3 billion in 2009, DuPont recognized Entropy Solution’s Greenbox reusable shippers for its total system approach to thermal management.
Using technologies that took Entropy Solutions approximately 18 months to develop, Greenbox can keep contents at the right temperature for more than 120 hours.
Greenbox packaging comprises a tinted-green, reusable, outer HDPE shipping container that is designed to be resistant to moisture, crushing and scuffing. Inside the container is a set of reusable/recyclable Thermal-Lok insulation panels. These panels have a thermodynamic insulating capacity that’s 10 times greater than EPS foam.
Additionally, the system does not have the shipper size limitations that other packages have. “Most, if not all temperature-sensitive packages are designed with convection,” says Entropy Solutions president Eric Lindquist. “In convection systems, the larger the package, the more difficult it becomes to control the temperature. It’s exactly the opposite with our materials because there is more opportunity for placement throughout.”
The following projects received gold awards for demonstrating excellence in two of the three evaluation categories: cost/waste reduction, innovation and sustainability.
Fully compostable snack bag
Frito-Lay N.A., a div. of PepsiCo
More than three years of research went into the development of Frito-Lay’s fully compostable snack bag. Crafted for its SunChips brand, the bag is comprised of a combination of flexo-printed outer layer of matte PLA film, made with NatureWorks’ Ingeo biopolymer resin made from plant sugar; an inner metallized PP layer, which serves as a barrier to maintain the quality and integrity of the product; and a middle layer of LDPE that joins the other two layers together.
“We worked very closely with some of our key suppliers, one of them being Toray Films, to develop techniques and processes for putting barrier onto the film that did not interrupt the compostability of the package,” remarks Brad Rogers, Frito-Lay’s North American manager of sustainable packaging. “We had to balance being able to develop a barrier performance that met our needs, while still maintaining the compostability.”
Careful to avoid exaggerating the package’s sustainable attributes, Rogers notes that the compostability of the packaging differs depending on pile conditions. “In slower, less active conditions, such as those a home composter could achieve, it might take 20 to 30 weeks to break down,” he explains. “In very hot active environments, the bag can break down in as little as a few weeks though. Using a standard test method, we found that the packaging can certainly break down within 12 to 14 weeks in an industrial compost bin.”
PET bottles made partially from plants
The Coca-Cola Co.
In support of its zero waste strategy for packaging materials, The Coca-Cola Co. is using a PET resin sourced from up to 30-percent plant-based renewable material to make its PlantBottle packaging. The new bottle technology delivers key performance characteristics similar to traditional PET, such as the ability to maintain carbonation, while reducing dependence on non-renewable resources.
Launched in Denmark in December 2009, PlantBottle packaging is used for multiple products in the company’s sparkling and still beverage portfolio in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Mexico, Brazil and Norway. Like traditional PET plastic, PlantBottle packaging can be recycled in these countries’ existing recycling infrastructure.
The Coca-Cola Co. is now looking at how to further extend the sustainability features of its PlantBottle. “We are working with R&D partners to advance next generation technologies to allow us to produce future generations of PlantBottle packaging,” says Dr. Shell Huang, director, packaging research at The Coca-Cola Co. “Our ultimate vision is to develop recyclable plastic bottles made from 100-percent renewable materials.”
Flexible packaging for cat litter
The Clorox Co.
Replacing a PP pail for cat litter with a flexible bag for its heaviest products enabled The Clorox Co. to cut packaging materials by nearly 80 percent. This innovative design maintains consumer ease-of-use features for handling, pouring, resealing and storage equal to the pail it replaced, while offering sustainability and cost reduction across its supply chain, including inbound freight, packaging materials and finished goods storage and warehousing.
Anti-counterfeiting solution for pharmaceuticals
Degill Intl Corp.
The EZ Fusion two-in-one vials use an innovative tamper-evident design that enables consumers to easily determine the authenticity of a product and help thwart pharmaceutical counterfeiting efforts. The design also offers consumer benefits by taking the guesswork out of mixing drugs, so there is less waste. There also is less chance of contamination, and it provides a cost-effective solution versus traditional glass vials.
Packaging and machinery redesign packs multiple sustainability benefits
Procter & Gamble
In a new approach for this product category, Procter & Gamble (P&G) redesigned machinery as well as packaging to enable a switch from wicketed PE bags for its Always feminine products to continuous flow-wrapping technology that reduced the use of PE by 25 percent and created an 80-percent reduction in pack-material warehouse space needed.
This bilateral approach to packaging redesign required strong collaboration across P&G departments, including research and development, engineering and product supply, as well as strict adherence to project timelines.
“From idea to first line production, it took roughly 24 months of intense multifunctional team collaboration and design plus process plus material plus concept optimization to achieve the final platform technology, material and package design,” Anne Hochwalt of P&G explains. “There were several technical challenges to overcome along the way. For example, we required a specific new material, new equipment and a new way of processing finished product. On top of this, during development, we needed to redesign 30 percent of the prototype lines into production lines in order to meet our timing goals. “
The results include a better pallet fit due to the tighter package, reduced energy usage in transportation and pack material manufacture, and package design that is more attractive to consumers.
Silver winners were selected on the merits of their breakthrough innovations. These projects include the following:
Revitalizing an iconic brand through innovative new packaging
P&G, Alpla, Tech Group and Webb deVlam Industrial Designers
A cross-functional team comprised of members from P&G’s package development, marketing, design, products research and consumer market knowledge departments crafted the Scope Outlast product and packaging around the brand character of flirty and spontaneous. The aim was to increase the appeal of its Scope mouthwash product line to a younger demographic; P&G also wanted to ensure that it didn’t alienate Scope’s existing consumer base.
“We tested heavily with consumers on this bottle and found that of the final three designs that we were evaluating that this genie bottle design really just rose to the top—connecting with consumers in a very deeply emotional way,” Martin Marotti, P&G oral care design manager, recalls. “It was a very successful shape, but it also was a very challenging shape to be able to blow because it was so extreme. That’s where our partners and our internal technical team did a great job, in being able to achieve a very dramatic design aesthetic that still provides a bottle with even more structural integrity than our prior bottles and also provides a very good ergonomic accessibility.”
The bottle and cap designs provide structural strength in the case without corrugate inserts, and the product formula was concentrated to more rinse uses in a smaller bottle. The amount of PET used was reduced by 20 percent.
The sustainable benefits of the design extended beyond just material usage. Thinh Ha, P&G oral care packaging development associate director comments: “By anticipating the operational and filling needs and incorporating them into the packaging design process, we also were able to improve operational and filling efficiencies.”
Single-serve plastic wine ‘glass’
Copa di Vino, ¼ Vin
Born of a wine glass packaging concept that originated in France, Copa di Vino’s single-serve, barrier-plastic “glass” aims to appeal to wine makers, who see new market opportunities for wine served in recreational and outdoor venues. Wine is bottled directly into the glass-shaped container, which enables a 1-year shelf life. Because there is no bottle, 50 percent of packaging waste is avoided. The carbon footprint is also reduced due to the 30-percent lighter weight of the plastic versus glass.
DuPont notes that the ready-to-drink wine packaging represents a significant technical challenge by sealing the lidding to the wine glass rim without impairing the wine.
Foam for transport packing made from pre-consumer recycled materials
Sealed Air and Austin Foam Plastics
Austin Foam Plastics (AFP) and Sealed Air were recognized for the responsible sourcing of PE foam for their electronic components packaging application utilizing Ethafoam HRC planks.
The closed-cell PE foam is manufactured from 65-percent pre-consumer recycled content and is lighter than the material previously considered. This design reduced shipping costs while meeting significant performance requirements for the electronic components application.
One of the project’s challenges was sourcing PE foam. To overcome this challenge, Sealed Air and AFP worked together to create a closed-loop recovery scheme to enable collection, sorting, transporting and reprocessing to support commercial production.
“The slight variation between the various shades of gray to black was a good thing because it helps identify the product as a recycled material to the end user—that it’s no longer a virgin material,” remarks Lew Smith, global director of applied engineering and demand planning at Sealed Air. “Because every layer is not exactly the same color, it lets the customer know visually, and maybe subliminally, that this is not truly a virgin material; it’s a recycled material.”
Other challenges range from educating fabricators on the how the gray color of recycled foam could be a marketing benefit, to the technical challenges inherent in using reprocessed source materials to manufacture a product with near-virgin characteristics.
Ethafoam is made using a proprietary process that involves specialized equipment and training to account for the variation in reprocessed material enabling a homogeneously extruded product with performance characteristics nearly the same as virgin.
Modified atmosphere packaging keeps meat fresh-looking longer
Initially launched in Europe and now available in the U.S., Sealed Air’s Cryovac Mirabella enables film-to-meat contact with reduced pack volume, without discoloring the meat. The thinner package offers logistic savings in addition to reducing the amount of space required in retailers’ displays.
“The tray and headspace reduction offers a lot of logistic benefits,” notes Roberta Ghezzi from Sealed Air Cryovac Mirabella in Italy. “You can put more trays on a box, and you can put more trays on a pallet. This means that there are fewer trucks going around delivering the product.”
The modified atmosphere properties of the package, with its anti-fog shrink film, enable fresh meats to maintain eye-appeal longer, thus reducing food waste.
Easy-to-open bag yields convenience, safety and less food waste
Sealed Air’s Cryovac Food Packaging Unit was recognized for its expanded portfolio of Grip & Tear products, including Grip & Tear Post Pasteurization Bag; Grip & Tear Non-Barrier Bag for Broilers; Grip & Tear Cook-In Bag; Grip & Tear for Frozen Meat; and Portion Pull Bag. The products combine the shrink, toughness and oxygen barrier properties of a traditional vacuum shrink bag with the addition of an easy-open feature.
“One of the challenges with this second-skin type of packaging is when the bag shrinks down on the product, it can become difficult to get the product out of the bag,” remarks Jay Wilson, product manager for Grip & Tear.
The Grip & Tear concept overcomes this challenge by introducing a tear tab that a user can simply grip to tear the package open. DuPont noted how the bag’s knifeless opening design improves employee safety, reduces the risk of cross-contamination, eliminates mess and keeps the workspace clean.
Every component serves its function
Berry Plastics, Rexam and Ideo
The shelf-stable design of the packaging for Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers single-serve meals provides separation of meal components that offer customization options and a high-end, freshly prepared versus premade product. Injection-molded of clarified PP by Berry Plastics, the outer tub has a fill line that allows consumers to measure water used to cook the meal; the inner sauce tray is made by Rexam, using a proprietary rotary thermoforming process; American Packaging Corp. produces the heat-sealed, die-cut, peel-off strainer lid membrane of a PET lamination; Fort Dearborn Co. prints the labels on a semi-gloss paper stock with an OPP film overlaminate; and package development was the result of a partnership between ConAgra and Ideo.
“Ideo didn’t bring just consumer testing and simple consumer insights; one of the key pieces that Ideo brought to the project is the idea of looking at consumer behaviors,” remarks Robert Weick, vp of packaging for ConAgra Foods. “Fresh Mixers is a great example of really understanding consumer behavior. The concept of being able to prepare your pasta to their liking—to be able to drain and add the amount of sauce that they desire is important. Not everybody has the same tastes.”
Notable honorees were recognized for their innovative problem solving. These projects include the following:
Inside-injection foaming for PP pallets
Femsa and Sosa Tech Advisors
According to Sergio Sosa of Sosa Tech Advisors, packaging operations often need to decide between the low-cost of traditionally injected plastic pallets versus the long life associated with structural foam injection pallets. To solve this problem, Sosa developed a patented process for a hybrid pallet that utilizes both manufacturing processes. The inside injection foaming process creates a pallet with a six-year lifetime. DuPont notes that this is twice the expected lifetime of a typical injection PP pallet and three times the typical lifetime for most wooden pallets.
Odorless barrier laminate for cereal liners addresses moisture issues
Kellogg Co. and Positive Packaging
DuPont notes that a common problem for cereal makers is the need for an oxygen barrier and off-gassing of cornflakes. Kellogg Co. solved this problem for product sold in the Indian market, where high humidity is an issue, through a metallized film laminate with an oxygen barrier. Moisture in the pack is pulled into the PP sealant. This solution enabled them to stop importing their previous structure—cutting cost and complex logistics.
Dishwashing detergent dispensing system
The Finish Quantumatic detergent dispensing system from Reckitt Benckiser utilizes PET blister packs that are made with 70-percent post-consumer recycled PET and automatically releases product for 12 washes without refilling. Keeping the refills dry until needed requires that the device and the packaging interact precisely together. Additionally, packaging production must be done within tight tolerances.