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Solutions to the plastic packaging conundrum vary

Solutions to the plastic packaging conundrum vary

We’re drowning in plastic packaging waste, according to some sources, and need to act now to fix it. Should we boost recycling rates? Develop non-plastic alternatives? Educate consumers on the many valuable aspects of plastic packaging? Yes, yes and yes.

A review of the best-read articles posted on in October 2019 show a fixation on plastic packaging sustainability. It’s not surprising, considering all the brand-owner activity in this area in response to consumer sentiments (see “Consumers want non-plastic packaging options”).

Here is what the global Packaging Digest audience has been voraciously reading the last several weeks:


5. Ball Corp. presents the plastic-replacing aluminum cup

The switch from plastic drinking cups has already started at major entertainment venues and concessionaires across the U.S. In August, Ball Corp. announced a number of parks and food outlets would start using new 20-oz aluminum cups in September 2019, with the change continuing throughout 2020.

In addition to being lightweight yet sturdy, the recyclable metal cup stays cool to the touch, offering consumers an enhanced beverage drinking experience.

“The aluminum cup is a game-changer for the industry,” Sebastian Siethoff, Ball general manager, tells Packaging Digest.  “We hope that our customers and consumers view the aluminum cup as a sustainable and easily recyclable alternative to plastic cups, which are currently a mainstay of stadiums, restaurants and beaches and often end up in the trash or on the ground.”

NEXT: #4 article in October 2019


4. Non-plastic packaging isn’t the only sustainable solution

Senior manager Trina Matta with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition reminds us that “creating sustainable packaging involves considering questions of sourcing, efficiency, recovery, health and safety.”

With this in mind, Matta says, “…turning away from plastic whole hog isn’t necessarily the best way forward for everyone…”

She concludes, “As sustainable packaging leaders, we have an obligation to help the public understand that there is more to sustainability than shifting away from plastics entirely. Finding packaging that is recyclable is not the silver bullet; finding packaging that is resource efficient is not the silver bullet; eliminating all plastics is not the silver bullet.”

I agree!

NEXT: #3 article in October 2019


3. Most food cans no longer use BPA in their linings

Regular readers of Packaging Digest will probably recognize this article. It’s been in our “top articles” lists nearly this entire year. Originally published in February 2018 (almost two years ago!), this exclusive Q&A with Robert Budway, president of the Can Manufacturers Institute, covers the development of new food can linings that replace previous ones that contained the controversial chemical bisphenol-A (BPA).

NEXT: #2 article in October 2019


2. Remedies for single-use plastic packaging

TerraCycle founder/CEO and sustainable packaging visionary Tom Szaky amazed the world early this year with the introduction of Loop, a new circular shopping platform that gives consumers the opportunity to buy their favorite products in durable, not disposable, packaging.

But reusable packaging isn’t the only answer to today’s single-use plastic packaging backlash. In his latest article for Packaging Digest, Szaky outlines a new RB Health & Nutrition Recycling Program—launched in time for cough, cold and flu season. This national recycling program recovers health-and-wellness packaging from RB, as well as from any brand, in these categories:

• Vitamins, minerals and supplements 
• Sexual health and well-being 
• Infant formula and child nutrition 
• Personal care and foot care

Szaky outlines, “From blister packs to baby formula tubes, even condom wrappers and personal care product tubes, the program accepts the many, varied types of packaging that deliver the products we use in everyday life. It also allows retail stores, colleges, gyms and other organizations to sign up as a public drop-off site and build up the recycling network.”

Click to learn more or to participate.

NEXT: #1 article in October 2019


1. 9 innovative food and beverage packages from around the world

Amid all the anti-plastic packaging sentiment, we also celebrated innovations in plastic packaging in October 2019 with our review of select winners in the 2019 Packaging Innovation Awards, the prestigious awards program originated by DuPont that has been continued by Dow after the two companies merged in 2017. We focused on winning entries in the food and beverage markets.

The competition is open to any packaging innovation, not just those using plastic. However, notables in these nine entries that specifically address plastic packaging sustainability are:

• The Diamond Runner up: Amcor’s Paperly thermoformable paper-based packaging on Page 3, which gives processed meat and cheese packaging a rustic look and feel (image above).

• A Gold Award: DuPont Teijin Films LuxCR Depolymerisation Process on Page 9, which helps to overcome challenges of mechanical recycling and food contact compliance for recycled plastics. It depolymerizes mechanically recovered PET back into the BHET monomer unit that’s indistinguishable from virgin monomers.

These top articles from October 2019 on are just a few of the activities taking place to address consumer and industry concerns about plastic packaging sustainability. CLICK HERE to sign up for our newsletters to stay informed about this critical packaging issue.


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

How can mid-sized food suppliers deliver circular packaging solutions?

How can mid-sized food suppliers deliver circular packaging solutions?
Photo courtesy of Brad Carpenter on

New research will analyze challenges and comparisons of companies in the Netherlands versus California, two hotbeds of environmental interest and responsibility.

People working in jobs related to producing, packaging, distributing and selling food products face increased sustainability demands. Such demands evolved over the past 50 years, starting in the 1970s (1). Current interest in sustainability remains high amongst packaging professionals as such articles are commonly read the most often in industry trade journals such as Packaging Digest (2).

Between North America and Europe today, there are 47 standards related to the sustainability of processed foods (3). While sustainable food production and packaging are similar to the notions of circular food production and circular packaging, they are not the same. Many publications over the past few years have compared the two types of practices, with a good summary given by Korhonen (4). It’s unfortunate that in the past century we have foregone our previous sustainable and sometime circular lifestyles that were common for hundreds of years in the past (5).

Sustainable packaging design focuses on developing eco-friendly designs and production strategies. Such practices tend to be linear and do not address imbalances between input and output streams, nor address the quality of recycling well.

Many sustainable packaging programs focus on material reduction, which sometimes results in complex materials such as (plastic) laminates. Such inseparable material combinations hinder the development of products and packaging for circular systems (6).

In countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), plastic package recycling rates vary between 10% for the USA to 50% for the Netherlands. The net result of this deficiency is a growing waste problem as shown in Figure 1.

A new motivation for circular plastics packaging stems from China and other Asian countries deciding to stop accepting and “processing” plastic waste from around the world. In fact, these policy changes from Asia have had a negative effect on plastics collections and recycling in many European and North American communities (7) (8).

Figure 1: Cumulative plastic waste generation and disposal (in millions of metric tons). Solid line shown historical data from 1950 to 2015; dashed lines show projections of historical trends to 2050. (Reprinted from Science Advances 19 Jul 2017: Vol. 3, no. 7, e1700782 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700782.  Copyright The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Assn. for the Advancement of Science. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC)

Currently, literature focuses on the theoretical implications of transition to circular systems, while practical examples of packaging concepts suited for circular systems are scarce (6). For example, reusable packaging is a circular concept that is still rarely implemented by food producing companies and value chains. But TerraCycle is carrying out some ambitious trials currently with some multi-national brand owners (9) (10).

This is not to say that leading circular design practices are not being taught at the universities that we are involved with—such as California Polytechnic University San Luis Obisbo, and the Dutch Technical Universities of Twente and Delft.

Further, most research and pilot projects about circular packaging solutions focus on the world’s largest food brand owners, with small- and medium-sized enterprises under-researched (6) (11). These larger companies control about 80% of the processed foods that appear on the shelves of typical grocery stores in North America and Europe (12).


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


Recently, there has been some motivational economic case studies about larger volume business-to-business (B2B) circular packaging solutions by the Reusable Packaging Assn. (13) and the Reusable Industrial Packaging Assn. (14). Thus, we are focusing our research on mid-sized companies in the food production chain, about which little work has been done.

We will focus our research geographically to California and the Netherlands. You may ask why.

First, California and the Netherlands both actively strive to enact and implement leading environmentally friendly policies and practices related to food production and packaging (see “History and current initiatives”below). The ambitions are leading compared to peers.

Second, both of these areas are world agriculture and food production powerhouses, with California the leading state in the USA, and the Netherlands the leading agriculture exporter in the European Union (15) (16). Thus, these two areas provide a rich ecosystem for our research efforts.

Both the Netherlands and California promote, or are starting to mandate, sustainable and circular packaging solutions for all industries including food.

Thus, by carrying out parallel studies in both areas, we can learn from each other when it comes to which factors are most and least important for realizing successful circular packaging solutions. Successful circular food packaging solutions require alignment and cooperation of numerous stakeholders, as discussed below. Solutions cannot be designed, implemented and rolled out in a vacuum.

Three drivers of circular food packaging

From our perspective, in Figure 2, we identify three issues that need further research to put out pilot projects related to circular food packaging in both countries.

The past few years, several organizations either surveyed or wrote about consumers’ behavior related to “sustainable” products or reusable packaging of branded products (including food) (17) (18). However, these surveys are not specific enough when it comes to identifying actual consumer behavior and needs of reusable food packaging solutions on a daily or weekly basis.

Further, retail grocery stores and foodservice providers will not facilitate most circular food packaging initiatives unless there is evidence of strong consumer buy-in over longer periods of time.

Figure 2: Drivers of Circular Food Packaging

Even if consumers are willing to change their behavior relative to circular-friendly packaging, economically it needs to make sense for all parties involved in the supply chain. Economic gain is difficult to substantiate and is a topic widely research and written about. Understanding the value propositions of certain kinds of circular practices can be difficult for traditional investors and banks (19).

In the Netherlands, the three biggest banks launched guidelines in 2018 for creating a common framework for financing circular economy initiatives by industry (20). Thus, there is some movement by the financial community to address the economic viability of new initiatives. However, most likely most actual projects will have to be financed by individual companies in the value chains, with perhaps consumers having to pay more for their packaged food product(s) as well.

Lastly, we need to consider the closed-loop environment impact of any new circular packaging solutions. The solution may be wanted and acceptable to consumers, and it may be profitable for the delivery value chain, but the environmental impact also needs careful consideration.

The problem with life-cycle assessment (LCA) for our research is the lack of agreement on the proper frameworks to use in carrying out the analysis (21). There are numerous frameworks and tools like COMPASS for carrying out LCA. Any LCA needs to also consider food waste, and how the results can be communicated to consumers and members of the value chain to convince them to cooperate in new initiatives.

Current research focus and ambitions

Our research in the Netherlands and California will focus on the following four research topic in the next two years:

1. Consumers:

• Characterize consumer behavior/needs toward specific circular packaged food products in the Netherlands and California.

• Understand consumer attitudes towards reuse, co-use or refill offerings of specific foods.


2. Mid-sized Food Producers:

• Identify appropriate mid-sized food suppliers and their value chains that are ripe for moving forward with circular food packaging initiatives.

• Inventory the needs of mid-sized food producers with regard to circular economy ambitions.

• Determine operational needs and technical requirements from the food producer to consumer.

3. Retail Grocery / Foodservice Value Chains:

• Characterize economic needs and costs from the retail perspective.

• Inventory needs of downstream members of value chain concerning distribution and reverse logistics issues related to reuse, refill, co-use, re-appropriate or recycling.

4. LCA, Economics and Pilot Project(s):

• Propose a circular model for one or more food products in California and the Netherlands (including economics, costs, investments needed, life cycle assessment).

• Establish a consortium of companies in the Netherlands and California willing to carry out a pilot project for the circular model proposed.

• Measure consumer behavior to the new circularly packaged food compared to non-circularly packaged food.

• Characterize and pursue additional sources of funding for implementing the pilot project for the consortium of companies.

• Learn from comparisons and contrasts between the Netherlands and California.

We intend to publish the results of research topics one to three in the first half of 2020 in  Packaging Digest. Depending upon consumer cooperation, we intend to further publish the results of our field trials at the end of 2020.  

At this time, we are looking for mid-sized (fresh) food producers, retail grocery chains, logistics service providers, and packaging companies in California and Northwest Europe to join our research and pilot project efforts in 2020. Interested companies in these areas can contact us via this form


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


History and current initiatives

In past centuries, most products were recycled or reused, as there was perpetual scarcity of food and packaging materials (5). Thus, recycling focused beyond metal, paperboard and glass, to include porcelain/clay jars, cotton bags and wooden boxes amongst other packaging materials.

Over the past 100 years, in most countries of the world, food scarcity subsided, and efficient industrial production created mass-produced raw materials and packages for food production and distribution. During the 20th century, plastic packaging was also introduced into the food supply chain. The net result of this has been less food waste, more consumer choice and convenience, longer supply chains, and much lower prices for food.

As packaging pollution increases worldwide, numerous government and non-profit organizations are implementing laws and initiatives to turn the tide against simple linear production of food. Recent Extended Product Responsibility (ERP) policies extend a manufacturer’s responsibility for reducing packaging impacts downstream, when consumers are done with them (22) (23). Over the past 30 years, more than 300 ERP laws have been passed and implemented in both the European Union and in the USA, with a good overview provided by CalRecycle (24) and OECD (25). Of these laws, only 17% of them are related to actual packaging.

The OECD reports that in the European Union recycling rates of packaging vary between 29% and 84% in 2014, with a target of 55% for all plastic waste by 2025. In 2016, in the European Union, recycling of plastic packaging reached a level of 40.8% and, for the first time, recycling rates exceeded energy recovery and landfill rates (26). Collection of plastic packaging in the Netherlands is higher, close to 50% in 2019 (27), but unfortunately only 35% of the collected waste ends up being recycled into new plastic, resulting in a yield of only 17%.

There are several reasons for such a low yield, which are beyond the scope of this article. But some of the main limitations behind using recycled plastics for food are:

• Food safety requirements for recycled plastics used for food (28) (29).

• Competition in undifferentiated markets for recycled plastic versus virgin plastics (30).

• Many new virgin plastics production plants coming online driven by cheap natural gas prices, resulting in cheap virgin materials (31).

Now let’s look at specific initiative and activities in California and the Netherlands.

Recently, in California, a new Senate Bill (SB-54) called California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act is going through committee processes (32). The goal of this law is to achieve 75% recycling rates by 2030, and to reduce single-use packaging by 75%. Currently, in California less than 9% of plastic is recycled.

Historically, California has depended on exporting plastics and paper packaging streams to China and other countries—which is no longer possible. It’s noteworthy that about 75 organizations in and outside the state support the new bill, while seven major organizations—including the Grocery Manufacturers Assn., Plastics Industry Assn. and Household and Commercial Products Assn.—oppose the new bill.

A longer campaign has existed to educate California consumers and small- and medium-sized businesses about reusables for food products and food production. The Use Reusables campaign is a joint project of Alameda County (CA) public agency  and the Reusable Packaging Assn. (RPA). Launched in 2007, the campaign’s goal is to help businesses and institutions assess and optimize the transport packaging materials and systems they use, either within their manufacturing process or for product distribution (33). Thus far, the focus has been on totes, crates, intermediate bulk containers and reusable strapping to secure bundled bulk pallets of products in business-to-business (B2B) closed-loop deliveries.

In the Netherlands, the government launched the program A Circular Economy in the Netherlands by 2050 in September 2016. In this program, a nationwide plan is drawn up by multiple ministries to function as a vision for the successful implementation of the circular economy. The goal formulated in this report is to reduce the amount of primary resources used in the Netherlands by 50% in 2030, and to become completely circular by 2050 (34). In addition, the government facilitated the creation and support of the website Holland Circular Hotspot. It is a private public platform in which companies, knowledge institutes and (local) authorities collaborate internationally to exchange knowledge and stimulate entrepreneurship in the field of circular economy (35).

In 2014, as part of the Dutch government’s efforts to ramp up extended producer responsibility of packaging, the “Packaging Waste Fund” was established by producers and importers. This fund’s purpose is to collectively meet the extended producer responsibilities as stated in the national Packaging Decree and Packaging Agreement between industry and the government. It is a not-for-profit organization governed by a board of directors, who are themselves appointed by producers and importers (36).

Thus, as of 2018, all producers and importers of end-user consumer packaged products must pay levies into the waste fund, which vary between 2 and 78 euro-cents per kilogram (Note: B2B logistics packaging is not included) (37). Manufacturers packaging consumer products can qualify for lower levies if they agree to use a certain percentage of recycled content in their packages. Thus, economic incentives are being created to use recycled streams of materials. This organization reports that, in 2017, the Dutch recycled 87% of paper and paperboard, 86% glass, 95% metal, 73% wood and 50% plastic.

The Packaging Waste Fund resulted in the creation of the Netherlands Institute for Sustainable Packaging (KIDV), which is funded for 10 years at 2M euros per year by the fund. The KIDV employs a staff of 16 and acts as a national clearing house for developing, sharing and bringing knowledge together in the form of events, collaborative research, tools and expert advice (38). The KIDV is similar to the non-profit member-supported American Sustainable Packaging Coalition, which has been active since 2004.

A lot of the KIDV’s current activities focus on plastics, as the Netherlands already recycles a majority of non-plastics. For example, last July, they initiated a Community of Practice (CoP) with a consortium of companies facing similar challenges related to developing metallized flexible packaging that is suitable for the circular economy (39). The government decided that one of the five focus areas of its circular economy initiatives should focus on plastics.

In private industry, in February 2019, Dutch Grocery Store Organization made up of 24 corporate members agreed to reducing all packaging in their retail stores by 20% by 2025 (40). Initial efforts will focus on fruits and vegetables and on increasing recycled content of packaging. Another organization, MVO (Dutch Foundation for Socially Responsible Entrepreneurship) is also working on facilitating circular economy projects and matchmaking between companies. Their Future Proof Community website has more than 3,500 companies and acts as a matchmaker for companies that put out sustainable or circular challenges and companies suggesting solutions (41).


1. Kidd, Charles V. The evolution of sustainability. J Agric Environ Ethics, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1992. Vol. 1.

2. Lingle, Rick. Packaging Digest, Jul. 15, 2019. Sustainability drives the top five in food and beverage packaging.

3. International Trade Centre. Sustainability Map. All processed foods in Europe and North America.

4. Jouni Korhonena, Cali Nuurb, Andreas Feldmann, Seyoum Eshetu Birkiea. Circular economy as an essentially contested concept. Journal of Cleaner Production, Elsivier, Feb. 25, 2018. Vol. 175.

5. Trentmann, Frank. Empire of Things. Penquin Random House UK Books, 2016, pp. 624-654.

6. Bjorn de Koeijer, Renee Wever, Jorg Henseler. Realizing Product-Packaging Combinations in Circular Systems: Shaping the Research Agenda. 2017, Vol. 30.

7. Katz, Cheryl. Piling Up: How China's Ban on Importing Waste Has Stalled Global Recycling. Yale University, Yale School of Forrestry & Environmental Studies, Mar. 7, 2019.

8. Erin McCormick, Charlotte Simmonds, Jessica Glenza, Katharine Gammon. Americans' plastic recycling is dumped in landfills, investigation shows. The Guardian. Jun. 21, 2019.

9. Makower, Joel. Loop’s launch brings reusable packaging to the world’s biggest brands. GreenBiz Group, Jan. 24, 2019.

10. Devenyns, Jessi. Why reuseable food packaging has a promising future. FoodDive, Jun. 25, 2019.

11. Szaky, Tom. The Future of Packaging. Oakland: Berrett-Koehler Publishsers Inc., 2019.

12. Kramer, Anna. These 10 companies make a lot of the food we buy. Here’s how we made them better. Oxfam. [Online] Dec. 10, 2014. [Cited: Jul. 25, 2019.]

13. Reusable Packaging Assn. A cost comparison model for reusable transport packaging. 102, June 2016.

14. Studies and Report. Reusable Industrial Packaging Assn. [Online] Aug. 18, 2019. [Cited: Aug. 18, 2019.]

15. National Geographic. Tiny Country Feeds the World. September 2017.

16. California Department of Food and Agriculture. California Agricultural Production Statistics. 2017.

17. Wharton University of Pennsylvania. Reusable Packaging from Big Brands: Will Consumers Buy In? Wharton Business School, [email protected], Feb. 12, 2019.

18. Nielson. Consumer-Goods’ Brands That Demonstrate Commitment To Sustainability Outperform Those That Don’t. [Webpage]. Oct. 12, 2015.

19. Judith Kas, Bram Bet & Daphne Truijens. Barriers and Best Practices for the Circular Economy. SMO Promovendi. Circular Minds 2017-2018.

20. Rabobank Nederland. ABN AMRO, ING and Rabobank launch finance guidelines for circular economy. Rabobank Nederland Press Releases. [Online] Jul. 9, 2018. [Cited: Aug. 25, 2019.]

21. Erik Pauer*, Bernhard Wohner, Victoria Heinrich and Manfred Tacker.Assessing the Environmental Sustainability of Food Packaging: An Extended Life Cycle Assessment including Packaging-Related Food Losses and Waste and Circularity Assessment. Basel: MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland, 11 2019, Sustainability, p. 925. Section of Packaging Technology and Resource Management, University of Applied Science, 1030 Vienna.

22. European Union. Closing the loop: Commission adopts ambitious new Circular Economy Package to boost competitiveness, create jobs and generate sustainable growth. Brussels: European Union, Dec. 2, 2015.

23. California Product Stewardship Counsel. California ERP Legislation.[Online] Aug. 13, 2019. [Cited: Aug. 13, 2019.]

24. CalRecycle California Goverment. California Recylce Policy and Law. [Online] Jul. 19, 2019. [Cited: Aug. 13, 2019.]

25. OECD. OECD (2016), Extended Producer Responsibility: Updated Guidance for Efficient Waste Management, OECD Publishing, Paris. [Online] Sept. 16, 2016. [Cited: Aug. 13, 2019.]

26. PlasticsEurope Assn. of Plastics Manufacturers. Plastics the Facts 2017. European Assn. of Plastics Manufacturers, 2018.

27. Berenschot, Joost Krebbekx and Gijs Duivenvoorde - and Innovation, Siem Haffmans – Partners for. Roadmap towards increasing the sustainability of plastics packaging. NRK Verpakkingen, 2018. p. 74.

28. European Food Safety Authority. Plastics and Plastics Recycling. [Online] [Cited: Aug. 24, 2019.]

29. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Recycled Plastics in Food Packaging. [Online] Mar. 21, 2018. [Cited: Aug. 24, 2019.]

30. OECD. Improving Markets for Recycled Plastics: Trends, Prospects and Policy Responses,. Paris : OECD, 2018.

31. Project, The Climate Reality, [prod.]. Ethane Cracker Plants What Are They. Washington D.C.: The Climate Reality Project, Oct. 23, 2018.

32. Senators Allen, Skinner, Stern and Wiener. SB-54 California Circular Economy and Plastics Pollution Reduction Act. []. Sacramento, California, USA : California State Legislature, Aug. 14, 2019.

33. Reusables Organization About Page. Usereusables Organization. [Online] [Cited: Aug. 18, 2019.]

34. Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The Circular Economy. Den Haag: September 2016.

35. TNO. Holland Circular Hotspot Home Page. Holland Circular Hotspot. [Online] 2019. [Cited: Aug. 21, 2019.]

36. Dutch Packaging Waste Fund Home Page. [Online] 2019.

37. Policy Afvalfonds Verpakkingen (Packaging Waste Fund). [Online] Dec. 20, 2018. [Cited: Aug. 21, 2019.]

38. KIDV. Organizational Structure. KIDV Netherlands Institute for Sustainable Packaging. [Online] [Cited: Aug. 21, 2019.]

39. Netherlands Institute for Sustainable Packaging (KIDV). Brand owners combine forces to address challenges to make flexible packaging circular. Jul. 16, 2019. Press Release.

40. Centraal Bureau Levensmiddelenhandel (CBL). 20% minder verpakkingen in de supermarkt in 2025. CBL Laaste Nieuws . [Online] Feb. 15, 2019. [Cited: Aug. 25, 2019.]

41. MOV Nederland. Future Proof Community. Future Proof Community. [Online] Aug. 24, 2019. [Cited: Aug. 24, 2019.]


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Push-button jar lid redefines ‘easy open’

Push-button jar lid redefines ‘easy open’
Opening jarred foods is nearly twice as easy as before, thanks to the patented Eeasy Lid's push-button opening that releases the vacuum seal.

Jar opening is now as easy as pushing a button, which reduces the required torque by 40%the new Eeasy Lid debuts with Darci's brand pasta sauce.

Ever have a problem opening a jar because a lid’s on so tight that it requires a tool, rubber glove or another person just to get the darn thing off?

That frustration may be a thing of the past: Consumer Convenience Technologies unveiled today the launch of its new Eeasy Lid, which makes opening a vacuum-sealed jar up to 40% easier with just the push of a button. CCT claims that the breakthrough is the first significant innovation in the metal jar lid industry in 75 years.

The patented Eeasy Lid allows consumers to vent a jar by simply pressing a button on the lid, which opens a tiny slit that breaks the seal and releases the vacuum. After use, the lid is reclosed by pressing the button from the inside of the lid to help keep the product fresh and prevent spills.

“I’ve worked closely with CCT to thoroughly test Eeasy Lid for its suitability to ensure safety and stability of food products hot-filled into glass containers,” says Bruno Xavier, PhD., a processing authority at Cornell University. “Through our studies, we’ve found that these lids provide a stable hermetic seal. By pressing the center of the Eeasy Lid, users simply release the vacuumed air, making it easy to open—ultimately providing a better experience to consumers, as indicated by the data provided by the manufacturer.”

Consumers can tell whether their product has been tampered with by looking at the button on the Eeasy Lid, which will be inverted if it has been previously opened. 

The Eeasy Lid was invented by Pete Stodd, managing partner at CCT and president of Container Development Ltd., which developed the CDL end, used in 75% of beverage cans manufactured worldwide. Stodd was approached by a friend who couldn’t open a jar due to breast cancer, so he spent the next eight years developing the Eeasy Lid.

“About a third of consumers can’t open a jar, so the Eeasy Lid expands the market for manufacturers and retailers by making the product useable to everyone,” adds James Bach, CCT managing partner.

CCT can produce Eeasy Lids, which are intended for use on vacuum-sealed glass jars, in sizes from 58mm-82mm.

The lids are a seamless drop-in for current capping/packaging lines, according to president Brandon Bach, who tells Packaging Digest, “the Eeasy button is below the chime, enabling the lid to be applied by cappers.”

Production and launch

CCT will begin producing CT versions of the Eeasy Lid in December before they appear in stores in January when Pennsylvania-based Boyer’s markets will use the CT Eeasy Lids on its Darci’s brand pasta sauce in all 18 stores. The product will be produced and packaged by Stello Foods and distributed by Cavallaro Foods.

“After working in the food packaging industry for more than 30 years, it is nice to see an advancement in packaging design as simple and effective as the Eeasy Lid,” says Nickki Stello, owner of Stello Foods. “I could easily see this lid becoming the preferred jar lid packaging solution for the industry, accepted and appreciated by all consumers.”

Packaging Digest learned that Darci’s will use 70G (standard mouth 70mm) CT lids on 26-ounce jars of pasta sauce. The lids are made of aluminum and use the same coatings as common tinplate lids.

CCT has performed a battery of tests on the Eeasy Lid including shipping test products by air and ground domestically and to Canada and France. The company has also filled and shipped products at different elevations.

“Once people experience the Eeasy Lid, they’re hooked,” says James Bach. “We’ve developed a simple solution to an issue that everyone can identify with. Opening a jar equipped with the Eeasy Lid is a completely different experience.”

When asked about the costs, Brandon Bach responds, “Eeasy Lid pricing will be based on market conditions. Switching to the Eeasy Lid expands the market by making the product available to the 30% of consumers who are not able to open a standard jar lid—that’s people who are aging, lack grip strength or are dealing with health issues like arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel or recovering from a surgical procedure. We also see the Eeasy Lid as a means of premiumization for many brands because it is an all-inclusive product.”

CCT is expanding the Eeasy Lid platform by developing the world’s first aluminum lug, which will begin production in January. Testing on the lug version of the Eeasy Lid showed a 58% reduction in the amount of torque needed to open a jar compared to a traditional steel lug.

That will allow the Eeasy Lid to be available for use on products that utilize lug lids, which is about 80% of the market, according to CCT.

Further plans look to push the lids’ market beyond Darci’s launch.

“We hired Daymon Worldwide to assist in the go-to-market strategy for both manufactures and retailers, Brandon Bach points out. “We are planning to begin to approach both classes of trade after the first of the year. We are going to Grow-NY and the PLMA trade shows to begin to talk with potential clients about the New Eeasy lid.”

The Push Button Closure on the Eeasy Lids is patented and is covered by multiple patents, according to CCT.

For more information, visit Consumer Convenience Technologies

Next-gen flow wrappers handle sustainable films, simplify sanitation

Next-gen flow wrappers handle sustainable films, simplify sanitation

Flow wrappers are evolving with the times. Driving the many improvements in this area of packaging automation are the marketplace demand for more sustainable flexible packaging materials, high operator turnover, and food processors’ emphasis on product quality and safety. On the horizon, too, is augmented reality (AR) technology for better training and faster troubleshooting.

The upshot is an emerging generation of flow wrappers that are easier to use, faster to clean and generally more efficient. Flow-wrapper manufacturers are designing the systems to reduce film waste and to simplify sanitation and maintenance—in many cases with a smaller equipment footprint.

Used to package baked goods, candy bars, medical products and a variety of consumer goods, newer flow wrappers are compatible with an expanding range of flexible materials, including recyclable and biodegradable films.

For our exclusive Q&A on advancements in flow wrappers, Packaging Digest asked the following industry insiders to share their thoughts on recent developments, as well as what they expect to see in the future:

• Graham Nice, regional sales manager at Campbell Wrapper Corp.;

• Angela McDaniel, marketing coordinator at Formost Fuji Corp.;

• Christian Ballabio, engineering department manager at Ilapak Intl. SA.

What recent advancements have you seen in flow wrappers?

McDaniel: They’re easier to operate, incorporating a human-machine interface (HMI) that has been designed to be easy to use. For example, operators can be quickly trained to use HMIs that are designed with icons, to be more like a smartphone or tablet. This is important with the high turnover rate and younger tech-savvy employees.

Short film routing saves material, while the easier-to-thread film routing saves time.


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


Reduction of changeover time is another advancement with today’s wrappers. Improvements that can be done to the wrapper to help reduce labor and material expenses, and still maintain package seal quality, is important.

Improved sanitary design is critical. With sanitation being such a big part of the food industry, it has become imperative that manufacturers improve upon equipment design to make it easier to thoroughly sanitize and inspect.

For example, some wrappers can be quickly disassembled, leaving the wrapper wide open for thorough sanitation, easy inspection and maintenance availability.

The Formost Fuji Alpha 8 Flow Wrapper features a sanitary design, operator-friendly HMI and short film routing.

Nice: Intelligent track infeeds and ultrasonic fin sealing are advanced technologies that are emerging for flow wrappers. Newer open-frame wrapper design is more sanitary than sealed-tube construction. The feeder and wrapper are cantilevered to allow crumbs and debris to fall through.

Ballabio: Higher automation content, better performance, the capability to process new materials such as recyclable/biodegradable/mono-material, the evolution of modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) and the growth of hygienic design are all recent advancements.

How do these advanced systems compare to the existing standard equipment?

Nice: In ultrasonic fin sealing, there is no heat involved with sealing. And ultrasonic sealing provides feedback on the energy used to create the seal.

Sometimes machine size is an issue. Intelligent track infeeds use less floor space by potentially shortening the wrapper’s overall length. And we’ve got a dual, back-to-back machine—two independent wrappers mounted on a common backplate—that takes up less floor space compared to two standard single-lane wrappers.

Ballabio: Advanced systems have evolved in four areas: electronics and software, sealing technologies, materials and surface treatments, and gas management and oxygen control.

McDaniel: It is important for equipment to evolve with today’s technology. Using the options that improve upon the efficiency of the flow wrapper can greatly reduce the cost of use. Purchasing equipment without the advanced features will end up costing more in the long run.

What are the benefits of these advancements for packaging machinery buyers/users?

Ballabio: Benefits include higher efficiency, extended shelf life for products, and easier cleaning and maintenance.

McDaniel: Reduction in film waste and shortening the time spent operating and cleaning the wrapper are improvements that can provide savings in many ways to buyers, adding to their profit margin. As they say, “time is money” on the production floor, so having equipment that is simple to operate is important.

Nice: Intelligent track infeeds can reduce the overall floor space/footprint and can handle more irregular product flow versus a conventional automatic product feeder. 

With no heat involved in ultrasonic fin sealing, it can be a plus for heat-sensitive products like those containing or being coated in chocolate, or temperature-sensitive medical devices and drugs. Ultrasonic sealing can potentially reduce the amount of film required for a typical flow-wrapped package and maintain the same quality of seal or better, versus conventional heat-sealing technology. It produces a hermetic seal even when there is contamination, like crumbs, in the fin-seal area.

More sanitary designs allow for easier allergen cleaning, and there are fewer areas on the machine for harborage, leading to significantly reduced cleaning time.

A Campbell flow wrapper configured with JLS Talon robotic loading system is suited to packaging fresh and frozen baked goods, including desserts and snacks.

What areas in flow wrapping still need work and why?

McDaniel: I believe we will continue to see improvement in the sealing capabilities with sustainable materials. As recyclable films improve, flow wrappers will need to be adapted to provide good seal quality for the different types of materials.

Nice: Infeed chains. Most machines still have infeed chains that are hard to clean and present changeover challenges. I would expect to see more lugless infeeds in the future.

Sealing-technology advancements will be a necessary development for recyclable and biodegradable film structures, as well as for lighter-gauge films that aim to reduce landfill for anything non-recyclable.

Ballabio: Feeding systems are key for automatic apps. Quality-control features are key for requirements and efficiency.

The modular Ilapak Delta X flow wrapper was designed for MAP bakery applications.

What’s next, and when might we see further improvements in flow wrappers?

Ballabio: Industry 4.0, connectivity and augmented reality.

McDaniel: The use of AR and virtual reality (VR) technology for training and service purposes will be coming to the forefront over the next few years, saving time and money.

Nice: Over the next five years, I think we will see more integration directly into robotic feeding and cartoning/case-packing solutions. Flow wrappers will be more of a packaging component rather than just a standalone packaging operation unit. 

Also, we’ll see higher speeds and reduced labor requirements, and machines with artificial intelligence (AI) that operate within the Internet of Things. [This type of smart machine] can self-optimize its operation and self-diagnose any maintenance or quality issues, as well as contact vendors for service and/or parts, as necessary, and reorder consumables such as film without human intervention.

I also believe that within the next 10 years we will see individual package track-and-trace technology—like the kind the pharmaceutical industry is currently implementing—throughout the food industry, and that the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) will be expanded to include any food or product that has a shelf life, so it can be tracked back to the date, time and place that it was packaged.


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Coca-Cola trials recycled marine plastic for beverage packaging

Coca-Cola trials recycled marine plastic for beverage packaging
Producing 300 bottles made with 25% recycled plastic collected from marine cleanups gives Coca-Cola proof of concept that the recycling technology works and can be scaled in the future for wider use.

The Coca-Cola Co., as part of its sustainable packaging focus, recently proved that plastic fished from waterways and plucked from beaches can be recycled into bottles suitable for soft drinks.

The company last month announced production of a sample quantity of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles containing 25% recycled marine plastic—purportedly the first food-grade bottles produced using this kind of post-consumer recycled material.

The 300 sample marine bottles exemplify a closed-loop system for transforming previously unrecyclable PET back into food/beverage packaging, and the Coca-Cola project provides proof of concept for the approach.

To retrieve marine plastic and recycle it into resin for the sample bottles, Coca-Cola partnered with Ioniqa Technologies, based in the Netherlands; Indorama Ventures, in Thailand; and Spain’s Mares Circulares (Circular Seas) marine-debris collection/recycling collaboration.

Mares Circulares, which is partially funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation, collected post-consumer plastic for the project from the Mediterranean Sea and beaches. Volunteers helped clean up 84 beaches in Spain and Portugal, and fisherman from 12 ports removed marine waste from the water.

Ioniqa used its proprietary “enhanced recycling” method to break down the marine plastic into its molecular building blocks. With Ioniqa’s technology, waste plastic is physically shredded, and the pieces are placed in a chemical solution that purifies and depolymerizes the plastic.

The resulting liquid is dried, and resin manufactures can use the powder to make transparent, high-quality PET resin. In the case of the marine bottles, Indorama was the resin manufacturer.

During the summer of 2019, Ioniqa commenced operation of an enhanced recycling plant in the Netherlands. The plant processes otherwise non-recyclable (non-marine) PET and has an output capacity of 10,000 metric tons per year. Coca-Cola has announced that it plans to use this type of recycled content in some bottles in the near future.

Bruno Van Gompel, technical and supply chain director, Coca-Cola Western Europe, answers Packaging Digest’s questions about the sample bottles.

Please describe the enhanced recycling technology used to make the sample marine bottles.

Van Gompel: Enhanced recycling is a chemical process, also known as depolymerization, where the PET plastic is converted back into its original building blocks, otherwise known as monomers. This effectively pushes a reset button. The process also restores the molecular strength to the monomers and removes any potential contamination.

The monomers can then be rebuilt via polymerization to create food-grade PET plastic. This means that lower-grade plastics—like marine plastic—can be recovered and upcycled back into food-grade packaging materials, with their value returned, not just once but again and again.

How is Ioniqa's recycling technology different from, or better than, other chemical-recycling methods?

Van Gompel: The benefit of enhanced recycling is that, like similar depolymerization technologies, it is capable of handling complex waste—such as colored bottles, non-food containers or polyester-based fibers, much of which would currently end up in incinerators or landfill—and converting it into monomers. But it doesn’t have to to go back to basic petrochemicals to create these monomers, hence requiring less energy than chemical processes based on pyrolysis or gasification.


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


Through Ioniqa’s process, which uses smart fluids and a unique separation process to split the PET chains back into their two basic molecules and then reconstitutes them, low-end feedstock is upcycled into “virgin” raw material that can be used to create new, high-end PET through polymerization, suitable for any and all uses, including food-grade plastics.

What is the protocol for ensuring that the plastic created via this recycling method is food-safe?

Van Gompel: Our first concern is always to ensure consumer safety for our products. We will not put anything in the market that is not safe. So, from an industrial-chemistry perspective, the technology has to prove itself to be industrially sound through rigorous testing.

Does Coca-Cola have a timeline for commercial use of marine bottles?

Van Gompel: Our sample marine-litter bottles have been developed as a proof of concept for what the technology may achieve in time. While we now know this can be done, there is a great deal more work needed before marine litter can be collected and recycled at the scale needed for commercialization.

The enhanced recycling technology is still in its very early stages, and in the immediate term we will work with Ioniqa and Indorama to introduce at a commercial scale by using waste streams from existing recyclers, including previously unrecyclable plastics and lower-quality recyclables. From 2020, we plan to include this enhanced recycled content in some of our bottles.


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Mitigating packaging damage in the supply chain

Mitigating packaging damage in the supply chain

Before putting together a plan to reduce package damage during distribution and transportation through the supply chain, you need to examine how damage occurs and ponder these questions.

Even stretching the limits of extreme accountability, it’s virtually impossible for an inanimate object—say, a case of twenty-four 18oz cans of corn—to heed a common warning: “Travel at your own risk.”

Or even the caution “Items may shift during loading.”

Much as it would be convenient to attribute dents, rips, and punctures to the products themselves, the inconvenient truth is the supply chain is an imperfect mover. Touch points can become flash points for product damage. Entire unit loads rejected at distribution centers can cost well over a thousand dollars each and create significant delays.

In the end, supply chains suffer, manufacturer-retailer relationships are jeopardized, and consumers wind up paying.

So, how extensive is the problem? Is there a viable solution? And just where do you start?

Before putting together a plan, let’s examine how product damage occurs and some questions to ponder.

Risk all around

It’s fair to say that billions of products—all types, all sizes, all purposes—make the trip from the manufacturing plant to a distribution center to a retail store.

Despite its repetitive nature, this exercise presupposes a certain level of risk for product damage. Yet other factors outside the transportation and handling of these products contribute to damages.

Each component of the supply chain—package design, manufacturing, transportation, warehousing/distribution, retail support, retail operations—as well as Mother Nature herself can be a source of damage.


The material and strength of packaging, and even the design, can factor into damage. Consider:

  • Flute and wall construction. With four sizes of flute patterns (which can run horizontal or vertical) and varying thicknesses of wall construction, corrugated boxes run the gamut when it comes to durability. Flute and wall construction must be appropriate to the need. Certain types of cardboard are better for shipping heavy items, some types are more resistant to puncture, while other types are better for printing and display.
  • Stackability. What does the unit load sit on in the warehouse—pallets, slip sheets? What are pallets made of and what is their condition? How many levels can the unit load be stacked without affecting compression?

Unit Load Design

Is there overhang or underhang? What about column or interlocking stacking? How the unit load is designed and “interacts” with material handling, packaging and transportation go a long way to determining the extent, if any, of damage.

Palletizer Performance

The “heartbreak of gaposis” frequently threatens case integrity. Ideally, there should be no gaps between cases that are stacked on top of each other. However, over time, cases can shift, creating a gap that can lead to product damage. Gaposis that originates at the palletizer dramatically increases the potential for damage.

Stretch-wrap Effectiveness

How appropriately stretch-wrap is applied can be a big factor in whether a product sustains damage. First, it’s important to ensure compatibility between the film used and the stretch-wrap machinery. Another area to examine is the force-to-load measurement, or the amount (in lbs.) of strength/force applied to hold the product together.

It’s important to monitor whether the recommended pre-stretchage is being adhered to in the process.

Trailer Loading Pattern

It’s not easy loading a 53-ft.-trailer. But there’s a way to maximize its space. Loading decisions must seek to balance productivity, safety, transportation and equipment costs, and product protection. One effective strategy is “pinwheeling,” in which the direction of every other pallet is altered. It combines loading pallets straight and turned. Pinwheeling helps to more fully utilize the space in a trailer or container when there is inadequate width to permit loading two turned pallets side by side.

Another way to stabilize, secure and protect loads in a trailer is by using dunnage, such as air bags, partitions, braces and load locks.

The type of dunnage selected depends on the type of shipment and the other packaging materials being used, as well as convenience and price.


From travel distance to changes in road conditions and elevation, transportation can have wide-ranging effects on the level of product damage. Stiffer trailers combined with rough roads can magnify the compressive stress on boxes by a factor of 10.

Shock and vibration can affect stiff trailers with no cushion load.

One way to avoid this is to use air-ride suspension trailers, which are uniquely adapted with air hoses that span from the truck to the trailer. They are also larger, using more air volume to accommodate the greater weight of truck and load.

A matter of protection: The environment or the product?

Because products must be brought securely to market, some form of packaging will always be needed. Therefore, any discussion about improving the sustainability of production and consumption must always address packaging as an essential part of the supply chain.

The main purpose of packaging is to provide protection for products. Logically, the more packaging there is, the more protection there should be.

And the resulting higher cost is passed on to the consumer.

The logical question one would ask, then, “Is all the packaging that’s being used necessary?” In many cases, the answer is no.

 But is there an optimal balance between overpackaging and underpackaging?

Consider that while shifting to more eco-friendly materials meets consumers’ increasing demand for more-sustainable packaging, the likelihood for damage rises.

In fact, it’s possible that damage waste has a greater adverse impact on the environment than the extra packaging itself.

Given the economic and environmental costs vs. benefits of different materials, designs, applications and logistical operations, what’s the best way to effectively manage these variables to make the most appropriate packaging decisions? How can we arrive at the optimal packaging solutions that strike the right balance between cost, environmental impact, and safety, while allocating costs appropriately?

It’s the heat and the humidity

Climate and geography can be significant contributors to product damage. Heat and humidity are the two biggest enemies of packaging strength.

Forty% of the strength of corrugate is lost within the first 30 days of storage. Higher humidity levels can drastically affect corrugate strength. Corrugate is 71% weaker at 95% humidity vs. 50% humidity.

Excessive moisture or water can soften or even dissolve the corrugating adhesive, causing delamination; a box that literally falls apart won’t offer much protection. Heat can also reduce the moisture content of corrugated boxes, making them brittle.

Less-than-ideal or fluctuating climate conditions reduce corrugate effectiveness and shorten its useful life.

How big is this problem?

As much as 11% of unit loads arriving at a distribution center have some level of case damage. On average, the figure is around 2%.

On the surface this number might seem small, but the ramifications can be quite large.

Most of the damage on an inbound load is compression based, with the lowest tier of a unit load being the most vulnerable, and the second tier the next most vulnerable.

Surprisingly, the top tier is third on the vulnerability scale. This tier is susceptible to impact-related damage caused by unit loads leaning or being out of vertical alignment.

Evidence of damage is heavy creasing to the corrugate, a punctured case or other tell-tale signs, such as tears and rips.

Workers have a couple options. They can pull the pallet and put it in a “re-coup” area and submit a claim to the manufacturer. The pallet is designated as “damaged on delivery from the plant,” and the carrier takes it back.

However, a troubling trend has emerged. Faced with the manufacturing-industry standard of a two-hour unload window or risk hefty detention charges, retailers frequently reject entire unit loads at the dock—even if only one or two cartons are damaged.

Is this practical? Can retailers really afford to do this? After all, they must need the product (they ordered it, right?). But are they cognizant of the tremendous cost and waste that result from this practice?

A very small percentage—typically less than 1%—of the products within the cartons are damaged. This means that the cases are doing their job to protect what’s inside. On the other hand, there is the potential for a significant amount of undamaged product being rejected.

So, although eliminating damages completely from supply chains is unrealistic, companies can approach the issue pragmatically and establish a system to measure and monitor the process so improvements can be made more efficiently.

You’re getting warmer . . . no, colder

With the landscape of product damage defined, the path toward improvement must start with a robust system that helps pinpoint where efforts need to be focused.

In other words, this cannot be a “needle in a haystack” approach. 

First, learn whether the damage occurred in manufacturing, distribution or in transit. Develop a thorough understanding of how each part of the process affects the other: Is loading being done properly at the distribution center? Is the product appropriately stabilized? Are incidence rates being observed, captured and tracked?

The more in-depth information you uncover and the more precisely you can identify the sources of the issues, the better you’ll be able to develop and execute a corrective action plan.

A key element of this strategy is a root cause analysis, which reveals the “where, what, why” aspects of product damage, setting the stage for impactful, money-saving improvements throughout the supply chain.

To put it another way, don’t treat damage research like an Easter egg hunt. Wandering around hoping to find treasures—or in this case, problems—isn’t a strategy when so much money is on the line. You need to be laser focused on specific targets, so you know exactly where to make improvements.

About the author

Gene Bodenheimer, senior vice president, retail logistics damage research at Genco, leads the company’s team responsible for investigating solutions for unsaleable products as well as supply chain solutions within Genco's retail vertical.  Over his 25-year career Bodenheimer has spoken on a wide variety of topics including reverse logistics, health and beauty accessories and damage research.  He can be reached at [email protected].



Without better labeling, compostable packaging will struggle

Without better labeling, compostable packaging will struggle
Embossed language identifying a product/package as compostable isn't always as easy to read, especially for sorters working at a demanding speed.

San Francisco is often the poster child of compostable packaging. Polystyrene is banned, and restaurants are required to use compostable or recyclable containers and utensils. With supportive regulations, savvy consumers and access to composting infrastructure, compostable packaging should be a slam dunk, right?

Yet a recent interview with the San Francisco Examiner, a representative from Recology, the city’s recycling and composting service provider, confirmed that many compostable plastics were being pulled out by sorters and landfilled. Why? The problem is how these products are labeled. 

Most compostable items, especially compostable plastics, look exactly like their non-compostable counterparts. Clamshell containers, lids and utensils are simply embossed, often on the bottom of the item, to identify them as compostable while claims on the products themselves vary widely, from “Compostable” to “Biodegradable” to statements about sourcing like “Made from corn.” Green or brown stripes may be added to larger items, but non-compostable items can also be marked with green or brown symbols. 

Currently, compostable bags are the only category with best practices starting to take hold, like the use of green tinting, the words “Certified Compostable” in prominent text (1-inch or larger), and certification logos like BPI and OK Home Compost. For other product categories, especially clamshells and utensils, whether it’s actually compostable is anybody’s guess. 

New laws push labeling of more products

New bills aim to address this confusion head-on. Washington’s HB 1569 (effective July 2020) and California’s proposed (but recently tabled) SB 54 outline labeling requirements for all compostable products, including product packaging, food serviceware and bags. Washington’s bill requires that all compostable products be labeled in a way that is “easily and readily identifiable” and include a certification logo or the word “Compostable.” 


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These two new bills build on earlier versions of compostable labeling laws, which only address compostable bags. For instance, Maryland’s HB 1349, effective since October 2017, sets strict requirements for the use of certification logos, wording and green tinting on bags but not on other compostable plastics or compostable products. Ultimately, both types of laws aim to eliminate greenwashing, reduce consumer confusion and aid composters in identifying which products coming into their facility are actually compostable. 

In the absence of clear labels, composters err on the side of caution

At Recology’s composting facility and at facilities across the country, sorters pull out unmarked, plastic-looking items to avoid contamination. Even compostable paper coffee cups are likely to be removed for fear they’re conventional paper cups lined with plastic. A compostable plastic may be embossed with a certification logo or the words “Certified Compostable,” but no sorter is going to be able to spot this subtle labeling. 

Washington’s bill adds “processing facilities” to the list of stakeholders who need to be able to identify compostable products. This further limits what is considered “easily identifiable”—a consumer disposing of a cup may spot the green stripe, but composters and sorters trying to identify materials in a truck or within a pile will require the largest and most obvious labeling, far beyond what most products have today. 

Consumers are increasingly frustrated with compostability claims 

Consumers (as well as non-profits and media) are starting to put compostability in quotations—as in, “These bowls are ‘compostable’ but are actually landfilled.” More than a punctuation preference, this indicates that for many people, the claim (even when supported by third-party certification) doesn’t mean much unless the item actually gets composted.

The first and largest barrier to composting is the lack of widespread industrial facilities and curbside collection programs. But even in regions with composting infrastructure, like the Bay Area, consumers are frustrated that compostable packaging isn’t getting composted. If composters can’t identify what’s compostable and are pulling these items out of their trucks and composting piles, then it’s not truly compostable in the eyes of many consumers. Larger, more standardized product labeling is essential for identification, and by extension, consumer buy-in. 

Compostable products need standardized labeling 

Labeling laws will continue to evolve in the direction of requiring clear labeling for all products. Washington’s law is the first evidence of this. And if California passes a similar bill, manufacturers will need to tackle labeling in a key geographic market.

It’s not just food serviceware—CPG brands venturing into compostability for categories like compostable wrappers should pay close attention, learning from the pitfalls of compostable plastics and designing packaging a composter can quickly and easily spot. 

Proposed and passed labeling bills refer to “industry standards” for labeling, which don’t yet exist—there’s no standard color to represent compostability, for instance. Manufacturers should collaborate pre-competitively to develop these standards, since better labeling benefits everyone. It eliminates bad actors making unverified compostability claims, and it allows consumers and composters alike to spot and sort compostable products more quickly and easily, increasing the chance these products will actually be composted.


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


Packaging Digest Audience Survey 2019 Sweepstakes


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Drug companies turn to blow-fill-seal for vaccines and more

Drug companies turn to blow-fill-seal for vaccines and more

Healthy demand for unit-dose pharmaceutical packaging, particularly for aseptically filled liquid medications, is creating an opportunity for blow-fill-seal (BFS) technology suppliers and their customers.

Used for the aseptic packaging of ophthalmic products, respiratory (inhaled) medications, biologics and vaccines and other injectable drugs, BFS technology enables continuous, automated forming, filling and sealing of unit-dose liquid packs.

Package formats include ampoules, vials and bottles, and product sterility can be assured throughout the process. Benefits of BFS, versus glass packaging, include reduced waste and breakage and the elimination of product preservatives, which patients may be allergic to.


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BFS technology is expected to reach a market value of US$2 billion in 2019 and experience a compound annual growth rate of about 8% between 2019 and 2029, with North America and Western Europe representing the largest markets for BFS pharmaceutical products, according to a recent technology report from Future Market Insights (FMI).

FMI identifies Catalent Inc., The Ritedose Corp., Unipharma LLC and Unither Pharmaceuticals as the “tier 1 players” in BFS technology globally. Of these, Catalent, Ritedose and Unipharma are headquartered in the United States.

Unither, which is based in France, runs two high-speed unit-dose BFS lines in France plus one in Rochester, NY. The company operates a commercial office and laboratory in China, as well. Also in Asia Pacific, UK-based GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) fills BFS vaccines at GSK Australia’s Boronia facility, near Melbourne.

Pharmaceutical companies in other regions are also making strides in the global BFS market. For example, India-based Sentiss, a provider of BFS ophthalmic and inhaled medications, says it is the first Indian company to commercialize BFS eye drops in the Russian market. Sentiss uses the technology to create unit-dose and multidose packaging.


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Faces ‘personalize’ Halloween packaging

Faces ‘personalize’ Halloween packaging
Halloween is the time of year when people most connect with skeletons, right?

How do you help consumers connect with your product during a holiday of ghosts, ghouls and ghastly creatures? Humanize the packaging! This Halloween, we noticed a trend of brands featuring facial features on their packages. Here’s a fast and fun look at a half-dozen standouts—including a new design from PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay and bare-bones packs for costumes.

1. We start at the top (literally!) with a human head…

In a creative example of packaging reusability, The Hershey Co. sells two of its favorite chocolate candies—Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups miniatures and Hershey’s miniatures—in an injection molded white skull that doubles as a bowl/decoration. Party hosts can use and reuse the dead-head to hold candy or other giveaway goodies.

Graphics are printed on removable labels, with the main one a full-body (well…just the head!) shrink label, printed with black-and-white spiders and webs with color brand/product identifiers of the candy inside in the eye-sockets. Once labels are removed, the plain “container” loses its brand identity but becomes a useful decoration year after year.

Granted, with such an unusual package shape, the shrink label is a bit wrinkly in spots—but that kind of adds to the tactile appeal. At least it did for me when I picked it up—almost like old skin on bones.

A thermoformed cap is held on the top of the skull with a removable pressure-sensitive label, which provides some product protection (unfortunately, many of the skulls were “opened” on the shelf at the Jewel store where I found this). For added safety, sealed, plain white bags inside the skull holds the two types of wrapped candies.


2. Day of the Dead Tattoos are packed simply in a clear flat pouch with an easy-open flap on the bottom and a header with a peg hole at the top. Eye-catching color graphics on the front show the proper placement of the temporary tattoos, while the actual sheet of tattoos shows through the transparent back.


3. Mars goes a familiar route with big-mouth monsters providing a peek into the bag to see what you’re buying. The standard pillow-pack pouch adds gussets on the sides so, with the weight of the candy, the bag flattens on the bottom to stand up nicely for vertical shelf display.


4. Minimal packaging is all that’s needed to merchandise this Dog Selfie Kit. A peggable paperboard card is printed with an attractive face, with the “costume”—a headband with dog ears and a plastic nose—held on with twist-ties poked through a couple holes. Not much expense for a low-cost item.


5. An entire end-aisle display of character glasses also uses a simple paperboard card with die-cut slits so the glasses can fold down and hold themselves on the “package.” Some of the glasses are licensed characters, like Marvel’s Captain America, and others are generic animal or other “faces.”


6. This year, Frito-Lay is doing something new with its Halloween Variety Pack, which holds 18 single-serve bags of popular salty snacks: Cheetos, Doritos, Lays and Fritos. Not only are sturdy flexible sacks printed with fun monster faces, but they can be reused as a trick-or-treat bag in a pinch. And this year, parents can also to redeem free reflective stickers to personalize costumes or trick-or-treat bags for greater safety when going door to door.

Additionally, Frito-Lay released limited-edition trick-or-treat bags available online at Amazon and Kroger that “increase a child’s visibility or the likelihood of being seen at night when reflecting a vehicle’s headlights or other source of light against the bag,” according to Frito-Lay. Click here to watch a video.


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