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FDA-compliant lidding film: Product of the Day

FDA-compliant lidding film: Product of the Day

Toray Plastics (America) Inc.’s  recently expanded LumiLid brand of FDA-compliant, dual-ovenable polyester lidding films has been enhanced. All LumiLid films are now FDA-compliant for use with oven temperatures of up to 400°F for 30 minutes. End users and converters can confidently choose Toray’s value-added clear, white, or metallized LumiLid films for lidded refrigerated and frozen side dishes and entrees that require high heat for cooking or reheating.

“An FDA-compliant lidding film rated for performance under severe heat is a game-changer,” says Milan Moscaritolo, senior director of Ssles, Toray Plastics (America), Inc. “End users now have more options for product design and greater latitude in how they deliver their product to consumers.”

LumiLid brand films incorporate specialty performance film and sealant layers, delivering specified performance and seal-strength characteristics. They provide excellent oxygen barrier, have a low seal initiation temperature (SIT), and offer an environment-friendly, solvent-free formulation that assures manufacturers that their customers will experience a pure, fresh food flavor. LumiLid films supply a clean, secure seal, even on pleated corners, to APET, APET-coated board, CPET, PP, HDPE, and HIPS trays. In addition, LumiLid lidding films are printable and can be used to deliver a brand message.

LumiLid films have a broad sealant range, excellent hot tack and thermal stability, and superior mechanical properties, including high strength, dimensional stability, and optical clarity, and they handle well on high-speed equipment.

Toray Plastics (America) Inc., 401-294-4511

www.toraytpa.com

PAC Food Waste status and insights

We caught up with James D. Downham, president & CEO, PAC Packaging Consortium (the organization recently changed its name from  PAC The Packaging Associations), who attended a meeting of the Packaging Association’s Food Waste Forum last week in Rochester, NY, hosted by the Rochester Institute of Technology. Downham and Ron Cotterman, vice president of sustainability, Sealed Air Corp., were featured speakers. They discussed the PAC Food Waste initiative, a global effort to investigate waste in the supply chain and identify packaging opportunities for innovation, to determine ways to extend product shelf life and to educate the broader community about its role in preventing food waste.


The Packaging Association was established in 1950, initially based in Canada, but has since expanded and serves packaging industry corporations and professionals in North America. The association’s PAC Food Waste initiative was created in response to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The organization estimated that to ensure the world’s population can be fed, food production must increase by 66 percent. But along the supply chain—the path from farm to market to consumer—more than 33 percent of food produced is lost or wasted. To date, more than 30 organizations across the supply chain have committed to PAC Food Waste and to finding solutions to the impact of food waste on individuals, the environment and economy.

What is the status of the PAC Food Waste (PFW) initiative?
Downham: PFW is a North American packaging initiative and includes more than 30 organizations across the supply chain including Loblaw, Sobeys, McDonalds, Nestle, General Mills, Molson Coors, Sealed Air, DuPont and Dow. Three industry co-chairs have stepped up to lead including Cotterman; Yasmin Siddiqui, global marketing manager, packaging, DuPont; and Scott Tudor, director of sustainability, Sobeys.
We have aligned PFW with the U.S.-based Food Waste Reduction Alliance (formed by the GMA, FMI and National Restaurant Association). One of the reasons we were in Rochester was to meet and present the PFW initiative to the leaders of the FWRA. On a global scale we have joined Save Food, an initiative that originated in 2011 by partners Messe Düsseldorf and the FAO. We are also engaged in discussions with the Consumer Goods Forum.

What role does or can packaging play in these efforts?
Downham: Extending shelf life of products through active and intelligent packaging, innovative barrier technological breakthroughs are some examples of where packaging can help. Some products need to be packaged, i.e. fruits and vegetables, to extend shelf life; some products need to be repackaged once opened are others. Sell by and buy before labeling needs to be modified and improved upon along with a better understanding of what this means.

Can you share any best practices from members?
Downham: One of our projects is to identify global case studies and populate them into a PFW portal. Our work is just being launched, however, there are numerous examples to draw from:
• It is well documented that wrapping cucumbers in PE extends the shelf life of the cucumber from 4 days to 12 days on average.
• Tesco has just completed a study trialing a new type of plastic egg packaging that estimates it will save on average more than one million eggs each year. The packaging is recyclable and is made from old plastic bottles.
• Lassonde ready-to-eat Sunbites Corn on the Cob is in a vacuum packed pouch with a 1 year shelf life. The corn is pre-cooked and packaged in a high performance advanced barrier film.
These food waste reduction initiatives as a result of packaging innovation and applications have enormous positive social and economic benefits and all things environmental such as water reduction, arable land use, transportation and energy and therefore GHG emissions.  

What’s upcoming for this initiative in 2014?
Downham: The launch of three key projects and a call to action of the broader packaging supply chain. If the triple bottom line is important to your organization then you need to be part of the solution and not contributing to the problem. Don’t sit on the sidelines.
Three inaugural PAC FOOD WASTE Projects include:
• A project designed to identify and build an inventory of global packaging case studies for food waste reduction. Construct a PAC FOOD WASTE web portal containing a searchable database of global case studies on reducing food waste.
• This project is to initiate an LCA study on single-serve coffee to create synergy with PAC NEXT and for better understanding of the relationships between North American packaging and causes of food waste along the food value chain.
•This project is designed to develop a who’s who of companies, organizations, associations engaged in packaging and food waste.


For more information contact:
James D. Downham, PAC Packaging Consortium, president & CEO
647-993-7600
jdd@leaderlinx.com

Tackling litter starts with understanding how it gets there

Tackling litter starts with understanding how it gets there
Litterati pix from consumers.

Sustainable materials management is the holistic notion for material stewardship that can be summed up succinctly as: use wisely, eliminate toxicity and recover more. This simplified look at material consumption provides us with a framework for examining materials used in society, including packaging material flows. As society grapples with material recovery and recycling from the municipal solid waste (MSW) stream, part of the story often overlooked is litter—the fraction of materials, often packaging, that end up in unintended places.

How much do we actually know about litter? What do we know about its composition; its magnitude in relation to material flow within the MSW stream; the psychology and the demographics of the people involved in the transactions; how does litter fit within the sustainable materials management framework?

Litter as a collection of transactions is quite complex and the ways in which deposited items end up in places other than the trash bin are many. The composition of litter is quite diverse and context specific, and the environmental implications vary. These discards can clog waterways, create hazardous conditions and even contribute to the waste gyres in the oceans.

Reviewing a 2006 study of roadway edge litter in the state of Georgia provides a window into the constituents of the litter and a profile of the litterer. While this likely doesn’t represent the nation, it offers a useful lens to look through. The collected litter was characterized as either deliberate or negligent litter. Deliberate litter referred to items likely to be tossed intentionally and made up approximately 34 percent of the total, while negligent litter referred to items that ended up as litter due to carelessness in storage or disposal and made up approximately 66 percent of the total.

Deliberate litter was made up of the usual packaging suspects: snack food and on-the-go food service items like cups, lids, bottles, cans, bags and napkins, while negligent litter consisted of larger paper, plastic and metal items.

So, who are the litterbugs?

They could be all of us, intentionally or accidentally, yet age seems to play a strong role in the determining action. For example, deliberate littering seems to be most prevalent in the 11 to 24 year-old age group. For more information, visit Responsive Management’s public opinion surveys on recycling and litter and other natural resource issues. 

Litter is part of the bigger conversation about Sustainable Material Management that GreenBlue pursues with its work with various industries and via the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. The problem of waste handling is a complex one in itself, but the problem of litter is equally challenging in terms of behavior. Some of the behavioral problems associated with litter are likely to be similar worldwide to what we see here in the U.S., while others may be unique to cultural context. The challenge is in understanding the individual behavioral transactions that lead to a larger pattern. The distributed nature of litter makes it difficult to capture data in a centralized manner. However, modern technologies built into most cell phones can help by harnessing GPS-enabled cameras to capture package type, brand, quantity and location to start to piece together a larger picture.

For example, take the efforts of Litterati to clean up the planet one piece of litter at a time. In the age of big data and ease of participation, learning the intricacies of the various pathways packaging takes to become litter could help a brand by reducing the stigma of its product packaging being portrayed as trash. Brands motivated to find ways to reduce the amount of their packaging that becomes litter would simultaneously help the larger community and global concerns of uncontrolled litter in the waterways and oceans. Learning the ins and outs of how products and packaging becomes litter would help brands, governments and organizations develop the right solutions to keep both deliberate and negligent litter at bay. Producers can help by targeting their stewardship messaging to the appropriate demographics and reinforce ongoing brand-loyalty building efforts.

Author Minal Mistry is senior manager of sustainability solutions at GreenBlue and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. For additional information, visit www.sustainablepackaging.org.

How to scale packaging line automation around the world

How to scale packaging line automation around the world
Multi-national manufacturers use a number of factors to determine whether to invest in highly automated lines (left) or start with semi-automatic operations and then scale up.

Global manufacturers match capital expenditures of packaging machinery to specific market needs and personnel skill sets.

When it comes to selecting packaging machinery to scale up around the world, global companies are faced with a decision: when—and where—to invest in automated machinery vs semi-automated systems?

Interest for American products in emerging countries is on the rise partly because of the growing middle class in some of those areas. From a capital equipment need, semi-automatic machines often fit the packaging operation needs in those countries. Yet, to be competitive in the United States, companies often focus on highly automated packaging systems.

Members of Packaging Digest’s Editorial Advisory Board give us their take on how they look at—and handle—the dichotomy.

Peter Macauley, director, global packaging & sustainability, Abbott Laboratories: As we invest in new manufacturing capabilities in some of those emerging countries, we do have to match what the line capabilities are to the skill sets that are there. Also, you have to match it to what the labor rates are, as well. We don’t always put in the same equipment that we may do, say, in an established country like the U.S. and Europe, as we would in other areas of the globe.

Joe Keller, section head, hair care R&D packaging development, The Procter & Gamble Co.: I would agree. We try to take a long-term view to it, as well. We standardize it globally because that has other benefits—being able to transfer to the highest one, one region to the next, and being able to troubleshoot things more easily if your lines are standard. We might look ahead and say, okay, labor rates are eventually going to level out between the regions, do these other benefits make it sensible to go ahead and install a more highly automated piece of equipment in a region where labor rates today are still low knowing that they’re going to come up as we’ve seen in China recently? You do need to look at what the local situation is, but you also need to take a long-term view and ask “Does it make sense going forward with it?”

Michael Okoroafor, vp-packaging R&D/innovation, H.J. Heinz: You described the dichotomy well. However, they converge at some point. Let me explain.

As a new entrant in an emerging market, you don’t want to go with the most sophisticated equipment because maybe the skill level is not there. There’s also a need to keep the people there employed. So at the entry point, you go with basic equipment that requires people watching it.

But you’re going to face competition. If you don’t do a lot of things with robots and automation, pretty soon, you find yourself not being competitive. At some point, it will converge to purely automated devices using less people so you can do it more consistently and, more importantly, more cost effectively. Because affordability is even more critical when you go in the emerging markets because the buying power is not as high as in the U.S. or Europe.

Oliver Campbell, director, worldwide procurement, packaging & packaging engineering, Dell: We have global operations. We often think of China as low cost, but labor wages are actually rising there. It’s interesting to see more packaging automation go into countries such as China.

Automation is occurring here as well through a larger role in the definition phase of a project. Predominantly, it’s how boxes get erected. Or, can we deliver a more consolidated packaging assembly to the factory? These are but two examples of how automation is influencing our packaging design.

Scott Hemink, senior R&D manager for international technical services, General Mills: Each particular business decision needs to be evaluated on its own. There are cases in both emerging and developed markets where automation makes a good deal of sense, as well as service situations where it doesn’t.

For instance, there are lots of emerging markets that use heavy levels of automation because they are very much needed, whether that’s Brazil or India or other places. You’re producing millions of units of basic foods. There’s a value to automation there and automation at the right level. You don’t need an extremely customized system from the top manufacturer—but you might, depending on what the local business needs are.

Even in the U.S. as a developed market, there are examples of niche products, test markets or regional markets where you want a lower level of automation because the risk can be high. You want to minimize the capital you put at risk.

Your choice to automate or not automate should be based on the specific risks, challenges, market factors and the products you’re launching—all of those things need to be taken into account on each individual business decision.

Denise Lefebvre, vp, global beverage packaging, PepsiCo: We’re in a very highly automated industry, all over the world. We use what’s right for each market and then, dependent upon the scale of that market, we just vary the output speed. So if I have a can line here that does 2,200 cans a minute, in Thailand if it does 500 a minute, I’m not sure the automation is any different.

How do you introduce that highly automated system in an area where maybe the skill level of the operators isn’t so high?

Lefebvre: There are extensive training programs when we buy a production line. That’s the cost of putting in the production line for us. It’s baked into the CapEx. We’ve been specific about the training and made sure our suppliers have had resources in those markets on the ground.

Our procurement group has driven that strategy. They’ve done an outstanding job at that, as well as at developing local suppliers. I can’t say it hasn’t been a challenge, but our engineering, supply chain and procurement teams have done a nice job, so we can get automation in the market with the right support to the plants.

How does sustainability challenge luxury packaging?

How does sustainability challenge luxury packaging?

As consumers are becoming more environmentally aware and are seeking out more sustainable lifestyle choices, there is increasing public and industry pressure on luxury brand owners to reduce the environmental impact of packaging. These implications have meant many luxury packaging companies have obtained Sustainable Packaging Coalition status, and use more environmentally friendly materials such as paperboard, rather than plastics.

However, is there such a thing as responsible luxury, or does that defeat the point of products designed to be extravagant and superior? Smithers Pira explores the potential obstacles involved with sustainability for the luxury packaging industry, and how these are being overcome.

Why does the idea of "responsible luxury" pose a problem?
Prestige brands and their customers are often more concerned about the look rather than the eco-friendliness of packaging. Customers' expectations for luxury packaging are much different from the general market, with packaging seen as an important part of the product itself. From cosmetics to confectionary, the entire basis of these products is centred on multi-material packaging, which contributes to the overall feeling of "luxury." Therefore, much of this type of packaging includes metallized plastic, metallized glass and many other types of materials; which, while connoting quality and expense, are difficult to recycle.

The task of producing environmentally friendly packaging that is also luxurious is therefore a challenging one. Responsible packaging means a whole host of new issues for the luxury packaging market, such as practicality, cost, material choice, aesthetics and maintaining brand image. Due to any one of these reasons, it has often been the case in the past that sustainable packaging solutions have been dropped halfway through the process.

What is currently being done to make luxury packaging more sustainable?
Despite the various issues involved, in recent years there has been a move towards more sustainable practices in the luxury packaging market. International fashion brand Gucci, for example, launched 100 percent recyclable packaging with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Certified paper back in 2010. However, do customers really care about sustainability when purchasing luxury packaging? Is this move towards sustainability for the luxury sector a genuine move or a passing fad?

According to research undertaken by Greenwise Business, 47 percent of the 200 branding and marketing professionals researched felt that Gucci's initiative to cut down on excess packaging was a true reflection of the industry's environmental concerns and its future direction.

In fact, a number of manufacturers are actively and continually developing luxury packaging solutions which are more sustainable. For example, MeadWestvaco (MWV) has introduced a more lightweight paperboard Promina for its tobacco packaging. This new material has a reduced weight ratio of up to 7 percent when compared to its PrintKote Tobacco paperboards, making it a more sustainable solution that can improve converting performance.

In addition to materials, companies are taking measures to make their entire manufacturing processes more eco-friendly. For example, Crown Cork states it is using fewer resources and using less energy when producing its items; ultimately, "doing more with less." It credits this success partly to the intrinsic benefits of aluminium and steel, which are the primary materials it uses to make its products. Similarly, the Ardagh Group claims that it identifies, controls, measures and reduces its manufacturing processes and impact on the environment. Manufacturers have therefore made an effort to reduce their environmental impact through the processes they employ, which is definitely a leap in the right direction.

What are the next steps?
Ways in which companies can continue to improve the eco-friendliness of packaging is to use fewer ink colors to achieve designs, and focus more on the properties of their board with regard to weight and whiteness levels. Bioplastics are being discussed by luxury brand owners, package designers and converters, but to date there are only a few examples of these materials being used for luxury packaging because of their relatively high cost.

Companies can also maximise the use of metal in their products. A current concern for the luxury packaging industry is that some brand owners are now increasingly replacing eco-friendly metal with plastic, particularly in the confectionary and spirits markets. This removes connotations of luxury and also compromises the environmental credentials of the product.

Meanwhile, metal's low carbon footprint is derived from its high recyclability rate, and has the potential to be recycled an infinite number of times without molecular degradation or loss of structural integrity. Metal is the most commonly recycled of all household materials—almost three quarters of metal packaging is recycled in Europe.

Crown Specialty Packaging Europe's use of metal directly challenges the theory that sustainability credentials should be "hidden" on luxury packaging to retain connotations of prestige. The metal tins its produced for Nicolas Feuillatte champagne have a printed recyclability message to demonstrate the brand's commitment to sustainable development. Another factor largely unique to sustainable, luxury metal containers is their potential reuse around the home once contents have been consumed. Crown saw the potential in using tins for storage or display when creating striking, elegant metal containers for Lambertz' Luxury Best Selection biscuit brand.

According to Veronique Curulla, European marketing manager at Crown Specialty Packaging Europe, "Metal packaging, along with the various decorative techniques available, gives luxury brands the twin benefits of dazzling impact and environmentally friendly appeal. It actually enables the two factors to work together—forming part of a consistent, high-quality brand image."

While producing cosmetics products in metal tins, paperboard cartons or thin glass jars may be good for the environment, marketing to an industry centred around image, especially when it comes to luxury products and brands, requires careful handling. Manufacturers need to provide luxury packaging companies with packaging that looks as though it is contributing to the often enormous suggested retail price of the product, yet also has some environmental responsibilities.

For more insight into the luxury packaging market, purchase Smithers Pira's in-depth market report The Future of Luxury Packaging to 2015 by contacting Bill Allen at +44 1372 802086+44 1372 802086 or oror wallen@smithers.com.

Sam Sheppard Fidler is operations director of distribution and product testing at Smithers Pira.