Packaging Digest is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

How to capitalize on personal care packaging design for Boomers

How to capitalize on personal care packaging design for Boomers
Containers of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel need a font size boost

Containers of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel need a font size boost, says this retired supply chain professional. She asks, “Is it my eyesight?” Yes, hers and 76.4 million other Baby Boomers.

Coincidence or not?! About the time I received my AARP card in the mail, I was starting to buy “readers” in packs of threes so I would have a pair of glasses in every room in the house, in the car, in the handbag  and a couple in whatever office I was using.

Problem solved, right? Wrong! I still had an issue in the shower. How to tell the difference between the shampoo, the conditioner and the shower gel? The issue at hand is that I cannot read the bottle print to determine what I was picking up. Ever the problem solver, and still with a nod to my aesthetic and decorating style, I used color coordinated Sharpies to mark my essential bottles with large capitalized S’s, C’s or G’s; or whatever I needed to be able to see while showering.

So this temporary solution got me to thinking and wondering why no consumer packaged goods (CPG) company had yet to come to the rescue of those of us with diminishing eyesight. As a logistics/supply chain professional, I have been a member of many a marketing product launch team who tended to all be in our 20s and 30s and would certainly not have thought of the impact of age-related eyesight and readability to our packaging and print designs. Our time and focus was spent on design, color, print, case packaging, legality of claim—and the list went on.

Now that I am an esteemed member of the Baby Boom generation and one of millions who has compromised eyesight, I beseech our marketing professionals and packaging designers to include designators on those products. They truly can be as simple as a larger size capitalized single letter. It can be so easily incorporated in the packaging design. And I would recommend that the Health & Beauty Aids sector of the CPG companies be the first to come to market.

As to the bottom line, do I see increased sales? Absolutely! For the CPGer who can deliver on this first!

I can see the advertisements already. What a humorous/comedic twist they can take. Not only on traditional media, print (for sure the AARP magazine!), social media (mostly Facebook, since this group of Boomers has yet to embrace more widely Instagram/Snapchat and whatever else is more current) and YouTube. You won’t be insulting me or my other fellow 76.4 million Boomers. You would be doing us a service and we would be laughing at ourselves—and not putting shower gel on our hair!

Now, can we talk about the font size of the directions on frozen food packaging?!

Mona Reiser is a retired supply chain professional with 25 years at Kraft Foods, managing/directing warehouse operations, warehouse start-ups, transportation and customer service. She is currently co-partner/owner in three Beauty & Wellness schools in Georgia, Kansas and Virginia. You can reach her at

Digital technologies enhance sustainable packaging communications

Digital technologies enhance sustainable packaging communications
The Sustainable Packaging Coalition's How2Recycle Facebook page shares info with consumers and packaging professionals.

Digital technologies play an important role in our day-to-day lives, impacting both business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) interactions. As consumers, technology informs most of our purchasing decisions; we use social media, shop online and have instant access to product information. As professionals, we increasingly rely on digital communications, social media and web-based business solutions. How does this impact the sustainable packaging community?

Web and social media use is now common among all age groups. While youth are the heaviest users of the internet and social media, uptake by older Americans continues to grow. According to research conducted by the Pew Research Internet Project, 87% of all adults use the internet. When broken down by age group, 57% of those over 65 are internet users. Additional Pew research shows that social media use by online seniors has tripled since 2009. Digital technology is not just for the young.

Advertising and developing brand trust is no longer isolated to traditional forms of media. The challenge, and opportunity, for B2C communications is interacting on diverse platforms. On-package graphics reference websites, social media or online promotions, while smart phones and mobile apps allow consumers to research a product, service or store before making a purchasing decision. Social media and online marketing campaigns can grab consumers’ attention to promote recyclability, sustainability initiatives and partnerships.

There are countless examples and opinions about harnessing the power of the internet and social media to further an organization’s goals, far too many to address here. A couple recent examples in the packaging space include How2Recycle and the “I Want to be Recycled” campaign. How2Recycle is an on-package recycling label that gives clear recycling instructions to consumers. Each label carries the website, giving consumers a source for more recycling information. I Want to Be Recycled is an advertising collaboration between Keep America Beautiful and the Ad Council, which incorporates an interactive website at

Ok, we get it, the internet is grand. But how does this impact our professional lives?

Over the past few years, GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition has increased our social media presence, giving the SPC, and individual staff, more outlets to discuss exciting topics and build relationships.

These trends also impact the way GreenBlue operates, from new project management tools to the way we deliver projects. We use new web-based project management tools, moved our operations to the cloud and implemented Google Apps for Business. Members may notice a new focus on websites, web based sharing and results-based tools. We believe the shift increases our value as a solution provider and collaborative space.

At the end of September 2014, How2Recycle released its new web-based artwork library. The tool is available to all How2Recycle members and is hosted through Brandfolder. It provides quick access to graphics, new guidance documents and other program information, dramatically expediting the entire How2Recycle artwork process for both How2Recycle members and GreenBlue staff.

While each member company is different, the Brandfolder resource is designed to more seamlessly integrate How2Recycle into each company’s graphics design process. Our members anticipate an exponential increase in the number of packages carrying How2Recycle and a decrease in staff time needed to implement the program. This milestone is possible through the hard work of SPC staff and How2Recycle members.  

Technology ultimately gives us the opportunity to try new things, experiment and be agile organizations. GreenBlue is far from finished in our journey to adopt a more integrated digital strategy, but we’re excited to continue moving forward, providing more web based solutions and platforms for collaboration.

In the meantime, let me know what you think. You can find me on Twitter at @PeacockDanielle.

Author Danielle Peacock is project associate at GreenBlue's Sustainable Packaging Coalition. For more information about the SPC, visit

Packaging gets reprieve from California’s product safety regs—for now

Packaging gets reprieve from California’s product safety regs—for now

For now packaging materials are not being considered as one of the initial groups that will be subject to new detailed reporting requirements and alternatives analysis required under California's Safer Consumer Products Regulations (SCPR). But that could change.

The SCPR were mandated by the State’s 2008 Green Chemistry Initiative, which authorized the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to establish a framework for identifying, prioritizing, evaluating and developing alternatives to the use of certain chemicals in consumer products in California. While food is exempted from the definition of “consumer product” in the regulations, which went into effect last October, food packaging is included.

The SCPR establishes a four step process to identify and regulate products that may expose consumers to suspect chemicals.

Step 1—to establish a list of “Candidate Chemicals”—was completed by DTSC in October 2013. The initial list of 150 Candidate Chemicals includes various types of phthalates, bisphenol-A (bpa), styrene, cadmium, lead and mercury.

DTSC also published a longer informational Candidate Chemicals list of 1,200 chemicals. Chemicals are included on one of the two lists if an authoritative body or organization has identified a chemical as exhibiting at least one of eight hazard traits: carcinogenicity, reproductive toxicity, mutagenicity, developmental toxicity, respiratory sensitivity, endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity and/or persistent bio-accumulative toxicity.

Step 2 requires DTSC to develop a list of Priority Products (consumer products that contain one or more of the Candidate Chemicals). Criteria for selecting Priority Products includes potential for exposure, significant adverse impacts or end-of-life effects, availability of information, availability of other government programs to regulate and the availability of safer alternatives. DTSC anticipates selecting between five and 10 Priority Products per year.

The Department proposed a draft list of three priority products in March 2014: (1) spray polyurethane foam systems containing unreacted diisocyanates; (2) children’s foam padded sleeping products containing Tris(1,3-dishloro-2-propyl) phosphate; and (3) paint and varnish strippers with methylene chloride. DTSC will be adding more Priority Products over the next three years.

Step 3 requires responsible entities (manufacturers, importers, assemblers and retailers) of Priority Products to inform DTSC that their products have been listed as a Priority Product and then perform an Alternatives Analysis (AA) for the product to identify how environmental and public health impacts of the chemical may be limited.

Step 4 is for DTSC to issue a "regulatory response," which could include (1) requiring supplemental information; (2) requiring additional information be provided to consumers; (3) imposing product use restrictions; (4) banning the product; (5) requiring engineering or administrative controls; (6) requiring an end-of-life management program; or (7) when no viable safer alternative is found, requiring the manufacturer to initiate research to find a safer alternative.

More Priority Products

The first draft of DTSC’s three-year Priority Product Work Plan, released in September 2014, identifies seven product categories from which Priority Products will be selected over the next three years. The seven product categories are: (1) beauty, personal care and hygiene products; (2) building products (including paints, adhesives, sealants and flooring); (3) household, office furniture and furnishings; (4) cleaning products; (5) clothing; (6) fishing and angling equipment; and (7) consumable and refillable components of office machinery. 

Food packaging is not included on the draft list at this point, but it will bear close watch to ensure that packaging materials are not added as a part of another product category or directly. Stakeholders were invited to participate in two workshops on the draft Plan that were held in September 2014.

Author George Misko is a partner at Keller and Heckman. Founded in 1962, the respected law firm has a broad practice in the areas of regulatory law, litigation and business transactions, serving both domestic and international clients. Reach him at

The case of the excess caution

The case of the excess caution

I was sitting in my office waiting for August to end and my phone to ring again. It hadn't but it did. Samantha was having capacity problems and needed my help.

"How soon can you get here, KC?"

In her office over coffee Sam explained her problem. "We have been running along comfortably at a bit below capacity. We just took on a new customer and we are having trouble making enough product.

"Our product is reagent coated glass vials. Each morning quality has to inspect the line and sign off that it is ready to run. That delays startup by 30 minutes. The short potlife of the reagent means we would have to discard it if quality found a problem so we don't start mixing until quality has signed off. Mixing takes another 20-30 minutes before we can start production."

"Two questions, Sam: What is the cost of the reagent?"

"About $300."

"How often does quality find a problem that would cause discarding the product?"

"Not often," she said. "Maybe 5 times a year."

"Fiddlesticks on lost capacity!" I roared. "You're losing an 30 minutes a day or three weeks of annual production to avoid the possible loss of $1,500 of reagent. Those numbers don't add up.

"Start your formulation first thing. Then, when quality signs off, you can start running immediately."

Nobody likes to take a chance on throwing away good product but sometimes it's a smart risk worth taking.

KC Boxbottom, packaging detective, is on the case to solve tough packaging puzzles. He is the alter-ego of John Henry, CPP. Known as the Changeover Wizard, Henry is the owner of, a consulting firm that helps companies find and fix the causes of inefficiencies in their packaging operations. He produces a free monthly newsletter called Lean Changeover, which contains articles and tips on changeover and related issues. Reach him at

The case of the luminous light

The case of the luminous light

The phone rang and Janet told me she could not see.

"Can't see?" I asked. "You don't mean you went blind, do you?"

"No, I mean that our vision system stopped being reliable."

"OK, let me get over there and I'll see if I can help you out."

Shortly after, I was in the plant and Janet was showing me her vision inspection system. It was looking for the date code on a carton and seemed to be working properly. As I watched, though, it would sometimes reject cartons with good codes. Worse, it would sometimes accept cartons with bad codes.

It had been working well up to a few days before. So I asked the magic question:

"Janet, what changed? If it was working well before and not now, something changed."

Janet couldn't think of anything obvious so we asked the experts. You know, the people running the line. They told us some fluorescent lamps had been replaced just before the problems began.

"Fiddlesticks on unseeing vision!" I exclaimed. "I'll bet they changed the type of tube."

Checking further won me the bet. The tubes had been cool white, the new ones were daylight. This subtle change in ambient lighting had discombobulated the system camera.

That was not the real mistake. The real mistake happened earlier when the decision was made to rely on ambient lighting.

Sometimes you can get away with it. For bulletproof inspection, a dedicated lighting system is a must.

KC Boxbottom, packaging detective, is on the case to solve tough packaging puzzles. He is the alter-ego of John Henry, CPP. Known as the Changeover Wizard, Henry is the owner of, a consulting firm that helps companies find and fix the causes of inefficiencies in their packaging operations. He produces a free monthly newsletter called Lean Changeover, which contains articles and tips on changeover and related issues. Reach him at

Snack brand revamps packaging to attract more consumers

Snack brand revamps packaging to attract more consumers

Rhythm Superfoods is revamping its packaging this month for its entire product portfolio which includes USDA organic Kale Chips and baked Superfood Chips. The premium snack company is changing its looks to appeal to a broader range of snackers. The energetic packaging features a sleek and simple look, eye-catching to shoppers looking for an honest and better-for-you snack alternative.

“As a passionate and dedicated company, we want there to be an emphasis on what our brand is all about and the reason why we created Rhythm Superfoods back in 2009—to provide inventive and nutritious snacks to people who are looking for a healthy rhythm in life,” says Scott Jensen, CEO/president, Rhythm Superfoods. “Our new look isn’t just fun and lively but also makes us an even more approachable snack that is honest to consumers from our company mission down to our ingredients.”

According to Rhythm Superfoods, the new design will echo its upbeat and vibrant vision and its mission of providing nutrient dense snacks that keep you feeling balanced, nourished and in tune with your body.

The front side of the packaging showcases a Non-GMO Project Verified seal, a certified gluten-free label as well as the products’ high protein and fiber counts.

Also, products will also be highlighted on the Superfood Chip packaging so consumers are aware of exactly what they are eating. In addition, a window will also be placed onto the Kale Chip packs, providing consumers with a pure and transparent look at its innovative and healthy snacks.

Non-alcoholic drink shakes up party scene in custom bottle

Non-alcoholic drink shakes up party scene in custom bottle

It’s that time of the year where everyone comes together for company parties and holiday gatherings; however, not every partygoer partakes in adult beverages which can sometimes make one feel singled out. Now there is no need to draw that unwanted attention with Mocktails—colorful, exotic-looking non-alcoholic drinks shaken and served from a cocktail shaker into those same cocktail glasses as everyone else. And for those who enjoy libations, liquor can be added before serving up.

Founder Bill Gamelli partnered with TricorBraun to create the packaging for Mocktails. The shaker body is glass, for a variety of reasons: consumers consider glass as a chic packaging material, which reflects positively on the product, and glass lets the consumer see the beverage through the package. The bottle, following the hot filling process, is sealed with a metal threaded closure. The polypropylene (PP) dispensing lid and separate top cap snap securely over the metal closure and the complete package is then sealed in a colorful full body shrink label. The label is perforated just below the closure, so that, after opening, the colorful label remains on the bottle.

“Almost half of all U.S. adults are non-drinkers,” says Gamelli. “The reason may be temporary, such as pregnancy or an illness, or may be a permanent lifestyle choice based on health considerations or religious beliefs. Even those who do drink alcohol will occasionally abstain because they are driving or need a clear head to conduct business. We wanted to offer these people the chance to enjoy a party or special occasion without feeling ‘different’ because they weren’t drinking.”

“For Mocktails,” he adds, “these people constitute a significant untapped consumer group.”

Mocktails are packaged in colorful 21-oz cocktail shakers, each containing 18 oz of beverage, or 4 servings. The consumer opens the bottle, adds ice—and alcohol if preferred—applies the shaker top and shakes to cool the drink, then serves.

The four drinks created by Gamelli are the Karma Sucra Cosmopolitan, the Vida Loca Margarita, the Sevilla Red Sangria and the Scottish Lemonade Whiskey Sour. Each Mocktail is all natural with no preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup and are low calorie. They are also gluten free, allergen free, BPA free, made in the U.S.A. and kosher.

“We are new to the packaging industry,” Gamelli adds, “and needed a lot of assistance. TricorBraun’s specialists have been with us from the very beginning, guiding us through the challenges and advising us as we made packaging decisions.”

TricorBraun designed, developed and supplies the custom glass bottle, the 77mm metal threaded closure and the PP shaker cap and its cap. The shrink sleeves are made by 21st Century Labels.

How did these 7 packaging systems get integrated so seamlessly?

Even with a solid plan on paper, integrating packaging machines into a smooth-running line can get a bit sticky in the real world. The experts at Pro Mach showcased their proficiency in this regard at Pack Expo 2014 (Nov. 2-5; McCormick Place) by joining equipment from seven of its business units into one integrated end-of-line system. Two case packing lines fed into one high-speed palletizing station to recreate a packaging environment in which multiple products in mixed shipping containers (trays and cases) are loaded and shipped on a single pallet.

While this type of integration happens fairly often in actual packaging operations, getting all the pieces of equipment installed and running smoothly in just the couple of days exhibitors have for booth set-up is challenging—and it never fails to amaze me that they are able to do this. In most instances, the systems are assembled in a plant, tested, tweaked, then broken down and shipped to the show.

But John Eklund, vp marketing, Pro Mach, tells Packaging Digest that the first time these systems were put together was once they arrived at the show. This is a telling testament of how well the sister companies communicate and work together on projects for their customers.

The first case/tray packing line received spouted pouches—which were filled elsewhere in the massive Pro Mach booth by its Matrix unit on a Toyo Jidoki TT-15CW-10 pouch filler. A Kleenline infeed conveyor delivered the pouches to the new Brenton Pro Mach 2 case/tray packer (shown in the first part of the video). Filled trays were then moved to the palletizing station via Shuttleworth conveyors.

The second case packing line received pillow bags of candy—which were filled separately in the Pro Mach booth on the Matrix Morpheus box-continuous-motion bagger. A WexxarBel case erector set up the cases, the new Edson Raptor top-load case packer filled them and they were sealed on a WexxarBel tape sealer. The cases also moved to the palletizing station via a Shuttleworth conveyor.

Cases and trays were palletized using the Currie by Brenton robotic MasterPal palletizer (shown in the second part of the video), which transfers a full layer at a time and is able to handle up to 500 lbs per layer. The system’s patented slatted-apron technology supports an entire layer from the bottom to ensure load stability. According to the company, MasterPal provides consistent tight layer grids of palletized product through a unique “cradle and place” technology to gently handle full layers of product with each motion.

Fans lament loss of Hungry Jack microwavable syrup bottle

Fans lament loss of Hungry Jack microwavable syrup bottle
Hungry Jack's microwavable syrup bottle (left) bows out to the new (but not so improved?) tall bottle.

Here’s a tip: Don’t take a package away from your customers that they love.

For 20 years, consumers enjoyed the convenience and luxury of being able to quickly heat up their Hungry Jack syrup in the microwave—thanks to ingenuity in packaging. But earlier this year, brand owner J.M. Smucker replaced the squat container with a tall bottle similar to all the other ones out there. Frustrated Facebook fans were quick to speak up about the change; and the fervent complaints continue.

Lane Crouch posted this on the Hungry Jack Facebook page two days ago (on Nov. 4): “All breakfast syrup tastes the same. I used Hungry Jack only because of the bottle. I could easily tell when it was hot, and didn't have to dirty another container to heat the syrup. Now I can't do that, because you chose to change the bottle. I haven't seen a single person on the Internet who approves of this. I stopped using Hungry Jack syrup when the bottle was changed, and switched to Aunt Jemima. Getting me, and a lot of other people, back is easy: just go back to the old bottle. I don't believe for a second that consumer preference caused you to change it.”

The Washington Post columnist John Kelly got wind of the brewing storm and dived into the debate.

Is there a conspiracy? What’s the real reason behind the decision? He speculates “that corporate explanation—‘a shift in consumer preference’—sounds fishy.”

Kelly asked me if I knew of any other well-loved packages that were discontinued and I couldn’t think of any off the top of my head (and still can’t). Can you?

In 1994 when then-brand owner General Mills introduced the microwavable bottle, it was hailed as a marvel of packaging engineering with its differentiated shape and size, stay-cool handle, patented thermochromatic label that indicates when the syrup was hot and no-drip closure. I can’t remember if this won any packaging awards at the time and couldn’t find any information about that on the internet (yes, I did click through more than just the first page of results). But I would be surprised if it hadn’t.

I, too, lament the loss of Hungry Jack’s microwavable bottle because it seems like a step backward. And it sends the wrong signal to all you hard-working packaging professionals who want to leave a legacy of innovation. I’d love to hear from any of the dozens and dozens of people who developed the original container to see how you feel now. I'd also like to know what other packaging designers and developers think. Is this a step back or does the new container have equal merit? Leave your comments below.

Two promising new developments in bioplastics for packaging

Two promising new developments in bioplastics for packaging
Perstorp’s Capa improves the functional properties of bioplastics such as PLA, PHA and starch.

These two news stories point to the continued expansion of bioplastics in conventional and atypical ways including a material from Sweden that provides added functionality to polymer blends across a broad range of biopolymers and a second for a polyamide formulation for use in food packaging from chilled temperatures and up to 100°C.

PlasticsToday has reported on two news developments related to biopolymers late last week worth noting:

Perstorp, a specialty chemical company headquartered in Malmö, Sweden, is increasing its activities in bioplastics through Capa brand polycaprolactone (PCL), a biodegradable plastic that’s highly miscible, blends easily with other plastics, melts easily and is non-toxic. Biopolymers with Capa added are improved due to its good mechanical properties, biodegradability and compatibility across a wide range of polymers.

Capa (shown) improves the functional properties, especially toughness and flexibility, of bioplastics such as PLA, PHA and starch, enabling these to be competitive in film and packaging applications. Its compostability offers end-of-life benefits in packaging, bags and film applications.

Click here to read more.

Evonik’s bio-based polyamide PA1010 FDA-approved for food contact

Evonik Industries has announced that it has received FDA approval for a food contact substance notification (FCN) for its family of PA1010 polyamides. Its VESTAMID Terra DS16 natural may be used as a basic polymer in the production of articles intended for food contact. In summary, the material may be come in contact with all types of food at chilled to elevated room temperatures for single use, as well as all types of food in repeated use applications of temperatures to 100°C.

Click here to read more.