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Loop and big brands boldly reinvent waste-free packaging

The new Loop circular shopping platform—unveiled today at the World Economic Forum in Davos—enables consumers to buy their favorite products in durable, not disposable, packaging. Supported by top brand owners such as Nestlé, Coca Cola, Unilever and Procter & Gamble, Loop relies on premium and long-lasting packaging that is designed for multiple reuse before ultimately being recycled.

Loop is a business venture of recycling/upcycling and waste management company TerraCycle. Taking an audacious first step in solving what he sees as a global waste crisis that has been growing more than half a century, TerraCycle founder and CEO Tom Szaky recreates the “21st century milkman” by collaborating with more than 20 partners that represent more than 40 brands, global retailers, and package delivery and waste management companies. [Watch the press conference of the announcement in Davos here. Read the official announcement press release here.]

On top of massive environmental benefits as determined by lifecycle assessments, Loop elevates the consumer’s experience with the brand and its high-end reusable packaging. The shopping platform will launch this spring in two pilot markets—Paris and New York [UPDATED 6-6-19: Loop reusable packaging shopping platform launches in the U.S.]—with additional expansion underway.

In an exclusive interview (see video at the top of this page), Szaky…

• Tells us how Loop was developed and why;

• Identifies the root causes of waste;

• Explains how Loop challenges the idea of who “owns” product packaging—from consumer back to the brand;

• Outlines the price-value equation for consumers, brands and retailers; and

• Shares Loop’s additional growth plans, including expansion in the United Kingdom and Japan.

The 43-minute video above showcases several brand’s Loop packages (some throughout, but most starting at 40:31) and also identifies the 20+ partners involved so far.

Nestlé is one of the initial partners. Tommy See Tho, packaging manager at the Nestlé Product Technology Center for Ice Cream, has been working on the project from the beginning and designed the Loop packaging for five Haagen-Dazs products: non-dairy options Chocolate Salted Fudge, Coconut Caramel and Mocha Cookie; as well as traditional favorites Vanilla and Strawberry.

Why participate in Loop? See Tho explains, “Nestlé is working to reduce its environmental impact in all its business operations, while also finding innovative new ways to connect with and provide great products to consumers. As part of these efforts, Nestlé is proud to join TerraCycle as a founding partner of Loop.”

It took packaging specialists from Nestlé’s Product Technology Center for Ice Cream in Bakersfield, CA, one year to revolutionize the Häagen-Dazs pint to bring the brand to the Loop platform with a reusable container. See Tho tells us that the package—etched with the familiar Häagen-Dazs brand tapestry and design—is made of stainless steel and features a twist-off top. The metal canister keeps ice cream cold much longer than traditional paper-based ice cream packaging.

“When creating more sustainable packaging, we also wanted to prioritize the consumer experience,” See Tho says. “For example, when opened, the package is designed so ice cream melts more quickly at the top to provide the perfect texture for enjoyment. The container is double-walled which keeps the ice cream cold but also makes the outside of the canister pleasant to hold. The metal lid is easy to open—it juts out so there’s a higher surface area to hold and twist. And, we rounded the corners of the container to make it easy to scoop and enjoy.”

The Häagen-Dazs double-wall stainless steel container keeps ice cream cold for a long time outside the freezer yet is comfortable to hold.

See Tho’s colleague, Walter Peterson, who is packaging sustainability manager at Nestlé USA, spoke at WestPack 2019 (Feb. 5-7; Anaheim, CA) at 1:00 - 1:55 p.m. on Tues., Feb. 5. In his presentation “How Nestlé Is Innovating Its Way to 100% Recyclable or Reusable Packaging,” Peterson talked about Loop and about the company’s ambitious goal of moving to 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025.

So how does Loop work?

In addition to the high-level interview with Szaky in the video above, multiple people at TerraCycle provide more details about this ground-breaking development.

Have consumers experienced this concept? If so, what was their reaction?

TerraCycle: We’ve been running Consumer Insight Testing over the last year (12 months in Greater NYC and six months in Greater Paris). The majority of consumers who have tested Loop like the platform and name three major hooks in varying orders: convenience, premium products and no waste.

Which brands are participating?

TerraCycle: These are the initial partners. However, partners are continually being added.

Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever, Mars Petcare, The Clorox Co., The Body Shop, Coca-Cola European Partners, Mondelēz Intl., Danone, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Pladis, Lesieur, BIC, Beiersdorf, People Against Dirty, Nature’s Path, Thousand Fell, Greenhouse, Grilliance, Burlap & Barrel Single Origin Spices, Cozie and Preserve; retailer Carrefour; primary logistics and transportation company UPS and sustainable resource management company Suez.

Procter & Gamble has created reusable, refillable packaging for 11 of its most popular products as part of a new effort that aims to change the world’s reliance on single-use packaging and disposable waste. (Photo: Business Wire)

How can other brands get involved?

TerraCycle: Loop participants must apply and be accepted into the platform. Brands interested in getting involved are welcome to contact the Loop Business Development team. Please email [email protected].

Are there product categories better or less suited to participating in Loop and why?

TerraCycle: Any product category can be integrated into Loop. Currently Loop operations are flexible enough to handle ambient, chilled and frozen supply chains, as well as [temperature-]control items.

You say some packaging is being “scientifically” designed. Explain more, please.

TerraCycle: For example, Nestlé partnered with TerraCycle to create brand-new packaging for its Haagen-Dazs brand that will keep ice cream frozen without the use of conventional refrigeration for an extended period of time—which is essential for doorstep delivery. The Loop Tote is also scientifically designed and, coupled with the Haagen-Dazs package, it enables the ice cream to stay frozen longer.

Who designs the packaging? Does each brand create its own packaging or is there a Loop or third-party design firm involved?

TerraCycle: Each brand is responsible for designing its own packaging. Loop acts as a consultant in supporting each brand’s packaging innovation.

Durable graphics on Seventh Generation's soup pumps withstand aggressive cleaning between fills.

How does the package design take into consideration user experience or package functionality, as well as where the product is used or stored?

TerraCycle: We encourage each Loop brand to design the most premium, durable, innovative packages to give the consumer the best experience possible.

Do different brands (of shampoo, for example) all use the same style package? How do brands maintain their image/equity/branding?

TerraCycle: As of now, there is only one brand per category. Packaging style is up to the brand and Loop encourages them to be innovative and creative.

Are the packages direct-printed or do they have labels? If labels, are they durable, too, or are they easy to remove and reapply?

TerraCycle: All packages are intended to be zero waste. Loop advises brands to utilize etching and printing.

Are all the packages rigid or is flexible packaging an option? Are flexible packages durable enough to be cleaned and reused?

TerraCycle: All packaging in Loop is durable and all packaging material is agnostic. Brands/partners can use the material of its choosing provided it’s durable. Flexibility doesn’t necessarily equate to bad—that is, silicone is flexible but hyper durable.

How many minimum trips does the packaging have to withstand? How is it determined/tested that the package will, indeed, survive that many uses/reuses?

TerraCycle: Packages are designed with durability in mind. The lifespan of each package will vary depending on each. There are variables in lifespan including aesthetics that can cause a package to be taken out of circulation and recycled. Loop partners use materials that can be recycled and turned back into a future pack at end of life.

Can packs at end of life be recycled into other products, following the TerraCycle model? Or does it have to be package-to-package recycling only?

TerraCycle: The concept of the model is there is no waste. So, anything generated in the platform has a recycling solution.  Some things will not be package-to-package, but all will be recycled.

Just how durable are these packages? Scuffs and other visual defects could be a deterrent to some consumers in the whole reuse consumption concept.

TerraCycle: Durability varies by package and consumers participating in Loop are aware the packaging is reused. It is determined by the brand when the package is taken out of circulation and recycled. The exact number of times is dependent on the specific packaging.


Signal innovated the product, a single dose of toothpaste in a "tab," as well as creating a reusable jar.

If consumers return the package for refilling/reuse once it’s empty, won’t they run out of product? Or is the concept to create a pool of packages that are reused for/by different consumers? For that matter, is the concept to create a pool of packages that are used/reused for/by different brands?

TerraCycle: Loop brings to market a new subscription model: subscription based on consumption. Since the empty packages are returned to Loop, we are aware of consumers’ consumption rates and replenish only when they have finished the product. The target for turnaround is two days.

Will Loop use parcel carriers for product distribution or is it all direct delivery by Loop?

TerraCycle: In the United States, Loop has partnered with UPS for its delivery.

What about Paris?

TerraCycle: In Paris we have a delivery partner, but UPS is not the primary delivery partner.

Will Loop be doing the fulfillment/shipping of these products or will the brands have that responsibility?

TerraCycle: All Loop products are stored at the Loop warehouse and sent to the consumer from the Loop warehouse. Loop receives empty packages back from consumers, sorts them, cleans them and returns the clean packages to the brands to be refilled.

How many Loop facilities are there and where are they located?

TerraCycle: There are four Loop facilities: a warehouse in central NJ and a cleaning facility in Eastern PA; and a warehouse in the outskirts of Paris and a cleaning facility in Eastern France.

Who pays for shipping? Anything available like the Amazon Prime example of a membership with free shipping?

TerraCycle: The consumer pays for shipping. However, the more product ordered—and the more full each Tote—the less the cost of shipping.

Who will be doing the cleaning and refilling?

TerraCycle: All packaging is cleaned by Loop’s proprietary cleaning system.

Was or is there a need for any new type of packaging machinery to handle the cleaning, handling or refilling?

TerraCycle: Yes, there was a need to develop new packaging machinery to handle the cleaning. The cleaning system is state-of-the-art and designed specifically for Loop packaging. Loop has designed cleaning processes specifically for Loop products. All packaging is sanitized and adheres to strict brand audits.

PepsiCo's Quaker cereal replaces the typical and often-criticized bag-in-box with a steel canister that is easy to open and pour from—and then can be resealed to keep the product fresh.

For any food or beverage products, how will brands ensure that packages are properly cleaned before refilling? How are they able to guarantee safety? What more can you tell us about the custom cleaning technologies developed by Loop scientists?

TerraCycle: Loop’s state-of the-art cleaning systems have been scientifically developed to sanitize each item. The cleaning process was built in response to the stringent quality assurance controls of each of the brand partners. The system is proprietary, so we can’t provide more information.

Loop partners with some of the world’s biggest brands and those brands have very stringent standards to which Loop adheres. All packages inside the tote are sealed and must pass strict quality assurance.  There will also be a tamper-evident seal on the Loop Tote to ensure the Loop Tote was not tampered with before opening.

Will this be for any consumer-initiated sales or only for recurring/subscription purchases?

TerraCycle: Each product has a one-time purchase and subscription option.

What more can you tell me about the “groundbreaking technology” used for recycling the packaging?

TerraCycle: Here are a few examples of some of the items being recycled for the first time through new and innovative technology.

• Gillette/Venus Razor Blades: Through Loop, razor blades will be recyclable for the first time in France.

• Always Pads: Through Loop, panty liners and pads will be recyclable for the first time in France.

• Pampers: Through Loop, used baby diapers will be recyclable for the first time in France.

• Oral-B Electric Toothbrush and CLIC Manual Toothbrush: Loop will collect used toothbrush heads and recycle them.


Olay is latest household brand to embrace refillable packaging

Image courtesy of Olay Olay Regenerist Whip
If adopted widely, refillable packaging for Olay Regenerist Whip moisturizer could save over 1 million pounds of plastic from the landfill.

Not long ago, refilling packages was something typically associated only with the granola set—picture Birkenstock-clad shoppers lugging their pantry jars to the co-op grocery. Today, the practice is going mainstream, with some of the world’s biggest brands signing on to participate in the new Loop circular shopping platform, which eschews disposable packaging for more durable vessels designed to be refilled.

P&G was the first consumer packaged goods company to sign onto that initiative, and now the company is wading even deeper into the waters of sustainable packaging. Early in June, it announced that its Olay beauty brand would test refillable packaging, making it the first mass retail skincare brand to do so.

Starting this fall and running through the end of the year, the brand will offer full jars of its Olay Regenerist Whip moisturizer with a refill pod that can be placed inside the jar when it’s emptied. Additionally, the package will be sold and shipped in a container made of 100% recycled paper without an outer carton. The refill pods are also recyclable. Pricing has not yet been announced, but the products will be available in select retail stores and on in the U.S. and U.K.

The pilot will run for three months, and through it Olay hopes to gain insights about whether consumers are open to refillable beauty products and test the user interface of its refillable packaging concept.

“The ultimate goal is to find and adopt many more sustainable packaging solutions, and the refillable Olay Regenerist Whip package is the first step of that journey,” Anitra Marsh, who leads the global sustainability task for P&G’s Global Skin and Personal Care brands, said in a press release. “It’s really important for us to get it right because only then can we bring this concept to market at scale.”

If the concept is rolled out more broadly, it has the potential to save more than 1 million pounds of plastic from the landfill, an estimated 5 million jars’ worth, according to the company.

Through the Loop initiative, P&G has designed durable, refillable packaging for its Pantene, Tide, Cascade, Crest, Ariel and Febreze brands. It has also created refill solutions for its Oral-B, Gillette and Venus products and will test recycling for used Pampers and Always hygienic products.

Additionally, Olay is taking aim at the issue of waste in skincare through initiatives like Olay Skincare Advisor, an online application that uses artificial intelligence technology to help customers determine the right product for them, and Olay Labs, which matches customers with a four-week skincare regimen.

Packaging ‘accessory’ boosts usability of pharma autoinjector

Packaging ‘accessory’ boosts usability of pharma autoinjector
By adding a molded-rubber sleeve over existing autoinjectors, pharmaceutical companies can improve the ergonomic function of the device, which is especially useful for patients with reduced dexterity.

A new grip-able sleeve for pharmaceutical autoinjector pens makes it easier for patients with reduced dexterity due to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) to handle the medical device and perform self-injections, which can help improve health outcomes. Adding the molded-rubber sleeve also doesn’t require pharma companies to incur time-consuming and costly packaging revalidation.

Noble, an Orlando, FL, company that provides drug delivery device training solutions, fulfilled a pharmaceutical client’s request to develop a product that functions in tandem with a pre-existing autoinjector to improve RA patients’ overall injection experience. The pharmaceutical company declined to participate in this article to maintain its privacy.

However, Josh Hopkins, engineering manager at Noble, answers Packaging Digest’s questions about the design and functionality of the autoinjector+sleeve.

When was the sleeve introduced into the market?

Hopkins: The sleeve was introduced into various markets in early 2019 and will continue to launch in global markets in the following years.

Why was it important that the grip feature be added on to the pre-existing autoinjector, instead of, say, incorporated into it?

Hopkins: Autoinjectors are typically selected as the drug delivery system in the clinical trial phase before a drug launch and are validated as part of the human factors testing for the drug delivery system. Changing the autoinjector form factor after a drug launch is a costly effort and incorporating a large ergonomic grip into an autoinjector design is typically not considered.

Adding a sleeve as an accessory and developed separately from the autoinjector was important, as it allows users to save the sleeve and dispose of the autoinjector after their injection process.

From the photo, it looks like the grip is sold separately and can be used multiple times. Is this correct?

Hopkins: Yes, the sleeve can be used multiple times and is not disposed after the user performs a self-injection.

Is the grip also sold as a kit with an autoinjector? Why or why not?

Hopkins: The sleeve is provided in various ways depending on how each individual market prefers to supply the sleeve to their patients.

How much does the grip cost?

Hopkins: We typically don’t disclose the sleeve price, as it is indicated for use for a specific autoinjector and patient population.

How does the RA patient (with reduced dexterity) insert the autoinjector into the grip?

Hopkins: The patient simply inserts the sleeve onto the top of the autoinjector and twists the sleeve to attach it. The sleeve was designed specifically with ease of attachment and detachment in mind for these patients.

How is the autoinjector removed from the grip?

Hopkins: When patients complete their self-injection, they can simply twist the opposite direction to remove the sleeve. Again, this simple detachment was created with patients with reduced dexterity in mind.

How is this grip more ergonomic, especially for RA patients?

Hopkins: The outer diameter of an autoinjector can be small, which can be difficult for patients with moderate to severe RA to hold and perform the self-injection. When the sleeve is attached to the autoinjector, it is easier for RA patients to grip the autoinjector, and they do not have to press the button with their thumb to activate the injection.

How is the autoinjector activated once the sleeve is on?

Hopkins: The autoinjector is activated by the patient using the sleeve and pressing firmly down towards the injection site.

Did you do any usability testing? If so, what were the results?

Hopkins: Noble performed the human factors testing during development and validated the sleeve during the final human factors testing. Patients had an overwhelmingly positive response to using the sleeve and preferred using the sleeve whenever they performed a self-injection.

Air rinser cleans bottles for liquid pharmaceuticals or cosmetics

Air rinser cleans bottles for liquid pharmaceuticals or cosmetics
The oval design of this air rinser means bottles spend more time getting blown clean than on a rotary unit.

The recently launched FlexClean air-rinsing machine offers healthcare and cosmetics packagers a flexible option for cleaning bottles prior to filling with liquid products. The unit “rinses” bottles by blowing out unwanted particles.

Because the machine from groninger has an oval design, bottles are upended and rinsed longer than on a rotary-design unit. In addition, the FlexClean machine’s base holders can accommodate various transport carriers, boosting operational flexibility. One, two or three containers (depending on size) may be mounted on the base holders, with line speeds increasing accordingly.

Michael Steck, design team manager at groninger, answers Packaging Digest’s questions about the system.

What types of bottles are compatible with the FlexClean machine?

Steck: Any type of bottle and material is compatible with our FlexClean air-rising machine. In most cases, customers ask for glass or plastic, but metal would also be possible.

What is the size range for bottles going through the FlexClean?

Steck: It depends on different aspects. First, the shape of the bottles—whether they are cylindrical or not. Second, the size of the bottles. Cylindrical bottles are differentiated between small (16 to 40 millimeters), medium (40 to 60mm) and large (60 to 100mm) size. In place of one large bottle, you can either process three small ones or two medium ones. This means an output of 180, 120 or 60 bottles per minute.

What types of products are typically filled into bottles?

Steck: It is up to the customer, of course. Using the FlexClean machine especially makes sense if you want to fill liquids in the consumer healthcare or cosmetics industries. So far, the bottles cleaned by the FlexClean are being filled with eye drops and cough syrup. But almost every kind of liquid product in the consumer healthcare and cosmetics industries—for example, oral hygiene, health supplements, diagnostic, skincare and haircare products—can be processed.

What line modifications need to be made when adding the FlexClean machine to an existing filling line?

Steck: The ready-engineered approach of the FlexClean machine makes possible a quite simple integration into an existing packaging line. It does not have its own control system, so there are hardly any modifications to realize. And if needed, groninger can also design it as a standalone machine, though not ready-engineered.

Does FlexClean have commercial installations yet?

Steck: Although we only just launched the FlexClean machine concept, one FlexClean is now on its way to getting installed, and a second one is just being built in Schnelldorf, Germany. Both lines will be installed to fill cough syrup.

Flexible Packaging

Suction cups solve automation challenges for flexible packaging

Suction cups solve automation challenges for flexible packaging
Piab's piGRIP vacuum cups feature special bag lips designed to prevent damage to flexible packages.

Flexible packaging is on the rise, accounting for about one-fifth of the $167 billion U.S. packaging industry, according to stats from the Flexible Packaging Association. But the move to flexible formats poses challenges for another growing trend in packaging: automation.

In particular, vacuum-based automated systems can drop or deform flexible packages, leading to slower cycle times, stoppage and, ultimately, shrinkage and lost productivity for manufacturers. However, a new series of vacuum cups with specially designed bag lips from Piab seeks to solve these problems. 

The company’s piGRIP cups feature a plastic insert that prevents flexible packages from being sucked up into the suction cup of a vacuum-based automated system, as well as a flexible lip made of soft 50-Shore silicone that helps it to conform to the irregularities of a bag’s surface. These features help to prevent unattractive pucker marks and dropping of the packages, especially when working with thin bag materials such as plastic film.

A special fitting also allows more vacuum flow through the cup, enabling cups to be cycled faster.  

“The idea of having more of the cup’s surface area on the bag surface along with the cup’s strong body allows the user to increase speeds on their production lines without the danger of missing bags or losing bags,” Mike Tuohey, Regional Marketing Manager – Americas for Piab, tells Packaging Digest via email.  “More cup on the bag means a strong tight grip without risk of failure.”

A case study on Piab’s website details the experience of an Italian customer that was handling bags filled with coffee pods. Working cycles ranged from 20 to 40 picks per minute with standard suction cups, and heavier bags were sometimes dropped, resulting in production stoppages. When the customer switched to piGRIP suction cups, it was able to maximize speeds while eliminating dropping, thus increasing productivity.

Piab also touts potential cost savings due to the fact that the cups feature exchangeable bag lips.

“A suction cup, traditionally, is a one-piece unit plus perhaps a fitting,” Tuohey says. “If the lip starts to wear out on the cup, you need to replace the whole cup.  But, with the configurable piGRIP suction cup line, the lip is a separate part from the body of the cup, so when the lip wears out, you only have to replace one part of the suction cup, not the whole thing, and that is a very cost-effective solution.” 

The company says the bag lips were designed to handle dry food bags as well as stand-up pouches filled with liquid or dry or wet food or other substances. They can also accommodate matte finishes.

“On a smooth flat surface like a matte finish, the Piab cups have great friction capabilities that would make picking them up a breeze, more from the soft silicone lip that is key for a good strong grip,” Tuohey says.

Six diameter sizes (25, 34, 41, 48, 63 and 80 mm) can accommodate packages as small as fast-food ketchup packs or as large as animal feed sacks. Both the lip material and internal retainer piece are made from FDA-approved materials.

5 creative medical packages earn 2019 AmeriStar Awards

5 creative medical packages earn 2019 AmeriStar Awards
Because this Orthofix thermoformed tray only holds the head of the screw used in medical surgeries, the coating on the threads are protected from scuffing damage.

A handful of medical packages, each outstanding in its own way, have won AmeriStar Awards this year: the Orthofix Medical Tray, Target Simply Balanced Vitamins packaging, Klearfold Keeper CR, theDuallok child-resistant packaging systemand GlaxoSmithKline’s Allergy Relief Nasal Spray packaging.

Overall, the 2019 competition included more than 50 entrants and 17 product categories. These five medical winners were entered in the Drug and Pharmaceutical, Medical Device and Other categories. The Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) administers the AmeriStar Awards competition annually.


1. Orthofix Medical Tray

Entered in the Medical Device category, the Orthofix Medical Tray by Placon is a custom-designed package that holds medical screws used for surgical implantation. The primary package comprises a retainer tray and tray cover; two medical screws are secured within the retainer tray, with each screw head locked into the tray and the body of each screw suspended inside the tray. This configuration protects the hydroxyapatite coating on the screws from abrasion during shipping and handling.

The filled, covered retainer tray fits inside a pair of double sterile barrier trays, and the assembled components are packed in a paperboard carton. Orthofix had previously validated the double sterile barrier trays and uses them for an array of other medical products. Incorporating the pre-validated trays into the screw-package design saved more than $50,000 in package validation costs.

“Our design team continues to lead the industry to innovative packaging design in the medical market space. This packaging design was a result of customer collaboration to find a solution that we hope will carry forward a long-term success for this product,” says Derek Skogen, senior product manager at Placon.

“The unique feature that sets this package apart is the ability to suspend and hold the medical screw in place without touching anything that could cause any rubbing or abrasive friction that might result in the hydroxyapatite coating being removed or scuffed prior to use in the medical or operating room,” Skogen adds.

NEXT: Target Simply Balanced Vitamins


2. Target Simply Balanced Vitamins

Packaging for Target Simply Balanced Vitamins, developed by TricorBraun, was an AmeriStar winner in the Drug and Pharmaceutical category this year. This premium packaging for a new line of upscale nutraceuticals offers operational efficiencies, child-resistance and senior-friendliness.

One bottle and closure design, in standardized sizes, is used for the product line, streamlining packaging-component manufacturing and storage. The bottle has an oblong shape, which differentiates the products from competitors on-shelf. The oblong packages are also more space-efficient than round bottles, which adds storage, distribution and merchandising efficiencies.

The bottles are designed with a wider-than-usual mouth, which enables faster filling and easy, hygienic dispensing. The transparent bottles give consumers a view of the product at retail and let them monitor how much is left in the package over time.

Color-coded labels and closures make it easy for shoppers to identify the various products in the Simply Balanced Vitamins line. The push-and-turn child-resistant closure pairs a colorful round cap with a clear, oblong overcap. The closure keeps children from opening the bottle but is easy for older consumers to open; directions for opening are embossed on the overcap.

It’s obvious when the consumer has not replaced the closure on the package correctly, because the cap juts out horizontally from the bottle. When the closure is flush with the oblong shape of the bottle, the package is securely closed.

The recyclable bottle and overcap are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and the resin used for the bottle is formulated with a UV inhibitor to extend the products’ shelf life.

NEXT: Klearfold Keeper CR for cannabis


3. Klearfold Keeper CR

The Klearfold Keeper CR carton from HLP Klearfold, a transparent, child-resistant package for legalized medicinal and recreational cannabis, was a winner entered in this year’s Other category.

This clear plastic package showcases products on-shelf at cannabis dispensaries, elevating the items’ brand image and enabling consumers to see what they are buying. The tray-and-sleeve design conforms with Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) standards for child-resistant (CR), senior-friendly packaging.

During CPSC certification, “we quickly learned that because the test-subject children, aged 42 to 51 months, could see the CR package contents, they were significantly more motivated to try to get inside,” says Pat McGee, vp, marketing, at HLP Klearfold. “It was critical that the Klearfold Keeper CR be designed to provide security commensurate with the increased attention level of these very motivated children.”

To open the locked pack requires pressing a release tab on the carton; this unlocks the internal tray, which contains the product. Per CPSC requirements for multi-use packaging, the tray remains attached to the package after opening. Instructions for opening are printed on the package.

“In addition to delivering product visibility, the Klearfold Keeper CR’s plastic substrate offers far greater tear resistance than paperboard,” McGee says. “And the Keeper CR’s glue seams, often a failure point with paperboard CR cartons, are chemically bonded to provide an added measure of product security. The substrate resiliency allows for a simple but very effective locking mechanism, permitting the package to re-lock many times for multiple-use applications.”

Klearfold Keeper CR packages can be made from durable box-grade and thermoforming-grade recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) containing 30% post-consumer recycled content; bio-PET with 30% of the material derived from plant-based sources; or amorphous polyethylene terephthalate (APET).For product protection, the internal trays are molded to the precise shape and size of the cannabis product.

NEXT: Duallok child-resistant packaging system


4. Duallok child-resistant packaging system

The Duallok child-resistant packaging system, designed by Burgopak for nutraceuticals and legalized cannabis, won a 2019 AmeriStar Award in the Drug and Pharmaceutical category. The pack’s child-resistant design complies with the federal government’s regulations for poison-prevention packaging (16 C.F.R. 1700).

Duallok packages feature a patented double-lock design that thwarts children’s attempts to open the pack while remaining intuitive for adults. By pressing two tabs on the sides of the package and then pushing the tray out, adult users can easily access package contents. The tabs are part of a thin polypropylene component housed inside the package.

The package structure includes a sleeve, inner tray and product-specific insert to hold the contents in place; these components are all made from paperboard. A layer of biaxially oriented polyethylene terephthalate (PET) film on the board enhances tear resistance.

In addition to safeguarding children, the Duallok system offers a luxury-packaging alternative for cannabis and other controlled substances. Because the child-resistant feature is so easy for adults to use, only a few simple opening instructions are required on the outside of the package. During user testing, even consumers with arthritis could easily operate the pack.

The Duallok package can be customized for various products, including vape cartridges, pre-rolled cannabis cigarettes and pharmaceuticals.

NEXT: Finally, GSK’s Allergy-Relief Nasal Spray

5. Allergy-Relief Nasal Spray

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer Health took home an AmeriStar Award for sustainability improvements to GSK’s allergy-relief nasal-spray packaging.Entered in the Other category, the redesigned nasal-spray packaging significantly reduces plastic use and shrinks the packaging’s carbon footprint by up to 50%.

The Flonase and Sensimist nasal-spray brands are the first in GSK’s respiratory category to receive a a complete sustainability assessment. The brand owner assembled a cross-functional team to make all parts of the nasal-spray packaging more environmentally friendly without sacrificing product performance or patient safety.

The team worked on the nasal-spray pump and actuator assembly, thermoformed clamshell, drug-facts labeling and product literature. All changes have been approved by relevant health agencies.

GSK has vowed to reduce its environmental impact by 25% by 2030 (versus the baseline year of 2016) by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water use and by repurposing waste for “beneficial use.”

Packaging machinery examination: Platformer thermoformer

Packaging machinery examination: Platformer thermoformer
The efficient Platformer utilizes 98% of the forming film whereas traditional chain-driven thermoformers create up to 15% scrap.

We drill down into the details of the efficient and unique Platformer inline rigid tray former from Harpak-ULMA Packaging, LLC.

There’s such a thing as boasting, but as my dad, a former multisport all-state athlete says, “son, it ain’t bragging if you can back it up.”  That seems to be the case with the unique Platformer thermoformer available in two models that supports the claim by machinery maker Harpak-ULMA Packaging, LLC that the revolutionary system is “a disruptor in the tray supply and sealing market.” Introduced at Pack Expo International 2018 last fall Chicago, I came across the machine at a return engagement to McCormick Place in March in the West Hall during the ProFood Tech Expo.

Jim Ryan, Senior Vice President of Harpak-ULMA, responds to Packaging Digest’s questions in this Q&A.

What’s different if not unique about this thermoformer?

Ryan: The platformer is unique as it is a rotary thermoforming system that does not require chains or a gripping device to transport the rigid film where the scrap savings is achieved.  Platformer utilizes 98% of the film with only 2% scrap whereas traditional chain driven thermoformers use up to 15% scrap.

The film is cut to the appropriate size, heated, formed with the smooth turn downs and rounded corners, then is placed on a conveyor belt for an automated in-line production supply.

The turn downs created on the Platformer are almost 90 degrees to the flange where traditional thermoforming creates a “return flange” that sticks out and is a “lip” that can create issues when using premade trays for stretch or overwrap applications.

What’s the significance of the turned-down flanges and how is that achieved?

Ryan: The turned downs provide increased rigidity to the tray design and eliminate the “return flange” or lip that is common with premade trays that can cause challenges with different tray wrapping applications.

The technology to produce the turndowns is a patented proprietary technology.

What tray materials and sizes can it handle?

Ryan: The Platformer is currently approved to handle rigid films from 300 microns to 800 microns. Film types include APET, PET/PE, PET/EVOH/PE, HIPS, HIPS/PE and HIPS/EVOH/PE.

We continue to work closely with several film suppliers to test various structures as we wish to include recycled content and other attributes for our customers.

The tray sizes are defined by the size of the Platformer tooling with a maximum and minimum size as to effective form and transport the finished trays to the exit conveyor. To best optimize the scrap level, it is recommended to maintain a square/rectangular design. Trays can be wide open for larger products or have multiple cells for snack-type applications.

What methods and product types can it accommodate?

Ryan: The Platformer was designed to work seamlessly with the Trave line of tray sealers therefore handling all types of sealing needs i.e., heat seal, stretch, modified-atmosphere packaging (MAP), vacuum-skin packaging and Darfresh on Tray. Also known as DOT, that’s a joint propriety technology for skin-packaging from G. Mondini and Sealed Air.

The Platformer can create a wide variety of trays sizes and depths, and hold a wide variety of food, non-food, medical or even industrial products.

What’s the industry standard for scrap on a conventional thermoformer? And how was the company able to reduce scrap to just 2% with this machine design?

Ryan: In speaking with thermoforming experts, the scrap produced when cutting out premade trays from a large sheet is approximately 15% or more, based on a standard #3 tray. This is due to traditional thermoformers needing to hold the rigid film web, e.g. with chains, as it is transported through their process.

The Platformer utilizes 98% of the film as the film reel is sent to the customer already cut to the width required to make the width of the tray including the turndowns. The length required is cut after the film enters the Platformer’s Film Guide and Cutting Station. The film is cut to the appropriate length for an individual tray and the part that is cut out and ejected, referred to as the “dog bone”, has been calculated as the 2% scrap material. The individual sheets are separated and transported on a vacuum belt where a pick-and-place device transports the individual sheets in unison and positions them onto the heating platen.  

Under what conditions can it operate at the stated maximum of 200 trays/min?

Ryan: One of the first installations in the United States is currently producing 200 trays per minute. The tray size has a smaller footprint as it is made for snack-type products. These trays are currently being produced on our Platformer 1200 series in a two-lane configuration. The tray forming mold produces 10 trays per lane or 20 trays per cycle using the customer-selected film that includes the proper structure, film thickness and product line requirements.

For a standard #3 size tray, the Platformer 1200 produces up to 120 trays per minute. The small Platformer 800 series produces up to 60 #3 trays per minute.

What can you say about the automation and controls?

The Platformers operate using several servos for precision movement.

Currently the Platformers utilize controls from B&R Industrial Automation, but future models will utilize Rockwell Automation Allen-Bradley Controls.

How long does a changeover take?

Ryan: Changeovers depend on what is being changed. For a tray with same dimension but with a different depth, the whole process takes a matter of 3-4 minutes. For a more dramatic changeover, say from a small two-cell snack tray to a large #9 tray or up to 5 pounds of product, the changeover will take 20-25 minutes as there are more parts to change-out to accommodate the larger tray footprint.

What options are available?

Ryan: Platformer comes in both single-lane and dual-lane configurations in both the 800 series and 1200 series. Customers can choose from either a flat belt or flighted conveyor for the exit belt, depending on their needs.

What’s been the feedback and interest from potential customers?

Ryan: The interest has been very high as customers have engaged by joining a Webinar we conducted at the end of 2018, by visiting our booths at various tradeshows to see the Platformer in operation and by visiting our facility in Taunton, MA, for a more focused discussion on how the Platformer can impact their business.

We created a return-on-investment (ROI) calculator for our customers to plug-in their figures to see more accurate figures of the various savings they can achieve through material savings, labor, warehousing, operational costs and waste disposal costs. 

Our lead customer has installed and has been running two of each of the Platformers, the 800 series and the larger 1200 series. The Platformers integrated seamlessly into their line and have been running very well.

Anything else to mention?

Ryan: Besides the cost savings when a customer converts from premade trays to roll-stock, there are additional areas of savings from warehousing, equipment wear and tear, production and waste/ recycling disposal costs.

Customers will have more choice with regards to their suppliers as there fewer choices when it comes to the manufacturers of pre-made trays compared to manufacturers of rigid roll-stock film.

As PET is the most recycled plastic in the world and here in the U.S., it is the preferred material, especially to replace expanded polystyrene (EPS) trays as more and more ordinances are being enforced throughout the U.S.

Lastly, what sealers can this be paired with?

Ryan: The Platformer was designed to seamlessly integrate into a Trave Tray Sealing line where an in-line solution produces the greatest opportunity for savings. For our customers who are challenges by space in their facilities, we are working on several options such as hole-through-the wall scenarios as producing in a separate room to “Remote Production” where the Platformer is producing trays ‘off-line’ for multiple lines and/or multiple plants.

Nestlé clarifies its sustainable packaging vision

Nestlé clarifies its sustainable packaging vision
The Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences is exploring new paper-based materials and biodegradable/compostable polymers that are also recyclable, among other alternatives.

Nestlé USA packaging sustainability manager Walt Peterson discusses the pathway to make 100% of the company’s packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025, with a focus on avoiding plastic waste.

2019 has already been a banner year for the introduction of ambitious sustainable packaging initiatives, programs and collaborations with major brands playing a prominent role. Exemplary of these is Nestlé, which in mid-January laid out its vision and plans for accelerating the global packaged food provider’s sustainable packaging goals. Some highlights include:

  • Starting in February 2019, Nestlé will begin to eliminate all plastic straws from its products, using alternative materials like paper as well as innovative designs to reduce littering.
  • Nestlé will also start rolling out paper packaging for Nesquik in the first quarter of 2019 and for the Yes! snack bar in the second half of 2019. Smarties will start rolling out plastic-free packaging in 2019 and Milo will introduce paper-based pouches in 2020.
  • Nestlé Waters will increase the recycled PET content of its bottles to 35% by 2025 at the global level and will reach 50% in the United States and Nestlé Waters will increase the recycled PET content for its European brands to 50% by 2025.
  • Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences (shown in the picture above) is exploring new paper-based materials and biodegradable/compostable polymers that are also recyclable, among other alternatives. This could become a valuable option in places where recycling infrastructure does not yet exist and will not be available for some time.
  • Nestlé initiated a collaboration with PureCycle Technologies to produce food-grade recycled polypropylene (PP) from plastic waste feedstock.

The press release is posted at the company website: Nestlé accelerates action to tackle plastic waste.

One of the company's visionaries in these initiatives, Walt Peterson, manager – packaging sustainability, Nestlé USA, responds to Packaging Digest’s questions.

Which of these initiatives holds the most promise of making an impact short term? Which over the longer term?

Peterson: Our vision is that none of our product packaging, including plastics, should end up in landfill or as litter, including in seas, oceans and waterways. To achieve this, our ambition is that 100% of our packaging is reusable or recyclable by 2025.

We have a large portfolio of our packaging that is already recyclable in the U.S. In the short term, Nestlé will continue to play an active role in the development of well-functioning collection, sorting and recycling systems. In the U.S., Nestlé is involved with the Materials Recovery For the Future (MRFF) project, whose vision is simple: flexible packaging is recycled curbside and the recovery community captures value from it. After several years of research exploring cutting edge sorting equipment for recycling facilities and end markets for material, the project is conducting a pilot to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of including flexible packaging in a single-stream curbside recycling system. Results are forthcoming in 2019.

We are also providing more information on how to recycle our products on-pack, in partnership with the How2Recycle program.

Over the long term, we are exploring novel packaging solutions through the Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences. The Institute will evaluate and develop various sustainable packaging materials and closely collaborate with industry partners.

What can you say about the participation in the Loop reusable-packaging-based program?

Peterson: Nestlé is expanding its global efforts to develop new packaging solutions, minimize its impact on the environment and protect the planet for future generations. Loop fits into those efforts by taking an innovative and disruptive approach to changing how products are packaged—and delivered—and how consumers enjoy them. It’s just one way Nestlé is innovating and transforming its business with sustainability in mind while still providing consumers a premium product experience.
Companies are looking for new ways to address packaging and reduce waste--and consumers are demanding it. Loop is an example of how the industry is responding to that and we believe consumers will be very interested in trying it out for themselves.

Next: Plastic decisions, benchmarks and more


The company has listed materials and structures it is eliminating. What plastics will remain in the packaging portfolio? 

Peterson: PET will remain in the Nestlé portfolio because it is 100% recyclable, and we are committed to helping ensure those recycled PET bottles make their way back into the supply chain, so they can be made into new bottles again and again. In fact, our Nestlé Waters North America business has committed to achieving 50% recycled plastic content across its U.S. domestic portfolio by 2025.

[Ed. Note: Nestlé is collaborating with external partners and has formed a global partnership with Danimer Scientific to develop a marine biodegradable and recyclable bottle for its water business. For more information, read this article published March 4 by sister publication PlasticsToday: Nestlé taps Danimer Scientific PHA for biodegradable water bottle development].

What’s the downside in shifting from durable plastic packaging, and is the company willing to pay a premium for alternatives? 

Peterson: Plastic packaging plays an important role in safely delivering food and drinks to consumers and reducing food waste, so we need to carefully consider alternatives before making changes. We are determined to look at every option to solve these complex challenges. As we evaluate new packaging formats, the cost impact will be variable. In some cases, packaging costs will be lower, some measures will be cost neutral, and in some cases the new materials may be more expensive.

What’s the “secret” to using paper packaging in applications that would seem to call for a barrier that may render the material structure hard(er) to recycle?

Peterson: We have to think outside the existing packaging formats. We believe that for paper applications, a new generation of barrier coating will allow consumers to dispose of such packaging in the paper recycling stream. In many cases we feel we may need to change the primary structure all together to promote recyclability.

Is the “plastic-free packaging for Smarties in 2019” specifically paper-based? 

Peterson: Yes, the packaging will be paper-based. We are currently running trials on new materials and technologies to substitute these plastic materials starting later this year.

One of the plastic packaging components Nestlé will be eliminating is straws—when will that happen and what is the replacement?

Peterson: Starting in February 2019, Nestlé will begin to eliminate all plastic straws from its products, using alternative materials like paper as well as innovative designs to reduce littering. We are testing different options, including substituting plastic straws for paper and designing drinkable spouts to eliminate straws altogether. These pilots will help us identify how best we can eliminate plastic straws in the shortest possible timeframe. We will report on our progress regularly.

What metrics and benchmarks is the company using to determine how it is progressing? 

Peterson: We have made a number of global commitments to help achieve this, including the elimination of non-recyclable plastics. Nestlé is working toward the following global objectives by 2020:

  • Continue to systematically analyze and optimize our packaging portfolio, avoiding the use of at least 140,000 tonnes of packaging material from 2015 to 2020; and
  • Drive alliances with relevant stakeholders to address packaging waste management and marine littering in 10 relevant markets.

We report our progress annually.

What’s the biggest challenge to all of the above in pivoting to a sustainable packaging-led company? 

Peterson: Nestlé is driven by its purpose: enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future. Nestlé has always had a sustainable mindset for packaging, but we felt it was important to set an ambitious goal: 100% of our packaging will be reusable or recyclable by 2025. We realize that much more work is required to make this vision a reality, but we are determined to get there.


Lastly, where does reducing food waste fit and is it part of the company’s sustainability initiative? What technologies can be leveraged to address this issue? 

Peterson: Nestlé is striving to achieve zero environmental impact across our operations by 2030. Our commitment to reduce food loss and waste is a key part of that ambition. We’re working to achieve zero disposal in all of our sites globally by 2020. We are also addressing food waste at the consumption stage by making date labels more understandable to our consumers. Through a number of partnerships and alliances, we work to educate individuals and families about food loss and waste, offering on-pack guidance and developing creative solutions for using up leftovers. For multiserve products, we incorporate packaging features and guidance that allow the consumer to keep the product fresh longer. Some of these features include reclosable caps and zippers on flexible packaging.

To watch the video of Nestlé’s Walt Peterson presenting the company’s sustainable packaging positioning live, see How Nestlé is innovating its way to 100% recyclable or reusable packaging, published February 2019.


You’ll find a myriad of packaging options at PackEx Toronto June 4-6, 2019, where you can search out fresh ideas in containers and design, evaluate the latest machinery and automation solutions and experience free education at Centre Stage. For more information, visit PackEx Toronto. ___________________________________________________________________________________