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Articles from 2015 In February

Bold graphics transform tissue packages into style accessories

Bold graphics transform tissue packages into style accessories
Fashion designer Betsey Johnson created distinctive graphics for the Kleenex Expressions line, including this "Kiss Me" box..

Kimberly-Clark has teamed up with veteran fashion designer Betsey Johnson to turn personal care packaging into a style statement, both at home and on the go. The designer worked her magic to create fun, fashion-forward boxes and pocket packs for the Kleenex Expressions product line.

The packaging design project produced three boxes, each with a distinctive theme. The “Zip It” box catches the eye with creative, geometric zipper imagery. “Kiss Me” sports stripy, sealed-with-a-kiss graphics. And the “I Heart Betsey” box is printed with flowery hearts set against bright background colors.

A fourth design, for the 10-tissue Kleenex Slim Pack, is called “Seeing Spots,” in reference to the all-over animal print that decorates it.

Discussing her approach to the Kleenex packaging project in a Q&A on Reddit, Johnson wrote: “I only live with things I love to look at. And before my Kleenex boxes, I hate to say, [I’d] rather see a roll of white toilet paper than a regular box I don't love.”

Kimberly-Clark positions Johnson’s packages as accessories that convey the consumer’s sense of style, whether she’s in her living room or fishing in her purse for a tissue.

The brand owner also is encouraging creative reuse for the packages after they’re empty—like repurposing an empty box as a mail organizer or using it to hold makeup brushes.

Gillette shave-gel package says ‘no’ to messes, rust and guessing

Gillette shave-gel package says ‘no’ to messes, rust and guessing
Non-metal canister dispenses shaving gel from any angle.

Gillette is taking personal care packaging in a new direction, with a plastic rigid container for shave gel that addresses several irritants men deal with when shaving. The packaging design for Gillette’s Fusion ProGlide Sensitive 2-in-1 Shave Gel Plus Skin Care products eliminates nozzle leaks and rust that can mar bathroom surfaces, as well as uncertainly about how much gel remains in the package.

Click the red View Gallery button above to launch the slideshow.

In a recent online survey of 300 American men, Gillette learned just how meaningful it would be to eliminate these sources of mess and frustration. Fully 46% of the respondents wanted to avoid shaving messes, 39% wished to prevent rust rings and 48% wanted a way to know how much gel was left in the can. Further, 35% said shaving messes frequently caused arguments with their partner.

To overcome these issues, Gillette designed a shave-gel package that differs in almost every way from the aerosol cans historically used in the shaving category. For starters, the body of the new shave-gel package is a rigid container made almost entirely of plastic, so there’s no possibility of rust.

The transparent, colorless container is decorated with a full-body shrink label that’s printed with a combination of matte and gloss effects. The matte areas offer fingertip appeal via soft-touch tactility.

To let consumers see how much gel is in the package, the label is designed with a see-through panel that functions as a gauge. The calibrated, vertical window rises up the side of the top third of the canister.

The package’s closure incorporates a movable, inner (orange) component and an outer (blue) component. The orange piece twists less than a quarter turn, which enables the consumer to turn it from the “locked” position to “dispensing” and back again. The mechanism emits an audible click to confirm locking and unlocking. To dispense the product, the consumer rotates the orange piece to the open position and presses a nubby button on top of the closure.

An internal dispenser tube connects the closure assembly to the body of the package. The package is composed of multiple moving parts but has no removable parts.

Although not apparent from outward appearances, the package has a nonconventional dispensing design that allows for 360-degree dispensing. It uses compressed-air dispensing technology from Airopack. An internal piston system works with pressurized air to dispense the gel, obviating the need for chemical propellants. To eliminate messy nozzle leaks, the package features a Clean Dispense Actuator that seals immediately after the consumer dispenses a dollop of gel.

In addition to revealing the package-related problems men face with shave gels, Gillette’s online survey showed that 60% of men want a smoother shave. Thus Gillette formulated Fusion ProGlide Sensitive 2-in-1 Shave Gel Plus Skin Care with a cooling skin-care agent that provides a smoother and more comfortable shave. Gillette positions the shave gel as a complement to its Fusion ProGlide manual razor with FlexBall Technology.

The shave gel comes in multiple scents, including Ocean Breeze, Alpine Clean and Active Sport. Fill weight for the canister is 6 oz.

The case of the lost ‘s’

The case of the lost ‘s’
If you are using contact coders, make sure you have enough type on hand.

Vee _topped by the office by the office for a vi_it and we were chatting about thi_ and that. A_ we began a _econd cup of joe, _he related what had happened the week before.

"I lo_t my _, KC."

"You are old enough to know that you have to keep out of ca_ino_," I laughed. "That will always_ happen if you _tay long enough."

"No, it happened at work. I couldn't find my _ and we had to _top production. The next production code wa_ _uppo_ed to be 27_0319 but when we fini_hed the changeover, we found all the __ u_ed for the coder were mi__ing.  We couldn't run that lot, we had no other lot available to run and production wa_ halted with the whole crew idle.

"It wa_ not good at all," _he concluded mournfully.

"Nope, not even a little bit," I told her. "Fiddle_tick_ on lo_t type. You really _hould get a more modern, programmable coding _y_tem. If you continue u_ing individual _teel type for coding, you need to make _ure that you have at lea_t two to three _et_ to keep thi_ from happening again. _et_ mu_t be bought and kept together. Even _light difference_ in type can lead to bad code."

Reading a KC Boxbottom adventure without any __ i_ merely inconvenient. A_ Vee found out, running production without an _ i_ impo__ible. 

It'_ like being in a phone booth with 23 cent_. You can't call anyone.

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

Where packaging machinery developments multiply

Where packaging machinery developments multiply
Axon sleever.

Pack Expo East was the place to be last week including in Pro Mach’s machinery- and innovation-packed booth that showcased improvements in coding, sleeving and wrapping systems among the company’s 25 brands.

My colleague Lisa Pierce uncovered quite a few “integrated” developments during her visit to the Pro Mach booth at Pack Expo in November, a tour that highlighted (in alpha order) the company’s Brenton, Kleenline, Matrix, Shuttleworth and WexxarBel divisions.  A more recent tour, at WestPack earlier this month, centered on the machinery builder’s Dekka, ID Technology and Matrix brands.

It turned out that the company, which has an ever-growing portfolio as of this writing of 25 packaging brands, served up additional innovations last week at Pack Expo East in Philadelphia. I discovered that during my booth tour led by John Eklund, Pro Mach’s vp marketing.

What you’ll find in the associated Slideshow gallery are three machines located on various parts of packaging lines that each bring something different to the table in their respective markets of coding, sleeving and stretch wrapping. What I found of particular interest was that Eklund pointed to a renewed emphasis on patent-driven developments from this expansive machinery builder that will better secure the company’s growing portfolio of intellectual property.

You can begin your own Slideshow Gallery tour by using the red View Gallery button above.

Increasing the value of forest certification starts with asking the right questions

Increasing the value of forest certification starts with asking the right questions
How can stakeholders work together to deliver value based on the elements of forest certification they all agree on?

Bringing together stakeholders across a varied and complex supply chain can be an extremely rewarding, albeit challenging, prospect. GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition is leading a project that brings together the forest products supply chain to find strategies to better understand the value of forest certification and the best strategies for delivering this value. This group includes family forest owners, paper manufacturers, environmental non-governmental organizations (eNGOs), multinational corporations, loggers, paper merchants and many others. With such a varied group, and each bringing excellent ideas to the table, we have been most successful by starting with the right questions.

You can find a lot out of ideas on how to fix forest certification. Some of the suggestions have worked. Some have not. What we do know is that the majority of forestland in the United States is held by private land owners who own relatively few acres of forests. This group makes up the majority of wood fiber supply to the forest products industry. For a number of reasons, this group has only certified a small percentage of their forestland, despite high demand for certified forest products such as paper and solid wood. “How do we fix certification?” was our initial approach, but it was not until we changed the question that we reached some breakthroughs. For our group, the first question is “what is the job that certification is supposed to do?”

This approach, called the Value Innovation Process, worked because instead of getting into the weeds about “which certification system is better,” and “why certain certification systems should change criteria and principles,” we asked “who is the most important customer” and “what are most important aspects of forest certification?” This led to forest owners, eNGOs, manufacturers and corporate brands working together trying to figure out where they could work together on shared values rather than create a list of differences of opinion. “How do we fix certification” is a daunting, if not frustrating, question for an industry working group to tackle. But by asking about—and more importantly—creating a dialogue for stakeholders across the supply chain to identify the most valuable aspects of forest certification, we begin to uncover common ground and areas to work together.

Right now the group is using the results of the first phase of the project where we identified what elements of performance stakeholders in the forest products supply chain value most in forest certification. Not surprisingly, this has resulted in some findings where seemingly unrelated supply chain members agreed on certain criteria and principles of responsible forest management. Now we plan to bring this group together again to start looking at specific strategies we can engage in to drive shared value.

It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like forests. And in our working group, as well, there is much that everyone agrees on that we should all work towards in terms of responsible forest management. We all want to keep forests as forests, provide smallholders with tools to help them achieve sustainability goals and ensure wood fiber comes from responsible forests, just to name a few shared values. This group of stakeholders, from small forest owners to brand owners, is getting together again this March to continue its work and brainstorm strategies on “how might we work together to deliver value based on the elements of forest certification we all agree on?” Which, we think, is a good question.

Tom Pollock is senior manager, Forest Products with GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition. For more information about the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and the Forest Certification Industry Leadership Committee,

See packaging machinery developments multiply Slideshow Gallery

Axon sleever.

A visual tour of packaging machines that represent new developments from among the expansive portfolio of Pro Mach was on display at PMMI’s Pack Expo East tradeshow in Philadelphia Feb. 16-18.  

You can advance the Slideshow Gallery by using the Red Next button above.

Here are three highlights:

1. The colorfully outfitted and more robust stainless-steel Axon Lanzara Shrink Sleeve Applicator boasts 400 cpm speeds and biometrics security access, Smart Cutting and Smart Diagnostics and more. The sleever also uses the PacDrive 3 automation platform from Schneider Electric, which uses Smart Speed Control for optimum throughput, uptime, and quality.

2. Citronix CIJ products receive a year-end refresh that users may find as attractive as the higher-quality print.

3. Orion Packaging offers wireless technology and goes back to the future with a reinvented, patent-pending film carriage makes film changes a snap and optimizes performance. According to the company, the improvements can mean 12 wrap revolutions for a load that normally requires 13. 

Long supply chain restrains in-mold labeling growth

Long supply chain restrains in-mold labeling growth
In-mold labeling resists scratching and fading and offer brighter, bolder color. Synthetic-paper products used for IML for blow- and injection-molding processes are 100% tree free, waterproof, and are tear-resistant. Source: Yupo Inc.

Even after nearly 20 years, in-mold labeling (IML) remains a niche application, with a 26% share of the global market residing in North America. Despite its advantages, one of the biggest deterrents for IML is the long, complex supply chain that often means greater up-front cost.

"The supply structure is complex with myriad suppliers," noted Corey Reardon, president and CEO at Alexander Watson Associates (AWA; Amsterdam), in his keynote presentation at the annual IMLCON/IMDCON conference that was held in Miami, FL, on Feb. 18 and 19.

The largest market for the technology is Europe, which dominates with a 54% market share. That’s followed by the Asia-Pacific region at 13%. Other markets of note include Brazil at 3% and Africa with 4%.

Even at one-quarter of the global market, North America offers the most attractive growth opportunity, at 5.1%. That’s compared to a mature IML market in Europe, where growth is less than 2%.

The majority of in-mold labels are injection molding applications (69%), while thermoforming represents a mere 1% of the market. The extrusion blow market is performing well with 30% of the in-mold label market. "Extrusion blow is seeing higher growth potential for in-mold labels," commented Reardon.

To read the full article at PlasticsToday, click here.

Consumers are confused about recycling, and here’s why

Consumers are confused about recycling, and here’s why
Better labeling can help consumers figure out how to recycle their used packaging.

Even though recycling rates are the highest they have ever been, recovery rates across waste streams are still increasing at incredibly sluggish rates. Even so, sustainability has become a far more visible subject today than it ever has before. So why don’t our recovery rates reflect this rising interest? The truth is that recycling has become an extremely confusing process due to vague labeling, a lack of standardization and the absence of clear disposal instructions. To put it bluntly: consumers are confused.

One of the chief causes is something all packaging professionals should be well versed in: SPI’s Resin Identification Code for plastic containers and packaging. This relatively simple coding system has helped improve the sorting infrastructure and plastic waste collection rates, but not without its own share of complications.

The problem is that the system was primarily developed for recycling centers and processing facilities, not for the consumers that try (or don’t) to recycle them. The symbols can be deceptive, in that they look strikingly similar to the universal recycling symbol, yet are not necessarily an indication of the package’s recyclability.

On top of this confusion, the types of plastic polymers accepted by municipal recycling systems vary greatly from community to community. Many people have no idea what varieties of plastic their local recycling program accepts, causing them to put any plastics—regardless of the RIC or if they are accepted locally—into the blue bin. This causes problems on all fronts: recycling streams get contaminated, energy and manpower is spent removing incorrectly sorted plastics from the processing line, and consumers remain misinformed about the recyclability of their plastic products and packaging.

Confounding the issue further is multi-component or hybrid packaging, which can contain a variety of plastic resins and other materials. This further complicates the collection, sorting and processing of these waste streams, so much so that the value of the recycled end-product isn’t typically high enough to offset the logistic and processing costs of recycling.

It isn’t uncommon for packages to consist of a variety of materials, like a plastic container with a foil top and a protective laminate lining. To properly recycle or dispose of such a product, the consumer must identify each material present (including the plastic resin), properly separate each material accordingly and then determine what can be properly recycled by their municipality. This is a significant barrier to recycling for many consumers who will tend to throw an item away if there are no obvious (or accessible) indications of recyclability on the package.

Most consumers will not go out of their way to determine if they can recycle product packaging, so the only other viable solutions from a consumer’s point of view are to: (A) stop buying the product altogether to prevent further waste generation; (B) throw it away with no attempt at recycling; or (C) find an alternative recycling program for the post-consumer waste, such as the new Zero Waste Boxes offered by TerraCycle, allowing anyone to recycle any non-hazardous solid packaging and other waste. While we recognize Zero Waste is more of a goal or mind state than an actuality, we hope this new offering can help people take steps towards that goal. Something this simple can significantly lower the barrier to recycling as all that is required from the consumer is to put the waste in a box and ship it.

Consumer-facing search databases for recyclable materials like 1-800-Recycling can also help direct consumers to locations that accept waste that might not be accepted in curbside programs. These are among the few limited options available to consumers until a better system is developed to standardize the recycling infrastructure, educate consumers and better communicate the recyclability of a package or product on-pack.

So if confusing labels, a lack of consumer awareness and limitations to the municipal recycling system are some of the problems behind low recovery rates, what can be done to mend the issue? The answer is simple: create a more consumer-friendly label and plastic identification system so proper recycling techniques can be better communicated.

GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition has an interesting solution to the confusion surrounding this flawed system. SPC developed the increasingly well-known How2Recycle Label, a standardized labeling system that clearly communicates to the consumer the proper recycling instructions for a package or product. Started in 2008, the How2Recycle Label is starting to gain greater momentum and has been receiving support from brands and grocery retailers like Wegman’s, General Mills, and Honest Tea, among many others. On these labels, the packaging material and any special recycling instructions are clearly displayed.

While it is apparent recycling rates are on the rise (albeit very slowly) there are still countless consumers who have a difficult time determining the more sustainable disposal option for their products and packaging, or what exactly is or is not actually recyclable. By raising awareness through educating consumers, and by developing a more unified code of understanding to better communicate proper recycling techniques, we could be more effectively reusing, maintaining and recycling the valuable, finite resources on our planet instead of needlessly and wastefully sending them to the landfill.

Author Tom Szaky, founder/CEO of TerraCycle, has won more than 50 awards for entrepreneurship, also writes blogs for Treehugger and The New York Times, recently published a book called "Revolution in a Bottle" and is the star of a National Geographic Channel special, "Garbage Moguls."

Be comfortable in your role as a packaging leader

Be comfortable in your role as a packaging leader
Denise Lefebvre leads PepsiCo's global beverage packaging and processing team.

Packaging leaders not only guide their own teams, they help direct the industry at large. One way of doing that is to be active, visible and vocal in the community.

When Denise Lefebvre spoke at Packaging Digest’s Global Food & Beverage Packaging Summit last year, she was frank about the consumer and packaging trends PepsiCo is tracking and why, including emerging packaging challenges in e-commerce and modular machines for right-sized production. She might not have all the answers today, but she knows what questions to ask.

As the vp, Global Beverage Packaging & Processing at PepsiCo, Lefebvre has more than 20 years of hands-on experience, deciphering and then fulfilling the unmet needs of customers. This Rochester Institute of Technology packaging science grad has more than a few notches in her innovation belt during her career, which started in 1991 at Colgate-Palmolive, five years at Beech-Nut, with about 10 years at Cadbury and continues today at the global beverage and food giant. With an MBA from the University of Albany, Lefebvre also excels at the business aspects of packaging, steering projects from concept through commercialization. Some recent successes have been the conversion of Tropicana juice from a high-density polyethylene container to ePET, development of the new Gatorade bottle and creation of the Starbucks Iced Coffee line.

As part of our continuing coverage of the Leading Ladies of Packaging, we asked Lefebvre to share challenges and triumphs from her productive career, as well as advice for other aspiring packaging leaders.

What was a defining moment in your career and what did you learn from it?

Lefebvre: As a female young engineer, I was uncomfortable articulating my opinion as I was intimidated and deferential to senior engineers. I remember being placed into a challenging situation in my second role, where I had to be the expert and was forced to explain the technical issues. It was a positive experience and I began my influence and leadership journey at that time.

What has been your toughest challenge, why that and how have you overcome it?

Lefebvre: I’ve had many tough technical challenges, but my hardest challenge was actually a “people” challenge. The challenge was being comfortable in delegating work and entrusting that it would be completed on time and with the right quality. I learned quickly that delegating and enabling others raises and strengthens the organization. This is one of the key critical components for success of the team and yourself.

What has been your most rewarding achievement and why?

Lefebvre: Knowing and seeing:

• that you have made a difference to your company—in both top and bottom line growth.

• the packaging team members get recognized and promoted, both internally and externally.

What advice do you have for other people (female or male) who aspire to be a captain of packaging?

Lefebvre: There are several, but I’ll focus upon two:

One is to learn from everyone you work with—as they all have something to teach you.

Show and explain the possibilities of Packaging—how it can make a difference to your company’s objective and how to use it as a lever to drive growth and productivity.

Compact dual-dispenser targets skin care ‘nomads’

Compact dual-dispenser targets skin care ‘nomads’
Compact dual-compartment container is topped with a variable dispenser, giving consumers control over mixing the ingredients.

A new 30ml size of the patented VariBlend dual-dispensing technology lets beauty and health care companies tap into the global megatrend of “nomadism.” With this on-the-go package, busy consumers can easily take their favorite skin care products with them—for use at work, while traveling or during leisure activities.

Sales of compact beauty care products continue to rise as new demographics—younger consumers, men and ethnic groups—take an interest in regular skin care regimens. The global skin care market for 2015 is estimated at $121 billion and is predicted to rise to $147 billion in 2020, according to

The VariBlend dispenser sits atop a two-compartment bottle from Sonoco and locks securely to ensure the package will travel without leaking and the product will maintain its integrity.

Consumers can select different formula strengths by turning the dial on the dispenser, satisfying their demand for product personalization and freshness. Six positions exist or brand owners can set fixed ratios. Keeping products separate until time of use keeps them fresher for longer.

Robert Brands, VariBlend president/CEO, talks about the brand owner’s perspective. “We see more demand for advanced, technical dispensing solutions, as regimen-based products gain in popularity and formulas become more complex, with advanced ingredients,” says Brands.