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Articles from 2016 In April

Oracle Packaging expands extrusion capabilities

Oracle Packaging expands extrusion capabilities
Image courtesy Oracle Packaging

Flexible packaging provider Oracle Packaging has completed a capital investment in its Winston-Salem, NC facility to expand its extrusion capabilities and capacity. 

Completed in December, the new extrusion line was designed and developed in conjunction with extrusion technology provider Davis Standard. The company reports that the line’s first products have already been delivered to customers. 

“As a part of our strategic planning process, we recognized the need for an investment that would meet the increasing demands of our customers in terms of sealant performance and improve overall economics,” explains Oracle CEO Jim Squatrito in a news statement. “The marketplace is becoming more and more challenging, and technology investments are required to meet the expectations of our customers.”

Chris Payne tells PMP News that “the addition of this extrusion line allows Oracle to expand our line of custom, sealable, and easy-peel products beyond food packaging to the pharma and medical device marketplace. This new line will provide cost-effective, easy-open, and sterilizable packaging solutions for a wide range of barrier/non-barrier and foil and non-foil pouches, lids and rollstock specifically for the pharmaceutical and medical device markets.”

Oracle Packaging manufactures custom lid stock, pouch stock, and other products for specific barrier and sealant performance. For more details visit


Be sure to visit Medical Design & Manufacturing East in New York City June 14-16 to find the latest innovations in medical device packaging.

5 ways to design packaging to save on EU fees

5 ways to design packaging to save on EU fees
How does circular economy thinking influence your packaging design and development?

What does Europe’s Circular Economy Package and the coming regulations mean to you? If you take a measured and intentional approach to sustainable packaging design, you can actually optimize the value for your organization.

Perhaps you’ve noticed: Circular economy has become “the next big thing.” It’s now a standing topic at most sustainability conferences, a regular news item in key publications and on the forefront of everyone’s emerging issues radars.

Major news lately includes: General Motors recycling employee water bottles for car parts, Walmart joining the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Economy 100 and Dow winning a prize for its efforts to drive circular economy related to water. And did you see the new EMF report on plastics? Project Mainstream sets out some ambitious visions and actions related to overcoming endemic barriers to circularity of packaging.

If you’re like most of our clients, you’re still wrestling with what circular economy means to consumer packaged goods. Or at least, what’s different about circular economy compared to the packaging recycling advocacy we’ve been doing for the past 40 years. Establishing a truly circular economy for consumable packaged products must go beyond simply improved end-of-life management to rethinking how we deliver the function of our packaged products.

However, driving recovery of materials is still a key component to the vision of circularity—and it’s one of the most direct ways governments can encourage companies to design packaging differently. This is why we’re seeing the latest from the European Union (EU) directive in the Circular Economy Package. Whether you agree with the focus or not, the reality is that more waste-management focused legislation is coming down the pike to drive circular economy of consumer packaging.

What is the EU Circular Economy Package?

The EU has an overall vision of becoming 100% sustainable by 2050. As part of that vision, the EU has also adopted the first Circular Package of initiatives. The package includes specific waste-related legislative proposals, as well as a broader action plan.

The focus of the waste proposals is to reduce waste to landfill, and includes an ambitious Packaging Directive with a long-term plan for achieving 75% recycling of packaging waste by 2030. The Action Plan articulates additional measures to address circularity throughout the life cycle of products and packaging and tackles specific market barriers in plastics, food waste, bio-based products, as well as others, and will also propose measures in areas such as innovation and investment.

The proposed Directive will affect all materials used for packaging and will also increase scrutiny of the materials and practices related to waste-to-energy facilities.

While the Directive outlines how the EU suggests member states actually implement policies to achieve the goal, it is still up to the member states to determine how to achieve the overall goals. The states will likely have three years to conform with the expectation.

What does this mean for you?

If you already sell goods into the EU, you are well aware of the complex packaging fee and reporting requirements for doing so. Most likely, as recycling targets increase, we can expect states will consider increasing fees at the same time to help accelerate packaging reduction and recovery.

If you’re thinking about selling your goods in Europe, it behooves you to start getting organized to make sure you can be in compliance at minimal cost.

The good news is, the risk of higher fees gives you a strong business case for looking carefully at your packaging. The fees could be steep enough that simply lightweighting your packaging incrementally to cut costs may not really save you much money.

Since it will take a few years for the states to interpret and integrate into their own regulatory frameworks, you are able to take a measured and intentional approach on how to optimize the value for your organization.

How to save more than nickels and dimes

Getting a jump on managing your designs to save money on packaging fees, particularly when they might become more steep or reporting more stringent, is always a good idea. What we’ve learned from helping other companies with their packaging fees is that the earlier in design process you can influence the amount of packaging required to achieve a certain function, the more you can reduce your packaging costs and related packaging recycling fees.

But your opportunities go beyond just managing costs. Start thinking now about how the broader circular economy principles could enable you to repackage functional and sustainable design, so you are reducing the amount of packaging going into the world in the first place.

Five tips for how to get started:

1. Strategize: Develop a vision that aligns with your company values and strategic priorities as a company and in sustainability specifically.

2. Prioritize your actions: Start somewhere. Don’t be afraid to start small, fail fast, learn and reiterate.

3. Redesign—the business, product, delivery system and more: Consider designing for recyclability and material separation (such as “design for disassembly). But also use this opportunity to rethink how your product is packaged—go beyond just dematerialization. Think about new ways to meet the function of packaging.

4. Measure:  As with all sustainability initiatives it’s important to know what your metrics are for success—what environmental/social/economic issues are you aiming to improve and what does “better” mean? How do you ensure you aren’t designing in unintended consequences? There are several ways to measure the impacts of your design decisions—use life-cycle assessments (LCAs) to quantify things like energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, emissions to air and water, for example. Your LCA can also incorporate the key parameters for the circularity metrics being proposed by Ellen MacArthur foundation.

5. Iterate: A key component to achieving big ideas is to keep the larger goal in mind but drive progress in tangible, achievable smaller projects

Watch this free webinar to learn more.

This article was written by Laura Flanigan, Lise Molander and Aidan Turnbull.

Laura Flanigan is vp of the Consumer Goods sector and a senior consultant at thinkstep. She has 15 years of experience developing, implementing and evaluating customized strategies, frameworks and tools to help clients achieve their visions for sustainable products, business practices and operations.

Lise Molander is a principal consultant and thinkstep’s director of strategic accounts, Nordic Region. She is an expert on innovation, design and implementation of circular economy models. She has more than 17 years of industrial and consultancy experience in sustainability, innovation, processes, facilitation, eco-design, cradle-to-cradle and circular economy on the corporate level.

Aidan Turnbull, Ph.D., is director of the industry-led substances declarations web database and the web database system for WEEE, Batteries and Packaging compliance. Turnbull holds a Doctorate in Physics and Electronics, sponsored by British Telecom through a CASE award. He has specialist expertise in REACH, RoHS, WEEE, Batteries, Packaging and EcoDesign through a range of projects over the past 23 years.


Learn about the latest developments in sustainable packaging at EastPack 2016, June 14-16, in New York City.

Pharma printer expands and prepares to go “fully digital”

Pharma printer expands and prepares to go “fully digital”
Image courtesy Platinum Press

As Platinum Press has grown and established itself in the pharmaceutical industry as a printer of packaging components, Senior VP of Corporate Strategy and Development Andrew Vale realized that a second site was needed to provide the redundancy expected by the industry. To that end, the company recently opened its second printing facility in late 2015 in Oakland, NJ.

The new facility successfully replicates the production and quality procedures of its Grand Prairie, TX, facility, but Vale has even bigger plans in store for the new state-of-the-art operations. “Ultimately, we anticipate it will be a fully digital site,” says Vale. The Oakland site currently produces printed inserts and medication guides on Didi offset presses, and the company is bringing in one insert folder at a time. It will begin printing labels once the company installs a new digital press, which Vale says the company is currently selecting. 

Platinum Press had installed a Xeikon digital printing press in Grand Prairie in to complement its flexographic and offset printers. But “now we’re looking to replace our flexo printer with a digital printer for labels and cartons,” says Vale. 

The company has been seeing smaller orders in pharma, for instance around 5000 to 20,000 labels. Vale believes it is a deepening trend, which could be driven in part by the growth in generics. “Generics tend to produce a lot of different items—several hundred different products,” he says.

While such short runs have been served by the changeover-friendly digital printing, Vale expects that newer presses can handle much more. He believes that gains in technology could position digital presses to take on some of the more-traditionally sized runs.

“Digital presses have been around, but they have been expensive and slow,” he says. “But run speeds are getting faster and faster. One press we’re looking at can run as fast as a flexo press.” 

Vale believes that “the newest digital presses will outperform the original digital presses. They are also more efficient in set up and start up.”

And with digital, there’s also “less press space required,” he says. “Our Mark Andy P5 flexo is 50 ft long, whereas digital presses can be the size of a dining room table.”

The reason Platinum Press hasn’t moved over sooner has to do with color, says Vale, such as handling spot colors and metallics. “But it is being addressed, as is color consistency. Some systems are even adopting offset inks to produce them digitally—offset is top-notch in quality and better than flexo,” he says. “The key [for us] is to support customers’ colors.” 

“Digital will take over the industry,” he predicts.

Platinum Press’s new facility has already had 20 customer audits. “Industry has to approve a site for us to produce out of it,” he explains. “Auditors are looking to ensure our systems and procedures meet expectations at the site.”

Finding a location in the Northeast was a priority. “The majority of clients are in New Jersey and the tri-state area,” he says. “For customers in New Jersey, the new site means faster transit and fewer shipping costs,” he says. “It works out well for customers in the east.” 

The company had originally considered a location in Pine Brook, but determined it was “unsuitable for printing, given its high ceilings and the difficulty in maintaining the relative humidity ideal for printing,” he says. A property in Oakland that had originally been considered was decided upon after the landlord leveled existing offices and gave Platinum Press a “blank slate” on which to build 47,000 sq ft of production space. The building itself is 150,000 sq ft, so there’s room for growth, he adds.

Vale says the company even considered buying competitors to establish a facility in the Northeast, “but we decided to build it from the ground up,” he says. “We didn’t want two separate companies. In fact, we have one phone number for both facilities, and our PA system pages people located at both sites, so it feels like one company.”


Packaging design for safe dosing and other topics will be discussed during the June 16 conference at EastPack, "Ensuring Patient Safety & Product Efficacy Through Successful Packaging," held in New York City. 

GMO labeling law to stress packaging departments

GMO labeling law to stress packaging departments
Before and after: Food manufacturers across the country will be required to update their package labeling to communicate if their products use genetically modified organisms.

Vermont law deadline requires brand owners to communicate GMO ingredients and provide transparency to consumers, but will leave their packaging teams swamped for the next 2+ months.

In case you had missed it, the latest verdict in the Vermont genetically modified organisms (GMO) labeling saga is in: Food manufacturers have until July 1st to update their package labeling to include GMO information.

As a recap: Back in 2014, Vermont initiated a law to require all foods containing GMOs to be clearly labeled on all food packaging.

Congress had established a committee to block the labeling change. However, the Senate failed to advance a bill that would ban states from requiring food packaging to disclose the presence of GMOs. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar helped lead efforts to stomp this one down, likely thinking of the holistic impact this change would have on Minnesota based food producers General Mills, Land O’Lakes and Hormel. This puts the GMO law back in motion and will go into effect in July, 2016—in barely more than two months!

Thus food producers have until July 1st to comply with the label requirements or withstand a penalty of $1,000 per day. Most food producers, including Mars and General Mills, have publicly stated that they will change and relabel all of their nationwide products, not just products sold in Vermont.

Other companies have gone the opposite route and stated that they will stop selling their products in Vermont altogether. Most likely they made a business case to determine that redesigning and relabeling all of their products just to appease one single state did not make financial justification.

As a consumer, I’m all on board with transparency and informing consumers exactly what goes in their food and where it comes from. However, when I put on my packaging engineer hat, I can’t help but think, “Wow, that is a ton of work to do in a short amount of time.”

Shift in efforts

Packaging teams, which are often stretched thin, must now be pushed further to initiate thousands of new packaging SKUs throughout their new product development systems.

Packaging engineers typically focus on 3 key areas:

  1. New product development and commercialization;
  2. Productivity and cost savings initiatives; and
  3. Putting out fires.

The GMO labeling law will then require engineers to shift and focus their efforts solely on new product development. This means that any productivity or cost savings efforts will be put by the wayside for the next 3-4 months as teams work through initiating new graphics changes.

Impact on packaging engineering teams

No change happens in a vacuum, and the same is true for this new requirement. Here are some of the key impact areas that will keep our fellow packaging engineers busy:

New packaging graphics need to be created to include new GMO labeling

This means that thousands of new projects need to be initiated across multiple New Product Development platforms and systems.

This will affect many types of packaging structures: bags, stand-up pouches, canisters, cartons.

New print plates required

New graphics means new print plates. Depending on the material, number of colors and size, this could be thousands of dollars per unique SKU!

New printed packaging

Once Step 1 and 2 are completed, we need to get our newly labeled packaging in place and from the packaging supplier to the manufacturing facilities

Given the short time frame, there is plenty of work to be done and at a significant cost as well.

Will companies have enough internal resources to push this change through?

Will all food manufactures be able to meet the July 1st deadline?

For more on the GMO issue from a regulatory perspective see FDA denies petition for GMO labeling, published January 2016.


Rob Kaszubowski is the Engineering Manager at Chainalytics, where he is focused on reducing product damage and implementing packaging cost savings while leading a team of packaging consultants in Design for Distribution initiatives. Rob also contributes to the Packaging Matters blog.

Connect with Rob on LinkedIn at and on Twitter @KazPack1


Interested in developments related to food packaging? Join like-minded professionals at EastPack in New York City June 14 to 16 in New York City.


Click, buy, RePack: How Finland’s reusable ecommerce packaging works

At the recent SustPack 2016 conference in Chicago, attendees learned about RePack, a Finland-based company that provides a reusable packaging platform to those buying and selling products online. Partnering with about 15 companies in the fashion and pharmaceutical space, RePack allows shoppers to opt for a reusable package at check-out that is then returned via direct mail in exchange for a voucher.

Packaging Digest caught up with RePack founder Jonne Hellgren shortly after his presentation to learn more about how the ecommerce reusable packaging works and what the response in Finland has been.

Can it work here in the states? What do you think?

Jonne Hellgren


Learn about the latest developments in ecommerce and reusable packaging at EastPack 2016, June 14-16, in New York City.

New Vintage child-resistant packaging adds stylish safety to e-cig liquids

New Vintage child-resistant packaging adds stylish safety to e-cig liquids
The Vintage One Flick dispenser for e-cigarette liquids was redesigned to be child resistant.

Many e-cigarette users, especially younger ones, view e-cigs as a lifestyle accessory. Some brand owners are therefore using packaging design (both graphic and structural) to position their e-cig brands as stylish, chic or elegant.

Vintage E-Liquids’ One Flick dispenser, for example, is designed with the look and feel of a refillable pocket lighter from the “Mad Men” era. The Vintage e-liquid dispensers also are decorated with intriguing graphics—and the packaging is now child-resistant.

The One Flick combines a rigid outer case with a plastic insert that holds e-liquid. To open the package, the consumer pushes the back of the hinged lid forward to bypass a latch, while at the same time lifting the front of the lid. An instructional label on the back of each case shows how to open the child-resistant package, which launched in early 2016.

The latch on the left creates a child-resistant feature by holding the lid in place and preventing access to the e-liquid.

Flipping open the case’s lid reveals the dispenser tip of the insert. For controlled dispensing of e-liquid drops, the consumer presses on the insert through a circular opening in the front of the case. The package comes in two sizes: 15 ml and 35 ml. Graphics are identical for both sizes.

Vintage’s e-liquid collection comprises six flavors, with names like The Lover, The Sinner and The Seeker. The packages are decorated with evocative illustrations keyed to the flavor names.

Nedal Makarem, principal, Vintage Vapours llc, reveals how the child-resistant package was developed.

How clever to make slight changes to your original container to make it child resistant. What more can you tell me about the development of this?

Makarem: As you mentioned, maintaining the "look" and the branding of our original bottle was essential when it came time to embark on the C-R bottle. The C-R feature took more than a year to design, manufacture mold(s) and modify based on feedback and C-R testing.

Based on our research, there was no other C-R flip top package on the market. Therefore, creating the first of its kind was quite the process. There were many iterations and several scrapped molds to get the product C-R certified, and we finally released it in February of this year. The original packaging had been launched in September 2014. We currently manufacture our own bottles using 3rd party injection and blow molding facilities in Riverside County, CA.

Why use a two-ply label on the side?

Makarem: In regards to the label, we wanted to include as much information as possible to comply with both current and upcoming State, Federal and International regulations. Since we had a limited amount of real estate on the bottle, the two-ply/catalogue label route was chosen. This label also helps to seal the bottle and serves as somewhat of a "tamper resistant" feature. The label is typically peeled off in its entirety to open the bottle, which is why we have the perforation at the bottom. Once the label is removed, you can still see what nicotine level of the bottle. 

The embossed “V” underneath the back label is beautiful. I know you want to give customers opening instructions for the new C-R feature on the package. But how long do you anticipate having a back label? Is this required?

Makarem: Since we created a C-R mechanism that hasn't been seen before, we felt that it was necessary to provide opening instructions not to make it "adult resistant." Although it is not required, we will be keeping the back label for the foreseeable future, as every new customer is seeing this new mechanism for the first time. Once the market is familiar with this mechanism, we can then look to phase it out.

Is the C-R feature on the larger 35ml size the same as on the smaller 15ml size?

Makarem: In regards to the 35ml bottle, it is also C-R and uses the same C-R feature/mechanism as the 15ml bottle. This was released in March of this year.

Both the original bottle, as well as the C-R bottle, have Pending Design and Utility Patent applications in the U.S., and have already been issued several patents internationally. 

Squeezable fruit pouches boast Disney characters

Squeezable fruit pouches boast Disney characters
Heathy snack pouches are powered by Disney branded-packaging.

Avengers, Frozen and Star Wars characters are front and center for Crunch Pak's Blendz line of fruit purees in squeeze pouches.

One proven way to drive product consumption by children is to feature the iconic characters that they like on the packaging. Cashmere, WA- based Crunch Pak apple processors aims for a fruitful yield with the latest iteration of its branding relationship with Disney that centers on bright and colorful packaging with plenty of youthful allure. Offered in two flavors, apple and cinnamon apple, the products debut with Disney’s Avengers (Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man and Thor), Frozen (Elsa, Anna and Olaf) and Star Wars (Yoda, R2D2 and Stormtrooper) characters. Blendz fruit purees feature 3.2oz squeeze pouches packed 4 per carton, which has a die-cut window to the product inside.

The line of 6 SKUs is poised for more line extensions in development, according to Krista Jones, director of marketing at Crunch Pak, who describes the packaging as “BPA-free spouted pouch with choke-safe cap.” Here are the rest of Jones’ responses to our questions:

When and where did the products launch?

Jones:  We launched Blendz at Target at the end of January and are currently ramping up production for additional retailers.

What’s the target consumer?

Jones: Families looking for a convenient, healthy snack and as an addition to lunch boxes.  Frozen, Avengers and Star Wars bridge pre-school kids all the way up to tweens.  Our pouches are just fruit, cinnamon, and Vitamin C. There are no added juices, concentrates or sugars, so parents can feel good about providing something healthy with characters kids are really excited about.

What’s the competitive environment for pouched purees?

Jones: We're excited to be a part of the growing consumer shift to pouched products.  We think the package type and the Disney Brand are a great match for busy, on-the-go families.

What can you say about the Disney branding?

Jones: Crunch Pak has a longstanding brand partnership with Disney.  Our first Disney product was Foodles, a snack tray with apples, cheese and pretzels or grapes.  Blendz is a natural extension of the apple snacks we already produce and the characters are the major influences in the marketplace, with movies for all three franchises coming out later this year.

What were the main package design goals?

Jones: Our design goals were to allow the characters to stand out and to highlight the nutrition benefits of the product.

2016 Trashies Awards celebrate sustainable packaging achievements

2016 Trashies Awards celebrate sustainable packaging achievements
Four winners earned a 2016 Trashies Award for their sustainability achievements in packaging.

Seventh Generation, McDonald’s, 3M and BillerudKorsnäs—it’s fitting on Earth Day 2016 to recognize the winners in the second annual Trashies Awards competition. These sustainable packaging visionaries received accolades April 11 during the opening reception of the SustPack 2016 conference, sponsored by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, Smithers Pira and Packaging Digest.

The competition awards sustainable successes in five categories: Package; Partnership; Person; Process/Production Method; and Public Message/Service/Ad Campaign. This year, we have four winners and one honorable mention. There does not have to be a winner in each category, just recognition of an outstanding contribution to sustainable packaging. Points were awarded based on sustainable merit; technical merit; supporting materials; and contribution to the industry. One point was also possible for judge’s discretion.

Judges again this year were Steve Mahler, design manager and sustainable package development manager at Caraustar Industries (who also designed and hand-makes each award); Kim Carswell, senior manager, packaging, Target; Victor Bell, president, Environmental Packaging Intl.; Liz Shoch, assistant director, Sustainable Packaging Coalition; and me, Lisa Pierce, executive editor of Packaging Digest.

Steve Mahler also contributed content to this article.

Watch the 12-minute presentation ceremony video here, and join us in celebrating their successes.

Winner: Seventh Generation / Accredo Packaging / Dow Chemical

Category: Partnership

Accepting Awards: Derrick Lawrence (second from left), director of packaging development, Seventh Generation; Malcolm Cohn (third from left), director of sustainability, Accredo Packaging; and Stacy Fields (second from right), North American director, Dow Chemical [photographed along with Jon Pyper (far left), North American director of sustainability, Dow; Lamy Chopin (third from right), product development leader, Dow; and Han Zhang (far right), sustainability and advocacy manager, Packaging & Specialty Plastics, Dow]

With zero waste a target by 2020, Seventh Generation partnered with Accredo and Dow to develop a new package for its dishwasher detergent pods. Using existing pouch manufacturing technology, resin and RecycleReady technology from Dow, Accredo produced a multi-layer polyethylene pouch that is 100% recyclable. An added bonus is the use of the How2Recycle logo used in the graphics to help consumers recycle it properly.

NEXT: 3M's four-in-one savings

Winner: 3M Co.

Category: Package

Accepting Award: Doreen Purpur, 3M’s business packaging manager

How many times have you started a Do It Yourself project only to find one of the components missing? Thanks to 3M Patch Primer 4 in 1 Applicator is now a one-stop affair. Not only is the package the carrier for the components but it becomes a reusable scraper for future jobs.

3M has gone from four separate product packages to just one for substantial savings in packaging materials.

NEXT: McDonald's fiber sourcing strategy

Winner: McDonald’s Corp. and HAVI Global Solutions

Category: Program

Accepting award: Kathleen Bannan (center), CSR and sustainability leader, McDonald’s Corp.; and Jennifer McCracken (right), director of sustainability, and Amy Duquette, sustainability project manager, from HAVI Global Solutions

Imagine having a room of 80 people and getting them all to agree on an end goal. McDonald’s and HAVI Global Solutions did just that with McDonald’s new global fiber sourcing program. By 2020, every paper mill and packaging converting facility in the restaurant’s supply chain will have to achieve chain of custody certification to either Forest Stewardship Council (FSC),  Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification, or achieve third-party verification of 100% recycled content. Already, more than 80 converting facilities have achieved chain of custody certification to at least one of these standards, and more than 40% of the facilities in the company’s supply chain are passing certified claims or third party assurances of 100% recycled paper.

NEXT: Cold formable paper pouch

Winner: BillerudKorsnäs

Category: Package

Accepting Award: Gary Robinson (2nd from the left), director of business development, North & South America [photographed above with his colleagues (left to right) Adam Gollnick, technical sales manager, formable papers, North/South America; Daniel Badman, director of sustainability and public affairs; and Jimmy Nystrom, senior manager, brand projects]

We have all heard the expression “build a better mousetrap,” and by taking fiber to a new place BillerudKorsnäs has done just that by using its patented FibreForm paper to make a cold formed stand-up pouch that offers a natural, renewable alternative to plastics with both visual and tactile 3D effects. Fibreform can also be cold formed in traditional thermoforming equipment, delivering significant energy reductions and increased production speeds.

NEXT: Honoring further advancement in Dow's Retain technology

Honorable Mention: Dow Chemical

The judges chosen to give an honorable mention to Dow for its new Retain stand-up pouch using its Retain Polymer Modifier. The technology was recognized last year in the Process category for aiding industrial scrap recycling. We wanted to recognize the company’s continued development in expanding this technology to help make flexible packaging recyclable at the consumer/retail level.


Learn about the latest developments in sustainable packaging at EastPack 2016, June 14-16, in New York City.

3 packaging students go on a Mission

3 packaging students go on a Mission
Mission: Packaging participants are Garrett Peterson (left), Eric Lausch and Anna Lorette from three different packaging schools in the U.S.

What does a packaging professional do all day? Finding out is the first of many tasks three inquisitive packaging students have discovered as part of their participation in the new Mission: Packaging program sponsored by Shurtape Technologies LLC, a leading producer of pressure-sensitive tapes.

At stake is a prize of $5,000 for each packaging apprentice, along with the bigger rewards of broadening their horizons beyond the classroom, networking with veteran packaging professionals and gaining hands-on experience.

Each month, Eric Lausch, Anna Lorette and Garrett Peterson will be given themed missions designed to help them build upon their educational foundation. According to Shurtape, to complete the mission, the trio will have to explore real-world issues, trends and strategies related to packaging, as well as talk with industry experts—and then blog about what they’ve learned.

Lausch, Lorette and Peterson were chosen from a list of applicants from packaging programs throughout the U.S. Here are a few more details about each participant:

Mission specialist: Eric Lausch
College: Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Major: Packaging/Biosytems Engineering
Anticipated graduation: Spring 2018

Mission specialist: Anna Lorette
College: Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY
Major: Packaging Science
Anticipated graduation: Spring 2017

Mission specialist: Garrett Peterson
College: University of Wisconsin-Stout, Menomonie, WI
Major: Packaging
Anticipated graduation: Spring 2018

Laura Pierce, senior media manager at Shurtape Technologies, tells us more about this inspiring and educational program.

How will the money be distributed between the three students?

Pierce: We will be awarding a total of $15,000 by the end of the 2016 program.

Each student will receive $5,000. They will earn $500 per “completed” mission. A “completed” mission includes following any directions provided (such as interviewing someone or conducting research) and then writing up a short blog post to share their learnings and thoughts. We’ve also asked them to provide a photo or other related visual to accompany their written posts.

How will Shurtape ensure they spend the money on packaging education?

Pierce: Students are rewarded with cash that can be used however they’d like. Perhaps it’s to pay for tuition or other fees, or even books and supplies—we know these can all add up pretty quickly. Our hope is that, no matter how they choose to use their money, it helps them as they prepare to enter the workforce.

Is this the first time the company is conducting this Mission?

Pierce: This is the first time we are conducting the Mission: Packaging program. We ran a similar program with HVAC students in 2015—and are entering the second year of that program in 2016 given the success of its first year.

The Mission program is designed to connect with students—see the world through their eyes and help them enhance their educational experience. It’s about taking a step out of the classroom, building a professional network and, in some cases, taking a look at the industry through the eyes of someone else.

How long will the Mission: Packaging program run?

Pierce: We will be providing them with 10 missions over the course of 10 months. The first mission was posted to our site on Feb. 22. Subsequent missions will be posted through the end of the year.

What will the themes be each month and will they all tackle the same theme at the same time or each be given different themes?

Pierce: For their first challenge, we asked the students to investigate “A Day in the Life of a Packaging Pro.” We wanted them to learn more about the packaging field through the eyes of someone already in it. For example, it could have been a college professor who’s helped guide them to success, someone with whom they completed an internship or a pro they’d met through networking events. Our goal was to provide them with a glimpse into what their futures could hold.

Their second challenge is to investigate the “Path of Continuous Improvement.” We hear often that manufacturers are concerning themselves with continuous improvement projects to enhance the efficiency of production and packaging processes—and ultimately improve their bottom line. So we asked the students to learn more about why companies are focusing on things like continuous improvement and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

We provide a monthly theme (same for each student) and some direction related to use of an interview or research, but after that, it’s up to the students in how they tackle the challenge. There’s no right or wrong answer to the challenge, but more of a unique twist in each response given they are in different schools and locations, and each has a different background related to internships and such.

Bottom line—they are learning and having fun!

When will the first blogs be available?

Pierce: The student bios and first mission entries are posted at The next mission will be posted soon.

How does this Mission program supplement/enhance other hands-on learning, such as internships?

Pierce: We recognize the value of education and need for hands-on training and learning. For the past several years, we’ve participated as a sponsor in the Amazing Packaging Race at Pack Expo, which has allowed us to meet students and faculty from packaging programs nationwide. This was really our first venture into the idea of challenging students with a packaging-themed mission. These students have proven to be a wealth of knowledge—you really can’t beat seeing and hearing that “a-ha” moment when the students have figured it out and learned something new.

From a company perspective, we do hire interns over the summer, and that often includes a student with a packaging or related background to work with our team. It’s yet another way to provide hands-on experience that builds upon the learnings they’ve gained through classroom instruction, networking, participating in industry-related student organizations and more.


You, too, can continue your packaging education by attending conferences at EastPack 2016. Explore 3-days of conference programs on Packaging for Food & Beverage, Packaging Design for Health & Beauty and Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging.

Mission: Packaging specialist Eric Lausch learns to interpret consumers' needs

Mission: Packaging specialist Eric Lausch learns to interpret consumers' needs
School of Packaging student Eric Lausch sees promise in 3D printing and social media communication for packaging.

Being successful in the hyperactive world of consumer packaged goods requires insight into what consumers need from product packaging. Figuring that out is a goal of Michigan State University School of Packaging engineer Eric Lausch. He expects technologies like 3D printing for package prototyping and interaction on social media will help him achieve that high-level of customer awareness.

Lausch is one of three packaging students selected to participate in the Mission: Packaging program, sponsored by Shurtape Technologies LLC, a pressure-sensitive tapes manufacturer. The initiative sets challenges for the pupils to augment their classroom education by exploring real-world packaging issues, trends and strategies, as well as by talking with industry experts—and then blogging about what they’ve learned.

Here is some of what he has discovered so far:

Tell us about yourself.

Lausch: I am a fifth year student at Michigan State University.  I completed my degree in packaging in 2015 and am now pursuing a second degree in biosystems engineering.

In addition, I am an active member of both CoPPAC and Pi Kappa Gamma, two packaging organizations at Michigan State.

Outside of school, I am an avid car enthusiast and you can usually find me golfing, spending time with friends or reading a good book.

What does participating in Shurtape’s “Mission: Packaging” program mean to you?

Lausch: Being selected as one of three students nationwide to participate in Shurtape’s inaugural “Mission: Packaging” program has been an incredible opportunity thus far.

Participating allows me to blend my knowledge and experiences from the classroom with my work experience and apply them to a variety of topics and challenges presented in the Mission.

Through my writing on the Mission's blog, I am able to broadcast my thoughts and ideas and share them with people who are learning about packaging or already in the field.

What segment of packaging interests you the most and why?

Lausch: The segment of packaging that I find particularly interesting is consumer packaged goods (CPG). Interpreting consumers' needs and wants to help enhance the brand or even the product itself is a unique and challenging experience.

What real-world packaging experiences have you had and what did you learn from them?

Lausch: I started building packaging experience by supporting the Fresh Produce Packaging Group at Michigan State University. The group was participating in a joint research project with an international chemical company to investigate new compounds for the development of active materials to improve food shelf life.

Not only was this my first opportunity to gain practical packaging experience, it was also a chance to see firsthand what happens at the front end of long-term innovation project. My work as a research assistant at MSU led me to an internship at an industry-leading closure company where, as a packaging engineering intern, I was introduced to R&D testing techniques and equipment.

I learned what it takes to conduct package performance testing for a range of products and how this testing affects the creation and modification of products. I am currently interning for a multinational food and beverage company, where I am being exposed to the practices of a large CPG company while learning what it takes to be successful in such a large business.

Is there any particular technology that you see accelerating over the next few years and why?

Lausch: Over the next few years a technology that I see accelerating in the packaging field is 3D printing. This rapidly developing technology allows prototypes to be created in a matter of minutes and opens the door to real-time packaging innovation and problem solving.

How can/should social media be used to advance packaging?

Lausch: With its constant presence in society today, social media holds incredible promise in the pursuit to advance packaging.  Increased efforts toward resource sustainability and reducing environmental footprints can be witnessed in companies around the world.

However, in the end, packaging is driven by the choices of the consumer. Using social media to promote topics like sustainability, re-use and recovery can have a huge impact on the continued advancement of packaging.

What piece of advice would you give other packaging students or students who are considering packaging as a career choice?

Lausch: My advice to others would be not to rush through their university studies to quickly land that first job. Take every opportunity to gain experiences of all kinds outside of the classroom during their college years. Their education is a stepping-stone to a career. Explore many different opportunities as they build their educational foundation. Find their passion and a career path that will allow them to flourish.

What do you envision your dream job being when you graduate? 

Lausch: My goal is to contribute to the success of an industry leading CPG company, where I would have the opportunity to steer my professional career path as well as have an impact on products used by consumers every day.


Continue your own packaging education by attending conferences at EastPack 2016. Explore 3-days of conference programs on Packaging for Food & Beverage, Packaging Design for Health & Beauty and Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging.