Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor

February 23, 2019

6 Min Read
Sustainable packaging remains hot during 2019’s winter

What happens when you combine sustainable packaging with ecommerce challenges? You get an idea of what packaging professionals were especially concerned about the first month of the new year.

Based on page views, here are the top stories the Packaging Digest audience found most compelling in January 2019. We start from the bottom up with…


5. 3 challenges of ecommerce packaging (from an insider)

Emmy Corman, package design engineer at Dollar Shave Club, is facing at least three challenges when it comes to ecommerce packaging:

• To be less wasteful by using less materials or reusable packaging.

• To offer a new type of “shelf presence” with better graphics or branding; or to elevate the unboxing experience.

• To optimize returns via the small parcel shipping environment, which is a concern brick-and-mortar retailers don’t face.

The good news is she has ideas for all three that any ecommerce marketer can copy. Click the headline above to read about them.

NEXT: Healthcare packaging wows


4. 6 striking pharma and medical packaging developments in 2018

Arguably, the pharmaceutical and medical device markets aren’t the most active when it comes to packaging innovation. So when it happens, we celebrate! At the end of 2018, our review of the top pharmaceutical and medical device packaging news revealed these gems (in order from tippy top down):

(1) New Amcor: Assessing the impact of the world’s largest manufacturer of consumer packaging Whenever a significant merger or acquisition takes place in the packaging supplier community serving the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, it gets a lot of attention. Like Amcor’s Aug. 6, 2018, announcement that it was buying Bemis in an all-stock deal worth US$6.8 billion.

While healthcare represents only 12% of the mega-packaging-supplier’s sales, the impact is still staggering because it represents $1.56 billion of the combined company’s $13 billion annual sales. In this article, we consider the ramifications of the deal for customers.

(2) Medical packaging 101: Basics medical device companies need to know This primer from leading medical device packaging supplier Steriliant LLC discusses package design considerations, sterilization options, package testing requirements and validation processes.

(3) Medical device package integrity test methods: 2018 In this free 25-page report, veteran medical packaging journalist Daphne Allen outlines the available package integrity testing methods, along with exclusive research on the most-used tests. Learn about:

• Bubble Methods

• Visual Method

• Dye Penetration Methods

• Decay Measurement

• Tracer Gas

• Airborne Ultrasound

• Vaccum Deflection

• Mass Extraction

(4) What you need in anti-counterfeit packaging today and why The global drug trade suffers heavy annual losses from clever counterfeiters and manufacturers need to keep up with innovations in packaging to thwart counterfeiters. In this article, experts with anti-counterfeit research organization and global leader in advanced security holograms Optaglio explain how the anti-counterfeiting landscape is changing and give a summary of critical general guidelines.

(5) What’s the future of pharma shipping? Kevin Lawler, vp of sales for Pelican BioThermal, identifies four ways logistics for pharmaceuticals might change in the near future: With biologics…temperature-controlled requirements will evolve; direct-to-patient shipping will be both ways; sustainability of cold-chain distribution packaging will balance reusable and single-use options; from a life sciences perspective, nothing from the FDA or Europe’s Good Distribution Practices (GDP) suggests new regulations are on the short-term horizon.

(6) Corning prepares for demand for Valor Glass Corning began developing a new glass for pharma packaging after FDA’s 2011 advisory on glass delamination. For its new Valor Glass, the company created an aluminosilicate glass by eliminating boron from the composition. Kyle Hoff, applications engineering manager at Corning, explains, “Boron used in conventional glass volatizes during vial manufacturing creating different glass chemistry in the drug-contacting region of the container, which can lead to chemical attack and glass flake (lamellae) formation. The aluminosilicate glass does not have boron, so the volatilization mechanism does not occur, leading to a uniform and chemically durable glass chemistry on the entire inside of every Valor container.”

NEXT: Sustainable packaging developments x10


3. 10 sustainable packaging surprises in 2018

No surprise here that our review of the top articles about sustainable packaging last year was a gift that keeps giving.

Sustainability wonders in 2018 included (starting with the top article and moving down):

(1) Amazon incentivizes brands to create Frustration-Free Packaging

(2) L’Oréal’s paper bottle: Easy on the earth but tough in showers

(3) 4 sustainable truths impacting food packaging today

(4) P&G’s PureCycle cleans recycled PP to ‘near virgin’ quality

(5) How Conagra rewards packaging line workers for cutting waste

(6) How packaging recyclability can shift sustainability expectations for startup beauty brands

(7) Japan’s Kao Group makes sustainability look raku raku (‘so easy’)

(8) 5 factors affecting sustainable packaging moving forward

(9) 5 environmental advantages of corrugated packaging

(10) Sustainable packaging innovators earn kudos

NEXT: How do you know you’re cut out for a packaging career?


2. More ‘packaging engineer’ quips: gallery

This entertaining follow-up of user-generated answers to the statement “You know you’re a packaging engineer when…” gives us 18 more insights into what it means to be part of the packaging club.

My favorite from version 2: “You get a blank stare when you tell someone what you do for a living.” Been there, done that?

What’s the answer we’ve received the most? A number of variations on this theme: “You buy the package and throw the product away.”

Definitely been there, done that.

NEXT: The biggest news of the year!


1. Loop and big brands boldly reinvent waste-free packaging

Nestlé, Coca Cola, Unilever and Procter & Gamble are among nearly two dozen initial brand-owner partners in the ground-breaking circular shopping platform called Loop. The brainchild of TerraCycle CEO and founder Tom Szaky, Loop relies on premium and long-lasting packaging that is designed for multiple reuse before ultimately being recycled.

Our extensive coverage of this major reusable packaging initiative includes an exclusive 43-minute interview with Szaky, details on Nestlé’s development of its Haagen-Dazs double-wall stainless steel pint and photos of more than 20 packages designed for Loop.

Will on-the-go consumers in the new millennium embrace this concept of the “21st century milkman”? What do you think?


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About the Author(s)

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Executive Editor, Packaging Digest

Lisa McTigue Pierce is Executive Editor of Packaging Digest. She’s been a packaging media journalist since 1982 and tracks emerging trends, new technologies, and best practices across a spectrum of markets for the publication’s global community. Reach her at [email protected] or 630-272-1774.

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