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How you can help move the packaging industry forward

Whether you have two years of experience in your packaging career or 20, your unique insights can help your peers—and the industry as a whole—advance. In this latest installment of the Packaging Digest/LePoidevin Marketing Pack Expo Video Series, senior account executive Steve Staedler makes the case, in less than a minute(!), for sharing what you know.

Have an idea for an article? Contact Lisa Pierce at [email protected] or 630-481-1422.

Also see other videos in this series:
“How to identify emerging packaging trends”
“How packaging suppliers can deepen their value to customers”

Packaging design, sustainability successes dominate in August 2019

Packaging design, sustainability successes dominate in August 2019

Between enjoying an end-of-summer vacation and preparing for a new school year, last month packaging professionals kept up to date on design and sustainability trends through avid reading of Packaging Digest articles.

The list of top seven articles from August 2019, based on page views from our global audience, starts with…


7. 6 package design tips you probably haven’t heard before

How do packaging designers excel once they’ve mastered the basics?

With a quarter century of experience working with consumer packaged goods companies, Shane Breault, vp/partner/creative director at Ultra Creative Inc. in Minneapolis, has these six suggestions:

• Start from the bottom up
• Give ’em your best opening line
• Blow the lid off
• Stick or schtick?
• Crack the code
• Deliver the goods

NEXT: Top sustainable companies by state

Top sustainable companies by state

6. Top sustainable companies by state

This infographic identifies the leader in sustainability in each of the 50 states in the U.S., as judged by sustainable practices drawn from four key industry studies: Newsweek’s Top 500 Global Companies rankings, Barrons’ “100 Most Sustainable U.S. Companies” list, Corporate Knights’ “2019 Global 100” ranking, and Rubicon’s “Top Sustainable Small Businesses in Each State” list.

Many are well-recognized companies within the global packaging community—such as Campbell’s, Hasbro, Nike, McCormick, Estee Lauder, Sonoco and UPS.

What successful ideas of theirs can you replicate in your sustainability program?

NEXT: Dasani's next 5 steps to greater packaging sustainability


5. Dasani’s next 5 steps to greater packaging sustainability

Sneha Shah, group director, packaging innovation, Coca-Cola North America, discloses details and reasonings behind the company’s five sustainability initiatives for its Dasani water brand:

• hybrid bottles from renewable resources;
• a major entry into highly recyclable aluminum;
• package weight reduction research;
• recycling-enhancing labeling; and
• packaging-reducing dispensing for foodservice outlets.

NEXT: Most food cans no longer use BPA in their linings

Food cans no BPA

4. Most food cans no longer use BPA in their linings

Regular Packaging Digest readers will no doubt remember seeing this article in our top-read lists for most of 2019 (February, March, April, May, June and July). It has dropped one more position in our “Top” list, from the No.3 article in July to the No.4 item for August.

Overall, “chemicals of concern” and their migration from packaging to product continues to worry consumers, and thus packaging developers at product manufacturing companies.

NEXT: Packaging recovery tops sustainability conversations


3. Packaging recovery tops sustainability conversations

Packaging material recovery and end-of-life options, especially for plastics, are dominating headlines today and are top-of-mind for consumers—partly as a result of the global outcry on pollution.

Tristanne Davis, senior manager with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), shares key takeaways and perspectives on this topic gleaned from presentations and other conversations at a flurry of recent packaging-sustainability events: SPC Engage: Minneapolis, GreenBiz’s Circularity ’19, Plastic Free World Conference and Expo, and the International Product Stewardship Forum.

• Recovery is increasingly about more than just recycling and recyclability.
• Reuse is among the key solutions being discussed more seriously (partly due to the new Loop initiative).
• Compostable, biobased solutions are quickly gaining momentum but the conversation can be confusing.
• Packaging optimization has a conflicting but evolving role in the conversation.
• Recycling needs to continue to play a key role in the solution to plastic waste and needs to be disrupted.
• Recovery needs to be safe and then circular (Bill McDonough from the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute introduces the idea of retox—where we cycle products over and over through recycling, but some of these materials we are recycling are toxic. So, we are also cycling toxic chemicals.)

NEXT: 7 best packaging practices for cannabis marketers


2. 7 best packaging practices for cannabis marketers

Cannabis, CBD, THC, weed or whatever else it’s called…this burgeoning product category is all over the place when it comes to skilled (or not!) packaging designers. What do newbies desperately need to know to create a marketing success?

Tom Newmaster, FORCEpkg. founder with more than 25 years of experience in branding and package design for consumer packaged goods, outlines his packaging tips for cannabis brands:

• Understand the “Natural Habitat” and aim for mind-blowing shelf impact
• Shape, color, text—repeat after me…shape, color, text
• Make the connection—embracing technology and social media
• It’s easier being green—messaging and responsibility
• Understand the consumer—know the generational cues
• Authenticity and brand voice—be yourself
• Don’t think of cannabis as an exotic category—consumer behavior is still in play

NEXT: 10 pack redesigns earn honors in Nielsen competition


1. 10 pack redesigns earn honors in Nielsen competition

When you’ve got an established brand, periodic packaging updates tell customers you care. But striking a balance between a fresh package design without scaring off your fans isn’t easy. How do other brands do it? Our top article of August 2019 shows 10 success stories from around the world in a variety of categories with Before and After photos so you can see the changes, not just the new designs:

• Nice! by Walgreens (U.S.): More than a nice try
• M&M’s (U.S.): Redesigned pack stands up on-shelf
• Icelandic Provisions (U.S.): New Skyr package is eco-friendly
• Hess Select (U.S.): The lion still roars
• Alpura (Mexico): Milk pack redesign is a natural
• Arawana Oil (China): New design tackles ergonomics
• MAQ (South Africa): Redesign brings brand family together
• Playboy Deodorants (South Africa): Aerosol redesign highlights fragrances
• Prestígio (Brazil): Candy bar packaging gets a makeover
• Satis! (Brazil): New seasoning packs showcase product benefits


MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) is where serious packaging professionals find technologies, education and connections needed to thrive in today’s advanced manufacturing community. See solutions in labeling, food packaging, package design and beyond. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.

Medical tray sealer upgrades safety features

Medical tray sealer upgrades safety features

The Aergo 2 Max PLC sealing machine has been upgraded with new and enhanced safety features. Suitable for medical and commercial applications, the sealer is typically used to seal large medical device-type packages with Tyvek lidding, in addition to other various low-volume applications.

The machine from Sonoco Alloyd has a heat plate that automatically lowers after the tray is engaged fully into the machine for sealing. The updated machine includes an upgraded safety hitch pin locking mechanism, which provides safer, easier operator loading and unloading of tooling. It also helps avoid operator error when installing nesting trays—it is permanently attached to the nesting tray to avoid loss.

The Aergo 2 Max PLC is a double-sided machine; as one operator loads materials/products, the operator on the opposite side is pushing the tray in to seal it. According to Kim Sanderson, the company’s marketing specialist, the best feature of the machine is the large 20-inch x 28-inch seal area for each tray.

The upgraded machine also features a smooth-glide rail system. This feature reduces hitching and jumping when indexing trays into seal press (particularly liquid applications). It also reduces product movement during sealing. The rail system is available on all Aergo 2 heat-sealing units.

“With our new Smooth Glide Rail System, products are not jousted or disrupted as the tray is pushed into place for sealing,” explains  Sanderson. “This is important for multiple-piece medical tray kits, small products, liquids and gels.”

Cycles per minute are operator controlled, though Sanderson pegs rates at around 1,000 to 2,000 cycles per 8-hour shift.

See live demos of this tray sealer at MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 8-9; Minneapolis) in the Sonoco Alloyd Booth #812.

6 trends changing drug packaging from the inside out

6 trends changing drug packaging from the inside out
Packaging that makes it easier for patients to manage dosing, drug compliance and the overall self-treatment experience will be more popular moving forward.

Six trends are shaping the future of global pharmaceutical packaging, according to research and analysis from researchers at Pharmapack Europe. Their results, summarized below, are contained in “The Golden Age of Innovation Is Beginning: Drug Delivery and Packaging Report 2019.”

The pharmaceutical-packaging trends the researchers identified, based on data and insights from industry experts, are: serialization and track-and-trace, sustainability, patient engagement, smaller production lots, innovations in packaging machinery/automation and combination devices for the delivery of medication.

Read more about each trend below, and download Pharmapack Europe’s complete report here. The 22nd Pharmapack Europe will be held Feb. 5-6, 2020, at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France.

1. Serialization and track-and-trace

European Union (EU) regulations mandating pharmaceutical serialization, which took effect in February 2019, together with the U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), whose compliance deadlines extend into late 2023, will drive serialization and track-and-trace efforts geared to pharmaceutical traceability and authenticity.

2. Sustainability

Developers of pharmaceutical packaging, like the pharmaceutical industry itself, are placing more emphasis on sustainability. Recyclable and biodegradable packaging materials, lifecycle analyses and carbon-footprint reduction are all expected to play a role. In-store recycling, in which patients return used inhalers and other devices to the pharmacy, is one likely scenario.

3. Patient engagement

Packaging that engages patients by making it easier to manage dosing, drug compliance and the overall treatment experience will become more prevalent. Auto-injectors, prefilled syringes and smart packaging are a few examples. Consumer beta testing will likely emerge to support the development of patient-friendly packages and devices.

4. Smaller production lots

Continued development of biologics and other personalized medicines will drive smaller production lots, which will in turn fuel demand for packaging machinery suited to those lot sizes. As Packaging Digest reported earlier this year, a packaging-machinery supplier and a German university have been working on a pilot program with the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) to automate manufacturing, filling and packaging of personalized cell and gene therapies.

5. Innovations in packaging machinery/automation

The equipment used to package pharmaceuticals is expected to move toward robotics and 3D printing. The latter is well suited to rapid prototyping and to the small production lots cited above. The internet of medical things (IoMT) and smart technologies will increasingly shape pharmaceutical-packaging automation, as well.

6. Combination devices for the delivery of medication

Dual-chamber devices that make it easy for patients to adhere to multi-drug protocols should experience healthy demand going forward. For example, devices that can deliver two injectable medications simultaneously will gain traction as combination therapies continue to proliferate, particularly for the treatment of cancer.


MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) is where serious packaging professionals find technologies, education and connections needed to thrive in today’s advanced manufacturing community. See solutions in labeling, food packaging, package design and beyond. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.

Vertical baggers can juggle many package formats now

Vertical baggers can juggle many package formats now
Today’s vertical form-fill-seal machines are compatible with an assortment of flexible-packaging formats. Illustration courtesy of AlliedFlex.

Today’s shopper expects multiple choices—in products and in type of packaging. That’s one of the reasons a brand’s number of stock-keeping units is exploding. And with flexible packaging continuing to encroach on rigid containers in several categories, the demands of versatility and speedy changeover for machines that make these packages are high.

In response, vertical form-fill-seal (vffs) equipment designs are evolving to meet the expanding operational and marketing challenges of packagers that use this type of equipment. The latest vffs machines can run numerous flexible-packaging formats, with fast changeover, for example.

User requirements for improved uptime, line efficiency, sustainability, waste reduction, sanitary machine design and operator-friendliness are also driving equipment vffs advancements. Read what vffs experts have to say about all the trends in the exclusive Packaging Digest Q&A below. The participants are:

• Dennis Calamusa, president/CEO at AlliedFlex Technologies Inc. (the exclusive Velteko distributor for North and South America);

• John Panaseny, CEO of Rovema North America Inc.;

• Kim Magon-Haller, marketing manager, Triangle Package Machinery Co.;

• Shayne De la Force, chief marketing officer at tna solutions Pty Ltd.;

What recent advancements have there been in vertical form-fill-seal systems?

Calamusa: I can think of four developments.

1. Versatility of design: This provides versatility in package size and package format.

Over the past few years, we have seen a growing trend by prominent vffs producers to implement advanced technology in the design platform of their vffs machinery to enable users to better respond to market changes in package size and package format. This is being accomplished in a variety of ways.

Velteko, a prominent global vffs manufacturer, has approached this challenge by “re-designing from the ground up” a series of its vffs machinery by utilizing a group of quick-change modules that make the major mechanical changes from one bag format to another much simpler and repeatable. This design breakthrough has enabled a user to perform three-dimensional package format changes within 5 to 45 minutes for a multitude of bag styles, including pillow, quad and stand-up/zipper, depending on the complexity of the changeover. This innovative, versatile design strategy provides the ability for a single machine to accommodate changes in package size and package style. That is critical for companies to respond to marketing shifts for a variety of market outlets, including single-portion sizes, retail sizes and larger clubstore and foodservice sizes.

The Velteko HSV-360 B vffs system can package food and non-food items and accepts a variety of bag formats, including stand-up/zipper pouches. Photo courtesy of Velteko.

2. Ultrasonic sealing:The use of ultrasonic sealing in vffs machinery is growing as companies look to improve seal integrity and minimize package size. Ultrasonic technology is also being used to perform improved “zipper crush,” now that zipper reclosability is a popular and growing convenience feature on vffs machinery.

3. Servo technology/operator interface:Most advanced, quality vffs machines today have replaced many mechanical components with servo motors, which provide improved flexibility and reduced maintenance compared with older mechanical-drive systems. These servo systems have enabled the machines to be run with a high level of flexibility to accommodate a multitude of operational improvements that positively impact productivity, efficiency, higher output and reduced cost of ownership.

The operator interface provides recipe storage for a multitude of package setups to reduce on-site service calls.

In addition, with the ability to incorporate advanced sensing devices, we can now provide more detailed real-time information regarding productivity, downtime and even predictive maintenance, which is valuable for production planning and packaging-system optimization.

4. Automatic roll change/splice:Many companies are looking to increase uptime. This is particularly important on vffs machinery, as it is popular to have several machines grouped as part of a turnkey system [to produce enough volume for downstream equipment, like case packers, that run at higher speeds]. Downtime is a cost, and even short-interval downtimes can negatively impact productivity, efficiency and product/packaging-material waste. Many vffs companies and users are investing in the addition of semi-automatic and automatic roll change/splicing systems to keep the machine up and running and eliminate these consistent short-interval stoppages for performing manual roll changes, which cause lost production and increased material scrap. These systems can be provided fully integrated or added later, in the field.

Panaseny: The biggest advancements have been in two key areas. The first is in bagger flexibility. In the past few years, machines have been developed to offer a dramatic array of package styles, from traditional, simple pillow bags to the more complex Doyen-style stand-up bags with reclosable zipper that can be produced at relatively high speeds on continuous-motion equipment. (The Rovema BVC260 Flex Bagger is an example of this.) Although vffs machines that could handle the bag styles existed previously, the newer technology produces much better looking bags and at higher rates of speed.

The Rovema BVC-260 Flexible is a continuous-motion vertical bagger that can provide virtually any package style, including Doyen-style stand-up bags (RoPack).

The second area of advancement is in machine reliability and repeatability. As consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs) struggle with employee retention, machinery that helps with changeovers as well as troubleshooting problems is becoming the norm. In both cases, much of the advancement is tied to technology in motion control and human machine interfaces (HMIs), which make these features easier to execute and more affordable for manufacturers to produce.

Magon-Haller: The advancements we’re seeing—and the areas we’re continuing to focus on—include versatility, sanitation and operator-friendly machines. In the past, most companies were simply looking to run a specific bag style. In recent years, there is more uncertainty over which way markets are moving, which leads companies to search out more versatile vffs solutions that are capable of running multiple bag styles.

Our Model XYRJ, for instance, features a unique, rotatable sealing jaw that allows users to run pillow-style bags, three-sided seal bags, gusseted bags and a stand-up pouch (SUP). It’s also the only vffs bagger that offers an optional longitudinal zipper and/or transverse zipper on the same machine. We developed Model XYRJ because we knew many of our customers and potential customers wanted a bagging machine that was versatile, easy to use and able to run a variety of bag styles on the same machine. The bagger allows food packagers to improve production and switch package formats in just minutes.

Many advancements have also been made in the area of sanitation. The majority of Triangle’s customers are in the food industry, so sanitary machine design is an important consideration. A bagging machine that’s easier to clean not only saves cleaning and maintenance time but also offers peace of mind to companies that may otherwise be worrying about how to minimize consumer complaints and avoid product recalls.

Sanitary machine design is one area where we have proactively researched and answered customer needs. Our decades of experience operating in the harshest environments has also proven to be of value in other markets. Over the years, sanitary design of our vffs baggers has improved to reduce hazardous critical control points, crevices and the use of aluminum. We offer the only bagger and forming tube that is 3A-certified and meets strict United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sanitation standards.

For example, our recently introduced Compact Sanitary Bagger, Model CSB, offers state-of-the-art sanitation features such as rounded, solid stainless-steel frames and is designed to be cleaned in place.

In addition, many advancements make vffs baggers easier to operate and maintain. With more companies struggling to find qualified labor, operator-friendly machines can go a long way to address these challenges. We strive to build certain features into our baggers that will shorten the learning curve and minimize downtime. These include, for instance, features that offer tool-less, quick-and-easy changeover, HMIs with built-in visual instructions and radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to restrict machine access and monitor usage.

De la Force: More and more, manufacturers are focusing on sustainable practices in manufacturing, hence working on reducing waste, boosting efficiency and making user interfaces easier for operators of vertical form-fill-seal systems; this equally applies to all other aspects of food packaging and manufacturing, as well. Reducing food waste not only helps the bottom line of the manufacturer, it also helps in boosting line efficiency.

Waste reduction with increased packaging speed (popularly measured as bags per minute, or just bpm) is the combined metric for evaluating the vffs system, and this is where packaging- and processing-solutions providers are pioneering and innovating.

Another key direction of innovation is automation and integration, where the whole packaging system and its allied components—like multihead weighers, metal detectors, date coders and more—work as one unit controlled through a single user interface. Intuitive and easy-to-use touchscreen control makes operations quicker, easier and more efficient.

How do these advanced systems compare to the existing standard equipment?

De la Force: Key achievements of the advanced systems in recent times are: reduced human effort, lower waste, reduced downtimes and stoppages, higher OEE and overall better sustainable operation. As with any development, the rollout and results are not visible overnight. It is a gradual and ongoing process in which the packaging-machine manufacturers are supporting the food manufacturers in upgrading their systems through backward compatibility and system design support so they can make the most of these advancements. Customers (food manufacturers) are seeking solution providers as compared to machine suppliers.

Magon-Haller: The bottom line is, various advancements—improved sanitation, more versatile machines and operator-friendly baggers—offer similar but important benefits, such as minimized downtime and improved production.

Baggers that offer quick changeover and ease of use spend a lot more time churning out bags than sitting idle while an operator tries to perform complicated changeovers.

Baggers that offers more sanitary designs and better accessibility to the machine are easier and faster to clean and maintain. Our stainless-steel guard doors, for instance, are more sanitary than standard doors, but their unique design with perforated holes still allows visibility of the machine operating.

All Triangle bagging machines offer state-of-the-art sanitation features and can be designed to meet strict 3-A and USDA sanitation standards. Pictured is Triangle’s Model XYM15 vffs bagger, with optional stainless-steel guard doors.

In addition to cleaner machine designs, our baggers include features that offer greater machine accessibility, such as a pivoting control box for four sides of machine access.

Panaseny: A large portion of the vffs install base is older and therefore built at a time when mechanical devices (cams, gears and so on) controlled machine motions rather than programmable electronic servo motors. Additionally, just as computing technology evolves rapidly, a similar impact is felt with packaging-machinery controls. The result is more capabilities in machine monitoring, HMI capabilities and improved overall equipment efficiency (OEE) by using technology to monitor, correct and assist with operations.

Calamusa: Many existing or older machines do not have advanced capabilities, as many vffs machines delivered over the past two decades did not need to meet the evolving market demands of today—or the technology did not exist. Many older machines were purchased and installed for dedicated bag styles and applications, and were not designed with the changeover, production demands or operational philosophy required today.

What are the benefits of these advancements for packaging machinery buyers/users?

Panaseny: The new developments assist with operational challenges tied to a tight labor market with high employee turnover. The more the equipment can be easily operated and maintained, the better the performance the buyer/user will experience.

De la Force: By running more efficiently with lower waste, packaging-machinery users are achieving higher return on investment (ROI). At the same time, users are achieving higher levels of sustainability, and with the reduction in human effort through technology and innovation, the working environment is positively evolving in this industry sector.

Calamusa: Marketing departments are always challenged to introduce “what’s next,” and this is very difficult when they know that changes at the manufacturing level are usually frowned upon.

By investing in new, versatile vffs machinery, manufacturing can now be more responsive to the needs of the organization and better adapt to change by being part of the solution and creating new business opportunities for the company. The ability for the user’s manufacturing/packaging department to say “yes” to its marketing department is a very valuable and refreshing concept in today’s competitive business landscape.

Magon-Haller: In addition to less time spent on cleaning and maintenance, the benefits of a more sanitary machine include peace of mind and greater accessibility to equipment. Customers can rest assured they are making a wise investment and that critical issues—such as accessible equipment and clean machine designs—have been addressed.

A more versatile bagger that can run multiple bag styles on the same machine also provides a smaller capital investment. Why buy two machines when you can purchase one that has the flexibility to run pillow bags, gusseted bags, stand-up pouches and three-sided seal pouches? As resealable packages continue to gain popularity, finding a bagger with the ability to add a longitudinal and/or transverse zipper applicator can also be a smart investment.

What areas in vertical form-fill-seal equipment still need work and why?

Calamusa: We are seeing a demand for all packaging machinery, including vffs machinery, to be more sanitary in design. This is not only a requirement for packaging frozen or refrigerated products, but also when packaging dry or dusty products. The ability to properly sanitize and clean the equipment is critical to prevent the risk of dangerous bacteria and allergens contaminating or cross-contaminating packaged foods. Downtime attributed to cleaning and sanitation is substantial, and improved sanitary design by the vffs manufacturer is highly appreciated and demanded by today’s packagers.

Panaseny: We’ll need to see continued evolution of equipment that can provide self-diagnostics and that can be monitored remotely to support a workforce with fewer troubleshooting skills.

What’s next, and when might we see further improvements in vertical form-fill-seal systems?

Calamusa: Work continues by forward-looking vffs manufacturers to validate the handling and running of new “sustainability” materials, including recyclable, composable and biodegradable structures. These thinner, more elastic materials can be challenging regarding critical temperature sensitivity, tension and web-handling challenges, package aesthetics and so forth; however, the packaging machinery industry and consumer product companies are all committed to this challenge, and we can expect to see considerable effort to resolve these challenges in the coming months and years.

Panaseny: I think you will see more advancements in sealing technology to support new materials that address sustainability concerns, and continued development with respect to internet of things (IoT) or Industry 4.0. Some industries are quite advanced in this area, but I think that packaging and vffs equipment are still in the early stages of adoption.

De la Force: Stand-up and resealable bag formats, biodegradable materials and personalization will continue to further drive vffs technology in the future, meaning that there will be changes to how films are handled and sealed and changes to packaging shapes and sizes—and all developments will need to keep up with the trends.

Magon-Haller: Packaging-machinery customers are looking for machines that are both compact and operator-friendly, as well as accessible and easy to maintain. We will continue to develop vffs systems that are compact, versatile and innovative—for instance, vffs machines that offer a compact footprint and high output in terms of both speed and package-style variety. Package styles will always be evolving, and we’ll continue to work with customers and suppliers to provide machines that can run the next style.

The tna robag FX-series system offers high speeds for vffs applications.


MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) is where serious packaging professionals find technologies, education and connections needed to thrive in today’s advanced manufacturing community. See solutions in labeling, food packaging, package design and beyond. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.

Anti-static bar is at home in small spaces

Anti-static bar is at home in small spaces

For packaging facilities tight on floorspace, technology improvements that help shrink equipment are most welcomed. And the new 3024 Ultra-Compact 24V DC static eliminator is designed for use in such confined spaces.

With an operational length of 47 millimeters (less than 2 inches), it can be combined with a fixed nozzle for ionized cleaning of packaging materials or used to form an ionized air gun. Built-in, high-voltage electronics provide a high degree of static elimination at close range to substrates and other materials.

The anti-static bar, available from Fraser Anti-Static Techniques, has integrated mounting holes and standard M8 four-pin connector for ease of retrofitting. Operating distance ranges from 20 to 150 millimeters (almost 6 inches), and it can deliver up to 7.5 kV from a low-voltage 24 VDC input. Pulsed DC high voltage provides good charge decay performance, even at longer distances.

Users can remotely monitor status using outputs compatible with IEC 61131-2 Type 3 PLC inputs.


MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) is where serious packaging professionals find technologies, education and connections needed to thrive in today’s advanced manufacturing community. See solutions in labeling, food packaging, package design and beyond. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.

Ball Corp. presents the plastic-replacing aluminum cup

Ball Corp. presents the plastic-replacing aluminum cup

The 20-oz aluminum cup will be tested with major venues and concessionaires across the U.S. starting September 2019 at Colorado University.

The ongoing displeasure with plastic packaging sustainability opens opportunities for alternative materials to supplant polymer-based formats in certain applications.

The next target is the plastic cup: Ball Corp. (Broomfield, CO) announced on August 27 it will roll out a number of pilots with major entertainment venues and concessionaires across the U.S. to replace their plastic drinking cups with 20-oz aluminum cups starting in September 2019 and continuing through 2020.

The metal cup is sturdy, lightweight, durable and cool to the touch, offering consumers an enhanced beverage drinking experience, according to Ball. The vendor’s research shows that 67% of U.S. consumers say they will visit a venue more often if they use aluminum cups instead of plastic cups; 78% expect beverage brands to use environmentally friendly containers in the next five years.

“The aluminum cup is a game-changer for the industry,” Sebastian Siethoff, Ball general manager, tells Packaging Digest.  “We hope that our customers and consumers view the aluminum cup as a sustainable and easily recyclable alternative to plastic cups, which are currently a mainstay of stadiums, restaurants and beaches and often end up in the trash or on the ground.”

Those markets are just the start, according to Siethoff. “It is also a great solution for bars or breweries that want a non-breakable substitute for their current barware. In the future, we expect to expand adoption of the aluminum cups at bars, breweries and retail locations.”

And it doesn’t stop there. “We also expect to introduce additional sizes to complete our portfolio in the future based on market demand,” he adds.

CU kicks off first application

On September 3, Ball Corp. announced a partnership to introduce the recyclable aluminum cup to collegiate football fans during the Colorado University home opener at Folsom Field when the Buffalos play the Nebraska Cornhuskers on September 7.

The move will significantly reduce plastic use in the stadium this season, as a major step in the university's goal of becoming plastic-free in its sports venues by 2020. It continues a sustainable tradition at CU that began in  2008, when it became the first major college sports program to implement a zero waste program in all gameday venues.

Earlier this year, CU Athletics became the first university in the nation to sign the United Nations Sports for Climate Action Framework, joining other adopters such as the New York Yankees, NBA and Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. The agreement requires entities to reduce climate impact and promote responsible and sustainable consumption.

"Ball and CU have a long history together, and we're proud to team up with them to pioneer sustainable solutions in our industries," states John A. Hayes, Ball's chairman, president and chief executive officer. "With CU's commitment to sustainability, the university is the ideal partner for piloting our new aluminum cup at the collegiate level. Sports fans are becoming more mindful about the impact their everyday choices have on the environment, and we're excited to offer them the opportunity to enjoy their favorite beverage at the game in our infinitely recyclable aluminum cup."

Ball and CU hope that the new aluminum cup will inspire good recycling habits and bring more fans out to games.

A greenfield opportunity

Ball is offering the cups at a flat pilot price to select pilot customers. “True commercial pricing is yet to be confirmed, but we expect it to be competitive with other sustainable cup options,” adds Siethoff.

However, cost savings are not driving the business case for the change: this greenfield opportunity for aluminum packaging is fundamentally a “green”-driven proposition.

“Pilot customers are making a conscious decision to adopt a more sustainable beverage container for their consumers,” explains Siethoff. “Just like aluminum beverage cans, which have a global recycling rate of 69%, aluminum cups are easily recycled while the material retains its value throughout the process. Ball hopes this will lead to high aluminum cup recycling rates from both consumers and customers.”

Ball has not completed a lifecycle assessment of the aluminum cup versus the plastic cup.

“Lifecycle assessment results vary depending on how you run the analysis,” Siethoff points out. “When you consider the entire lifecycle of aluminum and cans’ high recycling rates, aluminum better enables circularity and is more sustainable than plastic.”

The metal cup also presents marketing opportunities that can make an impression with consumers: the aluminum cups can be customized with logos and graphics, Siethoff notes. “We offer customers 360-degree branding, allowing them to create customizable designs for a one-of-a-kind look without compromising on recyclability.”

Although recycling is the cups’ greatest strength, it’s expected that some consumers won’t be doing that, though that’s not such a bad thing. “Given the cups’ lightweight, sturdy nature and eye-catching graphics, we recognize that some consumers may want to keep or reuse it,” says Siethoff.