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Articles from 2020 In January

Cannabis Packaging

2 musts of cannabis packaging design

2 musts of cannabis packaging design
Honest Marijuana's metal cans are nitrogen flushed to protect the cannabis flowers from damaging oxygen.

Increased legalization of cannabis in North America is creating a significant opportunity for packaging suppliers and designers. But to work effectively with cannabis brand owners, vendors need a solid understanding of the category’s special packaging requirements. Product freshness and package security top that list.

The new “The Future of Cannabis Packaging to 2024” report from Smithers explores these two key requirements and also discusses common package formats, the evolution of cannabis branding, the role of premium packaging and the growth of vape products.

The Smithers report identifies different packaging formats used in the cannabis market.

Packaging that protects freshness is essential, Smithers explains, because light and oxygen can degrade cannabis and its active ingredients. Cannabis packaging must therefore include barriers to light and oxygen, preferably before and after the package has been opened. Repeatedly opening and closing a package allows the product’s moisture and volatile compounds to escape and lets oxygen in.

As an example of a package that protects cannabis cigarettes throughout the pack’s life cycle, including numerous openings/closings, Smithers references Honest Marijuana. This company sells flowers and pre-rolls in steel cans that contain a liquid nitrogen dosing unit which, over time, releases enough nitrogen into the package to keep residual oxygen at less than 4% (see image at top of page).

Protecting cannabis from oxygen is more important than protecting it from light, but packagers intent on ultraviolet (UV) protection can use opaque containers. Smithers points out, however, that opaque packaging has a downside: Many cannabis consumers prefer transparent packaging, which lets them see the product before purchasing.

Like other drugs, cannabis also requires secure packaging. Child-resistant features are essential for safe storage in the home, and a variety of child-resistant designs are currently in use. In many cases, package designers have borrowed child-resistant closure designs from other products.

“This includes screw tops for pill bottles from the pharmaceutical industry, zip-lock features used in pouch packaging and push-button features in carton packaging, previously used for nicotine replacement gums,” Smithers reports.

Security of a different kind is evident in cannabis track-and-trace systems that embrace the entire supply chain. According to Smithers, tracking the products ensures “seed-to-sale integrity” and gives consumers an assurance of product authenticity.

Most states in which medical and/or recreational cannabis is legal require dispensaries, cultivators and others in the industry to implement track-and-trace systems.

For more information about cannabis packaging, as well as networking opportunities within this quickly growing market niche, packaging professionals are invited to attend the upcoming Cannabis Packaging Summit. This event will debut at WestPack 2020 (Feb. 11-13; Anaheim, CA).


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How holography fights brand piracy in healthcare packaging today

How holography fights brand piracy in healthcare packaging today
To scan the new holoQR technology by mobile device, the hologram has to be tilted to show the black color for best scanning contrast. Black is the most difficult color to produce on a hologram and only some manufacturers are able to do it.

New trends in pharmaceutical packaging follow developments in emerging markets, demographic changes and new technologies—and that includes holography, says chairman of the International Hologram Manufacturers Assn. Paul Dunn.

With predictions that the global market for anti-counterfeiting packaging is set to reach almost US$250 billion by 2026, growth in pharmaceutical packaging authentication and anti-tamper devices appears to have a healthy future. This comes on the back of a rise in global healthcare concerns, higher adoption rates of anti-counterfeit technologies, and greater awareness of the benefits of new track-and-trace technologies and system integration.

Packages with security devices can ensure quality, and check the distribution and smuggling of illicit products. Items not displaying security devices, such as holograms, can be quickly seized and destroyed or exploited. Today, we are seeing advances in application, film coating and manufacturing technology, which is rolling back the boundaries for the use of a new generation of advanced holograms, facilitating fresh levels of visual effects, brand enhancement, regulatory compliance and anti-counterfeiting.

Since Glaxo first applied them to seal packs of Zantac in 1989, holograms have been taken up in a big way by the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. The ability of the hologram to provide effective protection lies in its continuous innovation and integration with other technologies—to the point where continuous evolution in techniques has succeeded in creating increasingly complex hologram-based devices that are easily recognized yet difficult to copy accurately.

For example, MediPharm’s anti-counterfeiting hologram technology is “only visible to informed experts,” the company claims. Developed to enable manufacturers, suppliers and patients to improve their packaging security, the seal displays an irreversible holographic effect when opened for tamper evidence and anti-counterfeiting protection.

Elsewhere, holographic foils can be used to great effect to differentiate product at the point-of-sale: something Colgate-Palmolive recognised when it launched its new “Total and Whitening” range of branded toothpaste into an already crowded marketplace. Aimed at the premium end of the market, Colgate-Palmolive needed its high-quality brand to stand out from the volume market.

The consumer giant uses holographic foil to strengthen the high-quality values of the “Total and Whitening” brand while ensuring the packaging catches the eye of consumers scanning supermarket shelves. The distinguishing visual effects holography brings were identified as a powerful tool in building a strong and powerful message—and reflect a premium value. The visual value the foil adds to brand messaging is difficult to pin down but certainly helps to contribute to the brand’s position as a sector leader, instantly recognisable on retailers’ shelves the world over.

Evolving role

The evolving role of the hologram has also been accompanied by the increased use of the security device in combination with other authentication technologies. Track-and-trace solutions identify the origins of a pharmaceutical industry product and verify its authenticity, thus fighting against counterfeits.

Optical security technology has advanced to such a position that, when it’s integrated with track-and-trace, it can provide manufacturers with the tools to be fully compliant with the forthcoming legislation (by November 2020, pharmacies can buy only products that are encoded with product identifiers mandated by the Drug Supply Chain Security Act). Beneficial features incorporated can help users generate unique sequential, encrypted or random serial numbers, or identify and mark products overtly or covertly either via special self-adhesive labels or directly onto pharmaceutical products using a variety of print technologies.


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The technology’s capacity to incorporate other data forms and product tracking information continues to be paramount as technology pushes forward and the nature of anti-counterfeiting changes with the times. This enables holograms to be used for an expansive range of pharmaceutical authentication and brand protection roles, linking on-pack product identification with supply chain management, market enforcement and forensic support services.  

In this way, the identity and distribution of goods can be controlled through a total system solution involving security authentication features, tracking mechanisms and investigative services.

Of notable value to the brand owner—and a strong financial incentive to make the investment in such systems—is the fact that the information generated at the labeling stage can be linked to the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system; enabling business functions such as manufacturing, supply chain management, finance, projects, human resources and customer relationship management to be captured and better managed.

One example of an interesting development in the area of track-and-trace holography comes from U.S.-based Holoptica. The embossed hologram producer’s secure document verification and authentication product called DocVAULT that uses a new holographic feature called holoCOMPASS. The combination of holography with a holoQR (see image above) and holoCOMPASS is opening up new potential as an anti-counterfeit system for prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceuticals, among other products. One application is for smart labels, specifically an Internet of Things label (IoT) that combines anti-counterfeit holographic and other technologies, such as near-field communication (NFC), with mobile authentication within a single product.


Continuing moves towards outsourcing the production of pharmaceutical and healthcare products might be beneficial in terms of reducing manufacturing costs, but it can also impact the control of brand security and visibility. Here, holography can be integrated into the supply chain security process to allow companies to maintain control of their products—from the sourcing of labels or proprietary components to the manufacturing and shipment of finished goods.

The technology can also be integrated with secure web interfaces to help eliminate rogue ordering of products while authorised distributors can pick, pack and ship items in carefully measured quantities to customers, with the product’s movements throughout the supply chain fully tracked and documented. And it is important to encourage brand owners to take the necessary steps to create awareness about holograms—and their multifarious applications and benefits—to fully unleash their potential.


How to better control net content fills in your packages

How to better control net content fills in your packages
Advancements in packaging machinery components make it easy to monitor and fix fill levels in real time to minimize costly product giveaway.

When a consumer purchases a 500-milliliter bottle of a soft drink, how do they know if they get the amount of product that they paid for? Fortunately, in most—if not all—developed nations, there are legislations that enforce acceptable levels of variation between declared net content and the actual weight or volume within a package. For instance, in the United States, there is the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Maximum Allowable Variation (MAV). The United Kingdom has the Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations, which sets tolerable negative error (TNE).

While each country has its own rules, regulations, and methods of measurement and reporting, such legislations are all designed to protect consumers from buying underfilled packages. Food and beverage manufacturers, packagers and bottlers must thus take care to prevent underfilling and avoid possible fines or legal action—not to mention reputational risks. After all, with how fast news travels today, unhappy consumers with underfilled packages can quickly create a viral firestorm, making it hard to regain their trust and business. While such a firestorm may be unlikely for low-value products, such as bottled water, for more premium products, it may be much more likely.

To avoid underfilling, many organizations resort to some degree of overfilling within permissible levels of variation. However, overfilling simply provides a band-aid to the problem and can prove costly. Imagine overfilling by a small fraction on every product on a single bottling line. Those small fractions can quickly accumulate over time. Then, imagine that happening on an exponential scale across multiple lines in a single plant or several plants. It all adds up to significant financial costs—not only in product giveaway, but also wasted resources consumed to produce that additional content (across work hours, materials and machinery use). It’s the modern equivalent of the baker’s dozen.

For those who opt to absorb these costs, overfilling may seem like the only option. But a more data-driven approach is possible now, leveraging the latest in automation, digital sensors, process control and quality monitoring to effectively control net content. The result is a more refined packaging process—and much less underfilling or overfilling.

It all starts with data

Data provides the foundation for net content control. This includes process-related data collected from packaging and filling equipment or product-specific data, such as inline checkweighers or optical fill-level sensors. Namely, with timely access to these data, you can get insight into how the filling process is performing in real time. You can thereby proactively catch issues in net content variation and make informed process improvements.

Such levels of visibility provide benefits to individuals in various roles. Plant operators can identify trends and anomalies to ensure packages are consistently filled as close to target as possible. Maintenance engineers can identify equipment that requires attention before it negatively impacts net content performance. Facility managers and other executives can monitor overall performance over time—across multiple products, processes, lines or shifts—and prioritize improvement efforts.


WestPack-2020  WestPack 2020: Ideas. Education. New Partners. Feb. 11-13


None of this could be easily achieved with paper-based data collection and calculations, as these files are often either overlooked or only reviewed at the end of a shift or batch, the latter of which is too late if corrective action is necessary. Instead, there are three main methods of data collection that can empower operators and other quality personnel with timely information on their packaging processes:

Manual data collection: Here, operators manually enter data directly into a data collection interface using a computer or mobile device. As data is entered, an operator can receive immediate feedback as to where the entered values fit against the target fill value.

• Semi-automated data collection: Operators are supported by wired or wireless digital gauges that collect and send data into a centralized repository. A user interface will prompt an operator to select the corresponding value relevant to a product or process. Notably, semi-automated data collection increases operator efficiency and data accuracy by circumventing manual data entry.

• Fully automated data collection: This requires no operator action or intervention. It relies solely on Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, and other inline process equipment to capture and collect all data automatically.

No matter the data collection method, operators and other quality professionals then need a way to act on these values, as well as to monitor and predict variability over time, to optimize net content control. This is where advanced process and quality monitoring are essential.

Catch problems now, rather than later

Advanced process and quality monitoring enable operators and quality personnel to leverage their collected data to monitor net content performance in real time. And rather than require personnel to decipher densely populated data reports, there are systems available now with intuitive, user-friendly interfaces that make it visually easy to understand how packaging processes are performing.

Personnel also don’t need to continuously stare at a screen, waiting for a problem to occur. An effective system should include built-in alerts to notify the relevant, responsible team members when an event falls outside of defined parameters or when the data shows concerning statistical trends. This enables timely discovery and quick remedial action. Better yet, some solutions can now automatically prioritize a queue of issues for users so they can decide what to attend to first, that is, the areas that present the most impact or risk to net content control.

Beyond addressing plant-level problems, identifying root causes and learning from those issues are just as important to net content control. Such information can be logged and then easily analyzed to support continuous improvement initiatives and mitigate future risks associated with net content on not just the plant floor, but also across an entire organization.

From the plant floor to the top floor

The same real-time data that alerts plant-floor personnel can serve a higher purpose when aggregated and rolled up to the executive level, giving executives, managers and other quality professionals heightened visibility into the performance of multiple packing or filling lines—across individual plants and different sites and regions. This gives them the ability to compare and monitor net content performance across multiple dimensions.

Suddenly, the answers to some of their biggest questions become clear:
Which products or product groups have greater unpredictability and variability in net content?
Is a specific part of the packaging process underperforming?
Which filling lines are performing better than others?
What best practices can we standardize across all lines and plants?

The derived actionable intelligence can direct executives in how to prioritize continuous improvement initiatives and optimize net content performance on an enterprise scale.

To elevate data to the executive level for comparative analysis though, two factors become critical. One is standardization, which involves consistency in data. All lines and plants need to follow standardized ways in how and when data collections are performed, the format of collected data, relevant metadata, units of measurement, naming conventions and more. Standardization is necessary to do any sort of apples-to-apples comparisons and effective analysis.

The second critical factor is centralization. If data resides in disparate or localized systems, significant effort, information technology (IT) knowledge, and costs are required to integrate and bring those data together in a central repository. A unified cloud-based data repository simplifies this immensely, storing data from all lines and locations and making them readily available for analysis.

Using such a data-driven approach, you can do more than put a band-aid on net content control. You can intelligently catch problems, implement preventive measures and finetune the packaging process on every single line. Significant underfilling and overfilling, along with their associated risks and costs, become things of the past. Both the organization and consumer know—beyond a shadow of a doubt—that there is definitely 500 milliliters worth of product in that soft drink bottle and with only a negligible variation, if at all.


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‘Invisible barcode’ tech enables recycling of PP food packaging

‘Invisible barcode’ tech enables recycling of PP food packaging
On-label markers visible to NIR readers permit identification of container polymer type for high-speed sorting of mixed-stream recyclables.

Fluorescent markers printed on labels permit high-value food packaging made of polypropylene to be sorted and recycled.

PET bottles have hogged the recycling limelight and for good reason: They are available and can be collected then decontaminated and recycled back into food-grade PET bottles.

What is less known, however, is that an additional 77,000 tonnes/84,878 tons of food-grade plastic could be reused if it were properly sorted. Alas, most of it still goes to down-cycling applications, ending up in energy recovery or landfill.

The biggest missing-in-action plastic is polypropylene (PP). It is not only one of the most popular plastic packaging materials in the world due to its versatile nature, it is also the least recycled [of the recyclable rigid packaging polymers?  What about PVC?] rigid packaging polymer. Because PP is heat- and chemical-resistant as well as flexible and tough, it is widely used in a range of packaging applications. In fact, the PP market is projected to reach $133 billion by 2023.

Currently, PP is recycled into nonfood-grade applications such as crates and bins, automotive components and industrial storage products. One of the key reasons PP is virtually non-existent as a food-grade recycled material is due to the inability to separate food grade from non-food grade PP.

Being able to identify what a recycle-ready PP container had previously contained led a British consortium to combine their expertise and resources to find a solution.

Up until recently there has been no effective way to differentiate between a food tray, soup pot or a fertilizer tub of the same polymer type, but after six years of research and trials, the consortium’s innovative tech is about to change all that.

Plastic Packaging Recycling using Intelligent Separation technologies for Materials (PRISM) applies high performing luminescent materials to labels on plastic packaging, creating what is best described as an invisible barcode for plastics recycling.

The process

The process is simple. Fluorescent markers are printed on conventional labels or shrink-sleeve sleeves. As the mixed plastic waste runs along the conveyor belt of a recycling facility, a high-speed sorting system is illuminated by an ultraviolet (UV) light source paired with a reader. It identifies the PRISM label, reads the UV-printed code and air-jet propels it into the appropriate recycling category.

Until now, the commonly used Near Infrared Radiation (NIR) techniques used to identify different polymers were unable to detect dark-colored plastics as they absorb the radiation. PRISM allows recyclers to efficiently distinguish between food-grade and nonfood-grade polymers including black plastics and full-length shrink-sleeves.

Following extensive trials PRISM, is now well-proven in Materials Recovery Facilies (MRFs) and is plug & play ready. It is complementary to existing NIR technology and can be easily adapted to most sorting facilities around the world to target specific recycling streams such as PP and other food-contact plastic packaging.

This innovative technology uses traditional labeling and branding methods that can be coded to specify the status of the pack for application by brand owners to their packaging. The PRISM labels can be flattened, crumpled and soiled and will still be easily detected. Also, the markers can be removed during recycling leaving no traces for the next cycle of use.

What it means and what’s next

Even the most challenging plastic waste can now be sorted in a single step at full speed of 3 meters per second and 2 tonnes/4,409 pounds per hour to more than 96% purity with a yield in excess of 95%. This meets the EU’s stipulated 95% food-grade packaging for PET grade plastic in a single sorting step at full sorting speed and can achieve greater than 99.5% purity in two passes as required for PP and high-density PP.

This is a significant step forward in the categorization of plastics that are sorted automatically at high speed, and it opens up a wealth of new opportunities for brand-owners wishing to recover their packaging as part of the circular economy.

PRISM’s unique ‘marker’ technology is set to finally launch the recycling of food grade PP packaging as well as all other plastics, allowing recyclers to effectively sort and recycle used plastics such as PP into both food and nonfood applications.

The first commercial trials have been completed including for beverage bottles for a large international drinks company. Another trial was for a European recycling company that aims to utilize PRISM’s unique sorting capacity to select specific products in the waste stream that require special treatment.

PRISM now offers a reliable and refined sorting solution that will be of benefit across the whole plastics packaging supply chain. Nextek welcomes all packaging companies and retailers to test the sorting system for themselves.

British Consortium of PRISM Partners

Nextek (London), PRISM project manager and recycling R&D consultancy;

Brunel University London-Wolfson, material Processing Luminicescent expertise;

CCL Labels (Castleford, UK), multinational label maker;

Enlightened Lamp Recycling (Redhill, UK), fluorescent lamp recyclers;

Johnson Matthey (London), specialty chemicals, catalysis and process technology;

Mirage Inks (Frome, UK), manufacturer of printing inks for packaging applications;

Tomra R&D (Karlich, Germany), provider of automatic detection systems;

WRAP UK (Banbury, UK), leading waste and resources charity.


WestPack 2020 February 11-13 presents the latest solutions in food and beverage packaging, automation, package design and more in an advanced manufacturing event that includes PLASTEC West and offers the Cannabis Packaging Summit, all held at the Anaheim Convention Center. Register to attend today! ___________________________________________________________________________________

Cannabis Packaging

What the vaping controversy means for brands and their packaging

What the vaping controversy means for brands and their packaging
Evolab uses only cannabis in its products, and developed a process to extract and purify cannabis ingredients into CDCA, a Cannabis-Derived Cutting Agent. Photo credit: Dank of Colorado,

“As vape manufacturers and legislators react to the recent outbreak of lung ailments, connected packaging and identification solutions could help reassure consumers by educating them and authenticating products before they buy,” says packaging design and branding expert Tom Newmaster.

Here’s a fun quote from USA Today: “Vaping is big business but it’s still early enough to snuff it out.” If that’s true, couldn’t the same be said for cannabis?

After all, cannabis legislation is still rolling out state-by-state, and regulations change accordingly. Both businesses represent a tempting “revenue” stream for politicians, but with the recent respiratory distress—and deaths—from vaping, it bears a closer look. This is especially concerning for packagers who will need to be on top of all the new warnings that will, no doubt, have to go on the pack.

Where things stand with vaping

In 2018, a study by the American Lung Assn. found that “using e-cigarettes causes health risks.” Two chemicals found in e-cigarettes were named as toxic; propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. The more of these chemicals found in e-liquids, the more toxic. The Food and Drug Administration “has not found any e-cigarette to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit.”

It’s one year later, and the above is proving to be prescient. Just recently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) posted this on the vaping crisis: “We are in desperate need of facts.” Here’s what has been reported:

• As of Oct. 8, 2019, the CDC updated its vaping statistics to 1,299 from 530 cases of lung cases related to vaping in 49 states and now reports 26 deaths in 21 states.
• 72% of cases are male.
• All reported cases have a history of e-cigarette use or vaping.
• Exclusive use of nicotine-containing products has been reported by some patients with lung injury cases, and many patients with lung injury report combined use of THC- and nicotine-containing products (THC is tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects).
• Most patients reported a history of vaping with THC infused products.

In the past, vaping device manufactures have positioned their products as a safer alternative to smoking. However, the FDA issued a warning letter to a manufacturer, saying that the company violated federal regulations because it had not received federal approval to promote and sell its vaping products as a healthier option, per The New York Times on Sept. 11, 2019.  

The CDC continues to recommend that all who vape should avoid buying products off the street, especially those that contain THC or CBD oils (CBD stands for cannabidiol, an active ingredient of cannabis derived from the hemp plant). Investigations are ongoing and the CDC will report updates on their findings.

Viola manages every aspect of their production process, applying the latest and most proven technologies to ensure the consistency and quality of their products. Photo credit: Dank of Colorado -

According to Reuters, the New York State Department of Health cited “Dank Vapes” and “Chronic Carts” for containing Vitamin E Acetate, a thickening agent in THC oil that has been a key focus in its investigation into this illness. The article also pointed out that top makers of nicotine-cigarettes, such as Juul Labs Inc. say their products do not contain Vitamin E compounds or THC.

Regulations on marijuana are evolving…again

California just launched a new set of regulations aimed at the vape industry, and packaging is in the mix. Here’s what Governor Gavin Newsom signed in an executive order in September 2019:

• A public awareness campaign focused on the dangers of vaping both tobacco and marijuana products.
• Mandating additional warning signs for vaping product packaging and retail displays.
• Enforcement of regulations against selling counterfeit vaping and cannabis smokables, as well as selling to minors.

In Massachusetts, regulators are demanding that cannabis brands disclose all ingredients in vape cartridges sold at retail.

In Oregon, licensed dispensaries are being asked to look at the labels on vaping products. If these labels “lack clarity,” retailers will need to ask product manufacturers to provide additional information—that means update your packaging.

Just recently, popular flavors such as fruit and mint have been prohibited in a newly signed national law that seeks to prevent underage vaping and further damage from lung-related illnesses.

Is THC the villain in the vaping scandal?

Recently, Vox reported, as vaping sickness cases increase investigators are getting a bit closer to discovering some of the causes of the lung illnesses. The CDC reported that they have not yet pinned down which device or chemical mix is responsible. However, the majority of cases reported in national and state surveys “appear to involve THC,” often loaded into vape pods and vape systems illegally. 

On the other hand, a USA Today article noted that one major manufacturer found no evidence of illness caused by their products. This company reports that they ship their pods to pre-approved suppliers that fill the devices with cannabis leaves and oils, including THC products to be vaped, and none use Vitamin E acetate. At the same time, social media videos demonstrate how to “hack” legal pods and fill them with homemade THC oils. There is even a YouTube video with thousands of views called “How-To Hack Your Juul Pod in 2 Minutes.”

The moral of the story according to some brands then is that it’s not TCH per se, but the street or homemade versions of pot pods that are in the villain’s role. The manufacturer noted above has formed its own health advisory board to determine the cause of the illnesses. One CFO said “fake pods sold in our name are a threat to public health and safety.” 

Can technology prevent the use of counterfeit vaping pods? 

Software can potentially track vaping devices, including pods, even if it leaves the state it has been sold in. Tracking technology affixed during packaging through radio-frequency identification or RFID (smart tags) can include vital information from manufacturer to pod content, to pod loader, to point of sale. It can even include buyer information, such as age identification when captured at sale.

Consumers can also use embedded codes in packaging to ensure a vaping product is genuine. Companies such as Digimarc offer the Digimarc Barcode that can be read with a cellphone app. This method provides the consumer with an element of privacy prior to the point of sale. Digimarc Barcode can be used for more than authentication. They are invisible to the human eye and can be scanned, sending users to websites that contain important product information, directing consumers to large quantities of data, more than could be printed on a package. Digital codes allow the user to be well informed and ensures the seller is meeting all requirements.

One source of counterfeit products and underage sales has been convenience stores. CNBC reports that responsible companies have pulled their products from convenience stores and stopped selling flavored pods completely.

Online sales of vaping devices have, in some cases, seen increases. There are, however, measures of protection in place. To make a purchase online, one device seller requires the buyer first create an account. When a new user creates an account going forward, or an existing user returns to their website, they must input their cellphone number for verification. An authentication code is then sent to the buyer’s phone for confirmation.

Ascend HTE carts offer all the flavor and potency of a dab, on-the-go. Photo credit: Dank of Colorado,

This extra security measure willfurther improve identity verification and create barriers to prevent someone from using another person’s information. Companies are looking at photo identification for background checks and identification of fake ID’s. 

The technology, connected packaging, education and identification solutions can only help as the market reacts to the recent outbreak of lung ailments. The wild card remains illegal sales and improper filling of street-available, untaxed vaping devices and pods.


Barrier Bottle packaging: 9 fascinating facts

Barrier Bottle packaging: 9 fascinating facts
Insulated barrier bottle-within-a-bottle invention is drawing interest from beverage companies.

Qualifying as recyclable, reusable and refillable, the freshly patented, low-cost Barrier Bottle insulates the drink inside.

David Fussell, president of VenturSource Consulting, is a prolific inventor, holding more than 30 patents worldwide. He has also been successful—the patented Ornamotion proved a holiday ornament sensation, selling more than 60 million units.

Fussell believes the Barrier Bottle that he co-invented is another winner, telling Packaging Digest, “I’ve been working with new products for a long time and have never been involved in a product that had such potential.”

Here are 9 fascinating facts about Barrier Bottle, Fussell’s first patent in the packaging market.

The concept originated on a train.

“My associates, RP Agarwal and Dr. Anup Gupta, are professors at GLA University, Mathura, India,” explains Fussell. “For years they observed many of their countrymen riding non-airconditioned trains in high temperatures without access to cold water. Even if you freeze the water bottle overnight, the water heats up quickly, and the condensation on the bottle makes it difficult to carry in a bag or clothing. They thought about the thermos concept and wondered if the design could be used to manufacture an inexpensive plastic bottle.”

The professorial pair sought Fussell’s expertise in intellectual property manufacturing and marketing. He worked with them and filed for the U.S. patent in September 2019.

The name Barrier Bottle describes the structure.

The concept is similar to a thermos and is effectively a plastic-bottle-within-a-plastic bottle.

According to Fussell, the space between the two interior surfaces allows the use of specified gas mixtures to fill the barrier to maintain the contents at an optimal temperature for longer periods to extend the shelf life.

The bottle stays cold for 4-plus hours.

Engineers in India engineers performed extensive testing demonstrated that B.B. bottles of water refrigerated overnight remain cold for up to 4.5 hours longer than standard bottles of water.

A professional engineering firm also validated the test results.

“If you freeze a B.B., you have cold water all day long with little or no moisture on the outside of the bottle,” offers Fussell. “Think about the value of that in countries where cold water is scarce.”

It can be used as a single- or multiple-use container.

“I believe Barrier Bottle is valuable as a single-use bottle as well as a reusable bottle,” states Fussell. “B.B. can be produced from the same PET material as traditional water bottles, but the walls are a little thicker, so it makes a great reusable container. Both concepts can be implemented at the same time.”

In countries where the single-use bottles are threatened or barred, the Barrier Bottle would qualify as a refillable and reusable bottle, he points out.

Customers can promote a reuse bottle option at a price that competes with current single-use options where it’s extended shelf life and environmentally friendly design.

The per-unit cost is nominal.

Fussell pegs the cost at approximately $0.035 using PET, which could vary depending on the energy cost in the manufacturer's country.


The larger the size, the better it insulates.

In addition to the industry standard PET as the bottle polymer of choice, the B.B. is suitable for any FDA-approved thermoplastic.

As for container size and designs, Fussell reports that “our tests show all shapes and sizes see the same positive shift in performance. There is a slight gain in shelf life and insulation factors as the vessel volume increases.”

The Barrier Bottle floats.

The B.B. is approximately 0.20 grams heavier than a standard 0.5-L PET bottle with 0.20mm-thick walls, Fussell reports.

Yet, whether capped or uncapped, the B.B. floats in water. Fussell points that out because a plastic PET water bottle, for example, sinks in water if the cap's off.

“If discarded in a marine environment the Barrier Bottle does not end up on the lake, river or ocean bottom, which makes environmental cleanup far easier and far less costly,” he points out.

Fussell developed prototypes in his garage.

The pairing of inventions and garages is not only a cliché, it’s common: several among numerous include the telephone, Etch A Sketch, Dyson vacuum and the personal computer.

The Barrier Bottle is no exception.

“We’ve made about 40 prototypes, some of which were created in my garage before I hired an engineering firm to construct a prototype mold to produce bottles for testing,” says Fussell.

Licensing discussions are underway.

Fussell is in licensing discussions with several beverage companies in India.

“I’m seeking to license the concept to bottlers around the world,” he reports, “and am considering partnering with packaging experts that can help facilitate this product development into the Industry.”

David Fussell can be reached via the VenturSource Consulting website or [email protected] or LinkedIn.


WestPack 2020 February 11-13 presents the latest solutions in food and beverage packaging, automation, package design and more in an advanced manufacturing event that includes PLASTEC West and offers the Cannabis Packaging Summit, all held at the Anaheim Convention Center. Register to attend today! ___________________________________________________________________________________

Perdue chooses dissolvable foam for ecommerce packaging

Perdue chooses dissolvable foam for ecommerce packaging
Perdue's new ecommerce shippers take sustainability into account, with cornstarch cushioning that could be composted or dissolved in water at the consumer's home.

Perdue Farms sells chicken and other meats, but when the company recently launched an ecommerce channel, it turned to plant-based foam to boost its sustainable packaging game. Made from non-genetically modified organism (non-GMO) cornstarch, the foam in Perdue’s ecommerce shippers provides product insulation and can be disposed of via composting or dissolving in water.

KTM Industries Inc. supplies Perdue Farms with the insulating material, called Green Cell Foam.The foam can be commercially or residentially composted—or, it can be dissolved and washed down a kitchen drain. Consumers can even place the foam in a bucket of water, let it dissolve overnight and then use the mixture to water plants.

To further reduce the carbon footprint of its ecommerce operation, Perdue makes a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation for every order it ships. Consumers also receive a reusable grocery bag and a pollinator seed packet with each order. The company’s corrugated shippers are recyclable, as well.

A reusable tote is also sent to Perdue's ecommerce customers.

Some early reports from mainstream media about Perdue’s sustainable ecommerce packaging implied that the company is using the dissolvable foam for meat trays, but that is not the case.

“We use the water-soluble, compostable Green Cell Foam as insulation inside the cardboard boxes,” says David Zucker, senior vice president of ecommerce and new ventures for Perdue Farms. “The base ingredient of this foam is cornstarch. It replaces what would normally be a Styrofoam cooler commonly used in perishable shipping.”

He adds, “The actual packaging around the products is our standard packaging that meets United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requirements for food safety. The cardboard box is packed with the Green Cell Foam as an insulating liner, then the products go inside it with dry ice or frozen packs to keep the products at the appropriate temperature during shipping.”

Zucker answers additional questions from Packaging Digest about Perdue’s new ecommerce operation and packaging.

When did Perdue’s ecommerce site launch?

Zucker: We conducted a soft launch late last year and a full launch to the general public on Mon., Jan. 6, 2020. Consumers who sign up for email alerts from will receive 10% off their first order!

Are the ecommerce products all shipped frozen?

Zucker: The site will initially offer a selection of about 100 items across some of our most popular brands, including Perdue, Niman Ranch and Coleman Natural, with plans to add additional offerings over time, as demand increases. All products are shipped frozen.

What types of primary packages are shipped in the ecommerce shippers?

Zucker: Product packaging for our ecommerce items is the same standard, food-safe, USDA-approved packaging that you’d find in retail.

Are all the ecommerce packaging components recyclable or compostable?

Zucker: The shipment packaging for our ecommerce orders is all recyclable or compostable. The cardboard box is recyclable, and the insulating foam is compostable or dissolvable. The actual packaging that encases the products themselves is our standard, USDA-approved, food-safe packaging, much of which is recyclable.

Each order from our ecommerce website will also arrive with a recyclable, reusable shopping tote and a packet of bee- and butterfly-friendly seeds for consumers to plant in their yards or elsewhere around their communities to help the local pollinator population flourish.

Additionally, with each sale through our website, we will make a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation to help offset our carbon footprint that will equate to removing more than 70 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere (the equivalent of 4,250 smartphone charges).

How is Perdue communicating to consumers how they can recycle or compost the packaging components?

Zucker: Each recyclable material is indicated with the standard marks to indicate its grade of “recyclability.” We also have information on our website that describes the Green Cell Foam in particular.


Did the ecommerce site’s launch mark the beginning of Perdue’s use of compostable, dissolvable foam?

Zucker: Yes, our ecommerce channel is the first place we are using this compostable foam insulation for shipping.

Does the consumer need to remove the plastic film encasing the foam prior to dissolving or composting the foam?

Zucker: Yes. Since the foam is water-soluble, the thin plastic around it protects it from any moisture from the products, weather or other packing materials in the shipment.

[Note: According to KTM Industries, the low-density polyethylene (LDPE) film is recyclable with #4-coded plastics.]

What are the sustainability impacts of using water to dissolve the Green Cell Foam in the home? Does it take a lot of water to dissolve?

Zucker: The foam can be either rinsed down a sink or composted. A video showing how it can be washed down a kitchen sink can be found at the bottom of this web page.

Is Perdue looking at ways to use Green Cell Foam for retail sales, either in shipments to retailers or possibly in primary packaging?

Zucker: We’re constantly seeking new and better ways to reduce our environmental impact as a company. As we get traction with our new ecommerce site, we’ll certainly have learnings and will explore if there are opportunities to expand the benefits even further across our supply chain.

How have consumers reacted to Perdue’s sustainable ecommerce packaging, particularly the Green Cell Foam?

Zucker: We’ve received many positive comments from consumers regarding the use of this compostable foam insulation.

We have specific targets that we’re constantly working toward as a company, one being our goal to reduce our greenhouse gas intensity by 30% by 2022. The decision to use recyclable material in our ecommerce shipping materials, including the compostable foam insulation, is one of many steps we’re taking throughout our supply chain to help us achieve these targets.


WestPack-2020  WestPack 2020: Ideas. Education. New Partners. Feb. 11-13

7 things to know about the remarkable Smart Cups

7 things to know about the remarkable Smart Cups
Smart Cups plans to expand from energy drinks into other beverages and foods, cleaners and pharmaceuticals.

Created to be sustainably optimized, the world’s first printed—and waterless in shipment—beverages are energized for new products, packaging and markets.

Chris Kanik’s career path is, as everyone’s, a unique one, but his is singularly remarkable. For one thing, he may be the only person to start working in an American Chemical Society lab at age 12 and years later, after relocating from New York City, enjoy a stint as a stand-up comedian in California.

Kanik’s one-of-a-kind path continues as first an inventor and now chief excitement officer, aka founder and CEO, for Smart Cups, based in Mission Viejo, CA. The namesake product is based on patented technology for one-of-a-kind cups printed with functional ecapsulated ingredients that consumers activate by adding adding water to at the point of use.

Here are seven noteable aspects of Smart Cups’ past, present and future.

1. Humble, yet explosively productive, beginnings.

The idea for Smart Cups was sparked by a margarita, specifically due to Kanik’s impatience awaiting the drink’s arrival from a too-busy server at Taco Tuesday circa 2010.

Kanik recalls thinking, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could just add ingredients to my cup of water ala Crystal Light and make my own drink?” On a napkin he jotted down the basic protocols that led to in-home experimentation using Everclear and filters.

Although he succeeded in blowing up his kitchen, Kanik also created three different flavors of a dried, reconsitutable alcohol.

In 2012/2013, he partnered with an inventor to develop a patented delivery system based on printed technology that permits the printing of ingredients on a substrate.

That’s when they realized that the government would never allow a rehydratable alcohol drink into market. Kanik proceeded down a different path and, today, has overseas operations in a 23,000-sq-ft facility with 16 employees.

2. The relaunch of proof-of-concept energy drinks.

Smart Cups have been in the market since December 2017 when they were introduced in six flavors, all of which were taken out of circulation over the past months.

Smart Cups were relaunched in October 2019 with what Kanik claims are better-tasting flavors: berry blast, tropical punch and green tea lemon and the most popular, raspberry lemonade.

Kanik considers the line of energy drinks as a proof-of-concept rather than the best version of the technology.

“It’s not that I loved energy drinks,” he tells Packaging Digest, “but because I wanted to prove the functionality and versatility of the technology—that we can print caffeine, amino acids, vitamins inside a cup. A short time after adding water, the user has an energy drink.”

Kanik entered the mainstream beverage market because it was viewed as the easiest path to  commercial acceptance.

3. Waterless advantages.

Smart Cups’ fundamental advantage versus standard drinks is the sharp reduction of storage and transportation requirements. Kanik explains that a truck that delivers 96,000 12-oz beverage cans now deliver 1.2 million units of that beverage in Smart Cups and with a significant weight reduction.

Having the ingredients in dry encapsulated form particularly for sensitive functional formulations protects against microbial growth while greatly improving shelf life.

 "Currently, shelf life is declared at one year, but we are working towards improvements that will extend that for way beyond the average consumable," Kanik says.

Notably, the Smart Cups manufacturing process uses no water.

4. Processing, manufacturing and upgrades.

From a regulatory view, Smart Cups’ patented formulation uses only ingredients generally recognized as safe, or GRAS. At the heart of the patent and printable aspect is a food-safe polymer that protects the ingredients within that activates and dissolves in contact with a liquid, presumably water. The products dissolve in 45 to 90 seconds.

"The technical description is that the material is amphiphilic, meaning that it has both hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties," Kanik explains.

Kanik says the entire two-part process of chemistry/formulation followed by manufacturing is critical to their success.

As for the printing, Kanik will only acknowledge that “it’s not technically 3D printing” as some have surmised. “We built all our manufacturing equipment from scratch, and it takes a lot of art in addition to the science,” he adds.

Output has grown from making batches of 50 to 100 in the lab to thousands in the plant, a capability that will further be “tremendously increased by mid-2020” through automation upgrades.

Sold only online at the company website and at Amazon, the cups are available in two multipack sizes: 5- and 10-pack pouches made of a moisture-resistant, heat-sealed polyfilm pouch with press-to-close reseal that retail for $11.99 and $15.99 respectively; the latter works out to about $1.60 per energy drink, Kanik points out.

The 9-oz serving size makes for faster consumption versus the industry standard 12-oz size, but users can dilute to whatever strength they prefer—it’s the labeled dosage regardless of dilution, he says.

The company is expanding the printing technology to include the interior cup sides as well. “That provides more surface to increase the flavor profile and allows for more complex formulations,” Kanik says.

Next: New packaging, products and markets


  WestPack 2020: Ideas. Education. New Partners. Feb. 11-13


Now made of PLA, next-generation Smart Cups may include recycled paper, edible materials and hot beverages.

5. PLA cups for now, but next…

The cups, which serve as container and ingredient carrier, are made of polylactic acid (PLA) and supplied by Fabri-Kal, preprinted with the brand logo and related information.

“I didn’t want a typical plastic and we weren’t ready to use paper,” explains Kanik of the decision. “Consumers needed to see and experience the Smart Cups in action.” Note that the photos are of actual Smart Cups.

Now the company is considering other substrate options.

“We can print onto virtually any surface, recycled paper, edible materials…you name it, we can print on it,” he offers. “We could print coffee complete with flavor, sweetener and creamer.”

That would require hydration using hot water reconstitution for which PLA is unsuitable, so Kanik would look into recyclable paper cups.

Other cup sizes are on the table as well.

6. The model—and a demographic shock.

Smart Cups’ direct-to-consumer business model was done primarily because Kanik wanted to understand the consumer mindset.

“It’s a technology that has not existed so we’re creating awareness and education as well as creating new brand with no footprint or track record, but asking consumers to trust us and buy it.

“We’re creating a completely new consumer behavior,” he says. “With a can or bottle, the consumer perceives a value based on the product’s weight. With Smart Cups you’re holding an empty cup.”

The energy drinks’ target were on a core demographic of males aged 18 to 35 as was the company’s marketing support.

Six months later, Kanik received a shock about their actual customers.

“I found that 98% of sales were from females age 25 to 45 predominately from the Midwest and South,” he says. “Now we’re increasing our demographic as more males adopt it.”

The product and its unique technology have drawn the interest Kanik hoped they would.

“We made splash with something new and companies came to me,” he reports, including in licensing the technology. Kanik will consider those existing options and new ones in the coming months. “It will be a very exciting time for us,” he states.

7. Beyond energy drinks and beverages.

“We’ve had continual growth, but I’m excited about the next 18 months as we make a big push in diversifying our product offerings,” says Kanik. Smart Cups’ upcoming beverage category offerings include kids’ beverages, electrolytes, coffees, teas and even alcohol beverages.

Why alcohol versions now that were dismissed years ago?

"The government is opposed to powder versions of alcohol," explains Kanik. "Because it is a dosing technology, our printing technology solves all issues associated with free-floating powder alcohol. Ours is en ecapsulated ethanol. Each serving is precisely alcohol by volume, which satisfies concerns from both regulatory and taxation standpoints. Further, if someone tried to scrape it, it would liquify and denature, solving the safety issues."

The range of categories is expansive and far afield of drinks.

“We have a rich pipeline of innovative ideas from cosmetics to food to industrial cleaners to prescription and over-the-counter drugs,” he states.

Potential markets include hospitals, stadiums, schools and cafeterias.

“Instead of apple juice, kids could have a range of calcium and vitamin fortified drinks,” he says. “Any application where the reduction of transportation and storage requirements are advantageous.”

Those include humanitarian endeavors throughout the world.

“I always knew that the tech presented storage and transportation advantages, but I didn’t realize how important that really is to the world—it’s really shocking the limitations in sharing resources across the globe,” Kanik reports. “An airplane can only get so many supplies to a relief area in Africa, this technology will greatly improve that.

“That’s the thing I’m most passionate about it. I got into this to make a difference in the world—and Smart Cups is the technology that can do that.”

Kanik will be speaking at The Packaging Conference, Feb. 3-5, at the AT&T Conference Center, Austin, TX, and will feature new plastic and packaging technology for sustainability.


  WestPack 2020: Ideas. Education. New Partners. Feb. 11-13



Labeling 20/20: A clear look at this year’s top trends

Labeling 20/20: A clear look at this year’s top trends
Photo courtesy of NiceLabel

As we focus our attention on 2020 and the coming years, it is more evident than ever that labeling is changing in a big way. To many, this should be no surprise as the nature of business itself has rapidly shifted with the addition of new technologies that are digitally transforming the way we work—from cloud infrastructure models to increasingly connected devices, as well as societal demands for greater consumer safety and organizational transparency.

To capture the state of labeling technology and where the industry is trending, here are five predictions that will not only impact 2020 but also countless years to come.

1. Integrations and migrations—the key to efficiency.

The evolution of labeling will be driven by broader information technology (IT) trends of digitization and modernization. These trends will encompass evolving technology and processes in solutions such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing execution systems (MES). And many businesses will not only have to prepare for today but make their systems scalable and competitive for 10 years down the road.

When an enterprise updates its ERP, one result of this is that the organization must then modernize its labeling system, which often means implementing or migrating to a new standard and centralized global labeling solution. As changes to enterprise systems accelerate and new technology is adopted, a new pipeline of opportunities for label management or global labeling solutions is creating a watershed moment. This trend will likely speed up beyond 2020, and increasingly persist throughout the next decade.

One particular component involves cloud technology. According to recent Statista reports, the cloud ERP market revenue worldwide will jump to $40.5 billion in 2025. As a result of the rapid cloud adoption already underway, cloud labeling solutions are already operating in the field. This change is often not done all at once though and, many times, organizations place some elements on-premise, and components like printer drivers that generate printer command languages may still operate on local servers, even though they will likely migrate over to the cloud soon.

With the increase in cloud-based labeling, there will also be higher levels of cloud-to-cloud integration both in general business systems and with label management systems. This will reduce the complexity of the process for businesses and make label management more efficient and simpler.

Photo courtesy of NiceLabel

2. Say hello to a simpler and connected IoT ecosystem.

Along with software, the hardware involved in labeling—such as printers—will also become more streamlined and modernized. For example, as mobile Windows computers are nearing end-of-life, many organizations are switching over to Android-based devices instead.

But it’s not just PCs—printers are also being standardized. Among the benefits, this requires fewer spare parts to stock, results in less unplanned downtime, streamlines operations and reduces admin work as well as the need for support for basic tasks like changing printer settings, loading media and training operators.

While many organizations are adopting a “less is more” mantra by standardizing their equipment, greater adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) devices is also drastically reshaping the hardware environment.

One report estimates that the manufacturing industry will spend $310 billion by 2023 on IoT and other Industry 4.0 products and services, and following this, the printers themselves will likely become increasingly connected. The technology making this possible has been available before, but the evolving market is now becoming advanced enough to take advantage of this, and over the coming decade, we will likely see businesses profiting from key benefits like driverless printers in the cloud.

3. One system to rule them all: The convergence of labeling and direct marking.

Historically, most label printing has been done with traditional thermal printing, while direct marking has typically involved continuous laser etching and inkjet printing. While many organizations have managed the two separately in the past, they are now converging to use one system for both technologies.

Supporting this transition is centralization through a label management system, which makes using one system to print both easier. Modern label management systems can interface with a range of direct marking and labeling printers, regardless of manufacturer. This interoperability will prevent discarding products, reworking of labels or large upfront capital expenditures on products that won’t integrate with other systems.


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4. RFID goes mainstream.

The apparel and garment sectors have already become a hotbed for radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. But in 2020, you can expect to see greater adoption from others as well. It’s clear why: Among the benefits, RFID can streamline operations by providing greater visibility and immediate insights into inventory. Don’t just take my word for it—a recent Future Market Insight report estimates that the global RFID market will grow 14.5% annually from 2018 to 2028.   

5. Stricter regulations (and a simple solution).

As times change and governments and consumers alike try to ensure safety and protect consumer rights, regulations around accurate packaging will undoubtedly get amended. Following this trend, labeling regulation across countless industries has become more stringent. This will surely continue into 2020 and beyond.

It’s especially evident in the pharmaceutical industry, where organizations must adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices, as well as local regulations, and in the Food and Beverage space, where new nutritional facts guidelines will be enforced by the Food and Drug Administration by 2020 (or 2021 depending on business size), the rules around allergen labeling are being tested with instances like Illinois adding sesame as a recognized allergen, and controversies over how meat substances should be labeled are changing regulations.

Adding to this, we are seeing new international regulations that will impact organizations that operate around the globe. For instance, Russia is introducing serialization requirements on everything from fur to pharmaceuticals and the European Union will introduce new medical device regulations in May 2020. In a time when mergers and acquisitions are rife and many businesses are reaching a global level, international businesses will have to customize their labeling by location to comply and keep up with these regulations.

To protect consumers and account for changing regulations, businesses will need to ensure their labeling is completely accurate, not only for compliance but for the public’s trust in their brand. Again, this will push organizations to adopt a label management system that provides a reliable method to maintain compliant and accurate labeling.

Looking to the future

Already, 2020 is shaping up to be a compelling year for label management and the entire labeling industry. Trends like stricter regulation will continue to challenge organizations and the growth of RFID will continue to speed up. All the while, movements towards modernization, digital transformation, the adoption of cloud technology, and increasingly connected hardware will have a dramatic impact on labeling and are propelling the industry into the future, today.


Open design of premade pouch filler/sealer simplifies cleaning

Open design of premade pouch filler/sealer simplifies cleaning

For food packagers that require flexible packaging, the Triangle/JDD Rotary Pouch Machine provides an automated method for filling and sealing premade pouches. The filler, from vertical form-fill-seal machinery manufacturer Triangle Package Machinery Co. and JDD Packaging Ltd., features an open machine design for proper sanitation and maintenance.

The system is compatible with Doyen-style bags, three-side seal pouches and stand-up pouches. Packagers can also switch between various film structures, including foil.

Application examples include granola, snacks, candy, nuts, powders and fresh, frozen or dried produce. Depending on the product, the filler uses either a Triangle InLine Combination Weigher or other scale or auger to fill pouches. Standard features include an integrated date coder and a pouch shaker to settle product.

The filler, which features tool-less changeover, can store up to 48 recipes and run multiple pouch sizes. A “no fill/no seal” feature reduces product and pouch waste by not dispensing product into pouches that haven’t opened; those pouches also bypass the machine’s sealing station.

The easy-to-operate filler comes in two models—Model JRPM-8812 and JRPM-81215—and delivers filling speeds of up to 50 pouches per minute.

See the new Triangle/JDD Rotary Pouch Machine in person at WestPack 2020 (Feb. 11-13; Anaheim, CA) in Triangle Package Machinery Co. Booth 5061.


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