November Packaging Innovations

Traditionally the end of each year sees a lot of packaging exhibition, introduction of new products and announcements of packaging awards. These worldwide activities are a great source of novelties. Here a small selection.

Vacu Vent – The bottle closure with double security
The closure is based on the Vacu-Vent technology of Wipperfuerth Metallwaren-Fabrik in Hückeswagen, Germany and reduces the risks of bottle bursts due to fermenting of the content such as fruit and vegetable juices, as over-pressure can escape. In addition, it has a pressure relief in the form of a circular cap-zipper, which comes into action when the normal pressure-relief is blocked (due to fruit pulp). The valve action stays in place after normal reclosing by the consumer.

The reduced pressure, due to cooling after hot-filling, arches the head surface of the Vacu Vent Plus down and presses firmly to seal the bottle mouth. In fermentation, the emerging gas pressures the surface of the cap head to bulge upward, thereby losing its sealing contact between the screw treads of the bottle neck and cap and lets the pressure escape. This process can be repeated several times. If, however, the escape route is blocked a segment of the cap-zipper will open and the pressure finally escapes.

The cap-zipper is punctured from the inside of the cap, which allows the printing of the top of the cap undisturbed. All closures are suitable for the sealing of openings 28 or MCA comparable models. They are made of an aluminum alloy according to DIN EN 541 with the corresponding strength properties.

They are suitable for bottled water, acid products such as fruit juices and alcoholic beverage up to 15 vol -% alcohol. They are not suitable for oil- and fat contents.

Flexible sleeves for ready meals
UK company National Flexible based in Bradford teamed up with also UK-based Flexowrap in Coventry to launch what it claims to be a world first technology to replace paperboard sleeves for ready meals with a flexible plastic alternative.

The technology is said to be the world’s first in-line automated ultrasonic film sleeve system for ready meals and can, according to National Flexible, reduce the overall weight of the pack by up to a third.

Developed by SIB Technology, with worldwide patents in place, Flexowrap substitutes a traditional paperboard sleeve for a low-cost, lightweight film equivalent and is set to change the face of ready-meal packaging by cutting costs, minimising waste and increasing productivity.

With the UK carbon target deadlines rapidly approaching, the Flexowrap system presents an ideal opportunity for some of the major brand names to demonstrate their intent to make packaging reductions a reality.

Suitable for use on a wide variety of trays, the film sleeves are durable and offer improved aesthetics, with high quality flexographic or gravure print options to create eye-catching shelf-appeal.

Sista – a new generation of dispensers
Marketed by German company Henkel AG and manufactured by Lindal Dispenser GmbH, this innovative dispenser system optimizes the handling of sealing compounds. The ready-to-use dispenser system enables precise, adjustable dispensation without use of pressure for various usage situations.

By using an aluminium container, the minimum storage life is significantly improved in contrast to conventional sealing compound cartridges.

This ready-to-use dispenser system which makes handling so much easier for consumers as well as the modern design which draws attention to the POS.

Wine Bottle made from Paper
UK-based company GreenBottle has developed, what it claims to be, the world’s first paper bottle of wine. The company said that it is currently in talks with supermarkets and wine producers to make it available to the public as early as next year.

The wine bottle is constructed in the same way as the company’s paper milk bottle, launched in 2008 in Asda stores and is combining a paper outer layer with a thin plastic lining to keep the wine fresh.
For the previously developed paper bottle for milk, see my article: “Milk in Paper Bottles”.

With a fully recyclable and with, according to the company, a 100% compostable paper casing, the GreenBottle is the same shape as a standard wine bottle. Is closed with a screw cap, and contains a plastic liner that has about one third of the plastic content of a conventional plastic bottle.
After use the bottle can be split and separated so that the paper element can be disposed of separately.

Non-breakable and weighing some 55g – compared to about 500g for an average glass wine bottle, the company estimates the carbon footprint for a wine GreenBottle to be 10% of its glass equivalent.
The GreenBottle is produced using proprietary machinery developed from existing equipment used in the production of similar paper bottles for milk.

Some weeks ago, being invited to address the Fall Meeting of the Packaging Management Council in the USA, about “The Future of Packaging”, I argued that, in my opinion, no future is feasible for the paper bottle, the way it is presented in these days. Simply said the acceptance of a paper bottle by the consumer isn’t there yet, as the design doesn’t convince.
And although I am happily surprised by the new design of the wine bottle, although a much better design than the milk bottle in the UK and the milk and detergent bottle presented in the USA, I still think there is a long way to go, before consumers see the paper bottle as an acceptable alternative. Don’t forget that other packaging formats are in the developing process to meet the same environmental standards as the paper bottle and even better, as, what GreenBottle is claiming in regard to compostability in landfills, isn’t working in the landfills the way they are at this moment.

My claim is, for the time being, underlined by facts. GreenBottle introduced its paper bottle for milk in late 2008 with Suffolk’s Marybelle Dairy to sell its milk in ASDA stores located in eastern England.
At this moment GreenBottle claims that it is currently celebrating its 100,000th sale since its launch. That’s an average production of less than 400 bottles per day. Not an impressive result, when you compare it to the more than 15million plastic bottles used, each day, in the UK.

The UK market as it is, with supermarket chains as Tesco, Sainsbury and Asda, has the image not to shy away from extraordinary developments in packaging. Nevertheless as a news editor at Decanter magazine said: “Consumers don’t care so much about whether wine is green or not. It’s not like meat or veg. We don’t interrogate wine like we do a chicken”. Let’s see what happens.

The wine bottles feature a similar bag to that found in wine boxes to keep the content in pristine condition. GreenBottle’s products are currently made in Turkey but a plant is due to open in Cornwall soon. The intention is to sell the technology to companies, allowing them to build bottling plants next to their manufacturing sites and cut down on transport times. The current machinery is capable of producing 50 milk bottles a minute and is patent protected.

Bag-in-box packaging
Smurfit Kappa has developed a new, ready to use Bag-in-Box with the tap on the outside of the box. The Vitop tap is positioned on the outside of the box at the end of filling, while the bag is inserted into the box, and can be added either manually or automatically according to specifications and usage. The Bag-in-Box is then displayed on retail shelves with its tap visible.

Not only is the new Bag-in-Box more practical as the end user doesn’t have to remove the tap from the box, but also more intuitive as the consumer can see the tap when the product is on the shelf and understands instinctively how the packaging works.

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