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Cost-effective case packer redesigned for ease-of-use

Cost-effective case packer redesigned for ease-of-use

The MatriX fully automatic case packer from MGS Machine Corp. has recently been redesigned for ease-of-use and maintenance while still retaining all its superior features.

The space-saving base machine that is just shy of 3m long has an industry-leading small footprint while still tackling serialization issues with incredible accuracy despite having 26% fewer parts.

The efficient Klean Top design delivers good site lines and provides fast, precise changeovers. The simple servo-driven transport system allows for ease of care; while the positive vacuum opener can crack open the toughest of cases.

MGS Machine Corp., 763-425-8808

mgsmachine.com

How accessible and convenient is it for consumers to recycle?

How accessible and convenient is it for consumers to recycle?
HowToRecycle label

Many stakeholders are reliant on access to recycling (or “reach”) data not only for making recyclability claims, but also for making design decisions, tracking progress on infrastructure and understanding policy-related opportunities. At GreenBlue, we rely on this data as the “first tier” consideration for package recyclability categorization within the How2Recycle Label Program, and have spent considerable time analyzing current access studies.

As the consumer is often blamed for stagnant recycling rates, it is important for us to work to understand true recycling access as well as the related variability of recycling convenience.

Historically, material trade associations have collected and disseminated broad-level recycling access data findings at the national level. Consultants and others typically look at access on a smaller scale; for example, how a specific package treatment is accepted in the 50 largest cities. While publicly available trade association studies are useful, they lack a consistent methodology, leave data gaps (such as recyclability information on aerosol cans), and don’t currently include a nuanced understanding of multi-family housing and other related recycling limitations that inhibit true access.

At the same time, brands and marketers require access data that is robust and has been third-party validated, and all levels of government have a vested interest as well. For a recent perspective, see Clarissa Morawski’s article in Resource Recycling, All About Access, and its companion piece, Informed Recycling.

With this uncertainty comes tremendous opportunity to take a transparent, detailed approach to understanding true recycling access data beyond what has previously been done. GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition staff recently brought stakeholders together to engage in a series of informative discussions with a goal of standard access definitions and methodology. A longer-term goal of the project is an industry-wide access study that uses consistent methodology while providing the broadest benefit in a cost-effective manner.

While it’s a lofty goal—especially as some organizations have been collecting their own proprietary data for years and aren’t yet motivated to share those data—it’s in the best interest of the packaging and related industries to collaborate and share, as recycling access data by material and package type should be publicly available and transparent.

Additionally, there is an ongoing debate as to whether the emphasis on access is most important when determining recyclability claims. Sorting, reprocessing and end markets are all also key elements that help us understand the limitations of the current system and focus on materials that aren’t successfully recovered, even if they are collected. The theory that increased access leads to increased recovery, which leads to the creation of markets, and material value that restarts the cycle is dependent on a robust understanding of access.

As a result, a deeper dive into understanding the nuances of recycling access is warranted. Better understanding of recycling access through a transparent, consistent and complete methodology not only will uncover questions to be addressed in future studies and projects, but will literally put the industry on the same page of understanding and help answer questions about the other pieces of the recovery supply chain.

We hope that all interested parties will encourage their trade representatives to work with GreenBlue toward an industry-wide, transparent and regularly recurring access data gathering system.

Author Anne Bedarf is senior manager at GreenBlue's Sustainable Packaging Coalition. She leads the organization’s Labeling for Recovery Project (“Restart the Cycle”) project, and oversees the Essentials of Sustainable Packaging curriculum and the sustainable packaging Design Library. For more information on the SPC, visit www.sustainablepackaging.org.

In-mold label doubles information, branding space

In-mold label doubles information, branding space
Double-sided in-mold labels

New DoubleSided IML labels (in-mold labels) from Verstraete IML are printed on both sides to create another full panel for information or additional branding. When used with transparent lids, for example, the new label gives brand owners more space for instructions, contests, recipes or information required by law. Marketing can also use the extra panel to stimulate cross-selling by promoting the company’s other brands.

How accessible and convenient is it for consumers to recycle?

How accessible and convenient is it for consumers to recycle?
HowToRecycle label

Many stakeholders are reliant on access to recycling (or “reach”) data not only for making recyclability claims, but also for making design decisions, tracking progress on infrastructure and understanding policy-related opportunities.

At GreenBlue, we rely on this data as the “first tier” consideration for package recyclability categorization within the How2Recycle Label Program, and have spent considerable time analyzing current access studies. As the consumer is often blamed for stagnant recycling rates, it is important for us to work to understand true recycling access, as well as the related variability of recycling convenience.

Historically, material trade associations have collected and disseminated recycling access data findings on a broad scale, while consultants typically look at access on a smaller scale. For example, consultants might look at whether and how a specific package treatment is accepted in the 50 or 100 largest cities. While publicly available trade association studies are useful, they lack a consistent methodology, leave data gaps (such as recyclability information on aerosol cans) and don’t currently include a nuanced understanding of multi-family housing and other related recycling limitations that inhibit true access.

At the same time, brands and marketers require access data that is robust and has been third-party validated—and all levels of government have a vested interest as well. For a recent perspective, see Clarissa Morawski’s article in Resource Recycling, All About Access, and its companion piece, Informed Recycling.

With this uncertainty comes tremendous opportunity to take a transparent, detailed approach to understanding true recycling access data beyond what has previously been done. GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition staff recently brought stakeholders together to engage in a series of informative discussions with a goal of standard access definitions and methodology. A longer-term goal of the project is an industry-wide access study that uses consistent methodology while providing the broadest benefit in a cost-effective manner.

While it’s a lofty goal—especially as some organizations have been collecting their own proprietary data for years and aren’t motivated to share those data—it’s in the best interest of the packaging and related industries to collaborate and share, as recycling access data should be publicly available and transparent. In essence, nobody should have anything to hide.

It has been repeatedly said that recycling access is irrelevant if the material doesn’t actually get recycled, and that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is off-base for placing so much emphasis on access. It is true that sorting, reprocessing and end markets are key elements that help us understand the limitations of the current system and hone in on materials that aren’t successfully recovered. In fact, the FTC is beginning to place more emphasis on post-access when considering recycling labeling.

In any case, this doesn’t preclude the need for a deeper dive into understanding the nuances of recycling access. Better understanding of recycling access through a consistent and complete methodology not only will uncover questions to be addressed in future studies and projects, but will literally put the industry on the same page of understanding.

We hope that all interested parties will encourage their trade representatives to work with GreenBlue toward an industry-wide, transparent and regularly recurring access data gathering system.

Author Anne Bedarf is senior manager at GreenBlue's Sustainable Packaging Coalition. She leads the organization’s Labeling for Recovery Project (“Restart the Cycle”) project, and oversees the Essentials of Sustainable Packaging curriculum and the sustainable packaging Design Library. For more information on the SPC, visit www.sustainablepackaging.org.

The influence of FSMA and GFSI on food safety awareness

The influence of FSMA and GFSI on food safety awareness

…. and urgency on the part of consumers, legislators, regulators and the food and packaging industries in general.

 News travels fast these days. Nothing stays hidden, what with technology making it easy for everyone to find information on any subject in mere seconds.  That old sarcastic saying “what, did you grow up in a cave?” is no longer valid, as that referenced cave is either Wi-Fi capable or soon will be.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was promulgated partly in response to high pressure by consumers and advocates alarmed at the increasing number of food safety and contamination events driven primarily by microbiological, suitability and regulatory issues. Federal lawmakers understood the necessity to update archaic food safety regulations by enacting FSMA, which is supported by web-based guidance, processes, etc., so that anyone worldwide, from mammoth corporations down to small farmers, can access food safety best practices and expectations with a mouse-click.

However, even if FSMA had not been promulgated, end users would have been made aware of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), its objectives and missions.  Through word of mouth, third party audits, repositioning of Subject Matter Experts into new positions, the media and more, industry professionals have come to understand that GFSI, managed by the Consumer Goods Forum, is a benchmark global organization composed of members from within industry with a mandate to improve, control and impact food safety for the ultimate benefit of consumers worldwide. GFSI has combined expertise, resources, and knowledge of processes, which has justifiably led to it becoming the universally accepted organization for interpreting, creating and unifying food safety methods and programs.

No one in the supply chain is immune

In plain terms, if you have a hand in any part of the supply chain process for getting edible goods to consumers, you are subject to understanding, applying and verifying best practices, which are now very transparent regardless of what part of the food industry with which you are connected. No one involved in the process can claim immunity from having to understand, apply, and verify best practices in order to prove that their part of the process is verified as safe, secure, and monitored.

What does this mean to the packaging industry and those who support it?  Fundamentally, it means that top management of packaging-related companies must get past the “why me, why now?” mantra and be enlightened to the fact that they must hire or train an individual to own the food quality and safety function with the ultimate objective of implementing a food safety scheme based on GFSI principles, guidance and requirements. 

Presently, more than a few companies state they cannot totally meet GFSI standards. In our experience, those companies deflect the necessity of formal GFSI certification, contending that it is not “really” necessary to meet “all” of GFSI standards, just the select, “core” principles, which are (for them) attainable. Be advised, the concept of “almost GFSI” or “GFSI lite” is not likely to be embraced or accepted by customers and end users.

In conclusion, the law holds each entity involved in the process of creating marketable foods responsible for knowing the law and responding accordingly in process, protection and documentation.  Excuses will not be tolerated.

Kestenbaum’s previous column was  Food safety and packaging considerations in a post-FSMA world.

Next month: Beginning the process for understanding and implementing best practices

Gary Kestenbaum has 40 years’ experience in the food and packaging industries, six as a supplier with National Starch, 18 as a product developer with General/Kraft Foods and 15 as a packaging engineer and developer. In his current position as senior food packaging safety consultant with EHA Consulting Group, Kestenbaum provides guidance on packaging safety and suitability-related projects for raw material manufacturers, converters and associated supporting professionals. He can be reached at gkestenbaum@ehagroup.com or 410-484-9133. The website is www.ehagroup.com.

Non-dairy beverage gets 'dream' team redesign

Non-dairy beverage gets 'dream' team redesign

The Dream brand from Hain Celestial Group, a leading organic and natural products company, has undergone a packaging refresh designed by The Biondo Group, Stamford, CT. The brand has attained Non-GMO Project verification on all of its products and the new packaging will communicate this on the front of the pack.

To show consistency across the entire Dream portfolio, all of the Brand’s shelf stable non-dairy beverages will transition to the new design which now has an easy-to-open screw cap that is more consumer-friendly. The refrigerated Rice Dream products will also changeover to this new design.

"The packaging refresh allows the quality and many varieties of Dream to take center stage, and gives each non-dairy beverage a consistent, easily identifiable look," says Donna Iannucci, vp in marketing at Hain Celestial U.S.

The brand's next line of non-dairy beverages to be redesigned is its innovative line of Dream Blends.  Dream Blends Almond, Cashew & Hazelnut, Dream Blends Coconut, Almond & Chia, And Dream Blends Rice & Quinoa will all soon showcase the same sophisticated packaging style as the rest of the Dream’s brand's shelf-stable non-dairy beverages.

The Dream non-dairy beverages are sold in 8-, 32- and 64-fl oz aseptic cartons for fresh taste and quality, plus easy storage.

Consumers can find the brand products in the non-dairy shelf stable sections and frozen sections of grocery and natural food stores.

Seald Sweet's easy peelers appeals to kids

Seald Sweet's easy peelers appeals to kids

Seald Sweet, a leading supplier of the citrus category, recently expanded its citrus offering to now include easy-to-peel sweet mandarins as part of the company’s citrus summer program. The colorful packaging features child friendly graphics that depict a girl named Mandarina—the namesake of the mandarin brand.

To ensure that the varieties are the best in the mandarin category, Seald Sweet worked with a well-established network of growers who invested in new plantings over the past decade.

“The varieties which are specifically selected to be packed in the Mandarina’s brand packaging are the best of the mandarin category,” says Mayda Sotomayor, Seald Sweet’s CEO. “It is our commitment to retailers and consumers that only the best, juiciest and sweetest varieties are packed in this brand. We consider Mandarina’s to be the ‘crème de le crème’ of easy-peelers.”

Kim Flores, director of marketing, Sealed Sweet, tells Packaging Digest, “As part of the industry initiative to improve the health and well-being of our nation’s children, we want to appeal to young consumers with this brand. Also we have seen tremendous growth in the mandarin category since we started developing our summer citrus program over fifteen years ago. Other suppliers have also become players in this program. As we’ve continued to develop relationships with our growers and encouraged the growth of new, exceptionally sweet and superior varieties, it became more important for us to differentiate our mandarins from others in the market. This new brand achieves this objective.

Consumers can find the sweet mandarins during the months of August through October, with conventional clementines available June through August. Also, included in the summer citrus line-up are navel oranges, Mineola Tangelos and Cara Cara (red) oranges.  

University of Florida packaging program re-engineered

University of Florida packaging program re-engineered
Examples of gas measurement development and package prototyping at UF.

Research in biosensors and biomaterials and a patented method for gas permeation follow on the heels of a major overhaul to the curriculum in 2012 that resulted in a Packaging Engineering Degree.

I have visited a number of packaging schools over the years from Florida to California including a memorable visit to the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, 10 years ago. I recall Bruce Welt, Ph.D., as an enthusiastic, technically-minded associate professor who was eagerly building up the program, including gaining a foothold in R&D testing radio-frequency identification.

Much has changed these past few years including the fact Welt dropped the associate and is now a professor. One thing hasn't changed: Based on an overdue reconnection made late last month, he’s still got a lot on the ball in driving the UF program forward.

First a history lesson

According to Welt, the UF packaging program underwent a major overhaul in 2012 when it moved, academically, from UF’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences to the College of Engineering. The “Science” based minor has been suspended in favor of true Packaging Engineering. Almost immediately after beginning the Packaging Science program in fall 2001, industry had been suggesting more technical and engineering content, Welt relates.

“As with many other packaging programs, we started out without even a calculus mathematics requirement, but by 2011, we had already added Calculus 1 and Calculus 2 as requirements,” he explains. “Since we were already attracting so many engineers to our minor, we encouraged Differential Equations as a technical elective.  By Fall 2012, we adopted a full-blown engineering curriculum that is built upon UF’s Biological Engineering degree program enhanced with technical packaging courses.”

The rigorous engineering degree also requires Calculus 3 and Differential equations and core engineering courses in thermodynamics, transport phenomena (heat and mass transfer), fluid dynamics, engineering economics, etc.  The engineering curriculum requires 128 credits to graduate whereas the science major required only 120. “And we are considering a request to go to 132 credits in the near future,” Welt adds. 

Credits where credit is due

Even with the additional credits, Welt had to reduce the number of packaging specific courses in order to be able to fit all of the engineering content. “This was mitigated by the fact that Packaging Engineering students now have the technical prerequisites to take packaging engineering relevant courses from other engineering departments such as Computer Aided Design (CAD) from the Mechanical Engineering Department, Polymers from the Material Science and Engineering Department and Power, Machinery and Robotics from the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department,” he states. “Our current packaging engineering specific courses include our introductory course, PKG3001 Principles of Packaging, our product-package interactions course, PKG3103 Food Packaging, our distribution course, PKG4008 Distribution and Transport Packaging, our packaging software course, PKG4101C Computer Tools for Packaging, and our machinery, packaging line design and production course, PKG4011 Packaging Production and Processing.

“Today, all undergraduate packaging students must be accepted through the college of engineering in order to pursue packaging engineering. Since it is so difficult just to get into UF, we have always enjoyed strong and technically savvy students, but not all of them were interested in the ‘engineering’ side of packaging.  Our packaging engineering students always expected to be engineers and they are intent upon building the necessary tool set to succeed in that role.  While it is still early, feedback from employers who hire our students or take them as interns/co-op employees has been very positive.  Apparently, they like what they are seeing.”

Permeation patent commercialized

Welt points with pride to the fact that the research program was recently awarded U.S. Patent #8,567,236 titled “Method and apparatus for measuring gas transmission rate of semi-barrier materials.”  The technology represents a simpler and less expensive method for measuring gas permeation in packaging than the currently popular method described by ASTM D-3985. 

The process for approving a new ASTM method based on this approach is in the works and the technology has been licensed to Oxysense, Inc., Dallas, TX, which is already offering products incorporating this technology for measuring oxygen transmission rate of packaging films and packages. 

“We are continuing to refine and improve the technology and expect another important patent, which just may revolutionize the permeation market, to issue soon,” Welt reports.

Growth in biomaterials and biosensors

Because UF’s Packaging Engineering program resides in the Agricultural & Biological Engineering Department, Welt says it makes it easy for them to collaborate in areas related to biomaterials and biosensors. 

“We have been growing algae in our packaging engineering lab for several years now and have been making progress in optimizing lipid production from sea-water diatoms,” Welt says. “Algal lipids are viewed as the most promising path toward biologically produced commodity plastics such as PET (e.g., The Plant Bottle).  Additionally, we are collaborating with researchers seeking applications for lignin, which is an abundant by-product of agricultural production. 

“Currently, we are working on development of sustainable water and grease coatings for paperboard and corrugated materials.  Focused on development of biosensors, the faculty sees many opportunities to collaborate on problems related to smart packaging. Work is also being conducted to develop embedded color-changing sensors that detect the freshness of fish.”

For more information, visit the website for the University of Florida’s Packaging Program.

P&G doubles up convenience in personal care, laundry packaging

P&G doubles up convenience in personal care, laundry packaging
P&G innovations seen in the holiday weekend newspaper FSIs.

A flexible pack of Puffs that replaces the ubiquitous tissue box and a “Zap! Cap” with bristles on Tide detergent to pretreat stains highlight the new package introductions from Procter & Gamble that center on convenience.

Sorting through the Free-Standing Inserts this holiday weekend turned up two remarkable new package innovations within the weekly FSI subsection that’s dedicated to products from Procter & Gamble, the global, Cincinnati-based consumer packaged goods company.

Even the cap fights stains

Tide Ultra Stain Release uses specially formulated ingredients to help remove 99% of everyday stains, including greasy food stains. It also boasts the innovative “Zap! Cap,” a unique pretreat cap with scrubbing bristles to provide a deep-down, pre-treat option.

The cap features not one, but two textures: Bristles for deep down scrubbing and a flatter portion to spread the detergent around. As the marketing copy states, “Even the cap fights stains.”

My wife agrees that this is a great idea because it keeps the brush where it’s at hand all the time—right on the packaging.

A scrub brush is something we’ve seen on upholstery cleaners, but this looks to be the first time it’s been added—and so perfectly seamlessly—to laundry detergent.

Outside-the-box thinking for Puffs

The other packaging innovation is definitely something to sneeze at and may be even more ground-breaking than the cap: Puffs-brand facial tissues in a full-size SoftPack that eliminates the paperboard box in favor of flexible packaging.

P&G bills it as “The flexible new pack that fits perfectly into your life.” Flexible packaging has made inroads in a lot of major categories, but I didn’t see this one coming.

Pointing to the literal outside the box thinking of the package, the company boasts that this is “it’s most flexible & durable full-size pack.”

I wished I’d had this package three weeks ago while on a road trip when a bag of ice left on the backseat melted and leaked, completely soaking an unopened box of tissue next to it.

Now that is something I should have seen coming.

Consumers seem to be embracing the innovation: A posting made two days ago to the Puffs Facebook page already had more than 180 likes while an enthusiastic post at the Puffs’ site calls it “the best packaging ever!”

New Unit Pack Catalog

Unit Pack is the effective way to fulfill your sampling and single use packaging needs. Unit Packs are well designed, cost effective, and environmentally efficient. Select the perfect size and shape, from 1/2cc and up, to hold precisely the amount of product desired.