Rising to meet global challenges

Kate Bertrand Connolly 1, Freelance Writer

January 30, 2014

11 Min Read
Rising to meet global challenges

Winners of this year's DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation, the 25th anniversary of the competition, are a creative and cooperative lot. Honorees range from Diamond Award winner AidPod-a medicine package that rides in Coca-Cola crates for delivery to isolated regions-to Heinz's new take on its iconic ketchup bottle, which took a Silver Award.

In addition to the single Diamond winner, which also won a special award for food security, four packages won Gold Awards and 10 won Silver. The winners represent a range of product categories and diverse countries of origin.

A panel of packaging experts judged the entrants, with emphasis on excellence in innovation, sustainability and cost/waste reduction, alone or in combination. DuPont describes the awards program as "the industry's longest-running, global, independently judged celebration of innovation and collaboration throughout the value chain."

Here are the Diamond and Gold winners:


Diamond: Medicine pack piggybacks on Coca-Cola bottles to reach remote areas


ColaLife, a nonprofit organization, is helping children in developing countries with its ColaLife AidPod package, which leverages the distribution scale and efficiency of The Coca-Cola Co. AidPod packs, which contain an anti-diarrhea kit, are designed to be distributed in crates of Coca-Cola.

The wedge-shaped packages tuck neatly into the previously unused space between Coca-Cola bottle necks, making use of an existing supply chain to serve remote areas that have poor access to essential medications.

"The AidPod is currently still on trial-nine months into a planned 12-month UNESCO-validated trial-in Katete and Kalomo, two remote departments in Zambia," says Eric Connolly (no relation to this writer), production director at pi global. The pi 3 business unit of pi global worked with ColaLife to create the AidPod's structural design.

Each AidPod contains eight single-dose packets of oral rehydration solution (ORS) and a course of zinc tablets for diarrhea treatment, plus soap, for prevention. After the items are removed from the package, the container can be used to measure water and mix the ORS. The pack can be used as a cup and storage container, as well. Families typically continue using the package as a household tool after the product has been consumed.

The base AidPod container, which is thermoformed from 90 percent post-consumer recycled PET (rPET), is filled with the ORS and zinc packages. Then an rPET tray, which doubles as the base pack's lid, is inserted; the tray holds a wrapped bar of soap. A leaflet with branding and directions is placed over the soap, and polyester film is heat-sealed to the top of the filled package.

For the trial, the AidPod packs are branded "Kit Yamoyo." The branded leaflet can easily be replaced if the package is used for other types of medication.

AidPod's packaging suppliers, all in the United Kingdom, are: Amcor Flexibles, for lidding film; Charpack Ltd., for the thermoformed container and tray; and equipment vendor Packaging Automation Ltd.

The AidPod also won a special award for food security. Food security relates to people having access to safe food, as well as food that is nutritious and in sufficient amounts. AidPod, being an anti-diarrheal kit, is needed in parts of the world where food isn't safe.


It's also unique in that it uses an existing distribution network to get medicines and instructions to remote areas-clever use of the extensive food value chain.

Amcor Flexibles, 847-362-9000

Charpack Ltd., + 44 1480-434434

Packaging Automation Ltd., +44 1565-755-000

pi global North America (pi 3), 646-545-2008

Gold: Smart Tube spray bottle dispenses every drop of cleaning product


The Clorox Co. has solved the familiar, frustrating problem of getting all the cleaning solution out of a spray bottle with a new package design that features the company's Smart Tube Technology.

Smart Tube bottles incorporate a blown-in dip tube and a redesigned trigger. The dip tube extends to the very bottom of the bottle, so consumers can dispense every drop with no special maneuvering. In addition, the new trigger provides a smoother pull and is easier for consumers to control than the prior fitment.

The company introduced the Smart Tube bottle last fall and sells Formula 409, Tilex and numerous Clorox-brand products in the package.

"Smart Tube Technology was developed by The Clorox Co. in response to the insight that consumers today are using all types of work-arounds, from tilting and tipping to unscrewing bottle tops and pouring the remaining liquid on countertops to get to every bit of product in their spray bottles," says Kerry Azelton, associate research fellow at Clorox.

"We conducted extensive consumer and product research and worked with suppliers to develop Smart Tube Technology to address this consumer need and allow them to finally spray every drop," Azelton says.

He adds that the biggest hurdles in the project included determining the right size for the clear, blown-in dip tube and designing an in-line test to assure that the dip tube in each bottle is free of obstructions.

The Smart Tube bottles run on Clorox's regular filling lines (with adjustments to some change parts) at the same speed or faster than the previous package. Alpla and Graham Packaging supply the Smart Tube bottles; Guala supplies the triggers; American Fuji Seal supplies the bottles' shrink-sleeve labels; and the filling equipment is manufactured by Ronchi.

Alpla, 770-305-7213

American Fuji Seal, 800-489-9211

Graham Packaging, 717-849-8500

Guala Dispensing, +39-0131-213411

Ronchi, 201-802-1901

Gold: Easy-open "clamshell" for razor combines convenience with sustainability


An innovative new package for the Gillette Venus & Olay women's razor from Procter & Gamble Co. offers an easier- and safer-to-open alternative to clamshell packaging and incorporates numerous sustainability features. (This package was covered in detail in Packaging Digest's May 2013 issue. Read the article at www.packagingdigest.com/VenusClamshell)


Gillette collaborated with suppliers Placon and Control Group to develop the new package. The package consists of a PETG blister and lid, plus an interior recycled (rPET) tray that holds the product. Placon thermoforms the blister portion of the package and the inner tray, and Control Group prints and die-cuts the package's lid.


"The project showcases our commitment, when collaborating with our customers, to making innovative packaging that is consumer-focused in an environmentally friendly way," says Dan Mohs, CEO of Placon. He cites, as a key consumer benefit, the package's "unique, perforated, finger-tab easy-opening feature." This design eliminates wrap rage while protecting the product from damage and pilferage.


With regard to sustainability, the new package uses less plastic than the previous one, incorporates post-consumer rPET, eliminates PVC and is completely recyclable. EcoStar, a Placon business unit, supplies the rPET sheet used to make the trays; the material contains more than 50 percent post-consumer recycled content.


"Sustainable EcoStar ThermoPET PC50 sheet, produced in part from post-consumer bottles and thermoforms, is used to manufacture the unique inner tray, which utilizes both sides of the thin-gauge thermoform to retain the razor's components on multiple planes in various-sized cavities," Mohs says.


Source reduction also figured prominently in the project. According to Mohs, "Compared to the prior Venus product line packaging, the new package's plastic content has been reduced by upwards of 29 percent."
The package also embodies several technological breakthroughs, including heat sealing on a curve and a proprietary ink chemistry that's robust enough to stand up to heat sealing with no damage to the printed inks.


Control Group, 888-784-8721

EcoStar, 800-480-8940

Placon, 800-541-1535


Gold: Ink recycled from printer cartridges closes the loop


PCR Black ink-the acronym stands for "post-consumer recycled"-is the brainchild of BCM Inks USA Inc. and Australia-based Close the Loop Inc. The water-based flexographic ink is made from ink remaining in used inkjet and toner cartridges. PCR Black can be used to print the corrugated board used to make shippers, with print quality equivalent to that achieved using conventional inks.


Close the Loop (North America) takes cartridges collected from throughout the United States and recovers residual ink from them, sending the recovered ink to BMC for use in manufacturing PCR Black. Close the Loop also recovers the cartridges' plastic, resulting in zero waste to landfill.


One drum of PCR Black keeps roughly 200,000 inkjet cartridges out of landfills, and each ton of recovered cartridges keeps 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide out of the air. BCM ships PCR Black in eco-responsible containers such as reused 55 gallon drums, returnable/reusable totes and buckets made from reground plastic.


"PCR Black provides an obvious sustainable-packaging benefit by closing the print-cartridge loop," says Ted Vernardakis, R&D director and quality assurance (QA) manager at BCM Inks. He adds that the ink is also more environmentally friendly than solvent-based inks, because it is water-based, contains no heavy metals, is free from hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and is low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs). And PCR Black can be cleaned up with soap and water.


Vernardakis adds that PCR Black's print quality is "the same or better than the standard GCMI 90 Black for printing on kraft and mottled substrates." The GCMI designation refers to the Glass Container Manufacturers Institute, now known as the Glass Packaging Institute.

BCM Inks USA Inc., 513-469-0400

Close the Loop Inc., 859-757-1115


Gold: Salad pack combines sustainability with convenience


Consumer demand for sustainable packaging was a key driver in the redesign of a popular fresh-salad package by Swiss retailer Coop Cooperative. In addition to being more environmentally responsible, the new package, which Coop calls a "convenience salad bowl," is more functional at the point of use and significantly less expensive to produce.


The package's sustainability benefits relate to both material choice and structural design. In contrast to the original package, which was made from virgin PET, the new bowl incorporates approximately 75 percent rPET. (Swiss packaging regulations prohibit 100 percent rPET for food-contact applications.) The package is thermoformed from a multilayer material that incorporates both virgin PET and rPET.


The new salad pack also uses less material than the original package. Substantial changes to the bowl's shape and structure, including reduced plastic thickness, decreased materials use by one third. Decorative ribbing in the container's structural design provides mechanical support and stability. According to Coop, shelf life and product protection are the same as with the old package. Taraplast AG thermoforms the new pack.


Changing the package's footprint from round to square also reduced its carbon footprint. The "switch from round to cubic shape allows for more products in the transport boxes, which additionally reduces required transports by one third," says Guido Fuchs, project manager, sustainability, at Coop.


The new bowl adds convenience features, as well. The consumer empties the contents of the included dressing packet onto the salad and then snaps the pack's inner tray onto the bowl as a lid. Shaking the lidded package mixes the salad's ingredients and distributes the dressing. After the product has been consumed, the empty package crushes easily, providing a more compact presence in the trash or recycling bin.


"Together with our partner Awtec, we adopted a visionary approach to redesign the salad bowl. We were convinced of the concept of the packaging but unsure of [consumer] acceptance of the new product. However, our efforts paid off. Since the relaunch, the sales of our convenience salad bowls have increased by around 30 percent," says Fuchs. The redesigned package launched in July 2012.



Awtec AG, +41-44-307-40-60

Taraplast AG, +41-41-766-10-10



Kate Bertrand Connolly is a seasoned freelance writer based in the San Francisco area covering the packaging, food and technology markets. You can contact her at [email protected]



Also see the sidebar "Silver Anniversary applauds packaging's value through the years" on p.27.


Silver Anniversary applauds packaging's value through the years


As part of its quarter-century celebration, DuPont has turned the spotlight on its past winners in two ways:

Winners whose breakthrough projects ushered in significant societal change (access the infographic at www.packagingdigest.com/DuPontInfographic).


"Twenty-five years ago we saw the DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation program as an opportunity to connect with this vibrant industry and to champion collaboration as a critical component in innovation," says William Harvey, president of DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers. "Twenty-five years later-as we look back at breakthrough winners and celebrate this year's winners-it's clear that collaboration remains central to bringing innovation to market."


Winners who have won five or more times.


"The 25th anniversary event was a chance for packaging to shed its ‘silent hero' role, step into the limelight and accept the accolades," says Shanna Moore, leader of the DuPont Packaging Awards program.

These companies were recognized with an Excellence in Continuing Innovation award.


15 wins
Bemis/Curwood earned its first win in 1987 for the Royal Vac 400, a vacuum packaging machine.


13 wins
Procter & Gamble won its first award in 1989 for Spic & Span Pine Cleaner.


11 wins
Kraft nabbed its first win in 1992 for pour-able salad dressing.
Amcor's first win was in 1989 for No Thaw juice cups.


9 wins
Cryovac/Sealed Air won in 2002 for oxygen scavenging film for pasta.


7 wins
Heinz won in 1990 for the first multi-layer barrier container with layer performance without adhesives.
Printpack earned its first win in 1992 for Sigma Pak film.


6 wins
Graham Packaging first won in 1988 for Tropicana juice container.
Multivac had its first win in 1987 for a pre-cooked chicken parts packaging system.


5 wins
ConAgra first won in 1988 for 3M Monitormark-Microrite microwave doneness indicator.

Nestlé received its first win in 2002 for oxygen scavenging film for pasta.
Tetra Pak won its first DuPont Award in 1995 for SiOx coated carton.




About the Author(s)

Kate Bertrand Connolly 1

Freelance Writer

Kate Bertrand Connolly has been covering innovations, trends, and technologies in packaging, branding, and business since 1981.

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