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.


Articles from 2019 In November

4 ways packaging intensifies the shopper’s ‘unboxing’ experience

4 ways packaging intensifies the shopper’s ‘unboxing’ experience

As we approach the holidays, with the unboxing appeal on YouTube and Instagram and influencers driving consumers’ decisions to purchase, there is no doubt packaging is changing the face of ecommerce.

Shining the light on how high-quality packaging will deliver excitement after an anticipated delivery, what is it about unboxing videos that hook us as customers? Here are four ways packaging can power the “unboxing” event.

1. Use popular colors

Recently, the “in” color has been Millennial Pink, believed to be inspired by iconic director Wes Anderson’s use of pink in Grand Budapest Hotel or a variant of Apple’s rose-gold iPhone. Popular amongst younger influencers, it is commonly described as peaceful and pure, with an air of retro-kitsch.

Used by the likes of Acne Studios (above) and Glossier, present-day packaging incorporates this dusky pink, in the hopes of appearing on an influencer’s Instagram page. For if they do, their scope will expand to potentially millions of users.

Additionally, many brands are keeping their packaging simple and clean, to appeal to influencers who prefer clean palettes in their posts. This is evident in such brands as Gucci (below) and Céline.

NEXT: Include inviting or witty messages

2. Include inviting or witty messages

Product packaging is considered a form of marketing, starting with the exterior messages. As a vehicle for communication, many brands are using their packaging to print witty, insightful or playful messaging, ensuring that their customer opens the product with a positive mindset.

One of the most popular methods of communicative packaging is to announce the arrival of the product. Such witty typography includes “good things await you” or “you’ve been expecting me,” innovated by brands like Warby Parker (above). This method is made for unboxing videos, setting the tone for offline content and therefore the portrayal of the product.


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


Packaging decorated with slogans and phrases don’t just make an announcement, they can also present positive affirmations or tongue-in-cheek jokes—anything that will make the product stand out. This may reflect the brand’s ethos or compliment the customer, making the packaging easily shareable on social media. 

For example, Swish Beverages (below) is an American wine supplier that incorporates internet slang in its packaging, in the hopes of appealing to younger consumers. By printing phrases like “stay basic,” inspired by the insult turned satirical badge of honor commonly used by young women on the internet, the company successfully targets its audience.

NEXT: Make it personal

3. Make it personal

Popular beauty brand Bare Minerals (above) changed the game of foundation when it increased its shade range to suit more customers. It could have stopped there, but instead, it enhanced the packaging to feature the purchaser’s name, adding another layer of personalization to the product.

NEXT: Tout transparent ingredients

4. Tout transparent ingredients

Health-and-wellbeing is a hot trend in the world of marketing, due to the recent explosion of press coverage and media posts on the subject. As such, brands like The Ordinary (above) have capitalized on the consumer’s need for organic products, by labeling the ingredients on the bottle and keeping the packaging clean.


Fist-bumpFind your success! Subscribe to free Packaging Digest enewsletters.


As new trends surface and old trends die out, the world of packaging is in a constant state of flux. One thing is for sure: The collaboration between social media/online content and product boxes will be prevalent for years to come. To stay ahead of the curve, brands need to embrace the value of quality and innovate new ways to package their products.

Nestlé and Starbucks partner for recyclable creamer packaging

Nestlé and Starbucks partner for recyclable creamer packaging

Nestlé USA packaging specialist details the highly engineered bottle and innovative sleeve label that enabled the development of 100% recyclable sleeve-labeled bottles.

Time can deliver a whole new perspective on things.

In July, Nestlé and Starbucks announced the launch of Starbucks Creamers that enabled the Starbucks brand to break into the refrigerated creamer category. The product development combined Starbucks’s popular flavors with Nestlé expertise and leadership in the creamer category. The result? Consumers have a new way to enjoy Starbucks coffee at home.

That was all interesting, but it was essentially a branding breakthrough rather than a packaging innovation.

That changed when it was revealed this month that the Starbucks Creamers PET bottle and shrink-sleeve label are 100% recyclable. This is a first for the Nestlé USA’s packaging portfolio, which seeks to reach 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025. Now that is noteworthy packaging news!

That prompted connecting with Nicole Camilleri, Nestlé’s technical packaging senior development specialist. Before jumping into the packaging details of the achievement, here are some key product highlights:

  • There are three flavors in the line, Caramel Macchiato, White Chocolate Mocha and Cinnamon Dolce;
  • The products arrived in refrigerated cases beginning this August;
  • The refrigerated products have a 180-day shelf life and should be used within 14 days after opening or before the use-by date, whichever comes first;
  • This launch is part of the global coffee alliance announced earlier this year when Nestlé introduced a range of 24 Starbucks products across various platforms.

How complex was the project?  

Camilleri: The project was complex because of the rapid timeline and unique bottle design. We launched Starbucks Creamers in less than a year from inception to shelf, the fastest project with a custom bottle and closure Nestlé USA has implemented. We custom-designed the bottle to emulate carafes from Starbucks and the lid is a one-touch pour, created to truly be opened and closed easily with one hand.

Additionally, the closure, shrink sleeve, corrugate tray and palletization pattern were all custom designs. We did this while challenging ourselves to use new materials and incorporating recyclability into the design, utilizing new technology to incorporate a fully recyclable shrink sleeve.

What are the key materials and for what recycle stream(s)?

Camilleri: The shrink sleeve is made from a PET resin that is PET recycling stream compatible with washable inks. This combination of recyclable base material and washable inks are recognized by the Association of Plastics Recyclers (APR). This shrink-sleeve technology not only allows the consumer to recycle the bottle with the shrink sleeve still attached, but it allows the shrink sleeve material to be captured and recycled within the mechanical recycling process. Both the bottle and the closure are custom designed for Starbucks Creamer. 

The entire bottle including the shrink sleeve can be disposed into single stream recycling and will get sorted into the #1 stream. This makes it easy for a consumer to recycle the bottle in their blue recycling bin without having to manipulate it in any way.

Which packaging component was the most challenging?

Camilleri: Each component had its own unique challenges to overcome for which we found solutions:

  • Aesthetically, the bottle is deliberately smooth walled and free of ribs; it was designed in a manner to flex to provide vacuum resistance without the bottle paneling or ovalizing. 
  • The closure was a custom two-piece design where the main challenge was to balance the force required to keep it closed throughout the manufacturing process however open properly for consumer use. 
  • Finally, the label was challenging because it was the first PET recyclable shrink sleeve that both the shrink-sleeve converter produced and Nestle utilized, so there were learnings both from a converter standpoint as well as running on the Starbucks creamer production line.

What partner/vendors were involved to make this happen?

Camilleri: Eastman Embrace Encore copolyester is used for this recyclable shrink sleeve material. According to Haley Werth, market development manager at Eastman, “We are thrilled to be a part of helping Nestle achieve their goal of 100% recyclable packaging with Eastman Embrace Encore copolyester, an APR Critical Guidance recognized product. We see this as an important milestone in the sustainable transformation of our shrink-film resin portfolio and a model for how Eastman can work with the industry to implement circular solutions that positively impact our world.”

The base film is Eastman Embrace Encore and the converter is American Fuji Seal Inc. with the product of RecShrink (base film + washable inks).

Graphic: Eastman

According to American Fuji Seal, “American Fuji Seal is pleased to have commercialized our new film development, RecShrink, with Nestlé to further enhance our sustainability platform. RecShrink is a crystallizable shrink sleeve material, decorated with American Fuji Seal’s washable solvent ink, which allows for film material to be recycled along with PET bottle materials. Historically, shrink-sleeve labels have been deemed a bit of a black eye within the recycling community because of the contamination and their physical properties related to it being a ‘low melt’. Because of the lower melting point, contamination and degradation of the recycled materials can occur. RecShrink is designed with a higher melting point so clumping will not occur in the drying systems, which would diminish rPET quality.”

Are any of these vendors new to the company?

Camilleri: For this design we worked with existing vendors.


What potential does Nestle see in this and other recycling technologies?

Camilleri: Nestlé has committed to 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025 and we are making progress toward that goal. Nestlé is developing and implementing many different technologies to address packaging sustainability. We have a large global R&D community including the Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences who are developing new solutions to apply across our portfolio. As with any sustainability innovation that we implement, we are always evaluating how we can reapply technology to other products in our portfolio.

Is this the same sleeve technology used by Nestlé Waters North America for the 100% recyclable bottle/sleeves/caps for the new DC superheroes line?

Camilleri: Nestlé Waters North America is using a different shrink sleeve technology for its new Nestlé Pure Life DC Collection of superhero-themed bottles. Nestlé is actively implementing many different technologies to improve sustainability across our vast packaging portfolio.

In terms of form and function, what were the design goals for the packaging?

Camilleri: Our custom Starbucks Creamer bottle design was rooted in our consumer obsession. The design was inspired by Starbucks brand attributes and the Starbucks café experience, informed by targeted consumer insights and incorporated category norms and functionality. We designed the bottle to include flowing, soft curves and a simple, balanced shape. The closure was designed to mimic carafes found in Starbucks cafés, and to create an easy and mess-free pouring experience. We also designed for the ideal flow from of creamer from the spout and a “click” sound to cue that the lid is closed.

Can you comment on the products’ reception?

Camilleri: While we cannot share specific sales information, we have been very pleased by consumer and retailer response to these new products, which are performing well in-market.


Consumers want non-plastic packaging options

Photo credit: MrP - Plastic-packaging-consumer-survey

As the anti-plastics movement steamrolls across the globe, many consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs) are shying away from plastic packaging. Are they leading or following consumers? Exclusive research reveals that consumers expect brand owners to voluntarily replace single-use plastic packaging with non-plastic alternatives.

But will consumers still want non-plastic packaging options once they learn more about packaging sustainability? That may be the burning question brand marketers need to answer as they set packaging sustainability goals.

Download your free copy of the 2019 Packaging Digest Consumer Survey on Plastic Packaging Sustainability report below. Packaging Digest conducted the research in partnership with consumer insights leader Toluna.

Key insights include:

• American consumers are deeply concerned about the impact of single-use plastic packaging on the environment. Almost a third (31%) of respondents say their concern about the eco impact of plastic packaging is as high as it can possibly be. And, on the scale of 0 to 10, 61% of consumers checked 8, 9 or 10. This implies they are hyper aware of the current climate surrounding plastic packaging.

• Two thirds of respondents say the situation with disposable plastic packaging is the worst it’s ever been, but consumers also don’t think it has peaked yet: 82% say it will continue to escalate.

• A whopping 89% of survey respondents have faith that recycling can have a positive impact on marine debris.

• Consumers are not as aware as industry professionals as to the struggling state of recycling in the U.S., ranking “Low recycling rates” second to last in a list of environmental concerns. Respondents to our industry study rank that second from the top. A slightly higher percentage of consumers say recycling in the U.S. is healthy than say it’s not: 45% chose “Vibrant and Strong” or “Moderately Healthy” versus 39% who say “Struggling” or “Poor.”

• Demand driven? Brand owners might say they use plastic packaging because that’s what consumers buy/want (perhaps for convenience or on-the-go consumption). But consumers don’t see the plastic packaging waste problem as much their fault, perhaps because they aren’t given a choice to buy products in a different package.

• 60% of consumer-respondents want non-plastic packaging options. But if brands do use plastic packaging, they should at least make sure it is recyclable, or made with post-consumer recycled (PCR) content or bioplastics.

• Overall, less than a third say they support bans, but Millennials have more faith in government intervention as a solution than other age groups. And people in the U.S. West see regulations as more effective than their fellow citizens, especially those in the landlocked Midwest.

• Despite how they might feel about bans personally, 85% of respondents say we might or will see more regulations against plastic packaging.

• 83% of respondents believe non-plastic packaging is more eco-friendly.

• The silver lining: Consumers are clearly willing to act in (mostly) positive ways. More than a third say they are learning more about plastic packaging sustainability.

This sweeping 52-page consumer survey is companion research to Packaging Digest’s 2018 Sustainable Packaging Study—also free to download—that polled packaging professionals on many of the same questions about the sustainability of plastic packaging. An entire section of this consumer report analyzes the discrepancies between what consumers and packaging professionals think about this critical concern.

Download your free copy of the 2019 Packaging Digest Consumer Survey on Plastic Packaging Sustainability report now!


Register to access this resource

Registering as a member of Packaging Digest will give you free access to premium content including digital magazines, webinars, whitepapers and more.

Multipack ‘topper’ boosts Coca-Cola’s packaging sustainability

Multipack ‘topper’ boosts Coca-Cola’s packaging sustainability
Coca-Cola will use paperboard to hold multiple soda cans together for sale in Europe.

The Coca-Cola Co. has announced yet another sustainable packaging launch for non-alcohol canned drinks in Europe. The company, together with Coca-Cola HBC and Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), plans to roll out a streamlined paperboard “topper” for can multipacks in Europe next year.

The KeelClip topper will be used in place of shrink wrap to combine cans in multipacks. Supplied by Graphic Packaging Int’l (GPI), the topper completely covers the can tops and provides a printable surface for brand and product information. (See a video showing the multipacking operation from GPI here.)

This beverage packaging design reduces plastic waste by substituting recyclable paperboard—a minimal amount of paperboard, at that—for challenging-to-recycle shrink wrap. The KeelClip project aligns with Coca-Cola’s global World Without Waste initiative, whose goal is to collect and recycle a can or bottle for each one Coca-Cola sells by 2030.

Coca-Cola HBC, a leading Coca-Cola bottler, plans to introduce the topper on multipacks sold in Ireland and Poland in early 2020. Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Romania will follow later in the year.

By the end of 2021, the topper multipacks will be in distribution in all of Coca-Cola HBC’s European Union (EU) markets. The plan is to use the topper on multipacks of up to eight cans and to use cartons for larger can multipacks. Ultimately, Coca-Cola HBC intends to eliminate shrink wrap from its can multipacks in the EU by the end of 2021.


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


The other partner in the project, CCEP, plans to introduce the paperboard topper in the Netherlands in early 2020, with additional countries to follow. CCEP reports it has invested €14 million in the installation of a new can filling line and KeelClip packaging machine at its Dongen, Netherlands, plant.

Packaging Digest recently reported on CCEP’s intention to switch from shrink wrap to recyclable, sustainably sourced paperboard sleeves for multipacks. CCEP is the world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler, based on revenue, and serves numerous Western European countries.

Coca-Cola’s application marks the first use of the topper for non-alcohol, ready-to-drink beverages. GPI announced in October 2019 that AB InBev will start using the KeelClip structure for its beer brands, including Bud Light, in March 2020 in the United Kingdom.


Fist-bumpFind your success! Subscribe to free Packaging Digest enewsletters.

Digital Printing

Tactile label-printing technique tempts the fingertips

Tactile label-printing technique tempts the fingertips
Without making any changes to the already-designed label prepress file, brand owners can now add texture to labels printed on a digital UV inkjet press.

A digital printing technology that adds a haptic effect to labels is opening the door to high-end, texturized packaging designs for products in a range of consumer goods categories, including food, beverage, beer, and health and beauty.

Developed in Belgium by Xeikon, this solution combines the company’s X-800 workflow and PantherCure ultraviolet inks to create a raised pattern on labels. The technique enables brand owners to combine complementary visual and tactile elements in the design with no modification to prepress files, which saves time.

The brand owner or designer creates the label design, and the workflow system recognizes the various design elements, directing the printhead to print the haptic layer as well as regular graphics.

Donna Covannon, director of marketing North America at Xeikon, explains that the haptic effect is achieved by a double hit of white ink on the company’s PX3000 UV inkjet press. To prevent telescoping label rolls common with uneven ink coverage—such as raised, tactile printing—Xeikon uses its patented double-curing process. The Panther DuraCure curing process combines LED and mercury curing to “pin” inks in place and prevent them from spreading or bleeding.

More consistent rolls reduce waste, changeover

Speaking of telescoping…a separate innovation from Xeikon increases digital-press uptime by reducing the layer of opaque white ink laid down on clear facestock prior to printing graphics. This type of facestock is used for premium-quality labels in markets such as beer and health and beauty.

Historically, for this application, the areas of white ink caused an uneven thickness of ink across the web, which in turn caused substrate rolls to telescope. Press operators typically responded by printing smaller rolls, necessitating more frequent roll changes, and wasting materials and time during label application.

To address the fundamental problem, some printers would work during prepress to reduce the amount of white ink required, thus adding time to production overall. The X-800 workflow now automatically makes the required changes, saving time while achieving the same result—reduction of the white layer commensurate with the colors to be printed over it.

Eliminating the prepress step saves time. In addition, reducing the white layer saves ink and makes it practical to print larger rolls, reducing downtime for roll changes on the packaging line.


4 ways end-of-arm robotic tools benefit smaller companies

4 ways end-of-arm robotic tools benefit smaller companies
End-of-arm-tooling is often the most critical component in a robotic packaging application, giving the operation the ability to quickly switch between different products/packages.

Across the globe, an increasing number of small and medium enterprises (SME) are driving exceptional growth in the packaging automation market. The sector should grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.2% over a seven-year period ending in 2024, according to a 2018 report by Research Nester. By then, analysts predict the global market will have reached $61.2 billion.

Myriad factors are responsible for the market’s accelerated expansion. In particular, rapid industrialization continues to spur more widespread manufacturing activity, especially in such developing nations as Thailand, Argentina, Indonesia and Mexico. Small- to medium-sized manufacturers are also adopting more advanced packaging technologies, like robotics, to improve worker safety, lower operating costs and heighten productivity.

As more and more SMEs implement packaging automation into production, it is crucial for businesses to do so smartly by ensuring they understand not just how automation technology can be beneficial, but what types of tools will help make the deployment seamless and successful.

Recent improvements improve accuracy and flexibility

Packaging automation can be a cost-effective solution for SMEs that need to increase production, while at the same time offer human operators a safer working environment. These businesses require more flexibility and versatility in the packaging process, often needing solutions for low-volume, high-mix production.

Cobots designed for quick and easy redeployment offer significant advantages. And those cobots should be equipped with adaptable force and stroke automation tools to accommodate varying sizes, shapes and condition of parts and raw materials.

Other businesses need sensors that can guide robotic arms to differently positioned parts on assembly lines, or tools that can be quickly programmed and deployed within minutes, even under the direction of inexperienced operators.

End-of-arm tooling (EOAT) is paving the way forward for all the above demands.

EOAT comes in a variety of forms, from grippers and tool changers to torque sensors, each one built to make the robotic arm to which it is attached far more powerful and capable. Depending on its design and function, EOAT can precisely handle materials differing in size and shape, help better accommodate tasks with short lead times and facilitate high-mix, low-volume packaging jobs.

These highly collaborative applications help make palletizing and packaging easier and more accurate than ever before. For instance, dated applications require an object to be in a constant position or a predictable environment to function properly. Advanced EOAT on the other hand can detect improperly positioned objects and adjust accordingly. Traditional applications are limited by their ability to only apply constant grip force and stroke, while today’s cutting-edge EOAT can readily change both functions.

In short, modern EOAT is less demanding, more effective and far more versatile than its more-restrictive predecessor technology.

EOAT at work

Because EOAT plays a significant overall role in automated robotic packaging and palletizing, SMEs must carefully choose the collaborative applications best suited to their specific needs and goals.

For example, businesses that handle high-volume consumer products—toys, lightbulbs, pharmaceutics, car accessories—could use a mix of grippers and sensors to solve issues related to box or product stacks of varying height by accurately determining an item’s position (sensor) and securely picking it (gripper) with fewer, larger suction cups. This EOAT partnership helps avoid product collision, satisfy dual gripping needs and process items of varying sizes.

Similarly, SMEs working with blister packaging—a business group that typically includes co-packers, fast-moving consumer goods producers (FMCG) and logistics service providers—may want to use a combination of sensor and gripper to ensure precise positioning and picking, adapt to differently shaped products and make the time-consuming process of changing grippers for every product a thing of the past.

EOAT-powered automated packaging is on the rise. Accessible and affordable, EOAT can help solve multiple production and overall business challenges by:

1. Boosting productivity;
2. Streamlining operational costs;
3. Reducing damaged product incidents;
4. Accommodating diverse batch volumes.

These dynamic applications offer a clear path forward for enterprises of all sizes.

Medical Packaging

New Fundamentals course centers on medical packaging

New Fundamentals course centers on medical packaging
Business photo created by pressfoto -

Medical packaging professionals will shortly have a new resource for augmenting their knowledge and skills set. The Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee (MDPTC) of the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) is developing a Fundamentals of Packaging course that delves into the unique processes, concerns and challenges of packaging medical devices and supplies.

During Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019, the IoPP Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee invited members of the medical device community to discuss the proposed program. I attended the meeting myself and was impressed with the enthusiasm and ideas in the room.

The content—being developed with junior engineers and those new to the medical device packaging industry in mind (although experienced engineers will likely get something out of it, too!)—is still in development, but has been organized into nine key areas:

1. Regulations, quality systems and standards
2. Materials and their forms (packaging and labels, working with suppliers)
3. Design (inputs, risks and outputs)
4. Equipment
5. Processes (sealing and sterilization)
6. Testing, validation and qualification, including human factors/usability
7. Troubleshooting, Corrective Action Preventive Action (CAPAs) and remediation strategies
8. Sustainability
9. Capstone (similar to a college thesis, this is a culminating academic and intellectual assignment for students at the end of an academic program or learning-pathway experience)

According to the MDPTC, more segments may be added as the course content is fine-tuned.

And that’s where you come in. The group needs industry input in two ways:

1. Feedback on developing course content, as well as on other MDPTC initiatives (see survey link below).

2. As course instructors.

If you have questions about the Fundamentals course, please contact Jennifer Benolken, CPPL, at [email protected].

According to Benolken, proceeds from the course will go toward funding scholarships (for collegiate students interested in medical device packaging) to other industry learning events, such as the HealthPack conference. “This course is being developed as many industry leaders are recognizing there aren’t many resources available to train their inexperienced engineers,” Benolken says.

Development of the new Fundamentals program is just one of many activities IoPP’s Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee has in the works though. To learn more and to indicate your interest in participating in the development of the Fundamentals course or any other activity, please take this short survey:

CLICK HERE to learn more about IoPP membership.




3 ways businesses can reduce plastic packaging

3 ways businesses can reduce plastic packaging
Photo credit: Water photo created by photogenia -

In today’s cost-conscious and eco-aware world, businesses are looking to control costs but still produce and use ethical, ecological packaging. Are you one of them? If so, look at these suggestions for keeping both sides of the equation in line with current practices, without putting your budget in jeopardy.

Sticking to budget constraints while using sustainable packaging need not be a mind-boggling exercise. All it needs is a bit of research to source packaging or materials that not only suit your needs but are part of a conscious effort to combat plastic pollution throughout the world.

Plastic packaging is not your only option. Consider these three ways of cutting down on plastic—particularly single-use plastic—and doing “your bit” to make our environment a safer place to live.

1. Consider paperboard packaging

Paperboard is a viable option—it’s biodegradable, can be ethically sourced, and used in various thicknesses and designs to adequately protect most products. Paperboard also takes less time to degrade than any traditional plastic on the planet.

Another important factor is that it can be used in smaller quantities if you correctly size your boxes. Too many companies use large boxes for small items, thereby having to fill them with copious amount of fillers—usually plastic orientated. Mixed pallets of various sized boxes will almost certainly suit most if not all your products.

2. Use biomaterials

On the increase are packaging options using plant- or food-based materials. Food items such as cornstarch or tapioca root are commonly used to provide packaging materials, but there are other items—such as mushrooms and seaweed—that are rapidly becoming alternatives to plastic products.

A more established biomaterial for packaging is polylactic acid, made from renewable resources such as sugarcane. PLA is not a cheap method of packaging, but is certainly a viable and sustainable product.

Of course, there are shelf life issues, so best to check out the length of your manufacturing processes and supply chain before committing to this.

3. Make your own packaging

3D printers are on the increase, and can be operated with a choice of materials, including plastics made of plant or food waste.

This option does require an initial investment but, once in place (even if secondhand or on a trial basis), you will be able to create your own packaging using high-quality recyclable materials, which you can custom build to size and design. Additive manufacturing often enables developers to design parts or packages that use significantly less material than when using traditional manufacturing methods.

Whatever method you use, even if your company can save something on packaging at the same time as cutting down on plastic usage, it’s your way of telling the world you are doing something about it. Let customers know too—they will understand and appreciate it, potentially increasing your orders and combatting any increased costs.

Whichever option you choose, you’ll be cutting down on single-use plastic and giving consumers what they say they want today: non-plastic packaging options.


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

FDA package design cues: Beverage…or a dietary supplement?

FDA package design cues: Beverage…or a dietary supplement?

The size, shape, color and design of a package are among the factors that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses to determine if a beverage is a liquid dietary supplement or a conventional food (albeit a beverage).

In this respect, FDA’s concern is aimed at beverage manufacturers that try to market their products as dietary supplements. As a result, beverage manufacturers and distributors should be cautious when deciding on these factors since, if liquid dietary supplements are considered by FDA to be represented as conventional beverages through their packaging or other means—such as labeling or advertising—they may be considered misbranded and subject to regulatory action, including withdrawal from the marketplace.

After noting an increase in the number of both dietary supplements and beverages on the market, FDA published an industry guidance in January 2014 on how to distinguish liquid dietary supplements from beverages. Read the guidance here.

In the guidance, FDA discusses seven factors that the Agency considers when determining if a liquid product is a conventional beverage or a liquid dietary supplement. These are: (1) labeling and advertising; (2) product name; (3) product packaging; (4) serving size and recommended daily intake; (5) recommendations and directions for use; (6) marketing practices; and (7) composition.

With respect to product packaging, FDA explains that packaging can convey messages about how the product is intended to be used that are indicative as to whether the product should be considered a supplement or a beverage. In addition to size, shape, color and design, FDA also considers the volume of liquid that the package holds, whether it is reclosable, if it is a single-serve size and the similarity of the packaging to that of conventional product packaging.­

FDA provides as an example a liquid product packaged in a red, 12-oz, pop-top aluminum can with a silver stripe. Even if this product is labeled as a “cola supplement,” the packaging could lead consumers to believe that the product is a cola-flavored soft drink and, hence, acceptable in FDA’s view. However, other factors, such as listed serving size and recommended daily intake information, could help support a determination that the product is not represented as a conventional drink despite the packaging design.

The idea is to prevent conventional beverages (or foods) from taking advantage of dietary supplement rules.The designation of a liquid product as either a dietary supplement or a conventional food or beverage determines how it is regulated. Ingredients added to conventional products are required to be the subject of a food additive regulation or generally recognized as safe (GRAS).

However, under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) manufacturers or distributors of a "new dietary ingredient" (NDI), or of a dietary supplement that contains a NDI, are required to submit a premarket notification to FDA at least 75 days before introducing the supplement into interstate commerce or delivering it for introduction into interstate commerce. That is, unless the NDI and any other dietary ingredients in the dietary supplement "have been present in the food supply as an article used for food in a form in which the food has not been chemically altered."

Moreover, dietary ingredients used prior to July 1994 are not considered NDIs, and may be used without further clearance or approval. (Of course, other ingredients added to supplements which are not dietary ingredients must still comply with the food additive regulatory requirements, be considered GRAS or otherwise exempt from the food additive clearance requirements. Read the guidance at

Bottom line: Don’t get caught as a “tweener,” that is, between a supplement and a conventional product. Know what you are marketing and why. Then ensure that all regulatory requirements are met for the product that is intended to be marketed, and that the agency will not perceive the product as being marketed as something that it is not. Like most things, sometimes that is easier said than done.

Author George Misko is 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 [email protected].

Superhero water bottles flex recycling power

Superhero water bottles flex recycling power
Nestlé Pure Life's DC Collection series debuts with four superheroes including Wonder Woman.

100% of the packaging for Nestlé Pure Life’s new DC Collection of four superhero-themed sleeve-labeled 330-mL rPET bottles is recyclable…and boasts a special interactive ability.

Who says bottled water can’t be a super beverage? Not Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA), Stamford, CT, which adds sleeve labels featuring four different superheroes from the DC Comics universe to 330mL bottles of Nestlé Pure Life water.

The packaging for the new "DC Collection", which is available in stores now, is also super from a sustainability standpoint—it’s 100% recyclable including bottles made of 100% recycled PET (rPET) along with the special recyclable shrink sleeve labels and caps.

"We’re excited to team up with Warner Bros. and DC to make drinking water more fun for families with kids," says Yumi Clevenger-Lee, Chief Marketing Officer at Nestlé Waters North America. "By featuring characters kids look up to, along with a 100% recyclable bottle made with 100% recycled plastic, we're doing our part to help keep both families and the planet healthy."

"DC Super Heroes are among the most popular in the world and this new line of bottles is a great way to appeal to families with kids while reinforcing healthy choices," adds Maryellen Zarakas, senior vice president, franchise management and marketing, Warner Bros. Consumer Products. "We are also teaching kids that every positive action towards creating change is what being a super hero is all about."

Wonder Woman, our first featured superhero bottle, is a founding member of the Justice League, according to Wikipedia. The character first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in October 1941. The Wonder Woman title has been published by DC Comics almost continuously except for a brief hiatus in 1986.

You’ll find an individual superhero with additional information featured on the following three pages, including the next iconic figure who sports a packaging-enabling “superpower” found on all of bottles in the series that kids will enjoy—and that works at the speed of light.

Next: A truly super hero

Arguably the most iconic of all superheroes is Superman, who fights for “truth, justice and the American way.”  According to Wikipedia, Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1, a comic book published on April 18, 1938. While he wasn’t the first superhero, Superman remains the best-selling comic book superhero of all time.

The packaging’s positive vibe includes a fun Super Hero symbol on the side of the bottle that encourages kids to finish drinking their water and displays a unique capability: Once finished, kids can shine a flashlight through the bottle from a clear circular window on the sleeve label on the opposite side, which projects the mirror-image printed symbol properly on a nearby wall.

From a marketing view, the superhero series is intended to spark interest and generate sales. But there’s also a health benefit when that happens: Research shows that more than 50% of U.S. children between the ages of 6 and 19 are inadequately hydrated, which highlights the need to increase water consumption.

An NWNA spokesperson shared this with Packaging Digest: “The Nestlé Pure Life DC Collection is a fun choice for every on-the-go occasion, from school lunches to summer road trips. It's also a healthy alternative to sugary drinks with no calories and no sweeteners.

"DC Super Heroes are among the most popular in the world, and we hope these four characters, along with the Super Hero symbol on the side of the bottle, will help make drinking water more fun for families with kids.”

It’s not the first time the brand has enlisted familiar characters, in the past it has featured Emojis on 330mL/11.15oz bottles and SpongeBob SquarePants on 8oz bottles.

Next: The bottles’ special recycling abilities


Shazam—an acronym of six “immortal elders” Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury—is a superhero with roots stretching back to 1939. Wikipedia states that he is the alter ego of Billy Batson, a boy who, by speaking the magic word "SHAZAM!", can transform himself into a costumed adult with the powers of superhuman strength, speed, flight and other abilities.

The packaging has a very special ability, too: Not only is it 100% recyclable, it’s the first time the brand owner is using this sleeve label technology.  

An NWNA spokesperson discloses these additional details: “The shrink label is does not use an adhesive, instead uses various compatible polymers that work well in the recycling process. We invested in new equipment that applies these specific labels, further demonstrating the pride taken in carefully designing our bottles—down to the label—to be 100% recyclable so they can retain their quality and be turned back into new bottles. We are working with a number of strategic suppliers as we continue to explore alternative packaging options to virgin PET plastic.”

Notably and unlike some other sleeve-wrapped products, this new sleeve label technology does not require consumers to remove the label before recycling; consumers can simply place the cap back on the bottle when finished and discard in the recycling bin.

Packaging Digest speculates that the recyclable sleeve may be based on Eastman’s Embrace Encore copolyester due to the resin’s similar properties, but that could not be confirmed.

Next: The World’s Greatest Detective and final details


The fourth superhero for the launch is Batman, who debuted in 1939. Originally named the Bat-Man, the character is also referred to by such epithets as the Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight and the World's Greatest Detective, according to Wikipedia.

That last moniker is quite a boast, though I suppose with Sherlock Holmes likely dead by now...

NWNA makes quite a claim of its own: That the launch of the DC Collection, along with the introduction of 900mL bottles of Poland Spring Origin in April and Nestlé Pure Life 700mL bottles, means the company has the only three major nationally distributed bottled water offerings on the market made using 100% recycled plastic. It was last year that it promised to achieve 25% recycled plastic across its U.S. domestic portfolio by 2021. The company plans to continue expanding its use of recycled materials in the coming years, further setting an ambition to reach 50% recycled plastic by 2025.

The Nestlé Pure Life's DC Collection is available nationwide through e-commerce sites, and in addition to retail stores such as Albertsons, Fresh Direct, HEB, Meijer, Stop & Shop and 7-Eleven as well as ReadyRefresh, Nestlé Waters North America’s customizable water and beverage delivery service. The suggested retail price for a six-pack of 330mL/11.15oz rPET bottles is $3.29.