Inverted pouches upend food packaging: Sempack

Inverted pouches upend food packaging: Sempack
Applicable for foods and nonfoods, the Sempack is a conical pouch made with 100%-recyclable PE.

Now 100% recyclable as #2 HDPE, the distinctive conical Sempack pouch can be uniquely positioned as a stand-up or inverted pouch.

As the fourth in a series on the fast-growing inverted pouches market within the relatively more mature category of stand-up pouches, Packaging Digest presents an interesting twist: the unique Sempack from Semco.

Sempack brings a new shape to this inverted take on stand-up pouches, conical. If you combined a tube, pouch and bottle, the result that uniquely has benefits of all three would look something like the pouch supplied by Monaco-based Semco.

Another novel aspect is that the standard Sempack can be marketed and shelved as a stand-up pouch or reoriented 180 degrees as an inverted pouch. We drill down into the one-of-a-kind packaging in a Q&A with exclusive input from Wenael Regnier, CEO, Semco S.A.M., and Rob Clare, applications development specialist, Nova Chemicals, which undertook the development of the new recyclable version.


Compare this pouch with the inverted pouch packaging as seen in the Chobani article.

Regnier: Based on the pastry bag concept, the Sempack packaging format is a flexible conical pouch composed of a 100%-recyclable, multilayer film. With its truly unique design, the Sempack pouch is versatile, offering the ability to stand up or down. The Sempack is the perfect mix between a bottle, tube, and standard pouches, and it is fun—a significant factor in the customer experience of any package.

Clare: Functionally, the Sempack pouch will operate the same as other squeezable pouches, but it offers more variety in accessory options and the ways in which it can be filled and sealed. It's suitable for food and nonfood applications.

With its original and ergonomic design, the Sempack pouch is suitable for a variety of products, ranging from liquids to pasty or semi-pasty substances to powders, and for many industries, including food and beverage, cosmetic, pharmaceutical and industrial. This video provides an overview of potential products:

What’s the history of the original Sempack?

Regnier: The Sempack flexible packaging format was invented and patented in 2012 by SEMCO S.A.M.—a leading expert in the packaging field, established in Monaco in 1971. The product was first introduced in 2015 and is patented in 47 countries.

Is it a premade pouch? How is it filled?

Clare: The Sempack pouch is currently a premade packaging product that can be filled by conventional filling and lidding equipment.

Semco is currently working on the second generation of the Sempack manufacturing process, with a form-fill-seal line as the next step.


What kind of reception has the packaging received?

Regnier: There has been significant interest in the Sempack pouch since it was first introduced—initially within the food market and then with various cosmetic brands.

Semco also received several inNovation-based awards at international tradeshows, such as:

  • Packaging of Perfume Cosmetics & Design (PCD) 2015 in Paris;
  • SIAL in Paris; and
  • Packaging InNovations in Birmingham, United Kingdom

Semco also has completed extensive consumer research, confirming market demand.

What sizes, closures and other options are possible?

Regnier: The Sempack pouch is fully customizable and offers:

  • Different sizes: 200ml; 300ml; and 600mL;
  • A wide range of possible film structure designs;
  • Multiple printings and customization;
  • Various collar sizes/adaptations;
  • Numerous accessory choices are available, including standard caps, flip-top caps, disc tops, caps with valves, and more.

What are the printing options?

Clare: Sempack pouches can be decorated by conventional direct printing methods, such as flexographic or digital, and can be surface- or reverse-printed.

What was the specific original structure?

Regnier: The original Sempack pouch structure was a non-recyclable, mixed-material triplex laminate that was designed to give stiffness, barrier, and sealability to the fitment, base, and lap seal on the pouch body section.

Next: Recycling structure and more

What is the new 100%-recyclable structure and does that include the closure?

Clare: The Sempack pouch is 100%-recyclable structure where facilities exist. It is made from two multilayer polyethylene films that are printed, and then made into the finished laminate to form the pouch body, plus an all-polyethylene formable film for the pouch’s base.

The fitments used also are polyethylene, enabling a secure seal and making the whole unit 100%-recyclable in the HDPE stream.

Comment on Nova Chemicals’ role in this packaging; what was the biggest technical challenge?

Clare: Nova Chemicals has been helping its customers design all-polyethylene films to replace non-recyclable structures for the last few years. A combination of our proprietary resins delivered the performance needed to make the packaging recyclable. After making contact with Semco, we offered to work with them to design a recyclable film, and we provided them commercial-quality films for internal testing.

The biggest challenges were to produce a film that would process well on conversion equipment and provide the right quality of pouch for the end user. Polyethylene does not have the same temperature resistance as non-recyclable mixed-material laminates, so sealing can be an issue when the films are thicker. Our design engineers and application development specialists used the BONFIRE film development platform to help redesign the print web, the sealant webs, and the base film such that all production issues were overcome.

Due to the 3D-shape of the Sempack as well as the heavier weight of the package (film plus closure) compared to traditional flexibles, recyclers have indicated that the Sempack may be successfully sorted from various recyclates and into the rigid HDPE stream. Plans to test this with sorting trials are being developed. We’re very excited at the prospect that the Sempack could be suitable for curbside recyclable in the U.S., which is a key driver of higher recyclate collection rates. 

What’s the market demand for this kind of recyclable packaging?

Clare: Converters and producers of consumer packaged goods are actively looking for solutions to enable recyclable structures to be used as a replacement for current materials, as well as for lightweight alternatives to heavy-gauge options.

In addition, many companies have made sustainability statements, committing to make recycle-ready packaging by 2025. The Sempack pouch is one option that can help achieve this important goal.

Is it available in North America?

Clare: Yes, the Sempack pouch is available in North America. All of the resins that are used are commercially available from Nova Chemicals, and users can either purchase conversion equipment or premade pouches directly from Semco with or without accessories/caps.

What is the market status, is there a customer using or testing especially in North America?

Semco is currently seeking converters and brand owners to launch the format here.

What’s worth noting that’s not apparent?

Regnier: The Sempack pouch is…

  • Eco-responsible and 100% recyclable;
  • A new alternative packaging option that improves upon the best features of other types of packaging products;
  • Offers a content restitution (evacuation efficiency) rate of 96%;
  • Optimized for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer markets.

Clare: The Sempack pouch’s fully recyclable polyethylene film is easier to produce than mixed-material laminates, as it only requires a duplex film, which saves a step in the production process. This is made possible by the properties of some of Nova Chemicals high-performance polyethylene resins, where different film layers perform multiple functions, i.e., providing barrier and stiffness from the same film layer.

Because it uses up to 40% less plastic material, the Sempack pouch is lightweight. Compared to other common packaging formats containing the same volume, the Sempack pouch is:

  • 38% lighter than other pouch options;
  • 53% lighter than bottles;
  • 74% lighter than tubes.

In addition, the Sempack is easy to fold and occupies less space, making it more efficient to transport.

For further information, visit Semco S.A.M. or Nova Chemicals

Read the other features in the Inverted pouches upend food packaging series featuring…

ProAmpac (published January 2019)

Uncle Dougie’s and Glenroy (published March 2019)

Chobani (published December 2019)

For more pouch packaging features, see


Much food for thought for packaging will be found at PackEx Toronto June 4-6, 2019, where innovative ideas in containers and design, the latest machinery and automation solutions and free education at Centre Stage will be available. For more information, visit PackEx Toronto. ___________________________________________________________________________________

Recyclable stand-up pouch is circular-economy ready

Recyclable stand-up pouch is circular-economy ready
Brands can offer #2 recyclability with all the convenience and consumer appeal of a stand-up pouch.

With How2Recycle label acceptance and expected to be on-shelf next month, the grocery-store-bin recyclable #2 packaging available in pouch and roll form will be shown during PackEx Toronto June 4-6.

Providing flexible packaging for nearly 50 years, Tempo Plastics Limited, Innisfil, ON, Canada, has added a sustainable twist to its portfolio: a recyclable structure available as either a multilayer pouch or rollstock material derived from a single polymer, high-density polyethylene, that can be recycled in the #2 high-density polyethylene stream. 

The packaging, which the company claims provides excellent barrier protection with premium, high-definition printed graphics for exceptional shelf appeal, will be on display during PackEx Toronto June 4-6.

Promoted as “Guilt-Free packaging,” HARMONYPack was created for a circular economy while exceeding market criteria for cost, durability and other key performance measures of desirable packaging. “Our philosophy behind HarmonyPack is to build the circular economy by designing packaging to be easier to recycle,” says Leonardo Giglio, vp marketing & product development, who believes the timing is perfect for this type of packaging.

“More than ever, the push to eliminate waste is at the forefront of mainstream media and the consumer’s mind,” he points out. “Major companies are making commitments to reduce their packaging waste to landfill. We see this as an opportunity to help our customers achieve these goals. In fact, sustainability seems to be a daily conversation among customers. We want to both educate and help our customers find these solutions.”

Tempo Plastics recommends that customers can use the #2 recycling designation for identification purposes. 

In-store recyclable is currently the most accepted solution, explains Giglio, because different municipalities have different acceptance criteria so while the packaging is technically curbside recyclable, it’s not universally available. “Innovation on the collection side and reuse markets will follow,” he says.

How2Recycle labeling adherence

Notably, the development allows the use of clear-to-understand How2Recycle labeling.

“How2Recycle has prequalified HarmonyPack and will be issuing a How2recycle label specifically for this package,” explains Giglio. “However, brand owners that wish to use the How2recycle logo on the HarmonyPack will have to enter into a membership agreement. We can help facilitate that process at the start of the design process.”

HarmonyPack is applicable for products for “everything that our traditional packages are capable of, ranging from small snack food to large-format dog food bags,” says Giglio. Specific markets include pet treats, confections, lawn and garden, nuts and seeds, coffee, frozen foods, bakery and snack foods.

Released in February 2019, HarmonyPack is already gaining diverse customer interest.

“Many companies are in the testing phase for non-barrier, barrier, shelf stable and freezer applications,” Giglio discloses. “Most of the opportunities we’ve received are from the food industry.”

The first brand customer is expected to have pouches on-shelf by the end of June, Packaging Digest learned.

Value-added options are the same for the recyclable packaging as with the company’s standard packaging, including durable flange-style press-to-close zippers and other handle variations.

Details on the substrate’s thickness and layers are variable depending on the product and application.

The packaging’s official launch into Canada will commence with HarmonyPack’s appearance during PackEx Toronto June 4-6 in Tempo Plastics booth #1168. That will be followed by the official United States launch during the Private Label Manufacturers Assn. (PLMA) show in the fall.

For more information, visit

For more on How2Recycle labeling, see How2Recycle label is growing—here’s who, why and how, published February 2019.

Pernod Ricard distills sustainability from packaging

Pernod Ricard distills sustainability from packaging
Pernod Ricard's sustainability program is making strides across a portfolio that relies heavily on glass packaging.

Global packaged spirits company concentrates on recycling, waste reduction and other sustainable improvements for glass bottles and more.

Formed in 1975 when two French companies merged—Pernod was founded in 1805 and Ricard in 1932—Pernod Ricard has built over the past decades an exceptional group of premium international and regional spirits brands known globally from Absolut Vodka to Beefeater to Chivas Regal to select others scattered across an alphabet of iconic products.

Now the company intends to aggressively tighten up the sustainability of an expansive portfolio across various aspects that include packaging, all part of a directive to make a meaningful, positive difference allied with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In simplest terms, the company plans by 2025 to ban all promotional items made from single-use plastic and ensure that 100% of its packaging will be recyclable, compostable, reusable or bio-based. Additionally, by 2030 the Group will pilot five new circular ways of distributing wine and spirits and help increase recycling rates in its top 10 largest markets with low recycling levels.

The sustainable movement links directly to the company’s past in a personal way: founder Paul Ricard was a philanthropist who valued his employees, the environment and communities.

“We know that our customers have now come to expect our brands to be responsible and respectful of the environment—values that have been at the very heart of our business since its inception,” states Vanessa Wright, VP sustainability & responsibility. “These 2030 commitments provide us with a focused framework across our business in helping to address some of the biggest sustainability issues, so consumers can enjoy our products in a convivial and sustainable way.”

Wright responds to Packaging Digest’s questions about the program.

Can you provide specific examples of how the company has improved the sustainability of its packaging?

Wright: Following are recent examples of packaging improvements:

  • We reduced the weight of our Altos Tequila bottle by 22%.
  • We increased the recycled content in Absolut Vodka bottles to 43%.
  • We are in the process of removing Martell Cognac gift boxes in distribution to bars and restaurants.
  • We have bio-based caps in Brazil, reusable bottles in India and 99% of our packaging across markets is recyclable according to CITEO and ADELPHE criteria. We do not have compostable packaging yet.

What’s the hierarchy of the avenues to sustainability—and are these mutually exclusive?

Wright: Our hierarchy in order of priority is: reusable, recyclable, compostable and bio-based. However, they are not mutually exclusive. For example, packaging can be reusable as well as recyclable.

The company increased the recycled content in Absolut Vodka's glass bottles to 43%.

How much effort will this involve beyond current policies and processes?

Wright: It will require efforts in a number of areas including:

Researching and developing new materials.

Changing the mindset of marketers across brands so they rethink the way they design their packaging. Our new strategy provides clearer direction, which we will reinforce through awareness and training programs, and a marketing-led packaging task force.

Partnering with dedicated organizations to explore innovative ways of designing and distributing our products.

Improving the way in which we measure our progress through circular economy indicators.

What metrics or measurable indicators will be used to gauge progress and success?

Wright: Leading indicators for measuring our progress include…

  • Percent of packaging that is recyclable, reusable, compostable or bio-based;
  • Percent of recycled content in glass and plastic;
  • Percent of cardboard certified;
  • Percent of new packaging achieving reduction according to life-cycle assessment;
  • Number of markets with significant actions improving recycling;
  • Percent of single-use plastic at point of sale.

Next: LCA, single-use plastics, glass bottles and more


Have a thirst for packaging technology? PackEx Toronto June 4-6, 2019 will serve up the latest innovations in containers and design, solutions in machinery and automation and free education at Centre Stage. For more information, visit PackEx Toronto. ___________________________________________________________________________________


 Lightweighting of glass bottles: The company was able to reduce the Altos Tequila bottle by 22%.

To what degree will LCA studies guide your decisions vs. public opinion?

Wright: We will use LCA studies to compare the same materials and study improvements from different solutions. To move from one material to another, we will use LCA studies as well – but not exclusively. Recyclability of the material will be another indicator, along with recycling rates across countries. Our aim is to not only look at environmental impacts, but also to increase packaging circularity.

Would the company ban a “single-use” plastic container if it’s likely to be recycled?

Wright: Our goal is to ban all single-use plastic promotional items. Related to packaging, we will still use PET plastic bottles in markets where recyclability is high—like Finland—as PET bottles are technically recyclable.

What are the special sustainability challenges for a bottled beverage company compared to other markets?

Wright: We do not see any special advantages or disadvantages as a beverage company compared to say a food company. Ultimately, we believe that all actors and industries should try to reduce their packaging in order to reduce waste.

The company relies heavily on glass bottles, might that change?

Wright: Because glass accounts for 85% of our packaging, we are engaged in efforts across markets to improve recycling and reuse:

In Europe, Pernod Ricard contributes around €6 million annually to a system that improves the collection and recycling of domestic packaging, including glass.

In the U.S., Pernod Ricard USA joined the Glass Recycling Coalition, which unites manufacturers, bottlers and recycling service providers in fostering efficient and economically viable recycling channels.

In Brazil, the Group affiliate joined the Glass is Good project to increase the glass recycling rate.

In India, empty bottles are collected in cafés, hotels and restaurants and washed before being reused at production sites, saving between 10,000 and 20,000 tons of glass each year.

Bottles of regional favorite Montilla rum are topped with bio-based caps in Brazil.

To what degree can the company standardize its packaging?

Wright: We will define general rules that our 86 affiliates around the world will have to follow. We acknowledge that it might be complicated in some markets to change the packaging, but we want to bring all of our affiliates along on this journey. We understand that different markets will work at different speeds to fully integrate the rules. We will also take specific measures in markets where recycling is low, including the U.S.

Have you identified those 10 largest markets to help increase recycling rates or will those be determined in the future closer to 2030?

Wright: The two markets we have identified to date are the U.S. and China. We are working to identify other markets with high potential to make an impact.

Can you disclose anything more about the “5 circular ways”…and might it look something like the Loop program?

Wright: We are exploring options, including Loop, and also other models that will ensure the circularity of our packaging.

Plastics straws are under a lot of environmental pressure so it was interesting to see that the company is working with Loliware, which introduced straws made of seaweed.

Wright: We have worked with Loliware over the past year to promote the brand and its straws, which starting shipping to early adopters last month. We introduced the product to our U.S. employees on Earth Day, with founder Chelsea Fawn Briganti, and will be incorporating them more broadly into our products and experiences in the near future.

Final thoughts?

Wright: Two things:

Improving the sustainability of our packaging is very important to us as a consumer-centric business that embraces the call for increased transparency and provenance. 

Among the motivations for our packaging ambitions is reducing carbon emissions. We have committed to reducing our carbon footprint by 50% by 2030—with 30% through packaging innovations.


Have a thirst for packaging technology? PackEx Toronto June 4-6, 2019 will serve up the latest innovations in containers and design, solutions in machinery and automation and free education at Centre Stage. For more information, visit PackEx Toronto. ___________________________________________________________________________________

Remembering packaging editor James Butschli: a personal view

Remembering packaging editor James Butschli: a personal view
Veteran packaging editor Jim Butschli (left) with the author in 2015.

Long-time packaging editor James (Jim) Butschli (left) died at home in Kenosha, WI, early Tues., May 21, 2019, surrounded by his loving family.

I was fortunate to work with Jim for about a dozen years when our paths first crossed at Packaging Digest in 1992 and again in 2000 when I joined him at Packaging World. We had adjacent offices, a proximity that encouraged many chats, laughs and regular hijinks.

I knew him as a terrific and dedicated colleague who was constantly on the phone conducting interviews when he wasn’t writing, editing or traveling to trade shows and other events or on assignment. He was a gifted writer.

Jim was a gregarious guy always full of good humor who shared an infectious and positive attitude wherever he went so it was not surprising that his office was a popular gathering place for staff. He was also a kind and gentle person who was devoted to his family and faith.

Among others, two nonpackaging interests we shared were sports and contemporary Christian music. While we disagreed at times on the former—he was a lifelong Packer backer and I favor the local team here in Chicago—we found solid ground for the latter. Among my fondest memories are the half-dozen Steven Curtis Chapman (SCC) concerts we attended as groupies. Like our idol SCC, Jim played guitar.

He was a member of Spirit Alive Church, where he served with his many friends and played guitar in the band under the leadership of Pastor Cynthia Aasen.

Personal bio

James Armin Butschli was born in Evanston, IL, on Oct. 17, 1958, the only son of Lawrence and Beverly (Kuphall) Butschli. He leaves behind his wife, Peggy, who he married in 1981, and three daughters, Lauren, Brittany and Cassandra. He has two grandsons who adore him, Dustin Adam and Lucas James; his mother, Beverly (Bonnie); two sisters, Suzanne (Richard) and Julianne; his sister-in-law Christine (Dennis) and many nieces, nephews and friends. He was preceded in death by his father.

Jim earned a BA in Journalism from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. Several jobs and years later (around 1990), Jim joined Packaging Digest as an editor, which was the start of a lengthy editorial career in Chicago covering packaging. Editorial staffers at that time included Robert Heitzman, Arnie Orloski and Sarah Lee Gerrish, all of whom have been inducted into the Packaging Hall of Fame.

Most of his career was spent later working on Packaging World and Healthcare Packaging at Summit Publishing before and after it was acquired by PMMI in late 2014. He dedicatedly commuted those years to and from Chicago, eventually working at home until cancer overtook him.

Funeral services will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Sun., May 26, at Spirit Alive Church (8760 – 37th Avenue, Kenosha, WI). A visitation will be held at the Church on Sunday from 1:00 p.m. until the time of service. Private entombment at All Saints Cemetery will take place later. In lieu of flowers, memorials to the Spirit Alive Church would be greatly appreciated.

It’s said you never work a day if you love your job, but I believe it’s also true if you get to work with your best friend. Jim will be sorely missed and long remembered by myself and numerous others. We extend our sincere condolences to his family, friends and all who share in our sorrow.

Botanic material to replace some plastic packaging?

Botanic material to replace some plastic packaging?
Lignin from wood fiber can be manufactured into high-performance reusable bags, botanic nets and hot beverage packaging that are fully biodegradable and compostable.

If plastics had its own Facebook page, it would see a lot of Unfriend responses reflective of the ongoing backlash against petrochemical-based polymers in general that’s primarily centered on straws, ocean debris, one-way plastics and microplastics.

Some companies have turned to alternative materials they consider as sustainably better, including bioplastics and others. Like paper that comes from the same sustainable source, lignin is an intriguing option from wood.

According to WikiPedia: “Lignin is a class of complex organic polymers that form key structural materials in the support tissues of vascular plants and some algae. Lignins are particularly important in the formation of cell walls, especially in wood and bark, because they lend rigidity and do not rot easily.”

Bernard Alowonou, vice president of global business management, new business areas, Lenzing AG, provides some information on this potential plastics replacement in which the vendor specializes.

What’s the background for this?

Alowonou: Single-use plastics are everywhere, from beverage bottles to plastic bags, with some arguing that they have become impossible to replace.  

It’s easy to see why plastics have become such a phenomenon in the packaging industry. The material is comparatively cost effective, durable and can be used in many diverse applications. As a result, single-use plastics have long held a powerful monopoly over the market, one which has been challenged of late alongside new regulatory adjustments and company-based sustainability initiatives. The European Union has recently banned some single use plastics and committed to the complete reusability and recyclability of others by 2030. Over the last few years though, as environmental initiatives have renewed discussions surrounding their sustainability, new and more environmentally friendly alternatives have become increasingly available on the market. This will provide packagers with an easy-to-implement, but sustainable solution to single-use plastics.

Can you cite examples of truly sustainable materials?

Alowonou: Natural and raw materials have been proven as a sustainable, bio-based and biodegradable solution to plastics-based packaging. Saltwater brewery has developed an edible six pack ring in place of its traditional plastic-based variant. Made from barley and wheat, the ring is also easily compostable if not eaten.

In fact, the World Economic Forum suggests that innovative new delivery models that minimize waste through composability and reusability may save companies a total of $8 billion dollars in the beauty, personal care and home cleaning industries alone.

Among other natural materials, wood can also be repurposed as packaging. The adoption of wood-based botanic fibers ensures future packaging solutions to be compostable and biodegradable, completely returning to nature at the end of its use life.

Tell us about Lenzing’s wood-based material.

Alowonou:Lenzing’s botanic fibers are a compostable packaging material branded as LENZING branded lyocell and modal fibers. We mainly use European beech wood for our packaging applications and botanic nets. At the moment, we harvest our beech wood from certified and controlled renewable forests in Austria and neighboring countries to ensure we leave a minimal impact on the environment, using a closed loop production process.

These fibers can be manufactured into reusable bags as well as botanic nets and hot beverage packaging. In addition to demonstrating high performance and certified for food contact, the fibers are also fully biodegradable and compostable. During the lyocell fiber production, the process reuses the solvent at a recovery rate of more than 99%, and results in great resource efficiency and a low ecological impact.

In addition to their potential to reduce waste at both ends of the product’s lifecycle, botanic fibers-based nets and reusable bags are becoming increasingly popular as their use requires little change from companies or consumers which allows seamless incorporation into supply chains and customers’ everyday lives. Lenzing works in close cooperation with nets producer Verpackungszentrum Graz as well as retailers in Europe like Coop in Swiss and REWE Group in Austria, to ensure that their sustainable alternatives conform to current packaging processes.

With an ever-increasing array of innovative sustainable packaging solutions that promise biodegradability without compromising on performance and the easy transition to existing supply chain, companies no longer need to fear the changing regulatory environment surrounding single-use packaging.  As companies continue to shift their focus away from plastic packaging, further innovations will follow, and higher demand will also increase cost saving potential. Brand owners should consider the switch to sustainable wood-based fiber packaging and decrease their environmental footprint.

What specific kinds of products and foods can they be used for? What type of packaging does it replace, plastic bags or plastic baskets?

Alowonou: Currently, we have designed our packaging to be used in applications such as bundled and pre-packaged fruit and vegetables. Our Lenzing branded fibers for use in botanic nets have been certified for its appliance to food and subscribe to stringent guidelines such as EU regulations. They are already in use at the Point of Sale sections of various supermarkets in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, and we are confident that list will grow substantially as the market for sustainable plastic alternatives continues to grow.

The strength of our packaging lies in replacing nets and bags made of plastics, and we are exploring the potential to expand to other areas where Lenzing fibers could be used as a preferred sustainable alternative in these areas.

Does Lenzing provide the netting or does another vendor?

Alowonou: We supply our Lenzing branded fibers to companies further down the supply chain who are responsible for delivering the end product. We also work incredibly close with all our industry suppliers and view all our partnerships as close collaborations.

Please point to customer examples.

Alowonou: Botanic nets made of Lenzing-branded fibers are now in use in various supermarkets in some EU countries. This list includes shops in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and Ireland, who are now in the process of transition away from plastic-based products and toward more environmentally friendly solutions made from our fibers.

We also provide Lenzing fibers for use to make washable multi-purpose bags, to act as a valuable and durable replacement to single-use plastic bags, which are available from retailers in some EU countries such as Switzerland and Austria.

What’s the level of activity?

Alowonou: We have seen a great interest in plastic-free packaging solutions made from fibers such as ours for some time now. The greatest interest has been in applications such as fruit and vegetable nets which are generally not being recycled.

It has been encouraging to see global regulations surrounding single-use plastics create a robust pathway toward a plastics-free future, and there is no doubt that these policies will play a vital role in driving consumer demand in the many more years to come.

Lenzing AG

Hellmann’s commits to 100% recycled plastic food packaging

Hellmann’s commits to 100% recycled plastic food packaging
Hellmann’s move into 100% recyclable PET packaging starts with squeeze bottles before moving into jars.

Mayo brand company plans to spread the use of recycled plastic packaging to more than 200 million bottles and jars by 2020 with a goal of 100% recyclable, 100% PCR-content packaging.

Major food and beverage brands continue an industry-wide movement into sustainable packaging usually with specific targets and within overarching corporate-wide sustainability goals. One of the latest is Hellmann's, a Unilever brand based in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, that announced in April that by 2020, all mayonnaise and mayonnaise dressing plastic PET containers sold in U.S. retail stores would be made from recycled plastic materials as part of the company’s ongoing commitment to advance sustainable packaging.

The recycled plastic packaging is rolling out now, beginning with Hellmann's mayonnaise and mayonnaise Dressing squeeze bottles, to be followed by Hellmann's jars by the end of 2019. More than 200 million Hellmann's bottles and jars will be impacted, and the new containers will feature How2Recycle label and artwork that highlights the brand's commitment to using recycled plastic.

"Switching to recycled plastic has a positive impact on the environment by reducing the amount of bottles sent to landfills and lowering greenhouse gas emissions," says Benjamin Crook, senior director, dressings & condiments, Unilever. "At Hellmann's we strive for sustainability in all that we do, including helping customers make a responsible choice while still enjoying the products they love."

This is the first step for Hellmann's to move its portfolio of products toward fully recyclable bottles and jars that are made from 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials. The brand's commitment is one way the brand is delivering on the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, the company's blueprint for sustainable growth. Specifically, Hellmann's efforts will support the company's goal of ensuring 100% of plastic packaging will be designed to be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

The entire lineup of Hellmann’s mayonnaise and mayonnaise dressing jar and squeeze containers are made with recycled plastic: 15oz, 24oz, 30oz, 36oz, 48 oz and 64 oz. for jars; and 5.5oz, 11.5oz, 20oz, 25oz for squeezable plastic dispensers, Crook informs Packaging Digest.

Bottles, jars and caps

In addition to PET bottles, the company plans to use recycled content in its polypropylene caps.

We are actively researching ways to ensure 100% of our plastic packaging is recyclable and made from 100% recycled materials,” Crook explains. “As we work towards our goal, we are also developing technologies that improve the recyclability of our packaging. We have committed resources and people to get the job done as we do our part to meet Unilever’s goal of ensuring 100% plastic packaging will be designed to be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.”

As with some moves toward more sustainable resources for primary packaging, there are tradeoffs.

“As a result of the recycling process, our new packaging will have a slightly darker tint compared to the previous packaging, but it performs exactly the same as our standard packaging,” Crook discloses. “We’re excited that consumers can make a responsible choice while still enjoying the products they love.”

Notably, the retail pricing of the products will remain unaffected by the packaging changes.

The company has lined up vendor sources for the packaging that it declines to identify. “We work with a variety of partners to ensure we have enough high-quality recycled materials to meet demand,” Crook offers. “The recycled materials we use in our packaging are safe and cleared for food-contact use by the FDA.”

Crook will neither affirm or deny the company’s interest in bioplastics, saying “we are actively researching new plastic packaging innovations as we work towards ensuring 100% of plastic packaging is recyclable and made with 100% recycled materials.”

New label and Loop involvement

The new containers will also feature the How2Recycle label that clearly and graphically simplifies summarizes on-package recycling instructions for consumers (for more information, see How2Recycle label is growing—here’s who, why and how, published February 2019).

Our Hellmann’s mayonnaise and mayonnaise Dressing jars and bottles will have new bottle wrapper artwork highlighting our commitment to using recycled plastic,” Crook explains. “These containers will state: ‘Bottle [or jar] made with 100% recycled plastic, because it’s the right thing to do.’ The front of all packsLoop reusable packaging shopping platform launches in the U.S. will also display one of the following messages: ‘100% recycled bottle’ or ‘100% recycled jar.’

Unilever is also developing reusable packaging innovations in an effort to reduce single-use plastics as part of TerraCycle's Loop platform (for more information, see Loop reusable packaging shopping platform launches in the U.S., published June 2019). Premium skincare brand REN Clean Skincare, Hellmann’s, Love Beauty and Planet, Love Home and Planet and Seventh Generation will trial new reusable packaging made from aluminium and glass, according to the company.

“At Hellmann’s, we’re excited to be one of nine Unilever brands participating in the Loop program,” says Crook. “Loop is a win-win for consumers and businesses, and of course, for the planet. We are thrilled to be involved and to continue to encourage others to join the movement. We look forward to working with our partners to develop reusable packaging for the everyday products consumers love.”

The company will be measuring the recyclable plastic packaging program’s progress in the months ahead.

“Switching to recycled plastic has a positive impact on the environment by reducing the amount of bottles sent to landfills and lowering greenhouse gas emissions,” Crook says. “We look forward to tracking the impact of our recycled plastic packaging especially as we look to implement even more changes to improve the recyclability of our packaging.”

12 trendy snack packs

12 trendy snack packs
Food companies leverage creative yet functional packaging to appeal to the volume of snackers in America.

I spy with my little eye a dozen dazzling packages that appeal to today’s snackers. Whether it’s touting portability, one-hand functionality, portion control, a health message or deserved indulgence, these packs sell consumers on the value of a quick pick-me-up in their busy lives.

Oreo Game of Thrones package

1. GoT cookie send-off

To celebrate the final season/episode of the widely popular HBO series, Oreo’s created a special limited-edition package that dons “Game of Thrones” branding. The black package displays a sole Oreo cookie superimposed on the show’s Iron Throne, accurately reflecting the spirits of both brands.


2. Caffinated gummies

This sweet snack plays on the popularity of cold-brew coffees for a quick pick-me-up anytime of the day or night. Mini drink cups with faux straws hold sealed bags of gummie bears infused with signature coffee blends from Alfred’s, a chain of coffee shops. Padded labels complete the authentic look.


3. Stay-fresh protein bites

Matte lidding film provides a great flat billboard for sausage bites from Old Wisconsin as the package sits or hangs during store merchandising. Perfs on the shelf-stable flexible pack make it easy to open; a zipper makes it easy to reseal.


4. High-end flavored tuna

Who needs bread to enjoy great tuna from Chicken of the Sea! This portable cup has a fork molded into its lid and a tuna-shaped window on the front label (as well as a clear bottom) so consumers can easily see the quality of this unique protein snack.


5. Portable, pop-able peanut butter

Creating a portable snack from sticky, spreadable peanut butter takes a little ingenuity! Skippy does it by wrapping real Skippy peanut butter around pretzel bites and packing them in a reclosable cup that fits perfectly in car cup holders.


6. Kid-friendly yogurt crunch

With its new Gimmies product line, Chobani takes a cue from the cottage cheese category with a flip-able two-bowl pack that lets kids mix up their own tasty Rainbow Sprinkle Cone yogurt crunch for a quasi-healthy snack they can “make” themselves.


7. Differentiated granola bites

Amid the boxy aisle of granola bars, the new Nature Valley Granola Bites line from General Mills stands out in a matte-finish, reclosable, Doyen-style pouch that competes well with a gently curved front-panel billboard. Snackers can treat themselves to a little bite of goodness to “Satisfy your sweet craving with a perfectly portioned bite.”


8. Granola bites shine

Also jumping into the new category of pop-able granola bites, Quaker opts for a shiny Doyen-style reclosable pouch that is nearly identical in size to its Nature Valley competitor. Interestingly, Quaker also chooses to promote the pouch’s easy-open tear feature rather than its reclosable zipper.


9. Goldfish line extension

How do you distinguish a new line extension in an already extensive flavor field? For its new Grahams products, Pepperidge Farm uses the same block-bottom bag style but pops the brighter colors with glossy film instead of muted paper.


10. Big-kid fruit snack

Go Go Squeez Blastz puree fruit snacks from Materne North America corner the market by appealing to older kids with a bigger pouch and grown-up carton design. One curved corner and subtle embossing on “Blastz” signals a more sophisticated to-go treat made from 100% fruit so kidults can “snack on something real” when life moves fast.


11. Candy waffle

Hershey’s Waffle Layer Crunch combines waffle cone pieces with flavored crèmes topped with chocolate for a tasty treat that ice-cream lovers can enjoy all year long—no freezer required! Extra varnish on the tented and fold-sealed bag helps the product photo and brand name pop on shelf.


12. Oh me, oh MY own dessert

Foodstirs new Minute Mug Cake Mix continues the brand’s family-look with the same “peaked”-style cartons as its other product lines.

Loop reusable packaging shopping platform launches in the U.S.

Loop reusable packaging shopping platform launches in the U.S.
Online shoppers in the New York area can now order Loop products in their durable, high-end, reusable packages.

As the Loop circular-economy ecommerce shopping platform launches in New York—and debuts online in the U.S. through retailers Walgreens and Kroger—its architect will be stepping on stage at the upcoming EastPack event to convince you of the value and timeliness of durable, reusable packaging.

On Tues., June 11, from 1:00 to 1:45 p.m. in the Packaging Hub (Booth 2370), Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle and inventor of Loop, will answer “Why Big Brands Are Revisiting the Milkman Model.” Attendees to EastPack 2019 (June 11-13; New York City) can attend the presentation for free. Register by clicking here.

Tom Szaky

Tom Szaky

Szaky—who I consider the Steve Jobs of packaging sustainability and corporate responsibility—has teamed up with an impressive list of brand owners like Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Unilever to envision a seismic shift in consumer product consumption with reusable, luxury packaging at its core (“Loop and big brands boldly reinvent waste-free packaging”).

All products on the Loop shopping platform are sold in premium and long-lasting packaging that is designed for multiple reuse before ultimately being recycled. The lifespan of each package will vary but the goal is a minimum of, say, 10 trips, with some packages being designed to withstand 10 times that.

Loop announced its exclusive partnerships in the U.S. with Walgreens and Kroger in a May 21, 2019, press release. Initially, the Loop products will be available at or (as well as at But future plans are that consumers will be able to buy Loop products in brick-and-mortar stores in select Kroger and Walgreens markets.

“Kroger’s commitment to embrace innovation on our path to Zero Hunger/Zero Waste aligns perfectly with Loop’s mission to create a convenient circular packaging solution for consumers,” said Jessica Adelman, Kroger’s group vice president of corporate affairs, in the press release. “We believe in giving our customers sustainable packaging choices they can feel good about. As the exclusive grocery retail partner for Loop in the United States, Kroger is taking another big step toward a world with zero waste.”

“Walgreens is excited about this opportunity to help consumers purchase sustainably packaged products and contribute to a healthier planet,” said Lauren Brindley, Walgreens group vp of beauty and personal care, in the same press announcement. “Innovative collaborations with partners like Loop are critical to solving the complex issue of reducing single-use plastics. Our customers look to us to innovate so that together we can reduce waste and increase re-use.”

Further expansion plans are quickly moving along, too. Earlier today (June 6), Loop announced a partnership with Loblaws to offer Loop products in the Toronto area starting in early 2020.

As criticism for single-use packaging (usually single-use plastic packaging) reaches a fever pitch, product manufacturers and consumers alike seem to be more open to alternative packaging formats. From a consumer experience point of view, the Loop website explains why its “no tradeoffs” concept may be the secret ingredient to acceptance: “The unintended consequences of our addiction to single-use packaging are here. It is important to urgently move from disposable to reusable solutions at mass scale. But we can’t do it if we ask people to sacrifice, and with durable design we don’t need to.”

I can’t wait to hear further up-to-the-minute Loop updates from Szaky during his presentation on June 11. Come join us!

Hershey’s emoji wrappers promote smiles and sharing

Hershey’s emoji wrappers promote smiles and sharing
When the six wrappers featuring different yellow emojis debut this summer, it will mark the first time the Hershey Co. has departed from its standard brown and gray wrappers.

The Hershey Co. is using food packaging to encourage chocolate lovers to share their candy bars, with the launch of the limited-edition Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Emoji Bar. The product’s packaging design features oversized emojis, and the chocolate bars are stamped with emojis.

The limited edition will launch nationwide in early July 2019 and will be available through the back-to-school season. It will include both the standard 1.55-oz Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar and snack-size Hershey’s bars.

The graphic design for the six limited-edition wrappers features emojis, rendered in vibrant yellow, hot pink and brown, plus product photography on a yellow background. The design marks the brand’s first departure from its standard brown and gray wrappers.

“Our intent was for the packaging graphics to stand out on-shelf and differentiate us versus the everyday Hershey packaging. The yellow color also helps us quickly communicate emojis as the new theme,” says Teal Liu, manager of partnership and occasion marketing at Hershey.

The six emojis on the wrappers include Winking Face, Smiling Face with Heart Eyes, Smiling Face with Tears of Joy and Smiling Face with Sunglasses. Each pip on the chocolate bar is marked with one of 25 emojis, which include Thumbs Up, Fist Bump and several of the same emojis used on the packaging.

“We wanted to give kids the opportunity to share the bars with their friends, based on their sentiment, as well as to promote collectability of the new item,” Liu says. “We conducted both qualitative and quantitative research to validate the concept as well as confirm the top 25 ‘shareable’ emojis that both kids and parents liked best.”


MinnPack (October 23-24) is Minnesota's only packaging event connecting professionals from companies like Conagra Brands, General Mills, and Target with suppliers offering the latest packaging technologies, including a range of automation solutions, from semi-automatic equipment to sophisticated "smart" systems. Register to attend today!


How2Recycle label is growing—here’s who, why and how

How2Recycle label is growing—here’s who, why and how
How2Reycle draws in brand participation by making it easy for consumers to clearly understand how and what portions of the packaging can be recycled and includes any special instruction using standardized guidelines.

The latest news on the How2Recycle labeling program for sustainably recyclable packaging that’s expanding at a rate of 80 new products daily.

Since its launch in 2012, the How2Recycle program managed by the sustainability leaders at GreenBlue has followed a four-point set of guidelines: 

  • Reduce confusion by creating a clear, well-understood, and nationally harmonized label that enables companies to convey to consumers how to recycle a package.
  • Improve the reliability, completeness, and transparency of recyclability claims.
  • Provide a labeling system that follows Federal Trade Commission Green Guides.
  • Increase the availability and quality of recycled material.

Accolades for the initiative include, among others, 2018 recognition as a Finalist in MIT Climate CoLab's contest Shifting Attitudes and Behaviors to Address Climate Change.

Notably, the program has also been highly successful in the market, drawing well-recognized brands including General Mills, Hasbro, Nestlé, Target, Wal-Mart and dozens more.

Kelly Cramer, who leads the How2Recycle efforts, provides a state-of-the-program update in this exclusive interview.

What’s been the overall growth?

Cramer: The How2Recycle program has experienced significant growth in recent years. In 2018, the number of brand owners and retailers in How2Recycle grew by 45% to 120. It doesn’t hurt that global megatrends like circular economy, transparency, and the rise of the ethical consumer align with the value of the How2Recycle label. The surge of ambitious packaging recyclability targets and the urgency for guidance to know how to meet those goals has also drawn increased interest to How2Recycle. Additionally, we notice peer pressure among brands beginning to take a stronger foothold; brands don’t want to be “left out” or “left behind” by their competitors, and so have embraced the voluntary collective movement of How2Recycle.

In what product segments are you seeing the most activity?

Cramer: Food and beverage continues to be the strongest product segment featuring the How2Recycle label and growth there continues; recent additions include Keurig Dr Pepper and the JM Smucker Company. We are also seeing a notable upward trend in personal care with newer members like Beautycounter and Johnson & Johnson. Other categories expanding with new members include:

  • Apparel where new member PVH which joins REI;
  • Electronics where Sonos joins Verizon;
  • Quick-Serve Restaurants where Starbucks joins McDonald’s; and
  • Toys where Mattel and LEGO join Hasbro.

Somewhat surprisingly, interest has jumped among trendier, smaller startups and direct-to-consumer brands. LovePop Cards, Rael feminine care and Hatch Beauty are examples of new members that are in the direct-to-consumer space.

We expect growth of How2Recycle on retailers’ private brands to continue as well.


Can you quantify the success of the How2Recycle label?  

Cramer: How2Recycle has been around since 2012 and is on tens of thousands of products in the marketplace. More and more packages featuring the label hit shelves every year. After the launch of the new How2Recycle Member Platform in the last year, we were able to track that 20,796 new products were issued a How2Recycle label, which is roughly 80 new products a day—and the volume of requests for labels is growing each month.

How many different label types have been created? Are more forthcoming?

Cramer: There are more than 1,200 unique How2Recycle labels in the marketplace that each cater to a unique packaging format. This is because we tell the consumer how to recycle or dispose of all components of a package, not just one component, so we need many different How2Recycle labels to accommodate the diversity of packaging types.

The How2Recycle label started in the United States, but is now available for Canada. Interest from brand owners and retailers for labels in that marketplace is growing.

How2Compost is the complement to the How2Recycle label; brands with Biodegradable Products Institute-certified packaging can communicate compostability of packaging to the consumer alongside any relevant recyclability claims.

How2Recycle is currently scoping international opportunities for expansion of the label, though we already developed French labels for brands that sell in Canada in the market currently.

What interest are you seeing for flexible packaging? And what are the particular challenges for this highly popular format?

Cramer: Flexible plastic packaging is surging in popularity. The vast majority of pouches are multi-material, multi-layer, and thus not recyclable—the only type of flexible packaging that is recyclable is polyethylene film that qualifies for the How2Recycle Store Drop-Off label. For this reason, all-PE pouches are starting to become popular among our members. As brands continue to set and try to reach goals for packaging to have a lower carbon footprint but also be recyclable, more and more interest will turn towards these packaging solutions.

Right now, we’re at the edge of the frontier in terms of what material manufacturers and packaging converters are developing for PE films in order to protect the product, but also still allow it to feature the Store Drop-Off label.

Lastly, what’s a misconception people may have about the program?

Cramer: The biggest misconception is that How2Recycle is only a label for packaging—in reality, it’s a lot more than that. The How2Recycle Member Platform helps brands track, measure and improve the recyclability of their packaging portfolio so they can meet their goals. We issued 32,988 specific recommendations for packaging design changes to improve recyclability to our members in a little over the last year. We tell a brand not only where they stand with recyclability of their packaging today, but how to change it to better fit into the recycling system in the future.

For more information, visit How2Recycle.

For more insights from Kelly Cramer, see also:

How the 4th Industrial Revolution will impact packaging, part 1

How the 4th Industrial Revolution will impact packaging, part 2


You’ll find a generous amount of packaging options at PackEx Toronto June 4-6, 2019 where you can evaluate the latest solutions from robotics to semi-automatic equipment and search out fresh ideas in containers and design plus join in free education at Centre Stage. For more information, visit PackEx Toronto. ___________________________________________________________________________________