Bagging machine: Product of the Day

Bagging machine: Product of the Day

Sharp Packaging Systems introduces improvements to its SX tabletop semi-automatic bagging machine. The SX prints the address onto the bag, then opens and seals it once the product is inserted. Improvements include a completely new control architecture and a full color, 4.3-in. wide touchscreen. The maximum bag width has increased from 9-in. to 11-in. All machines have an HMI, plus an Allen-Bradley Micro850 PLC. Like all Sharp machines, parts are nonproprietary, available off-the-shelf.

“Improvements in our semi-automated SX bagging machine increase efficiencies for packaging,” notes Jeramy Williams, director of engineering at Sharp. “The machine is 10 percent smaller and 30 percent lighter. It’s ideal for applications where the products will be inserted into the bags by hand.”

The SX bagging system includes an upgraded deluxe film feed sensor that runs all types and colors of bags. Its print engine is also upgraded to DataMax A-Class Mark II for high performance and reliability. Recommended applications for the SX machine includes packaging for fulfillment, injection molding, medical, parts and retail.

Sharp Packaging Systems, 800-634-6359800-634-6359

Winery boxes out competition with fully recyclable packaging

Winery boxes out competition with fully recyclable packaging

The Naked Grape Wine launches its new 3L Box. The company’s latest introduction is the most-awarded 3L box wine in US competitions with 65 gold medals and more than 330 total awards. The new packaging delivers the same high-quality wine found in The Naked Grape glass bottles – except in one compact, convenient packaging that's easy on the planet.

Along with delivering real, fresh-tasting and original wine, each 3L box is fully recyclable across the country from bag to box, the first and only of its kind.

"We are seeing a resurgence in the popularity of box wine today, with the number of new high-tier 3L boxes growing 35 percent since 2009," says Stephanie Gallo, vp of Marketing for The Naked Grape. "The box format preserves the freshness of the wine and allows people to enjoy it in more places where glass can't go. Our new 3L box has the same great taste you'll find in our bottles, but with less waste."

Despite what packaging it is served up in, The Naked Grape wines are crafted to show off the full and unique fruit expression of each wine varietal, showing off the true flavor of every grape. A 3L box of The Naked Grape wine contains the same amount of wine as four bottles and stays fresh for up to four weeks after opening, allowing for easy enjoyment of single servings. This convenient packaging is also great for parties, picnics and places where glass is prohibited, without forgoing the refreshing taste The Naked Grape wines are known for.

To guarantee all materials found in The Naked Grape wine box packaging – from the cardboard box to the inner bag and spout – are fully recyclable across the country, The Naked Grape teamed up with TerraCycle, an international upcycling and recycling company that takes difficult-to recycle-packaging and turns it into affordable, innovative products. Upon finishing the wine inside, consumers can send the empty packaging to TerraCycle for free to give it a second life by recycling or upcycling it into park benches, bike racks, recycling bins and more. To learn more about this partnership, visit

"Americans recycle or compost just over 34 percent of the waste they generate," says TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky. "We count on companies like The Naked Grape to try to help increase that number by giving consumers a way to recycle packaging that might otherwise get thrown away."

The Naked Grape 3L box will be available nationwide wherever wine is sold beginning in April 2014. The wine will be offered in in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, Harvest Red Blend and Moscato and retails for approximately $20.

Source: The Naked Grape Wine

ACI releases labeling and packaging guidelines for detergent packets

ACI releases labeling and packaging guidelines for detergent packets

The American Cleaning Institute (ACI - has released a voluntary guidance document for the labeling and packaging of liquid laundry detergent packets to help reduce the number of children exposed to these products, which are now used by millions of consumers.

The key goal of the document is to provide guidance on best practices for the household laundry products industry in the labeling, packaging and design of liquid laundry packets.

"These recommendations are a part of ACI's ongoing efforts to help reduce the number of accidental child exposures to the contents of highly concentrated liquid laundry detergent packets," said Nancy Bock, ACI Senior Vice President of Education. "This guidance is a priority for ACI to make sure that consumer safety information is clear, accessible and effective."

The Voluntary Guidance has already been shared with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). In 2013, ACI and a group of liquid laundry detergent packet manufacturers launched a multi-year consumer laundry safety program to educate consumers about safe storage and handling of liquid laundry packets.

In consultation with the CPSC, consumer groups, manufacturers, and retailers, ACI has broadly distributed safety alert information to consumers, poison control centers, pediatricians and other medical professionals, educators and social service providers.

Part of the core of the recommendations include that companies following these guidelines commit to progressive implementation of the following measures, to the extent not already taken:

Reducing the visibility of liquid laundry detergent packets via obscure or opaque packaging or any equivalent measure.

Making access to liquid laundry detergent packets difficult by a package closure design which discourages, delays, or otherwise impedes the ability of young children to open the package, and does not discourage the intended behavior of securing the package.

On-package communication in a prominent place on the package and label which reinforces the need to:

  • Not let children handle liquid laundry detergent packets.
  • Keep liquid laundry detergent packets closed in their original container when not in use.
  • Keep liquid laundry detergent packets out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Keep liquid laundry detergent packets, when not in use, away from moisture and avoid handling them with wet hands.
  • Call the Poison Control Center immediately at the number found on the package or +1 (800) 222-1222 if the liquid laundry packet is swallowed or gets in the eye.

The 5-page-long PDF of ACI's Voluntary Guidance Document can be found online at

The American Cleaning Institute (ACI) is the Home of the U.S. Cleaning Products Industry and represents the $30 billion U.S. cleaning products market.  ACI  members include the formulators of soaps, detergents, and general cleaning products used in household, commercial, industrial and institutional settings; companies that supply ingredients and finished packaging for these products; and oleochemical producers.  ACI and its members are dedicated to improving health and the quality of life through sustainable cleaning products and practices.

SOURCE American Cleaning Institute

Packaging is the gateway to a deeper conversation about sustainability

Jim HannaHow do you use packaging to communicate your sustainable strategy to customers? Come and find out.

On July 17, 2013, Jim Hanna, director, environmental impact, Starbucks Coffee Co., will speak at the Packaging Digest Global Food & Beverage Packaging Summit conference in Chicago. His topic: "How we build successful sustainable packaging."

Here, he gives us a preview of some key points in his presentation. For more information about the conference and/or to register, visit

Q: What is the Starbucks approach to sustainable design in packaging?

Hanna: Our approach is to focus on the entire life cycle of the packaging from raw material sourcing all the way to end of life and to where we can use the life cycle approach assessment to determine the true sustainability of packaging. A lot of folks focus on materials or on end of life specifically. As a company that is focusing pretty heavily on climate change as one of our primary environmental drivers, the climate footprint of our packaging is one of the essential pieces that we take a hard look at.

Q: Why is this holistic approach so successful?

It's successful because it's credible. Unfortunately, there's still lot of green washing in sustainable packaging out there. Our approach is agnostic to type of material. It looks really at where the true inputs are going into manufacturing and packaging. How do we design packaging in the best way to not only reduce all the environmental impacts of it but make it appropriate for existing end-of-life management infrastructures out there? 

We're not a company that has a zero-waste goal because zero-waste goals are often the distraction from reality. We will always create some waste. We're not a company that focuses on landfill diversion as the only definition of sustainable packaging because, again, landfill diversion doesn't necessarily equate to environmental efficacy or environmental mitigation. We try to take a credible, long term approach and not get trapped into a lot of the fads and trends we see out there today, which play a role at raising awareness of the issues of packaging's footprint—but often don't tell the complete story by locking on to one specific metric of a package's sustainability. 

Also, we've always taken a collaborative approach to defining sustainable packaging because, if we're going to be successful as an industry, we have to be working together as an industry to create the necessary scale and break down some of the largest barriers to issues like waste management and harmonization of materials. We've done number of initiatives over the years that have brought stakeholders into the room from up and down the entire value chain to create a sense of thinking like an integrated system toward a common purpose.

Q: Why do you think it's beneficial to engage the community in your sustainability efforts?

When we define our community, it's the 60 million people that walk through our doors as customers every week, it's the places where we operate our stores and the impact that we have on those towns, as well as the place that we hold within those communities as a contributor to their livelihoods. It's also the nearly 200,000 partners that put on the green apron as employees of Starbucks every day.

Finally, we see our community as the stakeholders who have influence in our company and are keen on how our company operates because of the size and the ubiquity of our brand and the reach it has on a global scale. Whatever their area of focus, these stakeholders have a key interest in the betterment of our world and they are looking to corporate leaders to solve these tough global issues. 

If we're not engaged with those folks, then we're not relevant with them. Obviously, from a customer base, that impacts sales. But from a community base, it impacts the place that we hold within those neighborhoods, and our ability to operate successfully within them. It's beneficial for every company to be directly engaged with their communities—however they define them—because it's critical to their success.

Q: How do your customers influence your sustainable packaging initiatives? 

That's an interesting question because often I think that we, as companies, aren't necessarily aligned with what our customers expect from us around sustainable packaging. 

Here's a good example: We were the first large company in the world to take the use of food-contact post-consumer fiber to scale. With our supply chain partners, we went through the challenges of getting FDA approval (to the FDA, "approval" is defined as a "no objection") for food-contact post-consumer fiber. It took us a number of years to make that happen and, although we're still one of the only companies out there using post-consumer fiber at scale for food contact in our hot paper cups, we haven't necessarily seen a significant resonance within a customer base around that leadership model. 

You don't see customers out there asking "Why are you only 10 percent PCF Starbucks? You really should increase that to 20, 30, 40, 50 percent" or whatever the number is. 

Consumers, especially in the U.S. and Canada, define sustainable packaging by focusing on end of life. That's caused us to focus a lot of effort and resources into creating solutions for our packaging because we know that's what resonates most with our customers. Yes, we work to mitigate the footprint of our packaging from cradle to grave. But we need to realize that our customers, and most consumers, are locked in on end-of-life as their definition of sustainable packaging today.

We need to create solutions for our customers so we can have broader conversations about the true sustainability of packaging and about the sustainability of our businesses. 

Here's another example: Around 75 percent of our environmental footprint comes from the operation of our stores. Three years ago, we made a commitment to reduce that operating footprint and set out to build every company-owned store in the world to be LEED-certified. If you're familiar with the challenges of the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification system, that's a really big deal. That being said, if you ask any customer what is Starbucks' greatest environmental footprint, most of them will assume it's our cups. 

I always jokingly say, I would much rather customers come into our stores and say ‘I choose to shop at Starbucks because you guys have this super-efficient HVAC system, because as a conscious consumer, I get that this is where the rubber hits the road when we talk about Starbucks' environmental impact and good for you guys for addressing it!' 

I know to even attempt to get to that point, what we're going to have to do is solve for the most pressing and prominent issue in their eyes-which is our packaging. It's essential that we at Starbucks, and that we as an industry that's using single-serve packaging, solve these end-of-life issues for our customers regardless of the contribution they make to our total footprint, so that we can shift the conversation to more pressing environmental issues.

If you look at the global problems we face around environmental degradation, climate change, water scarcity and other pressing issues, citizens and consumers have to be focused on what really matters if they are to play an impactful role in shifting the direction of current negative environmental trends. It's our job as businesses to help them understand where the real impacts lie and how the choices they make every day as consumers have a huge impact on the environment. 

If we as a business sector are just placating their current perception of environmental impact—which we often do, unfortunately—we're not going to be able to cross that hurdle to really focus on solving the true and massive environmental issues we face. Yes, we cannot downplay the importance of solid waste management, including the impact that recycling and diversion have on climate change. But the conversation can't end here.

Q: How can packaging help show a brand's commitment to environmental responsibility? How can your packaging communicate all of what you just said? 

Packaging is that tangible, touchable, seeable thing that is our first and primary touch point with our customers. Packaging must tell the right story to begin the conversation around sustainability. 

Packaging is the starting point and is the gateway to great conversations. It's essential that we get that part right because that puts our customers and consumers on the path of either trusting the brands they're using or not trusting them. If we can build that level of trust, if we're doing the right thing around packaging, then that gives us the ability to engage in deeper conversation around our total environmental footprint and how our customers can play a role in driving that impact down by "voting" with their dollar. 

Addressing end-of-life specifically, and how we should think about brands' "responsibility," it's no longer acceptable for the business community to simply accept a lack of recycling infrastructure in the communities where they operate or assume that we have no influence in driving development of that infrastructure to move our single serve packaging out of the landfill pipeline. We know the necessary pieces in solving the infrastructure puzzle, including market development, material optimization, creating material scale for recyclers to invest in their capacities, along with local policies that catalyze the factors and drive consumer behaviors. But, frankly, we don't tap into the power we have as a business community to proactively impact local environmental policy.

Sure, we are great at playing defense and activating our trade associations to (rightly) oppose material bans or Draconian fees on packaging. But we've never been effective at sitting down with local lawmakers ahead of time to hash out good policy that drives infrastructure development and acceptance of our products into recycling streams, leaving us vulnerable to bans, fees, extended producer responsibility (EPR) and other last-resort policies to divert our products from landfills. We need to take a second look at our engagement strategies as an industry.

For example, I can't tell you how many cities I've gone to that, when I walk in their doors, they weren't accepting Starbucks cups into the recycling system at either the commercial or residential level. By educating and helping policy makers understand that our business goals actually aligned with the city's/county's environmental goals, and by aligning all of the players within the local recycling "system" we've been able to break through those barriers in a number of cities and get our cups accepted. What we can't do is sit on the sideline and just throw up our hands and say "The infrastructure or the markets don't exist"—because it's our job to make sure that, if they don't exist, we do everything we can to drive those markets. 

That was a longwinded answer to how packaging can demonstrate brands' environmental leadership, but that's really one of our commitments here at Starbucks: To lead the initiative to ensure that our packaging, and our industry's packaging, is able to reduce its environmental footprint in every way from cradle, to use, to end of life.

Q: How does Starbucks balance the need for packaging that's eco-responsible with packaging that fulfills the consumer's desire for convenience? 

We try to take a holistic approach to our packaging in a way that, rather than focusing on the packaging, it focuses on the needs. Starbucks' need is to deliver the best cup of coffee we can to our customers in a way that creates brand connection and elevates the experience for our customers every day beyond what our competitors can do. 

We've taken the approach of focusing on our packaging goals from a broader perspective of how to deliver this great cup of coffee to our customers in a way that reduces our environmental footprint while enhancing (or at least maintaining) their experience. 

We have a three-pronged approach at Starbucks. 

Number one is—and this may not sound too exciting to the folks in the single-serve packaging industry—we're trying to get our customers to use fewer of our paper and plastic cups. We have a program to incentivize people to bring their own reusable cups into our stores. When they do that, we'll wash it for them and prepare their beverage in those cups, whether it's a tumbler or a travel mug and we'll give the customers a discount for their efforts. We have a target at Starbucks that, by 2015, 5 percent of all of our transactions occur with customers who bring in their own reusable mugs.

Unfortunately, we've hovered around 2 percent since the inception of the incentive program. The numbers dance around that a bit, but that's been where we've been locked in for years. What we discovered is that the discount we offer is great, but it's only a driver for a limited number of consumers. Most consumers are bringing in their own mugs because they simply enjoy the beverage that way or they have their own sense of environmental consciousness and this is how they're doing their part every day to reduce their environmental footprint, regardless of whether or not they get a discount. 

It's also a convenience issue, as carrying around a big bulky mug that may or may not be clean or may have been sitting in your car for a week, often negatively impact people's ability or choice to bring in their own reusable mugs. 

In January 2013, we introduced a new concept. It's a $1 reusable mug that's made out of 100 percent polypropylene, the lid and the cup. The cool thing is the convenience factor is solved and the cost factor is solved because it's only a buck, instead of our standard price between $10 and $18 for our mugs. It looks and feels like our existing paper cup, maintaining the brand attachment and Starbucks experience. For folks who were previously comfortable with our single-serve cups, this gives them an option for a reusable cup. And, because it's only a buck, if you forget it at home or in your car or office, you can buy another one. After the introduction of the $1 reusable cup, we saw a significant bump in the purchase of reusables overall. But, more importantly, we also saw a marked increase in the number of people bringing their mugs back into the store to be reused.

Number two is encouraging our store managers to learn which customers typically enjoy their beverages in the stores and serve them in ceramic mugs, again, to reduce the use of single-serve packaging. You'd be surprised at how many customers don't even know that we offer ceramic mugs in our stores. 

Number 3 is, for customers who choose to use single-serve cups, how do we do that in a way that provides that great Starbucks experience they've come to expect, delivers their beverage safely and conveniently every time, and has the lowest environmental footprint. 

That's where we can really look at materials innovations, such as the post-consumer fiber we already use, innovation in coatings on the paper to impact recyclability and industry-wide material standardization to create scale for recyclers. Finally, when I talk about our 2015 goal of declaring our cups recyclable, what I'm talking about is access to recycling. The industry often defines recyclability or compostability based on the materials of our packaging, when we should be defining it based on access that our customers have to recycling or composting services. This isn't Jim Hanna making up his own definitions. It's the Federal Trade Commission's Green Guide that defines recyclability in that way and that's the definition we use for our target.

For Starbucks, we define recyclability as follows: When our customer chooses to dispose of their cups—whether it's in our stores, in their homes, in their offices or in a public space, if they don't have access to recycling at that point, then the cups aren't recyclable. They're going to go into a landfill. That's what we're focusing on—building those infrastructures for recycling and end of life so that, hopefully, by 2015 we can actually cross the Federal Trade Commission's 60 percent access threshold and declare victory.

Q: How do your packaging designs used in the foodservice environment at the point of consumption differ from some of those used in your retail products and why?

They don't—and that's a good thing. We take a holistic approach to packaging design whether it's for retail stores or in our foodservice operations. 

We also look at our transport packaging, the movement of packaging from our distribution centers into our stores or the packaging that comes directly into the stores. We have significant focus on our supply chain to be able to help them minimize over packaging—which has been a pet peeve of our store partners (employees). Nothing galls them more than to get a small delivery in a big box. We know that cubing efficiency and standardization of packaging sizes is essential for efficient transportation, but we know there's a significant footprint associated with transportation that can be significantly reduced if done right. 

We've been making significant progress in balancing efficient transportation with minimization of packaging, while balancing the need to maintain integrity of the items being transported. This includes introduction of durable, reusable transport packaging across our distribution network. While we've made huge progress, other retailers out there live and breathe this stuff, especially the ones that own their entire distribution systems, and have had significantly more leadership in this area that we can learn from.

We want to be game changers in the industry. But we're also willing to follow game changers in areas where they either have more influence, more exposure to the issue or a greater ability to be those game changers. That's one exciting culture of our company: We put a stake in the ground where we think we can change the world. We also know that there are many other companies who can do the same thing and we're glad to follow them.


Packaging market prepares for a global gathering

Packaging market prepares for a global gathering

At interpack 2014, attendees will be served up a smorgasbord of solutions as they join together in the already sold out halls.

Every three years, packaging professionals gather together from around the globe to soak up an entire week at the world’s largest packaging show as they get acquainted with the latest developments in packaging materials, services and equipment. The show takes place in Düsseldorf, Germany, May 8-14, where more than 2,700 exhibitors from the food and beverage, confectionary and baked goods, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics as well as non-food consumer goods and industrial goods industries will share their latest in technological advances as they are scattered throughout 19 sold-out halls that cover nearly 2 million net sq. ft on the fairgrounds.

Roughly 60 percent of the 166,000 visitors from the previous interpack in 2011 came from overseas—mainly from within Europe but also in ever increasing numbers from eastern and southern Asia. The exhibitors represent more than 60 countries.

Smart solutions to cut food waste
A regular staple at interpack, Innovationparc Packaging is a special show-within-a-show that serves as a platform for important themes for the future. This year’s central theme will be dedicated to Save Food—a joint initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Messe Düsseldorf GmbH against worldwide food loss and waste.

“All the industries involved in the food, packaging and logistics sectors have an especially important role to play in the Save Food initiative. Ultimately, it is the products developed by these companies which offer concrete approaches to solving the problems we all face. We want Save Food to act as a catalyst for establishing contact with other enterprises and organizations to carry these approaches further,” explains Save Food and interpack director Bernd Jablonowski.

Participating companies from all stages along the value chain will showcase their solutions to avoid food loss and food waste. This special show will present practical approaches from areas such as packaging design, packaging materials and machinery production. An additional display will demonstrate the dimensions of international food losses along the food value chain.

What’s new
Automation continues to advance in packaging operations. A new feature “Components for Processing and Packaging” will take place on the first three days of interpack (May 8-10, 2014) in the Congress Center South at the Düsseldorf fairgrounds. The program is geared towards suppliers to the packaging industry, especially companies that specialize in motor, drive, control and sensor technology, products for machinery image data processing, as well as handling technology, industrial software and communication and complete automation systems for packaging machinery. It is also aimed at manufacturers of machinery parts, components, accessories, peripheral equipment and components and auxiliaries for packaging material.

Entrance passes for interpack Processes and Packaging 2014, can be ordered online at at reduced rates. The online price for a 1-day ticket is €49 instead of €60 on show site and a 3-day ticket is available online for €99 instead of €120 when purchased at the show. The interpack entrance passes also allow free use of all public transportation on all days of the trade fair within the Rhein-Ruhr transportation network (VRR) of Düsseldorf (exhibitors can also ride free of charge two days before and after the show).

The interpack website at gives attendees many helpful tools to efficiently prepare for their visit, such as entrance passes at reduced rates, the exhibitor database with the option to generate a personalized hall floor plan, a matchmaking function to establish contact with exhibitors and information on all new developments presented by the participating companies. The interpack services can also be accessed by smart phone via

Packaging visionaries get their just rewards

Packaging visionaries get their just rewards
Oliver Campbell from Dell, giving his acceptance speech during the 2013 Visionary Awards ceremony.

First, I would like to thank the Academy…Always wanted to say that… :)” That’s Oliver having a bit of fun when I asked him what it meant to him to win a Gold Award in our inaugural Visionary Awards competition last year.

But then he got quite serious in talking about how humbled and honored he was to be recognized as a Visionary. “This award demonstrates that sustainability and innovation have a major role to play in creating packaging that’s good for people, good for business and good for the planet,” says Oliver Campbell, director of worldwide procurement for packaging & packaging engineering at Dell, who won in the Design & Development category. “I hope the award inspires others to do the same.”

For Nick, who was on the team that won the Gold in the Production & Operations category, validation that they were on the right track was what gave him the most satisfaction. The team included dozens of people from Graco Inc., along with its customer Summit Brewing Co. Together they successfully installed an innovative on-demand hot-melt adhesive dispensing system for sealing cases in the brewery.

“We were in a unique position applying for this award. Our company is over 85 years old, and we're experts in fluid handling and dispensing equipment—but packaging was a new industry initiative for us. We were literally starting from scratch with both product and sales channel development with a goal of building a sustainable business in hot-melt dispensing for case and carton sealing,” says Nick Long, global product marketing manager for Advanced Fluid Dispense with the Applied Fluid Technologies Div. of Graco Inc.

“Having a panel of peers recognize the innovation and contribution to the industry was a rewarding experience,” Nick continues. “It validated that the effort we put in resulted in a product that resonated with the industry—that we had something that could really change the game. Of course we were able to leverage the award as a sales tool over the course of 2013 and into 2014—the value there cannot be overstated—but, for me personally, the most rewarding part was just knowing that we were on the right path.”

Whether it’s for validation or inspiration, being recognized as a packaging visionary is personally and professionally gratifying. It’s time you got in on the action. I’m excited to announce that we’re starting off our second year of our Visionary Awards, grateful for the opportunity to celebrate the people of packaging who guide—or perhaps goad!—others to greatness.

Is this you? Is it someone you work with? Enter now at

We’ll keep you updated throughout the competition’s progress—look for our #PackVision tweets in the next couple months—culminating with the exciting revelation of winners at a ceremony held in partnership with the Institute of Packaging Professionals. IoPP will present its AmeriStar Package Awards and UBM Canon's Packaging Group will present its Visionary Awards on June 10, 2014, during EastPack 2014 (June 10-12) in New York City.

Hope to see you there—perhaps accepting your award…

Higher learning empowers packaging professionals to excel

Higher learning empowers packaging professionals to excel

On Jan. 28, 2014, the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) launched a new advanced-level online course in partnership with management consultancy Fastraqq Corp. (Read the press release at This Packaging360 Leadership program goes way beyond the basics and teaches packaging professionals how to think about packaging as a strategic asset for their company.

Five primary modules cover Mastering Packaging Convergence; Mastering Supply Chains; Mastering Your Customer’s World; Mastering Your Internal Value Chain; and Mastering Sustainability. A sixth bonus module—Transform Your Packaging in 30 Days: A Structured Approach—is available for those who register for the full course.
Fastraqq president Dan Balan developed and owns the content. A global leader in supply chains and breakthrough innovation who has advised leading companies such as PepsiCo, Motorola and Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., Balan tells Packaging Digest how the course’s many actionable points can help professionals succeed by better aligning their packaging operations with their company’s overall business goals.

Why does this program signal a tectonic shift in packaging education and why is that a good thing?
Balan: Packaging issues have now become business issues. You can no longer be a packaging professional without appreciating the business problems faced by senior management. Consider the challenges faced by companies: short product life cycles, increasing mass customization, decreasing customer loyalty, complex global supply chains and relentless pressure for increasing profit margins.

Add to this the growing chorus for a greener planet and greater environment responsibility. Don't you think packaging is plumb in the middle of these? From material choices to design, from supplier compliance to transportation, the impact of packaging is everywhere. 

The Packaging360 Leadership is the first kind of education for this entire global industry. It squarely addresses these issues, and offers a 30-day transformation framework called the “8 Dimensions of Packaging Excellence.”

This program is a structured six-module program that will take any packaging professional to a top-tier level of excellence. It will help companies dramatically shift their current packaging paradigm in a short time, thus symbolizing a tectonic shift.

I created this program after my extensive consulting practice with global companies, and saw a need for packaging to shift tectonically. This is why the program byline reads “unpack your business first.”

One of the six modules is Mastering Packaging Convergence. What do you mean by Packaging Convergence and why is it important to master it?
Balan: To understand Packaging Convergence, let us look for a historic parallel. What was the computer once, is no longer a computer. What we have now is a “digital platform.” A digital platform is the convergence of the computer, internet, music, phone and the digital world of applications. Any hardware is only a device for converging voice, data, music, internet and digital applications.

It was George Santayana, the Spanish philosopher, who once said, “Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it.”

The global packaging industry is going through a digital-world like cataclysm. There are six distinct forces driving this cataclysm.

Packaging Convergence brings together, for the first time in the industry, the convergence of multiple forces that are changing the face of packaging. The box is no longer box. It is a metaphor. It is a platform. The box represents supply chains, branding, information and sustainability.

Until eight years ago, the automobile was 80 percent metal and 20 percent control systems. But, today, the automobile is 80 percent electronics and only 20 percent metal.

Packaging Convergence is a term I created to signify the shift from physical encasement to business enablement. In this Darwinian shift, firms that will not adapt and align will get stuck in a commodity trap. That is why Packaging Convergence is so important.

Firms that did not adapt to the Digital Convergence became irrelevant, disintermediated and ultimately went out of business.

What is the benefit of the Packaging Excellence Hour, an online event available at no extra charge to program participants?
Balan: The Packaging Excellence Hour is offered once a month as a guidance counseling session to implement the Packaging360 leadership principles. I call these principles the “8 Dimensions of Packaging Excellence.” Every month I will guide participants step-by-step as to how to implement a specific dimension. For example, one month could be Supply Chain, another month Sustainability and another would be Improving Customer Value. It is not necessary for participants to have completed the course to attend the Packaging Excellence Hour. These sessions will be recorded and can be listened to later. They can also ask questions live.

Do packaging professionals need a background in business education to understand the lessons?
Balan: It is not necessary for packaging professionals to have a background in business, per se. But what is required is an inquiring mind to learn how packaging truly impacts mainstream business. This program takes a top-down approach. It maps business challenges to packaging specificities. This way packaging professionals can see beyond the technical walls to the business solution. The program takes a structured approach to address issues head-on.

Is Packaging360 Leadership designed for people who are packaging executives already or can professionals who aspire to leadership also benefit?
Balan: The Packaging360 Leadership program is designed for all packaging professionals. Packaging interacts with virtually every business function—and the impact is pervasive

Whether you are a senior executive or a junior-level professional, the cognitive unity of a problem can no longer be fractured. The gaps in understanding a business problem among packaging professionals is what breeds black space and operational opacity. To drive excellence, we must consciously cultivate a Gestalt view of the global business. And that must start at every level—which is a shift from traditional thinking.

The Packaging360 Leadership program offers an analytical canvas that supports excellence in multiple dimensions.

Blog: Beyond traditional recycling

Blog: Beyond traditional recycling

When we talk “traditional” recycling, the conversation typically centers on post-consumer materials like cardboard packaging, plastic bottles and aluminum cans. While these materials obviously do make up a huge portion of the waste stream that ends up landfilled in the United States, some of the most important parts of the problem go unnoticed by the consumer. From manufacturers to technology firms, there are entire streams of industrial and commercial waste generated that get little recognition due to the fact that they are more or less hidden from the public eye. Why use corporate resources to increase recycling efforts for these materials if they generally go unnoticed?

Some firms are showing that not only is it easy to recycle this waste, but that it also comes numerous upsides. Take a firm like Kimberly-Clark Professional (KCP) who specializes in laboratory and cleanroom safety equipment. They found a simple and efficient ways of solving their own waste generation through their recycling program, RightCycle. Since the initiative’s inception in 2011, KCP has collected and recycled over 125,000 pounds of disposable one-use garments, and 29,000 pounds of gloves. It is a simple process: participating clients collect their disposable garments and gloves in RightCycle boxes, arrange the boxes onto pallets, and then have them picked up by TerraCycle where the materials will be sorted and sent for recycling.

Kimberly-Clark Professional has already made a commitment to diverting all of their manufacturing waste from landfills by 2015. Efforts to reach this 2015 sustainability goal have even shone through in sales, as 22 percent of KCP sales in 2012 came from environmentally innovative products, up from 13 percent in 2011. These recycling efforts are measureable, truthful, and convey to their customers that the company’s commitments to sustainable waste solutions are real. This speaks volumes in a time where many customers are even willing to pay more for products from socially conscious companies. With more of a focus on managing sustainable solutions to their waste, KCP and companies with similar practices exude both corporate and social responsibility, increasing customer loyalty in the process.

Firms that generate industrial and manufacturing waste are even benefitting. Michigan-based company Gage Products developed a method for recycling their paint solvents, used by automobile manufacturers, allowing them and their partners to save both money and resources, all while recovering nearly 75 percent of their input material. This brings clients interested in sustainability and saving costs directly to Gage’s doorstep. Similar to KCP, Gage has found a way to not only reduce their environmental impact by repurposing their own manufacturing waste, but they’ve even developed a system for reintegrating those recycling materials back into the manufacturing process.
Not only will being socially responsible in this way send a positive message to consumers, but to employees as well. As seen in a 2013 article by Forbes, many corporate executives agree that corporate social responsibility and community engagement practices result in happier, more talented employees.

The often overlooked problem of manufacturing and pre-consumer waste has been left as a side-note of discussion for too long. Just because a company is less consumer-facing doesn’t mean that it generates any less waste, or that recycling and sustainability ventures should be taken any less seriously. On the contrary, there are even tangible benefits to doing so. As you decrease your environmental impact and increase your focus on being truly socially responsible, the relationship you have with your consumers and clients can only strengthen in the process.

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."

Abbott’s single-use, unit-dose "liquid" pouch

Abbott’s single-use, unit-dose "liquid" pouch

Assigned to Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, IL, this recently published patent plays off yet another revision for the ever-popular pouch that is flexible in far more ways than in structure.

Abbott’s patent filing for the pouch addresses a need for liquid human milk fortifiers that are commercially sterile, do not require refrigeration, and have relatively low acidity. In addition, it should be sufficiently flexible to allow in-pouch mixing and a transparency so that a user can see that the proper mixing has occurred before opening the packaging to dispense the fortifier.

The patent invention comprises two films that create a front panel and a back panel to define a space within the structure that contains a volume of liquid product that’s less than about half of the total liquid capacity of the pouch, which can range from 2 mL to 80 mL.

What's going on with that unused ~40 percent or more of the pouch volume is that it permits product mixing via manual kneading by the user.

In fact, the need for kneading is a fundamental differentiating characteristic of the pouch and is illustrated through three charts. These indicate that when the amount of liquid in the pouch exceeded 50 percent, the kneadibility of the pouch was reduced.

That design-driven kneading attribute results in a more effective, better blended product than a ready-to-use infant formula, which can experience phase separation including creaming at the top and sediment at the bottom. 

Broad definition of liquids

The pouch also uses a broad definition of a liquid product as “a flowable non-solid product including, for example but not limited to, aqueous solutions, emulsions, colloids, pastes, gels, dispersions and other flowable non-solid products.”

In other words, it covers most forms except solid products such as bars and particulate products such as powders.

One version of the pouch is spouted.

The patent also describes a hinged, secondary container that serves as a multipack. The patent also covers the specifics of leak detection to ensure the integrity of the finished pouch; in this instance, Abbott’s patent holders describe the sequential use of an in-line checkweigher  to reject out-of-specification pouches followed by high-voltage leak detection (HVLD) inspection system that non­destructively inspects the pouch seal and therefore the integrity of the pouch.

To view the patent directly at Fresh Patents, click here

Composite pallet: Product of the Day

Composite pallet: Product of the Day

MAUSER Group launches a new pallet design for its MAUSER SM IBC Series. Building on the great success of the revolutionary composite pallet design introduced to the market more than a decade ago, the now completely redesigned pallet concept will further strengthen the MAUSER SM IBC market reputation: High quality composite IBCs – designed for long term strength and optimum reusability.

With the introduction of its latest IBC composite pallet design, MAUSER consequently follows its philosophy: Combining innovative packaging design, dedicated material selection and high quality manufacturing for the highest performing and most sustainable industrial packaging solutions. MAUSER's new pallet design comes with pallet blocks made from recycled plastics in combination with a metal tube frame construction supporting a metal pan.

Different from today’s standard IBC pallet design, the new MAUSER SM13 composite pallet no longer comes with a heavy weight central traversal support. A lighter yet at the same time stiffer trapezoid tube frame structure directly connected to the pallet's metal base ring increases robustness and handling performance.

MAUSER Group, +49 (0)2232-78-11 71