T-E container and closure separate for recycling

T-E container and closure separate for recycling

In the majority of tamper-evident (T-E) closures, there is at least one element which remains attached to the container after the first opening. Normally, such an element is intended and designed to remain attached to the container for the entire useful life of the container.

However, that may be problematic for recycling purposes of one or both of those components.

The patent addresses the environmental aspects of such packaging by providing a container with a roll-on closure that initially provides tamper evidence and, subsequently, can be easily separated for recycling when one or both of the components are recoverable.

Additionally, the invention makes it possible to obtain advantages in terms of simplicity of production, greater strength, compactness and/or versatility.

Notably, the difference is in either the design of the container or the closure; the core of the patent relates to the specific configuration of the threads that couples the two parts.

Source: http://www.freshpatents.com/!%20-dt20140417ptan20140103003.php

Finding recycling solutions for commercial packaging waste

Finding recycling solutions for commercial packaging waste

Packaging professionals or not, we’re all consumers, and we all have a responsibility to the environment to be conscious of the packaging waste we generate. It’s a simple chain of events: we buy a product, use it, and throw away its now-useless plastic container or wrapper. TerraCycle is just one of the companies trying to address the post-consumer packaging problem, but there are more sources of packaging waste that occur before a product ever even hits the shelf. Just shipping products to stores requires an army of protective packaging, stretch wrap, plastic liners, containers and bags. Products need to be secured to pallets with linear low-density polyethylene wrap, sheets of plastic bubble wrap cushion items during transport, and polystyrene foam (Styrofoam) secures products and keeps them protected during shipping. The worst part is that all of this occurs behind-the-scenes, away from consumer scrutiny.

Once products are unloaded at a storefront, they usually have to be removed from even more layers of packaging. When a business like a fast food restaurant buys bulk quantities of things like plastic utensils or drinking cups, they come packaged in a container that must be discarded. A 2008 study published in Resources, Conservation and Recycling found that in the fast food industry alone, 93 percent of all packaging waste is technically recoverable (i.e. can be diverted from a landfill), but only 29 percent of it inevitably does. With no standardized recycling solution in place, these rates are likely to continue floundering at their current, dismal levels.

Unsurprisingly, these commercial waste streams are not industry-exclusive. In the clothing and fashion industry, clothes are often individually packaged in protective “polybags” before transporting to a store. These bags are made from low-density polyethylene, the same difficult-to-recycle material in plastic grocery bags. Each article of clothing must be bagged individually according to industry standards, meaning the clothing industry is generating a massive stream of plastic waste before the clothes even hit the shelves.

The good news is that there are companies taking the initiative to address commercial waste streams like these. For example, with the help of recycling company TerraCycle, outdoor clothing and equipment supplier The North Face started a recycling program to collect and recycle its own discarded polybags. The program works directly with 25 of The North Face’s retail stores, collecting used polybags and sending them to TerraCycle for recycling. Instead of going to a landfill, the 1.5 million polybags that have been recycled to date are turned into products like bicycle racks and plastic lumber. This translates to more than 62,000 pounds of plastic waste diverted from landfills and turned into recycled plastic.

A more sustainable solution would be for the clothing to be shipped polybag-free in durable, reusable containers or bags. Ideally, reusable containers for shipping products will become an industry standard across consumer markets. Not only would it prevent new waste from being generated, but it would simultaneously decrease costs and make the supply chain more sustainable. However, until that happens, this waste can be managed by adopted alternative systems of recycling.

Plastic commercial packaging like bags, packing foam and plastic wrap are particularly hazardous as they don’t degrade and are easily strew throughout the environment by the wind due to their light weight. Considering that only about 12 percent of the 3.8 million pounds of plastic sacks and bags generated annually in the United States are recycled, it’s obviously an incredibly pervasive problem.

If consumers should be held responsible for the packaging waste they generate from the products they buy, then the suppliers of those products should be held equally responsible for their own commercial waste. Without companies like The North Face to attack these hard-to-reach waste streams head on, the inevitable end of the line is likely a landfill or incinerator. These are unsustainable solutions that can be addressed right in the supply chain; by recycling and limiting the use of polybags and any other forms of disposable commercial packaging, product suppliers can lower material expenditures, use fewer resources, and make the supply chain far more efficient overall.

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."

The case of the disappearing dust

The case of the disappearing dust

Sometimes you wonder if the phone will ever ring and sometime you wonder if it will ever stop. It was Cathy and she was anxious.

"KC, I'm losing my mind over lost product. Get here quick!"

I did. The first thing she showed me was her yield calculations for her protein powder.

"I make twenty-five hundred pounds at a time and pack in half-pound cans." Cathy told me. "Theoretically I should get five thousand cans. Allow for some spillage, overfill and so on and I would expect a 98 percent yield or forty-nine hundred cans. Lately I've been getting about forty-three hundred or 86 percent yield. That excess loss is my entire profit margin and I don't know where it's going. I've looked at my whole process and found nothing unusual."

Cathy walked me through the plant. The can filler was making quite a racket and I investigated more closely. It had a vacuum dust collector system to keep the powder from getting out into the room. The blast gate that was supposed to control the flow was broken and the vacuum was running wide open.

"Fiddlesticks on lost product," I told her. "Look in your filters and you'll find it. The dust extractor is supposed to extract stray dust. Running wide open like this, it is pulling product from the filler stream. Fix that gate and control the vacuum to the minimum needed."

If a product is not going into the can, it's has to be going somewhere else. It doesn't disappear.

California proposes more detailed Prop 65 warnings

California proposes more detailed Prop 65 warnings

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has issued a pre-regulatory draft proposal, which would repeal the current regulatory warning requirements under Proposition 65 and adopt new ones that would require more detailed information. Currently, Proposition 65—also known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986—prohibits knowingly exposing any individual to a listed chemical without first providing a "clear and reasonable warning" to such individual.

The existing Proposition 65 regulations establish general criteria for providing “clear and reasonable” warnings, including general message content and approved warning methods. These “safe harbor” messages and methods are considered clear and reasonable by OEHHA, the lead agency for implementation of Proposition 65.

OEHHA is proposing to repeal the requirement for a “safe harbor” message and replace it with a warning program that has two components: (1) a pre-exposure warning and (2) a web-based process for providing additional information. It would apply to all warnings for exposures to listed chemicals, whether from consumer products (including foods, alcoholic beverages, drugs and medical devices), environmental sources or in occupational settings. The proposal also redefines “consumer product” to include “food.”

The pre-exposure warning (that is, signage) would have the following minimum required elements: the word, “WARNING,” in all capital letters; the phrase, “will expose you to;” disclosure of any of 12 specified chemicals, if the subject of the warning; and a link to a new OEHHA website. Additionally, warnings for consumer products other than food, occupational and environmental exposures would be required to include the standard Globally Harmonized System pictogram for toxic hazards.

The 12 substances that OEHHA has proposed to be included in Proposition 65 warning statements are acrylamide, arsenic, benzene, cadmium, chlorinated tris, 1,4,-dioxane, formaldehyde, lead, mercury, phthalates, tobacco smoke and toluene. The list of chemicals required to be included in the warning statements may be expanded over time.

The proposed regulation also would require businesses that provide Proposition 65 warnings for any listed chemical to provide OEHHA specified information about that chemical. This information would be available to the public via the new OEHHA website, located at www.P65Warnings.ca.gov. The information that businesses would be required to provide includes: (1) the anticipated route(s) or pathways of exposure; (2) the anticipated level of human exposure, if known; (3) ways to minimize or eliminate exposure; and (4) the manufacturer’s contact information.

The proposal clarifies the responsibilities of product manufacturers and distributors, as compared to retail sellers. In particular, it specifies that “providing clear and reasonable warning for consumer products, including food, is the primary responsibility of the product manufacturer, producer, distributor or packager.” However, retail sellers would be responsible for placement and maintenance of warnings other than those on product labels. Retailers with less than 25 employees can avoid a penalty if they correct signage within 24 hours and they were previously in compliance.

OEHHA had indicated that it planned to propose a formal regulation in the early summer of 2014 and adopt a final regulation in the early summer of 2015. However, on May 3, 2014, OEHHA extended the comment period on the potential amendments from May 14 to June 13. For more information, see www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65/warnings.

Digital printing enables a closer relationship with consumers

Digital printing enables a  closer relationship with  consumers
The prototype, a digitally printed package for Hovis bread, was designed to “be quite quirky because Hovis is kind of a quintessentially British bread,” says Silas Amos of design firm JKR. “It’s using an abstracted Union Jack with different colors on it."

Coca-Cola’s campaign in 2013 of printing popular names on soda-bottle labels showed the power of digital printing for brand marketing.

New developments announced at the mid-May interpack show in Dusseldorf, Germany, continue to advance the applications for mass-customization packaging, and make it easier for brand owners to implement personalization on their packaging line.

How important is this? According to Bob Miller, vp, sales, PTIS (Packaging Technology Integrated Solutions), a division of HAVI Global Solutions, “It’s less about the consumer being conscious of the fact that the package was digitally printed, and more the fact that it’s customized or personalized for them.”

This is a subtle shift of thinking for the brand owner. Miller explains, “We did a lot of work with digital over the last 10 years. So many companies were approaching it as a replacement for long runs. You have to look at it as a different objective here. If you’re just going to create millions of the same image, digital doesn’t make sense. But if you do want to go to that customized aspect—where you are able to do that one-to-one personalization—that’s where it’s starting to come into play for the consumer and the brand owner.”

Digital printing also allows the brand owner to experiment with packaging designs and promotional campaigns. “The benefit for the brand owner is being able to—call it rapid prototyping—get new and promotional products on the market much faster at a much more reasonable price point,” Miller says.

Silas Amos, creative strategy at package design firm JKR, agrees. “The short runs and agility and ability to keep flexing the same design with infinite interpretations of it—these are big opportunities for packaging design generally. There’s the opportunity to be geo specific with an international brand; to do infinite varieties of the same design, which can appeal from a one-off perspective; to do bold, quirky things, which typically a national brand wouldn’t necessarily do because they’ve been scared to experiment,” Amos says. “The short-run of digital can allow them to be bolder and braver and experimental, and see what works in live tests and then roll those things out.”

A prime example of this is a prototype package—presented by HP and JKR at interpack—that was developed for Hovis, one of the three biggest bread brands in the U.K. “We came to them with the idea of something like a folded up newspaper, which would go on the face of their bag,” Amos says. “It’s the sort of thing that, as a consumer, you might feel like reading for the two minutes that your bread is in the toaster toasting.”

The designs include the weather forecast, news from this day in British history, quotes from beloved Brits and sporting trivia.

“What we were trying to really do with this was, for our own selfish ends to some degree, prove that packaging could be topical—because we think that’s a big opportunity for the industry,” Amos says. “What we’re trying to do is lead the industry, as well as do a good job for Hovis. We wanted this to be an exemplar of the opportunity of topicality.”

The packages were printed by U.K. flexible packaging converter Ultimate Packaging on an HP Indigo WS6600 system using film that closely matches the regular substrate. The prototypes were then mocked up by hand, filled with bread loaves and hand sealed.

The bread bags are wider than the width of the film the digital printer can handle, so moving this beyond the prototype/concept stage for the bread line isn’t feasible—but doing it for other Hovis products sold in smaller bags is certainly possible and under consideration. (The project was just implemented several weeks before the interpack show.)

The current production limitation doesn’t faze JKR. Lynn Harris, JKR account director-digital says, “By doing these things that aren’t quite possible yet, HP says that, if there aren’t enough substrates that are too wide, they will respond by coming out with a wider machine if there is enough demand.”

Amos adds, “We want to continue pioneering with HP on opportunities, both creatively and technically. Specifically to Hovis, we’re going to look at different formats and substrates. We’re keen to turn the prototype into reality. Kind of like a concept car at an auto show. The bigger picture is we want to keep creatively collaborating with our clients and HP to keep trying this stuff out. Watch this space. There is definitely work afoot.”

Managing dynamic or variable data throughout the packaging development and production process has been made a bit easier due to a partnership, also announced at interpack, between Esko—well known and used for its packaging design software products—and sister coding/marking company Videojet Technologies (both are owned by Danaher). The collaboration allows packagers, using Esko software, to design a package with sections that have variable elements and then print those elements on the package at the last moment on the packaging line using a Videojet overprinter. According to the companies, “This management of print postponement is dramatically simplified and, above all, conducted in a way that allows for a zero-error environment.”

What other digital printing developments are still down the road? When asked if HP was working on any technologies—or perhaps even applications—to incorporate digital printing with 3D printing so companies can make and decorate prototypes in a single step, Stephen Nigro, svp, HP inkjet and graphics businesses, says, “The short answer is yes.”

To borrow Amos’ phrase: Watch this space!

High-barrier BOPP film for food packaging is PVdC-free

High-barrier BOPP film for food packaging is PVdC-free

Food packaging is one of the primary markets for a new BOPP-based film from Toray Plastics (America) that is “green” in everything but color: It promises high clarity, high oxygen and moisture barriers and, notably, lacks polyvinylidene chloride (PVdC).

Heat-sealable CBS2 BOPP is intended as the inside sealant film for  salty snacks, cookies, crackers and dry pet food as well as other food products and non-foods.

The film runs on horizontal and vertical form/fill/seal systems.

It is a replacement for coated OPP and PET and other substrates. It’s available in 70 and 80 gauge and is a source reduction versus thicker OPP films. CBS2 film can also be used as an unsupported web for flexographic and rotogravure surface printing.

A Day in the Life event inspired by packaging innovation and The Beatles’ album

A Day in the Life event inspired by packaging innovation and The Beatles’ album

The Fab Four’s landmark “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album is rechanneled toward packaging with PAC Packaging Consortium’s outside-the-box “A Day in the Life” Symposium taking place September 30 through October 2 in Toronto, Canada.

We asked James D. Downham, president & CEO, PAC Packaging Consortium, what the event is about and what is unique. “It is about A Day In the Life of a packaged product – an imaginary nutritional beverage,” he responds. “Equipped with remotes, our interactive audience will be engaged and answering questions throughout the three days – thus providing real-time discussion topics and an industry survey.

 “What makes this event unique are the theme, content, innovation, collaboration, audience engagement, venues and the fact there will be lots of fun. Pricing is lower than most competitive conferences in the packaging space. In other words, an amazing value for money spent.

“All of PAC activities are motivated by educating and informing our members and the broader packaging community.”

Here’s what’s in store for attendees, according to Downham:

Day 1 – Sep. 30 – Start of Life – the keynote panel will chat about the macro strategic retail trends and the supply chain implications. It will then lead to a workshop to demonstrate lifecycle thinking and sustainable design. The takeaway from that session is that six individual packages will be identified as potential packages for the imaginary drink. It will conclude with a networking event at the Steam Whistle Brewery and a tour of Ripley’s Aquarium.

Day 2 – Oct. 1 – Innovation Day - Continuing Throughout Life – Opening keynote address from Steam Whistle executive, luncheon speakers from Canada’s largest Design/Branding Agency (major player at Kraft US).  The AM will feature 12 individual presentations from Innovators (following the Shark Tank and Dragons Den TV concept). The audience will vote real time and pick 1st-, 2nd- and 3rd-place winners. The PM session will feature six presentations on the attributes of six individual packages. This will be followed by six graphic design and branding presentations from local university and colleges student. The audience will again pick 1st 2nd and 3rd place finishers. That evening will be a fun-filled networking event likely featuring an NHL hockey game.

Day 3 – Oct. 2 – Waste, What Waste? Day - Into the Next Life – Tom Szaky is our keynote speaker. It is also the PAC NEXT ½ day featuring updates on significant activities in NA around the end-of-life of packaging. It will also feature innovative next life packaging solutions. We will adjourn at noon.

Downham expects that the upcoming A Day in The Life will draw 200 to 400 member attendees.

“Our 380 corporate North American membership base and 2,000-plus associate members come from all touch points in the supply chain including: retail, consumer packaged goods, package makers, raw material providers, graphic and structural design, waste management, reprocessors and government,” he explains. “All functions and levels from CEO owner/operator to all management levels will be in attendance.”

Downham says the event concept has been done on a smaller scale before, at the group’s venues that have taken place at PMMI’s Pack Expo and UBM’s PackEx tradeshows.

“Each had an Innovation Day with 15 minute presentations (speed-dating style) and attendees selecting winners,” he points out.

He notes that PAC has been managing and producing events, conferences, symposiums and related events for more than 60 years. “Today our members want something different. Traditional conferences with a specific hotel go-to destination and rubber chicken meals are no longer acceptable. Today’s attendees want brilliant content, variety, multimedia and real-time engagement and excitement, not just another town, another conference. And during breaks they want great networking opportunities.”

Isn’t this atypical concept a bit of a risk?

“Yes, there is always a risk with such a concept,” he acknowledges. “But everyone I have spoken to (23 speakers invited and accepted to date) find the venue innovatively refreshing and want to participate. Story Telling is a leadership style I personally adopted many years ago.”  

The PAC Symposium website is http://www.pac.ca/index.php/pac/pac0534-pac-symposium

For more on PAC and its activities, see PAC Food Waste status and insights http://www.packagingdigest.com/optimization/pac-food-waste-status-and-insights published in April.

About PAC

PAC, the Packaging Association of Canada was founded in 1950. In 2010, to accommodate the needs of our members, the name changed to PAC, the Packaging Association. On April 15, 2014, in our 65th year, the evolution continues to PAC, the Packaging Consortium which appropriately reflects our broader reach.

The website is www.pac.ca.

Tomorrow’s packaging pros meld engineering and art

Tomorrow’s packaging pros meld engineering and art
MSU School of Packaging students Hunter Gartner (left) and Kikyung Kim doing research.

Natives to technology, students at MSU’s School of Packaging can create in CAD, output to various prototype systems and have a finished package in your hands in no time. How will automated design change packaging departments in the near future?

Like most young adults these days, the students enrolled in the School of Packaging at Michigan State University exhibit savvy computer skills. In an exclusive interview with Packaging Digest, Joe Hotchkiss, director of MSU’s School of Packaging and Center for Packaging Innovation and Sustainability, explains the significance of how this will transform packaging development and engineering.

What’s happening that’s going to change packaging in the future?

Hotchkiss: I’ll tell you the thing that I’m absolutely convinced is going to happen relatively quickly and I’ll tell you why.

Our student body has changed substantially in the last two or three years. We now have 725 studying at the undergraduate level and about 100 graduate students. So our program has just exploded. We are graduating about 180 young people a year. That’s probably more than the rest of the packaging schools combined. So what we are teaching these young people will become, in my view, the standard of packaging simply, if for no other reason, by sheer force of numbers.

Also, the kind of student who has come to packaging has changed substantially. Almost all of our students usually transferred from places like engineering or biological sciences. For the 2013/2014 school year, we had 108 freshmen and something like 250 sophomores. These are people who came to Michigan State because they wanted to study packaging. They didn’t come and then transferred in—so they’re very enthusiastic about this as a career option.

And even though Michigan State has gotten more selective in its admissions in the last few years, our students are well above the average of the university-admitted students. So these are not only large numbers but extremely bright and energetic young people.

These people are going to march out into industry relatively shortly. I always tell people, particularly those who come to recruit, you have two choices: You can either join these people and try to keep up with them, or you better get out the way because they’re going to take over. They just don’t know the word “no.”

Why such an interest in the packaging program?

Hotchkiss: Part of the reason they are coming to us is that they are driven very much by creativity. They see packaging as an opportunity. They typically say, “You know what I like? Math and engineering and I like that kind of technical aspect. But I want to do something creative. I want to design the world’s best package and I want to take Mom and Dad to the grocery store and point to that package and say, ‘See. See that creative thing? That’s mine.’” So they’re really driven by the creative aspect.

Designing packaging by computer really hits home to them.

Not too many years ago if you were with, say, Kraft Foods or Nestlé or another consumer packaged goods company, and you wanted a prototype of a new package, your packaging group might take, oh, six or eight weeks and spend $20,000 or $25,000 or more per package to get a prototype in somebody’s hand for evaluation.

Our students can now design the prototype in an afternoon and print it up on a 3D printer. We teach all of our students to do 3D printing. We can make a complete label, including all of the graphics, all the information and brand stuff. Then we can heat-shrink that onto the container. So in, roughly, a 24-hour period, we can put a previously unseen container in your hand. And every one of our undergraduates now can do that.

What is that going to do to the accelerating changes and the creative parts of packaging? Last year, there were around 5,000 new consumer product packages introduced. In another few years, you’re going to see 10,000 a year. It’s just going to drive change in the industry very rapidly.

It’s quite interesting because there are students, all of a sudden, that are doing very creative things. I’ll give you an example. Several of them are developing dispensing packaging. That is something that would – for example, there was one where they developed a package that you dial in how much sugar you want. Do you want a cup of sugar or a half a cup of sugar, a quarter cup; you just rotate the cap, turn the thing upside down, turn it back over and that’s how much sugar it dispenses kind of thing. It particularly targeted that towards people who have trouble manipulating big 5-pound bags of sugar and those things. They’re really interested in those kind of creative and new ideas.

In previous years, a lot of packaging graduates enrolled because there was packaging in their family. How did these students find out about packaging?

Hotchkiss: Maybe three freshmen would come in a year and when you talked to them they said just what you said. My uncle, my aunt, some friend of my buddy’s mother or somebody like that worked in the industry and I heard about it and it sounded pretty cool.

In the 2013/2014 school year, we had more than 100 freshmen. It turns out that they hear about it from a whole variety of places.

One is environmental costs and the sustainability of packaging has spilled over into the lay press. Now, all of a sudden, the environmental aspects of packaging are on a lot of young peoples’ list.

Michigan State University offers a specialization in environmental and sustainable studies. The largest single source of students in that program is the School of Packaging. We have something like 35 or 40 students in that program.

The other thing that’s driven them to us is this idea of creating something in a combination of engineering and art, if you will.

We still get what we call the uncle factor, though.

How is this dynamic going to change the packaging department?

Hotchkiss: In a number of ways, not the least of which is who’s hiring our students. About 70 percent of our students are going to brand owners these days because the brand owner wants to develop creative packaging and then keep their competitors from having it. So they want to develop it in-house.

There was a time when converters would develop new packaging ideas and then sell that across a product category. It’s going the other way now. The brand owners want something exclusive.

So we’re putting out 180 people a year, all of whom have some degree of competency in using some of these new tools. Some of them have great competency. We send them out on internships and they come back and I ask them what they did on their internship. About half of them look at me and say, “Well, I started working on this project but then they found out what I knew about ArtiosCAD and stuff. So I ended up spending most of my time teaching other people.”

I remind people that there are no students at the School of Packaging that can ever remember when a computer was plugged into anything. They don’t understand why you plug a computer into anything. A lot of them have computers that don’t have anything to plug in.

So wireless is big?

Hotchkiss: Oh, yeah. When I came to the school, we didn’t have any wireless in it. I asked students about it and they were mad about it. We now have 11 wireless antennae. We haven’t got a huge building but we have wireless like crazy.

That’s the design side. What is going on in the operations, production or mechanical engineering side?

Hotchkiss: A couple of things. The first is that robotics have gotten so cheap and so sophisticated that if you really look at the heart of a lot of packaging machines now these days, they are a robot of some kind. Particularly some machinery manufacturers have picked up on this and are making machines that are essentially a big robot in a box. The speed has gotten very good, too.

We’re responding to that by teaching more robotics in our machinery classes.

We’re also acquiring a number of tools that allow for complex manufacturing processes to be prototyped and designed on a computer in a CAD system. So you can design that line on a computer and run a simulation to see how it’s going to operate. You can work out a lot of the problems so when you bolt it together in the plant, you already know what’s going to happen.

There are also some other things that we see happening. People are getting energy conscious and they are light-weighting parts that move in a machine because when you make the part lighter you reduce its energy footprint. There’s some really good work done in Dresden University to emphasize or sharpen the idea of using ultrasound to seal a package. That’s going to allow better speed and better seals.

So there are a number of technologies that are being applied to the packaging equipment, becoming more specialized. It’s going to take more specialized people to work on those machines. It’s going to take sophisticated people to design those machines. Speed and reliability are going up. Energy costs are going to go down.

The bad news is, product life cycles in a lot of companies are so short or at least anticipated to be short. So companies are reluctant to buy high-end equipment for a product that they’re unsure of what its lifecycle’s going to be.

Overall, though, we’re pretty sanguine about American industry despite what you read. Companies don’t hire packaging people if they are worried about their business. And the job market for our graduates is the strongest we have seen probably in a decade. We only count our employed students if they’re in some kind of packaging-related role. For the 2012 class, it was just under 90 percent hired. Depending on the industry, the starting salary will be something like $54,000 to $57,000. It’d be considerably more if you go to the food and pharmaceutical industry. They typically pay about 10K more.

People are always asking me about the future of packaging and I tell them I’m pretty sure what the future of packaging is because we’re building it. I’m not sure that we’re right and I’m not going to guarantee that it’s the best thing. But you put out 180 people every year who love automated design, for example, it’s going to have an impact.

New print/apply labeler design eliminates common causes of downtime

New print/apply labeler design eliminates common causes of downtime

The Videojet 9550 LPA print-and-apply labeler has been engineered to eliminate many of the mechanisms that cause most of the usual problems, such as label jams, ribbon breaks and the need for manual adjustments. With this design, Videojet Technologies was able to eliminate 80 percent of wear parts (vs competitive systems), which reduces the top reasons for downtime.

The system replaces the typical tamp or air blast applicator with a direct drive system with Intelligent Motion technology. Steve Buckby, vp of innovation at Videojet Technologies, explains: “Intelligent Motion technology enables all the design elements of the machine to be automatically controlled with precision, allowing us to simply take out the parts and adjustments that make most other labeling machines fail.”

And, with the direct drive system, there is no need for any manual adjustments, clutches or nip rollers. A collapsible mandrel enables quick label changes and speeds of up to 150 cases per minute for a typical 4 x 6-inch shipping label is possible.

Easing recycling confusion

Easing recycling confusion
SPC's How2Recycle label on a Seventh Generation bottle.

Walk down a busy street and ask an average person: “What can you do to help the environment?” The answer you’re most likely to hear: “Recycle.”

Most people want to do good by recycling, but often end up confused about how to correctly recycle materials and feel that the search for instructions is difficult and ultimately not worth the effort. Others believe they are recycling properly when they are not.

GreenBlue’s How2Recycle Label aims to ease some of these common recycling pains by making recyclability claims more transparent and clear to consumers, thus increasing the quality and quantity of recycled materials, while also providing a labeling system that follows the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides. The How2Recycle Label is the only on-package recycling label that communicates recyclability across all material types of a package, even when a packaging component is not recyclable. Since the soft launch in 2012, the program has grown to more than 25 participants, including Target, Wegmans Food Markets, McDonald’s USA, Seventh Generation and many more. As the program continues to grow, it’s making strides toward reaching its larger goals of educating consumers and increasing the quality of recycle material.

Last month, GreenBlue released the 2013 How2Recycle Label Annual Report. The report details How2Recycle’s progress during its first year as a fully launched program and is available for download. Early in 2013, the organization published the first report which detailed the research, legal considerations and consumer testing that went into developing the program. Of note in both reports are reasons for the program’s development, program goals and consumer feedback obtained through a survey from the program website, how2recycle.info (the URL found on all packages carrying the label).

The extensive survey feedback confirms that the label is appropriately communicating recyclability to consumers. Of those consumers who came across the label on a package (as opposed to reading about it in a news article or hearing about it elsewhere), a large majority (77 percent) said that they had a positive experience with the label. Additionally, 80 percent of consumers feel more positively about companies that use the How2Recycle Label on their packaging.

While most consumers who spotted the label on their packages found it easy to understand, a small portion were unsure of what recycling actions to take or found the label unclear. Many survey responses from “unclear” consumers confirmed an important issue that the How2Recycle Label is working to address: the misunderstanding of Resin Identification Codes (RICs). Consumers ask for the “recycling numbers” on the assumption that the presence of RICs indicates recyclability, which is not the case. In fact, RICs were never meant to be used as a consumer communication tool. They were developed to help waste handlers and recyclers easily identify and separate plastic materials by resin content. Clarifying Resin Identification Codes, increasing plastic film recyclability via store drop-off locations and familiarizing the public with their local recycling system remain important focus areas for the SPC and How2Recycle in upcoming years.

The feedback received from consumers, brand owners, organizations, governments and municipalities is extremely valuable to the How2Recycle Label as it continues to develop and grow. In fact, it is survey feedback that helps to shape our program goals for the next years. Case in point, the confusion over RICs and our new focus on clearing up some of that confusion!

Kelly Lahvic is the research and outreach associate for GreenBlue. For additional information about GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition and the How2Recycle Label, visit www.sustainablepackaging.org and www.how2recycle.info.