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Bacardi’s Foray into Sustainable Packaging Has Some Challenges

Image: Bacardi sustainable gin and tonic

As brand owners look for more sustainable packaging, Barcardi made a big splash when it announced that it was looking into developing a paper bottle. Global markets analyst Lux Research noted that Bacardi isn’t the first alcohol brand to try more sustainable packaging options, but it is the first one to target polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) as a material.

“The company plans to have its 100% biopolymer bottles on shelves by 2023, which will replace 3,000 tons of conventional plastic every year,” said Lux Research Senior Research Associate Kristin Marshall. “PHAs are higher cost than incumbent plastics and are not accepted in current recycling streams, but Bacardi is prioritizing fossil-free carbon inputs and is betting that the demand for plastic alternatives and ability to market new materials outweigh such drawbacks. For a truly circular solution, however, Barcardi must work with composting facilities to ensure its products are not filtered out,” said Marshall.

While all of this sounds good, there are a few flies in the ointment. The first is the fact that Bacardi recognizes that composting facilities currently are not taking compostable plastics because they don’t degrade fast enough to satisfy composters. Despite claims that compostable plastic will break down into soil, industrial composters I’ve spoken with say that just doesn’t happen. Too many pieces of plastic remain visible in the compost, something consumers do not like to see in their gardens.

I asked Marshall about this, and here is what she said. “PHAs and other compostable plastics like PLA are touted for their appealing end-of-life attributes but most often find their way into landfills, where they take just as long as other plastics to break down. Most companies kick out ‘industrially compostable’ plastics because they do not break down as quickly as organic matter. Aerated static pile composting, the most popular system, has a typical cycle of 30 days. One of the only promising application areas we see for biodegradable bioplastics like PHA is for articles that are difficult to collect and recycle or in geographic regions where such infrastructure is not established. Thus, it was particularly surprising for us to see Bacardi and Danimer team up on an application that has a well-established recycling scheme already in place,” said Marshall.

I’m assuming that Marshall means the glass and PET recycling streams, which are well-established and relatively successful. I would say, if it isn’t broke, why fix it? That's especially true of PHA, a material about which Danimer Scientific CEO Stephen E. Croskey said in an earlier PlasticsToday article: “We believe it makes more sense to put renewable materials in the landfill instead of non-renewable materials.”

Croskey added, however, that “ideally, our materials would be disposed of in home compost bins, where they can quickly break down, or be disposed of with food waste. In the event they are littered, they will break down, unlike fossil fuel–based products.”

Bioplastic packaging fails

PlasticsToday asked Marshall about any testing done that shows how well these PHA bottles hold up under the filling process and shipping, and their shelf life. There have been incidences where bioplastic packaging has failed because it does not have the same strength-to-weight ratio as conventional plastics. Marshall replied that while this is an “important question,” Lux Research has no specific data on that.

“It is important to remember that PHAs are not one polymer but a family of polymers with a wide range of resulting thermomechanical properties,” Marshall said. “PHB, for example, is a short-chain-length PHA that has gotten a bad reputation for its high melting point and low degradation temperature, making it difficult to thermally process. A relatively high degree of crystallinity results in products that are more brittle. Other types of PHAs can resemble elastomers.

“We don’t doubt that Danimer’s Nodax PHAs have been used to achieve a bioplastic with some of the required properties to replace PET but don’t expect the material to outperform or even satisfy all of the requirements of the petroleum-based incumbent," added Marshall. “And, of course, inferior performance could lead to more material being required for a given bottle or more breakage. Bacardi has stated that the work on its bottles is ongoing and performance could certainly be one of the reasons why.”

Bacardi, like many brand owners, is attempting to fulfill promises to make all its packaging recyclable, reusable, or compostable within a few years to assuage the demands of anti-plastic activists. However you slice it, though, whether it’s made from oil, natural gas, bacteria, algae, or sugarcane residue, plastic is still plastic. If Bacardi’s liquor bottles are already recyclable, why replace them with compostable bottles when the science doesn’t show much of an advantage and composting facilities won’t accept them?

Frito Lay Launching $100M Expansion Project at Snack Plant

Image courtesy of Frito-Lay 3-Bag-Family-Shot.jpg

American snack products manufacturer Frito-Lay is moving forward on a $100 million project to add four new production lines to its Pulaski, TN, production plant, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and state economic development officials announced in a recent release.

“For more than 40 years, the Frito-Lay Pulaski site has been a proud member of the Giles County community, employing more than 450 dedicated associates, and is a key contributor to the Tennessee economy,” Kathy Alfano, senior director, Economic Development for PepsiCo, said in a statement. We appreciate the assistance and support of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development in bringing this expansion to Giles County.”

The new manufacturing assets will support growth of the PepsiCo-owned company’s PopCorners popped corn snack products, which it acquired from BFY Brands in late 2019. About 100 new jobs are expected to be created as a result of the expansion.

Frito-Lay’s Pulaski plant manufactures over 96 million lb/yr of snack products, including Grandma’s Cookies and Rold Gold pretzels, according to coverage by the Pulaski Citizen.

Work on the new lines is slated to commence in early 2021 and reach completion in early 2022.


Article courtesy of Packaging Digest's sister publication Powder & Bulk Solids.

New Products

Fortress Launching Smart Checkweighers

Image courtesy of Fortress Technology Ltd Checkweigher_FORTRESS_TECHNOLOGY.png

Fortress Technology is unveiling its expansion into checkweighing with the launch of its Raptor “smart” weigher series.


Designed for new-generation manufacturers embracing the digital revolution, Raptor checkweighers include an intelligent conveyor removal system and intuitive digital process monitoring technology to advance inspection efficiency, target operational inefficiencies and slash product giveaway.

The Raptor launch range comprises three systems: a single-frame standalone checkweigher, a combination metal detector and checkweigher, and XL case-weighing system for ingredient and big bag applications. All three address North America’s calls for robust, accurate, hygienic, and compact food weight control systems incorporating the latest digital “smart” processing technology.

Common features across the range include no-tool maintenance, leading digital software processing, and a unique conveyor motor release. 

“This is a breakthrough advancement for the North American food inspection market that applies unseen technology to improve process efficiency,” says Steve Gidman, president. “Raptor is a premium weight control solution that can be integrated with or without a metal detector, at the best price point, all delivered in a flexible, hygienic package.”

Guaranteeing absolute traceability, the Raptor introduces high-end weight control technology. By instantaneously capturing sample readings of individual packs by the millisecond, the control system provides accurate and consistent weighing results. Only possible by using the most advanced ARM processors, this data capture and analytics is important for food factories concerned about product waste and giveaway, explains Raptor Sales Engineer Matthew Gidman. “Using Raptor’s digital data capture feature, manufacturers can pinpoint upstream operational deficiencies, including overfilling of packs, processing, and packaging waste,” says Matthew Gidman.


Unique conveyor concept.

The Raptor introduces a new tight-fitting conveyor concept with a quick release and disassembly of the deck, belt, motor, and rollers. Overcoming the longstanding industry challenge of loosening belt tension during machine sanitation, operators simply unclip and disconnect the conveyor motor and lift out the entire conveyor assembly. In just seconds, the conveyor belt is removed, along with its individual components, such as rollers and bearings, for maintenance and cleaning. The belt tension and alignment are  instantly restored when clipped back into place.

Fortress Technology, Toronto, ON, Canada 416-754-2898


Article courtesy of Packaging Digest's sister publication Powder & Bulk Solids.

New Products

Elkhart Plastics Introduces New Intermediate Bulk Container

Image courtesy of Elkhart Plastics Inc. IBC_ELKHART_PLASTICS.jpg

Elkhart Plastics Inc. (EPI) is now offering the Tuff Stack Pro as part of its growing line of intermediate bulk containers (IBCs). 


The newest IBC is an inner cylindrical tank positioned within a heavy-duty all-poly structural frame designed to fit a variety of applications and process uses. It offers optional top-lifting plates and is designed and tested for 1.9 S.G. product weight.

Available in 275- and 330-gal sizes, the Tuff Stack Pro is the third IBC offered by EPI. Like the rest of the Tuff Series IBC line, the rotomolded TUFF Stack Pro is manufactured in America using food-safe and recyclable resin. The tanks easily stack with other poly IBCs, and they are washable and reusable as a more environmentally friendly option.

The Tuff Stack Pro is UN/DOT 31H1 certified and is manufactured in ISO 9001:2015 and 14001:2015 certified EPI facilities across the country. Its rotomolded construction allows the Tuff Stack Pro to provide high-impact strength.

With the Tuff Stack Pro, EPI also introduces the new Tuff LinQ outlet valve. The new valve offers a cleanable and supreme sealing design that provides a sanitary connection between the tank and valve. Its large external threading design eliminates internal threads within the product zone. All new Tuff Series IBCs are currently using the Tuff LinQ valve.

Elkhart Plastics Inc., South Bend, IN 574-232-8066


Article courtesy of Packaging Digest's sister publication Powder & Bulk Solids.

2-Alarm Fire Breaks Out at Georgia-Pacific Box Plant

Crews worked for several hours on Sunday night to douse a two-alarm fire that broke out at the Georgia-Pacific box production plant in San Leandro, CA, local news organizations reported.

Officials issued a second alarm for the fire at 11:14 p.m. and a total of 50 firefighters responded to the Alvarado Street location, coverage by CBS News affiliate KPIX said.

The fire was extinguished by 5 a.m. Monday, according to KRON. Georgia-Pacific told the news broadcaster that the fire occurred in an outdoor area used to store finished goods.

“We appreciate the rapid response by @AlamedaCoFire to address the fire at our box plant in San Leandro,” Georgia-Pacific tweeted Monday. “Thankfully there are no injuries and the fire is out. The facility expects to start back up this morning as scheduled. Thanks to all the first responders who helped.”

Georgia-Pacific’s San Leandro plant produces corrugated boxes, information on the company’s website states.


Article courtesy of Packaging Digest's sister publication Powder & Bulk Solids.

Beverage Market and Packaging Trends and Facts

monticellllo/Adobe Stock Colorful beverage  packaging group AdobeStock 279692163 Editorial Use Only

What’s going on in the beverage market? And what are the packaging trends?

A guy who knows is Tom R. Reimer, the director of education for the International Society of Beverage Technologists. Reimer provided a “Beverage Industry Overview” November 10 during the Pack Expo Connects virtual tradeshow. Here’s a selection of details from his informative presentation starting with overall market facts:

The organization tracks 13 categories of beverages, with packaged water being the largest segment at 39% followed by carbonated drinks at 31%.

In 2015, packaged water overtook carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) as the largest category.

It’s a shifting landscape, with CSDs and fruit juices declining in market share as energy drinks and functional water are on the rise.

Functional beverages include those that are protein enriched, women-focused, fortified, weight-loss, or cannabis enhanced (CBD and THC).

Processing methods include Flash or Tunnel Pasteurization, Hot fill, Retort, and High-Pressure Processing (HPP).  You can find more information on the latter at Packaging Digest’s HPP channel.

Now, onto our headliner topic of packaging which, according to Reimer, is “used to protect and draw attention to the product and has grown more complex over the years.”

ISBTISBT Beverage Packaging Market breakdown

Beverage market product growth has led to a steady increase in the diversity of packaging formats.

PET packaging dominates beverages at 67% market share, far outdistancing all other materials.

While glass holds only a 7% share of market, he notes a recent “uptick in glass bottles.”

Glass is often used for premium positioned products and, I’d surmise, may be seeing a growth bump due to the plastics packaging backlash.

Here are a couple by-the-numbers factoids he shared:

81% of PET bottles market is for CSDs and water, with 30% and 51% respectively.

Glass is the biggest material loser in water, with share plummeting from 30% in 1998 to 5% currently.

48% of sports and energy drinks are in PET, with metal (aluminum in this market) bottles and cans at 41%.

65% of tea and coffee are in PET.

95% of dairy beverages are in high-density polyethylene.

Reimer noted an interesting tension regarding product shelf life: retailers want to have 50% of the shelf life under their control while consumers feel that long shelf life is a sign of excessive processing.

A trend that Reimer expects to continue: more variety and growth in new products, which means more stock-keeping units and packaging.

I’ll drink to that.

You can gain access to Reimer's presentation video here.

Salad Dressing Manufacturer Invests $103M to Expand Plant

Image courtesy of Ken's Foods/ 15235029-12ff-4a94-a314-6cd3e6a96e4a.png

Salad dressings and marinades maker Ken’s Foods is committing $103 million to expand its food manufacturing and distribution plant in the Midland Industrial Park in Mcdonough, GA, a recent release issued by Georgia Gov. Brian P. Kemp announced.


“For 25 years we’ve grown together, and we’re proud to extend our partnership with Henry County and the State of Georiga,” Ken’s Foods Chief Operating Officer Bob Merchant said in a statement. “When you’re able to expand operations in an area that provides a hardworking, can do-base of talent and couple that with the favorable business environment the State of Georgia has developed, you dive right in.”

During the project, Ken’s Foods will add several new production lines and carry out upgrades in its manufacturing facility. The company will also relocate its support facility operations to a 343,625-sq-ft space in Midland Industrial Park.

The expansion is expected to create 70 new jobs, including food processing, manufacturing, and distribution roles. Ken’s Foods’ new investment in the Mcdonough plant is one of its largest in recent years, according to Gov. Kemp’s release.


Article courtesy of Packaging Digest's sister publication Powder & Bulk Solids.

Packaging Design

A 2020 Salute to Veterans’ Packaging

Attention! Listen up, in honor of Veteran’s Day and with November recognized as a month to honor American veterans and military families, we present examples of appropriately themed packaged products, from snack bars to whiskey to hot sauce to perfume.

But first and foremost, we most sincerely extend our admiration, respect, and gratitude to all the men and women who serve and have served our country.

Now, at ease as we draw your attention to the first example below before you continue with the slideshow Gallery.


Flexible Packaging

Hybrid Packaging Technology Reinvents Sous Vide

Ixon Food Technology ASAP Sous Vide  products and Packs

Food scientists at IXON Food Technology in Hong Kong aim for nothing less than to transform the future of the food industry with a novel energy-efficient food preservation method that can keep meat fresh and juicy for up to two years without refrigeration. The processing techniques eliminate the need for artificial flavors, preservatives, or chemicals.

"Our product has the taste of fresh meat with the shelf life and convenience of canned meat, and uses very little energy, unlike frozen meat,” says Felix Cheung, the startup company’s co-founder and CEO. “Our product addresses 10 out of 17 sustainable development goals set out by the United Nations — we’re using creative science to change our food's future.”

The company’s revolutionary technology is called "ASAP," which stands for Advanced Sous-vide Aseptic Packaging. Developed, tested, and proven to work over the past five years, ASAP allows food to be sterilized at a much gentler 140°F/60°C rather than the high heat traditionally used in canning that can cook out flavor. This novel technology promises to help the food industry reduce costs, save energy, and increase production efficiency.

“Our product is unique,” explains Cheung. “Consumers can enjoy perfectly cooked meals at home or in a restaurant within the snap of a finger. Freezer burns, defrosting, and bad cooking will become a thing of the past.”

The high-quality meats that include 100% natural USDA organic and Canada organic pouched premium beef sirloin and pork chops that reheat quickly, within two minutes on high heat. Additional ASAP prepared meat and food options will be added over time.


The methods were discovered when Ixon co-founders Felix Cheung and Elton Ho studied the microbial risks of sous-vide food for a university project. This inspired them to develop the ASAP technology and launch the company three years ago.

“We have opened a pilot factory in Hong Kong where we make ASAP products manually,” Cheung says. “The process is far from efficient, but it has allowed us to perform food microbial tests and to develop peripheral technologies to enhance the safety and reliability of ASAP products.”

The company has applied for patents and trademarks on its proprietary technology in the United States, Europe, and China.

Packaging Digest also learned the following from Cheung.

Potential products include whole-muscle proteins, including beef, pork, chicken, lamb, fish, scallops, octopus, as well as unshelled eggs. They can be in oil, brine, water, or combined with complex multicomponent food, such as curry and soup.

Ixon is collaborating with several companies to commercialize the technology. These include Ecolab, Cargill, Sealed Air, and Mitsui Chemicals.

Customers are meat processors and food companies. “However, the end users can be just about anyone, from foodservice, military, supermarket, outdoor camping companies to everyday consumers,” Cheung says.

ASAP separates the packaged food into its components, namely packaging, solids, and liquids.  Ixon then applies separate sterilization techniques to each before recombining the constituents in a sterile environment.

For packaging films, vaporized hydrogen peroxide is used.

Liquids are heated to 320°F.

For solids, such as meat, 320°F is applied only to the surface for about 60 seconds to kill all bacteria and spores. The interior is inherently sterile, Cheung points out.

 “For now, we cannot reveal exactly what we do to raise the 320°F other than to say that it is a thermal, physical, nonradiative method,” he explains. 

After combining all components back into one pouch, the sous vide process cooks through the meat at 140°F for 60 to 240 minutes, depending on thickness and type of meat to be processed.

This creates a shelf-stable product.

“We are not breaking current theories of food sterilization, we are simply circumventing them,” says Cheung.


The patent-pending technology can be licensed. The company will help customers develop new products and construct the production line, which includes clean rooms, aseptic packaging equipment, isolators, and decontamination chambers.

The pilot factory in Hong Kong manually packages about 100 pieces of meat daily. It’s not efficient, and it’s not meant to be, according to Cheung. The next goal is to go medium scale, processing around one ton of food per day.

“We are currently looking for locations in the US to build our pilot center,” Cheung adds. 

Because the technology uses low temperature, there is almost no limitation to the type of packaging materials that are used. The only requirement is that they provide hermetic seal. “Even single-material plastics can be used, which is good news because they can be recycled,” Cheung points out.

The current biggest challenge is educating people to know and trust our technology. “That’s why we’re working with well-trusted brands in the industry so that we can overcome some of these hurdles,” he says.

The company launched a Kickstarter campaign to spread awareness about its energy-efficient and innovative food preservation technology.

The response has been overwhelming. “We were funded 100% in 2 hours, 200% funded in 12 hours, and are approaching the 300% funded goal,” enthuses Cheung. “We aim to deliver the first batch of premium products three months after the campaign closes and plan to deliver the second batch of products before February 2022 as we move from manual production to an automated production line. This is a once-in-a-century opportunity to participate in food history in the making."

Ed Note: The Kickstarter page above features an excellent video about the company and the technology.

For more information, visit IXON Food Technology


Digital Watermarks for Recycling Plastic Packaging: Who, What, Why, and Where?

AIM Digital Watermarks Benefits

Digital watermarks are receiving a lot of attention from major brand owners across the globe including PepsiCo, Mondelēz, and Nestlé, as well as industry associations such as AIM, the European Brands Association.

What’s all the buzz about?

In short, it’s an enabling technology for permitting automated sortation of plastic packaging by recycling facilities using a hidden mark, aka the digital watermark.

The technology has so much utility and potential for recycling it’s referred to as Holy Grail 2.0.

To help you learn a whole lot more, we’ve collected a helpful selection of useful Tweets with links so you can learn directly from several of the dozens of stakeholders. These include GS1, which in this 14-minute video asks “Can digital watermarks provide a reliable and efficient tagging system? And can they contribute to a circular economy for plastics, more specifically in a smart sorting process? The Pioneer project HolyGrail was set up to investigate that! Over 80 companies are part of the consortium.”


This Tweet’s link points to a lengthy 50-minute SPC presentation that includes speakers from Procter & Gamble and AIM.





To keep up with the latest news, search #digitalwatermarks or #HolyGrail2 on Twitter.