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4 ways to enhance your packaging design: Gallery

1. Create a cap that is easier to grip and open. This Bayer bottle added a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) onto its cap to aid in “gripability."

Packaging has become far more than just a container or carrier of a product. In today’s competitive marketplace, cosmetic, personal care, food and other consumer product manufacturers depend on packaging to grab shoppers’ attention and differentiate their brand from others on the shelf.

But, beyond the “wow factor,” modern packaging must also be functional and ergonomic, as consumers have begun to demand more from their bottles, lids, caps and closures. In fact, according to the latest market data, functionality, differentiation and visual appeal have become the top three packaging attributes brands look for in assessing performance.

These requirements are in direct response to consumer demand and the drive to meet the needs of our ever-evolving consumer culture. The following are some suggestions to enhance the customer experience:

1. Create a cap that is easier to grip and open

2. Design a beverage can for content preservation

3. Use more environmentally friendly materials

4. Design with materials that support your branding efforts

As consumer demands for high-performance packaging continue to change and grow, thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) offer one of the most flexible and innovative solutions to meet evolving requirements and satisfy the needs of both consumers and brand owners.

Read the full article here.

4 ways to enhance your packaging design

4 ways to enhance your packaging design
1. Create a cap that is easier to grip and open. This Bayer bottle added a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) onto its cap to aid in “gripability."

Packaging has become far more than just a container or carrier of a product. In today’s competitive marketplace, cosmetic, personal care, food and other consumer product manufacturers depend on packaging to grab shoppers’ attention and differentiate their brand from others on the shelf.

But, beyond the “wow factor,” modern packaging must also be functional and ergonomic, as consumers have begun to demand more from their bottles, lids, caps and closures. In fact, according to the latest market data, functionality, differentiation and visual appeal have become the top three packaging attributes brands look for in assessing performance.

These requirements are in direct response to consumer demand and the drive to meet the needs of our ever-evolving consumer culture. The following are some suggestions to enhance the customer experience:

1. Create a cap that is easier to grip and open

One way to meet the needs of those with dexterity issues is to create packaging that is easier to open by overmolding a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) onto the cap to aid in “gripability.” Over the next year in the U.S. alone, the number of consumers in the 55- to 64- and 65- to 74-year-old brackets will see the largest growth of any other segment, increasing from 47.5 million to 65.5 million. On a global scale, one out of five consumers worldwide will be over the age of 60 in the next 40 years.

This aging population is a direct driver for the need to offer packaging that is easier to open and dispense. More than half of consumers over the age of 60 report difficulties with packaging, possibly as a result of arthritis, failing eyesight and waning coordination. Manufacturers and marketers must respond by making their products more “senior friendly” to retain this crucial customer segment.

2. Design a beverage can for content preservation

A good option for content preservation is a resealable can. Modern lifestyles demand packaging that is reclosable and/or resealable to eliminate waste and preserve the contents for future use—wherever and whenever needed. A resealable can is a plus for busy parents, children and active seniors who want the convenience of finishing the contents later, while preserving freshness. TPEs adhere well to a variety of materials, supporting greater design flexibility and “seal-ability,” to ensure the contents are preserved, protected and contained, even during transport in less than ideal conditions. They provide an excellent moisture barrier to protect against leaks while maintaining up to six bars of pressure for carbonate drinks.

Modern consumers are extremely busy with work and family obligations, travel and other commitments. As a result, many require packaging that can hold up to the demands of their on-the-go lifestyle. It must be durable, yet lightweight, to survive transport in a purse or backpack without leaking. Packaging must also be easy to grip, open, identify and control dispensing or portion sized.

3. Use more environmentally friendly materials

One suggestion is to replace metal springs and ball bearings with TPEs in pump dispensing mechanisms to manufacture all plastic pumps with fewer parts, resulting in cost savings and a lower carbon footprint. TPEs will not dull knives in the recycling regrinding process and are compatible with most municipal recycle streams.

Create a container whose components are compatible with the end-of-life scenario of the container, so that the entire package can be disposed of at one time. It has been proven that separation is not an effective means of disposal. If recycling is the preferred method for the container, then the components should also be recyclable in the same recycle stream.

Also, TPE liners can replace polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastisol in aluminum caps sealed to glass bottles and vacuum metal closures sealed to glass jars in cold- and hot-fill applications. TPEs as sealants in aluminum caps, metal lug caps and press-on and twist-off lids meet stringent sterilization requirements of jam, jelly and baby food producers, and provide strong sealability to extend shelf life. TPEs offer hermetic sealing, with excellent organoleptic properties and oxygen barrier, even for hot-fill applications, like sports drinks and juices.

Consumers want packaging with minimal waste and that is easy to recycle. At the same time, they want packaging that won’t cause a threat to their health—hence the move to eliminate bisphenol-A (BPA) from plastic bottles and food storage containers and find alternatives to PVC plastisols in cap liners.

4. Design with materials that support your branding efforts

You can use TPEs to embed scent into the packaging to give consumers a “preview” of the contents. This creative approach is suitable for food and cosmetic applications, such as fragrances or lotions, where consumers would want a hint of the product experience before they buy. This makes for an appealing marketing tactic that’s more reasonable and less expensive than offering free samples. TPEs enable a more contemporary design to support branding efforts, including clear and custom colors with effects like pearlescent, metallic and sparkle elements, along with various opacity levels, and virtually any texture or surface feel desired.

Research shows that consumers spend on average of three seconds eyeing a product on store shelves before deciding whether to purchase, sometimes referred to as the “the moment of truth.” If packaging aesthetics can influence the consumer to pick up the product, they are 80% more likely to place it in their cart than return it to the store shelf.

As consumer demands for high-performance packaging continue to change and grow, TPEs offer one of the most flexible and innovative solutions to meet evolving requirements and satisfy the needs of both consumers and brand owners.

Sharon Derbyshire has spent her career focused on the packaging industry with significant accomplishments in market research, strategic planning, new business development, project management, and technical service and development. Prior to joining PolyOne in April 2013 as packaging industry manager for PolyOne GLS Thermoplastic Elastomers, Derbyshire was an accomplished market research consultant with her own company, Contract Market Research, founded in 1998. 

Method relies on air technology for air freshener

Method relies on air technology for air freshener

Known for its widely popular green cleaning products that come in design-driven packages, Method looks to conquer the air care category with its new air fresheners. Instead of relying on chemicals to get its continuous stream—such as those found in aerosols—the new air fresheners rely on air pressure. This is in line with the company’s eco-friendly mission to make cleaning safe for the consumer and the environment. The product is also the first in the industry to use clear, see-through packaging that shows how the product actually works.

And it looks like Method is right on trend with its recent launch into the air care market.

According to market analysis from Euromonitor International, a London-based market intelligence firm, providing market research, business intelligence reports, and data to industry, the improving economy is expected to encourage the growth potential of decorative and aesthetically-pleasing air fresheners. As income levels slowly increase over the forecast period, consumers will be more able and willing to purchase products that are both convenient and more aesthetically in line with the decor of their homes.

Josh Handy, vp of product experience at Method, says that the company’s goal is to elevate the category by giving consumers a beautiful, non-toxic product that they are actually proud to use and display in their homes.

That’s not to say the company won’t have some steep competition, however.

Heavy hitters in the category include SC Johnson & Son which led air care in 2013 with a 27% value share, and operates the brand Glade within the air care industry. Glade is especially strong in electric air fresheners, recording sales of US$329 million within the category in 2013. Procter & Gamble and Reckitt-Benckiser followed SC Johnson & Son in air care in 2013 with respective value shares of 22% and 20%, Euromonitor reports.

Method harnesses innovative pressurized air technology where the continuous air fresheners are packed in an airtight chamber powered by compressed air. When spritzed, the air refreshers fill the room with a non-toxic, vibrant scent.

The company gained inspiration for its fragrances by looking to nature. The five fresh scents are French Lavender, Wild Poppy, Beach Sage, Sweet Tangerine and Fresh Clover.

Consumers can find these on the shelves only at Target where the air fresheners retail for $5.

A balanced arm helps optimize this robotic palletizer

A balanced arm helps optimize this robotic palletizer

The EC-201 Robotic Palletizer has a payload capacity of 440 lbs, a palletizing capacity of 1,600 cycles per hour and palletizes bags, cases, pails and other products. It also has four axes for maximum flexibility. The lightweight design of the mechanically balanced arm allows the EC-201 to use less energy and reduce stress on the arm joints, bearings, pivot points and floor supports. 

American-Newlong Inc., 317-787-9421

www.american-newlong.com

Pack Expo International 2014 Booth #E-10232

Redefine packaging’s contribution to the business

“Packaging is no longer about packaging,” says Dan Balan, president, Fastraqq Inc., in this exclusive video interview. “Packaging has evolved into an analytical discipline that supports the entire company. In fact, it supports the entire supply chain.”

Balan spoke at the 2014 Global Food & Beverage Packaging Summit about “Transforming the Food & Beverage Industry: The Eight Business Drivers of Excellence.”

As he explains in this video, the main point of his presentation was that “convergence and creative destruction are affecting packaging, and we need to redefine the contribution of packaging to the business bottom line.”

He compares the challenge that packaging professionals face today to what some digital markets have already gone through. “Packaging has to redefine itself, just like the digital platform redefined what we know as the phone-that-was or the internet-that-was. It is one digital agglutinated platform. And that is what is happening to the packaging industry.”

5 astonishing new facts about packaging: Gallery

1. Incredibly, the contract packaging business has more than doubled since 2008—even through the Great Recession. It’s been a win-win scenario: Brand owners are seeing multiple benefits from working more collaboratively with their contract manufacturing and packaging partners.

Every so often, I see info about the packaging industry that makes me go, “Whoa!” Like these recent growth stats:

1. Incredibly, the contract packaging business has more than doubled since 2008—even through the Great Recession—according to the Third Edition of The State of the Contract Packaging Industry report.

2. This male-dominated industry is seeing a steady and increasing influx of females. Just take a look around you. Need more evidence?

3. The 2014 Pack Expo International show will be the largest one yet, with more than 2,200 exhibitors vying for the attention of the 50,000+ expected visitors. What’s driving the growth?

4. Nearly half (48%) of healthcare packaging professionals have worked at the same company for at least 10 years, according to the 2014 Salary Survey from Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News.

5. Packaging as a marketing aid will become even more über important for food in coming years—fresh and processed. OK, so maybe I’m pushing it too far to call this a “fact,” because it’s more of a prediction.

Read the full story here.

Future trends help packaging innovation teams ideate now

Looking out five to 10 years to understand future consumer trends is critical to fueling the ideas that packaging innovation teams need now, says Lisa Baer, senior director of market innovation, HAVI Global Solutions, during this exclusive video interview. This is one insight Baer shared from attending the 2014 Global Food & Beverage Packaging Summit, produced by UBM Canon and Packaging Digest.

“This is definitely a go-to conference for my team,” Baer says, “and I will share it with my colleagues.”

Halle Berry's perfume gets jungle-themed packaging

Halle Berry's perfume gets jungle-themed packaging

Bond girl Halle Berry has been busy this summer on the small screen with her new TV show ‘Extant’ and if that’s not enough she has just launched a new addition to her popular fragrance line—Wild Essence Halle Berry. The sensual scent captures the essence of nature inspiring women to look inwardly and connect with their primal being.

The carton packaging is inspired by Halle Berry’s love of the rainforest depicting sunlight trickling through the foliage with droplets of rainwater glistening like diamonds. Furthermore, the glass bottle itself is reminiscent of a droplet of water, topped with a translucent cap.

“The essence of a woman is in body and soul and becomes more sensual in nature,” says Halle Berry, “so with my newest fragrance I wanted to go deep into the rainforest where I could capture the primal richness of nature in an effortless scent.” “I love the idea of creating a fragrance that will allow women to connect with nature, through perfume.”

Wild Essence Eau de Parfum 1.0 fl. oz / 30ml SRP: $28.00.

Kimberly-Clark invents oxygen-generating lotion bottle

Kimberly-Clark invents oxygen-generating lotion bottle
Bottle spout has catalyst affixed inside.

This published patent filing relates to a bottle of skin-care lotion in packaging that uses a catalyst to enrich the oxygen content of the product as it’s dispensed at the time of use.

Oxygen is claimed to reduce wrinkling and other effects of aging by helping to nourish and enrich the skin. That’s been done conventionally using a two-part system of a peroxide and a peroxide decomposition catalyst, packaged separately and combined like an epoxy at the time of use to deliver these benefits. This rather awkward delivery method leaves an opportunity in the skin-care market for an easier way to apply an oxygen-rich lotion.

That’s addressed in this invention from Kimberly-Clark Worldwide Inc., Neenah, WI, that proposes using a novel dispensing bottle that delivers an oxygen-rich lotion at the point of use. One embodiment is for a single-reservoir dispensing bottle that contains a peroxide-rich liquid. The bottle has an outlet within which is a peroxide decomposition catalyst immobilized on a substrate, so that the peroxide-rich liquid and immobilized catalyst come in contact with each other just as the liquid is dispensed from the bottle.

The catalyst is contained on or supported by a substrate that has an open structure to allow the peroxide-rich liquid to flow through it and maintain good contact with the catalyst. The substrate may be a mesh, foam, woven or non­woven material, or other suitable porous material. The patent identifies several catalysts including sodium carbonate.

For more information, see the document at Fresh Patents.

4 key questions about 2 sustainable packaging paths

4 key questions about 2 sustainable packaging paths
This life cycle loop shows how design thinking for an entire process can help create non-linear products. (Image courtesy of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition.)

Eco-efficiency or circular economy model? Both strategies have merit. Which choice is right for you?

 

At the Sustainability in Packaging event sponsored by Smithers Pira in March 2014, several conference sessions ended with a debate about preferable end of life treatment—such as the recovery of flexible packaging, the issue of marine debris and more. Recycling had taken a back seat to increasing trends in new biobased polymer technologies and food waste; however, the debates demonstrate that the end-of-life management issues raised by both trends have been “recycled” (pardon the pun).

The debates at the conference centered on two different philosophies: practices that are more resource-intensive today but are truly able to be sustained in the long term, versus practices that have a quantifiably lower environmental footprint today, but not necessarily in the long term. PE International and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition have helped many companies wrestle with this dichotomy in their own efforts. This article will outline the issues and ideas behind how an organization should approach the question.

The debates

At the conference, the debates came up in the context of a few different conversations, but in particular surrounded the recyclability of flexible packaging.

Generally speaking, most companies choose to move to lighter weight designs (like flexible packaging) as part of their sustainability efforts because of the potential for significant reductions in materials used, energy consumed, transportation burden and even total waste (that is, even for flexible packages that aren’t recycled, the total waste burden can be lower than recyclable materials if rates of recycling are low). Happy Family brands, for example, presented on the success of its new flexible packaging design as part of its sustainability initiatives. The questions from the audience following the presentation suggested the need to move away from a linear, industrial model, toward a closed-loop, “circular” economy model.

A circular economy, as defined by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, is “an industrial economy that is restorative by intention; aims to rely on renewable energy; minimizes, tracks and hopefully eliminates the use of toxic chemicals; and eradicates waste through careful design.” This is contrasted with most current business models, which are linear in nature.

Generally, resources are taken from the environment, made into products and are discarded at the end of useful life, typically ending up in a landfill. Sometimes recycling steps are included within a linear process, but these steps have the effect of delaying its final disposal cycle rather than preventing it completely.

In the language of packaging, we will oversimplify this to be a debate between recyclable and/or renewable packaging and packaging that is simply more efficient than packaging from a previous generation.

Our petroleum-based packaging infrastructure is both well-established and highly efficient, while our material recovery infrastructure has been slow to catch up, and infrastructure surrounding non-traditional packaging materials (such as biopolymers) is in its infancy. This can mean that, today, more non-renewable fossil resources might be required to produce recyclable or biobased polymer packaging than to produce the traditional petroleum-based alternatives. We know we cannot rely indefinitely on the current system despite its relative efficiency, as this efficiency depends on a finite resource. However, choosing recyclable or biobased polymers has the potential to increase our fossil fuel burden in the short run.

As such, we end up with two strategies:

1. Eco-efficiency—Choose the most resource-efficient option, even if this does not use renewable resources and is more difficult to sustain in the long term.

2. Circular economy—Choose renewable resources or recyclable designs, but accept a less-efficient overall packaging option in the short term. This option can require a complete system redesign, and includes a lot of uncertainty and investment.

So which do you choose for your strategy? And what tools are involved to drive success?

Making your choice

Building your strategy around efficiency or around a circular economy are both solid concepts—and both have the potential to lead us to unintended consequences. This article doesn’t try to refute or defend either, but rather emphasizes the point that both may have a place in your approach to sustainable packaging—the extent of which is up to you.

As PE has written in other recent articles (“Making Sustainable Packaging Stick,” “The Myth about LCA in Packaging” and 5 Steps to Sustainable Packaging ), your own corporate sustainability vision and strategy should be the guidepost for your choices. With that said, here is a summary of four key considerations:

1. What is your own desired leadership positioning? Closing the loop on packaging requires investment, leadership and vision. If your company is a “first to be second” type of company, you might be best served allowing the leaders to blaze the trail. It doesn’t mean you aren’t thinking about or even supporting a longer term vision, but your targets and initiatives may stay focused on efficiency. Companies that seek to “blaze trails” and serve as innovation leaders may make a conscious decision to apply technologies that may not be the lowest carbon or lowest waste today, but that are setting important initial steps toward the ultimate future state. Recognizable examples include Coca Cola’s PlantBottle and method’s Ocean Plastic Bottles. Efficiency can also drive meaningful change; companies setting significant reduction goals do, in fact, contribute meaningfully to our near-term needs for conservation.

2. What are the key impacts of your product system? Packaging is not negligible in its contribution to environmental impact, but it may be that you’ll get a bigger bang for your buck with a focus on something you didn’t expect. Life-cycle assessment is useful in this regard, as a way to help focus your attentions.

The biggest potential unintended consequence of the circular economy around packaging is that we lose sight of what’s important to the product supply chain. Reduction of packaging that increases the chance of product damage or spoilage is the most notable example. It takes a focused effort to consistently consider holistic product systems in your packaging process. See PE’s article on the “Myth of LCA in Packaging” for demonstration of how LCA can play a role in either strategy.

3. What are your stakeholders’ perspectives? The priorities and values of your consumers, customers, communities, employees and other stakeholders should at minimum inform your strategy. Driving business success with sustainability usually ties back to meeting their expectations.

4. What is the associated brand/sales impact? Responding to stakeholder expectations doesn’t necessarily require a change to your brand promise or message. And, conversely, the lowest overall impact design may not be the most “brandable.” Be true to your brand commitment and be mindful that messages consumers don’t understand could represent a significant investment in brand communication.

In sum, trends and stakeholder expectations of end-of-life management continue to change, and it’s important for all companies concerned with the sustainability of packaging to be aware of new technologies, infrastructure updates and the priorities of stakeholders. Taking a strategic approach enables a response that provides the foundation of consistent messaging and meaningful progress—however you define it for your organization.

This article was written by Laura Flanigan, Nina Goodrich and Sandy Smith.

Laura Flanigan, Director Consumer Goods Sector at PE International, has with 13 years of experience developing, implementing and evaluating customized strategies, frameworks and tools to help clients achieve their visions for sustainable products, business practices and operations.

Nina Goodrich, Director, Sustainable Packaging Coalition, and Executive Director, GreenBlue, came to GreenBlue with an industry background in R&D, innovation and sustainability strategy. She believes that innovation and sustainability are linked as key drivers for our future.

Sandy Smith, Managing Director, U.K., at PE International, has 14 years of experience in product sustainability and advising business on how to integrate sustainability issues within their business strategies and operations.

Illustration courtesy of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition from its Design Guide for Sustainable Packaging.