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The following eight packages-all examples of the diversity and ingenuity of well-designed packaging-will be featured at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2011, to be held September 26-28 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Some will be showcased in The Brand Zone, a special area of the show dedicated to materials and containers that shape winning brands-innovations for consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs), private label manufacturers and package designers looking for that crucial piece of the branding puzzle.

Spring herbs grow in biodegradable planter
Metrolina Greenhouses’ spring herbs now grow in biodegradable paper ReadyGrow planters from Sonoco (Booth # 5607).The one-quart planters were released in early March. Made from 100 percent recycled paperboard produced in Sonoco’s paper mills, ReadyGrow planters are conveyable and sustainable in a commercial greenhouse environment and biodegrade in soil within 180 days of planting. The patent-pending design is user-friendly and allows consumers to plant the entire container in the ground, eliminating mess and reducing the amount of plastic being sent to landfills.

Abe VanWingerden, president, Metrolina Greenhouses, said his company is excited to be the first to market with this new biodegradable planter. “Today’s consumers are busier than ever, and with Sonoco’s biodegradable pots, they are literally able to plant it and forget it,” VanWingerden says. “Growing our spring herbs in ReadyGrow pots not only makes our product more sustainable, but also reduces our total carbon footprint by leveraging a local packaging provider. Sonoco manufactures these pots in its Hartsville, SC, plant, just 100 miles away from our greenhouse. Ultimately, it’s a win for our customers, our environment and our supply chain.” Metrolina ships its plants to big box retailers and mass merchandisers in the East and Southeast U.S.

“Today’s marketplace demands more sustainable packaging,” says James Harrell, vp, Sonoco’s Industrial Carriers Division. “The new biodegradable planters help achieve these goals and are user-friendly. The pots are made from 100 percent recycled paper and biodegrade in the ground as plants grow.” With the conveyable ReadyGrow planter, retailers are able to offer a truly sustainable package that will not tear apart when watered or lifted from greenhouse trays, and consumers gain a product that is both environmentally friendly and easy to plant. ReadyGrow pots are porous, allowing oxygen to pass through the container to the roots. Sonoco’s RootGuard technology is a proprietary coating added to ensure the pot withstands greenhouse watering and maintains good water absorption while in the soil. Once planted, the coating breaks down, allowing the plant’s roots to penetrate through the pot and branch out into the soil bed to absorb water and nutrients, minimizing transplant shock.

So green, it’s edible
Advanced Poly-Packaging, Inc. (Booth # 661) continues to expand its selection of specialty films used to manufacture pre-opened bags on a roll.

The company’s new Advanced Poly-”Green” film is 100 percent degradable, which makes it perfect for customers who are promoting environmentally friendly practices. The film is even edible-at least by microorganisms. Oxidation causes the molecular chain to break down, making the material brittle. Water can then form a bio-film that attracts microorganisms that feed off the carbon and hydrogen elements. However, the film won’t disappear before it is disposed of. Advanced Poly-”Green” will stay intact under most conditions involving sunlight, moisture and temperature.

For customers looking for a cost-effective way to package foods or spices that require moisture, air or aroma resistance, the company’s co-extrusion triple layer nylon barrier film provides greater durability and stronger barrier features than a laminated variety.

Advanced Poly-Packaging’s film uses a proprietary blend that greatly reduces the likelihood of scratches, especially for glass or plastic lenses, silverware or any highly polished product.

Biodegradable fishing line hooked on protective pack

A moisture-proof, tightly snap-sealed clamshell from Algus Packaging Inc. (Booth # 1703), is protecting Eagle Claw Fishing Tackle’s environmentally-friendly fishing line from moisture and UV rays that would initiate premature degradation of the line. bioline is the first 100 percent biodegradable fishing line on the market. Made from polybutylene succinate (PBS), bioline is engineered to retain its strength and durability for the first 10 to12 months of use and then completely degrade in water or on land within five years. Standard monofilament fishing line lasts more than 600 years.
The moisture-proof, tightly snap-sealed clamshell from Algus Packaging Inc., protects an environmentally friendly fishing line from Eagle Claw Fishing Tackle from premature degradation.

The degradation process starts at the surface of the line. Microorganisms begin breaking down and digesting bioline with the aid of sunlight and moisture. bioline becomes a combination of carbon dioxide, water and biomass. After the initial 10 to12 months of use, the line begins to lose its tensile strength, helping wildlife caught in lost or discarded line to break free. Traditional, monofilament, fishing line does not break when birds, turtles and other wildlife get caught up in it.

Jim Patrick, marketing and MIS manager at Algus, identifies the clamshell material as PVC. “The package is designed to snap shut so tightly that, if filled with water, it would not leak,” he notes. The interior chambers are designed prevent air and water from reaching the biodegradable product inside. Although this clamshell package reusable, the company is currently developing a recyclable clam as well.

Eagle Claw marketing manager Matt Gray describes the clamshell as “resistant to forces that want to get inside the package, such as water, air and UV light.” He says the new fishing line, which has been distributed broadly throughout the United States, has seen strong retail success through big box stores, sporting goods stores and outdoor recreational stores.

Baby food pouch sprouts environmental features

Ampac’s reclosable stand-up retort pouch for Sprout Organic Baby Food cuts space, weight, energy and packaging component complexity compared to other formats in the product category.
The reclosable stand-up retort pouch for Sprout Organic Baby Food delivers several user advantages. Produced by Ampac (Booth # 5715), the retort pouch is a packaging format change for a category replete with rigid containers, both glass jars and plastic cups. Comparatively, the flexible package cuts space, weight, energy and packaging component complexity-all attributes which factored into the packaging choice, according to Sprout Foods Inc. CEO Ron Davis.

Sprout touts the multi-layer structure (PET/foil/OPA/PP) as using only BPA-free plastics. While a foil barrier protects the flavor and nutrients, it also means the pouch cannot be heated in the microwave. Sprout did this deliberately to minimize energy usage in the home and make the product conveniently more portable. The food can be served anywhere at room temperature or can be warmed by soaking a sealed pouch in hot (not boiling) water for a few minutes. With a bottom gusset and wide top opening, the package is the serving dish, so consumers don’t waste energy washing dishes or bowls after use.

Compared to glass jars and plastic cups, Sprout’s pouch takes up less space in storage and shipping (incoming and outgoing), which saves energy, boosts efficiencies and lowers costs associated with transportation and warehousing. According to Ampac, these pouches yield 94 percent less waste by volume than compared to glass jars with lids.

Simplifying the number of packaging components also means there are fewer items to manage at Sprout Foods, which saves on labor costs, and creates less packaging for the consumer to dispose of.

The flat pouch is portable, easy to serve from, reclosable with a Zip-Pak Press-to-Close zipper and non-breakable and safe. It’s also easy to open thanks to Ampac’s Linear Tear technology, which is designed for a straight tear across the pouch every time. Designed into the material substrate, Linear Tear also eliminates the need for laser or mechanical scoring.

Sprout Foods is using the new pouch for 30 SKUs in its baby food line. Film is gravure-printed in eight colors with graphics designed to showcase the product’s “freshness, quality, and flavor,” according to Davis, and is supplied to Sprout as a preformed pouch.

Hybrid blends suspension, retention packaging
Sealed Air Corp. (Booth # 1335), has introduced a new variation of Korrvu suspension and retention packaging that combines the best aspects of both formats.

The new patent-pending Korrvu Hybrid package design from Sealed Air Corp. uses a proprietary retention frame and elastomeric film to hold the items securely in place during shipment.

The new patent-pending Korrvu Hybrid package design looks like Korrvu retention packaging and provides gives the superior performance benefit of Korrvu suspension packaging. Similar to Korrvu retention packaging, the Korrvu Hybrid package uses a proprietary retention frame and elastomeric film to hold the items securely in place during shipment. The film is attached to the corrugated retention frame, and when the frame’s side flaps are folded up, the resilient film is loosened. The loosening creates a pocket into which the item is placed. When the flaps are folded down, the film stretches over the product to hold it securely in place.

Like a Korrvu suspension package, the Hybrid package holds the item securely in the airspace of the shipping container and away from the sides of the box. The new design is ideal for low-profile products requiring retention-type surface protection with a suspension-type hold, such as small electronics including cell phones, cameras and laptops. Korrvu Hybrid packaging provides a lower cost solution with improved manufacturing efficiency compared to suspension packaging. Since the hybrid design requires fewer steps in manufacturing and assembly than other Korrvu suspension packages, companies can benefit from a lower package cost and decreased labor costs. Additionally, the new design allows for side-by-side or stacked display.

“More than 20 years ago, Sealed Air introduced Korrvu suspension and retention packaging,” says Don Doering, global director of sales for Sealed Air’s Korrvu packaging. “We are continually working to bring more Korrvu product offerings to the market to provide environmentally responsible options to meet the ever-changing packaging needs of our customers.”

As with all Korrvu designs, the hybrid package provides an opportunity for source reduction, is curbside recyclable and contains more than 30 percent recovered paper, making it easy for customers to be environmentally responsible.

Stepping up for feline friends
Fresh Step cat litter has replaced its familiar pail with a bag to reduce packaging materials by 77 percent. The premade, zipper-reclosable, side-gusseted FlexZiBox bag with slider reclosure from Nordenia USA, (Booth # 5640), boosts the shelf impact of Fresh Step with its billboard and all-around graphics. Converted at the company’s plant in Jackson, MO, the three-layer adhesive-laminated barrier bag is designed to ship and display efficiently and effectively.

Fresh Step cat litter has replaced its familiar pail with a premade, zipper-reclosable, side-gusseted FlexZiBox bag outfitted with a slider reclosure from Nordenia USA. The new packaging has reduced materials by 77 percent.

Not only is the bag stable, even at 42 lbs, it’s easy to manage because of a sturdy handle and proprietary multilayer construction incorporated into the substrate in the back of the bag. Consumers also have an easier, more controlled pour from the bag into a litter box. The stability of the bag during distribution was another key benefit over the previous pail. The top folds down to create a cube-efficient pack and is held down by a clear pressure-sensitive reclosable tape label. With this design, says Nordenia, Fresh Step brand owner Clorox reduced damage and the dunnage needed for outbound shipments. Only 2 lbs of dunnage is needed for the bags versus 144 lbs for the pail/lid package.

Additional supply chain savings tally up for incoming freight and warehouse inventory. According to Nordenia, one pallet of empty bags holds the same number of packages that used to require 13 pallets of pails and lids.

Nordenia measures sustainability improvements compared to the pail, using the Walmart Packaging Scorecard. They add up to an 83 percent improvement in greenhouse gas scores and a 63 percent improvement across all metrics.

Bag-in-box drives sustainability
A bag-in-box system for automotive chemicals and fluids allows manufacturers to satisfy their customers’ needs with an efficient, environmentally-conscious package. Made by Scholle Packaging (Booth # 5937), each six-gallon bag-in-box packaging system removes 24 one-liter bottles from the waste stream. Superior product evacuation saves money for suppliers and reduces environmental damage from disposal those bottles into landfills.

Bag-in-box systems use nearly 90 percent less plastic resin than rigid one-liter bottles, which makes manufacturing the packages easier on the environment. Another benefit comes during shipping. More efficient cube utilization on trucks, in warehouses, and with the customer means fewer greenhouse gasses resulting from transport. The outer carton of the packaging system is also fully recyclable.

Tom Bickford, executive v.p.-Packaging, says “Scholle Packaging is committed to producing packaging materials with lower environmental impacts to better serve our customers.”

A fresh-cut above
The Fresh N Tasty Produce Pouch for fresh-cut fruit and vegetables by Robbie Flexibles (Booth # 358) offers multiple value-added benefits to consumers, processors and retailers.

The Fresh N Tasty Produce Pouch, developed by Robbie Flexibles for fresh-cut fruit and vegetables, scores from technical, functional, economical and sustainable aspects.

The bottom-gusseted stand-up pouch-a proprietary multi-layer lamination available as rollstock or pre-made packs-scores in technical, functional, economical and sustainable aspects. The technical innovation only appears tiny, says Robbie Flexibles. Laser micro perforations control the package’s oxygen transmission rate to slow the ripening rate of the produce inside, extending shelf life and better preserving product quality. The size and number of micro holes are customized for the exact respiration needs of each product.

What’s truly innovative, though, is that during material manufacturing, Robbie uses a patent-pending inspection process. A camera analyzes the micro perforations on each pouch and, to maintain consistency and accuracy of the holes. If needed, the laser energy will be adjusted on the fly.

The bottom gusset also creates a reservoir to catch and contain excess liquids-another way it helps maintain product quality. Purging the liquid away from the product helps most fruits stay firm and fresh-looking for longer. The flexo-printed graphics on all panels offer high impact in stores.

Other convenience features of the pouch include a built-in top hand-hole which makes it easy for consumers to carry and handle at home; a press-to-close zipper which lets consumers easily open and reclose the pouch; the bottom gusset which keeps the package upright, minimizing unwanted spills; and a wide top opening to make it easy to scoop out the product or snack right from the pouch.

Seeing is believing
With more than 150 exhibitors spotlighting advancements in glass, plastic, metal and paperboard packaging as well as decorating and labeling innovations, The Brand Zone at PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2011 is setup to serve as a resource to brand owners seeking to enhance shelf appeal, sustainability and convenience.

Brand owners can also gain design inspiration from other features within The Brand Zone. For example, the Showcase of Packaging Innovations, sponsored by the Dow Chemical Co., will highlight award-winning packaging from around the world and Project 2020: The Consumer Experience will explore the types of packaging consumers might see on the retail shelf in the future.

PACK EXPO Las Vegas is organized by PMMI, a trade association with more than 560 member companies that manufacture packaging, processing and related converting machinery, commercially-available packaging machinery components, containers and materials in the U.S. and Canada.