It is interesting to see how packaging innovation is implemented in a highly developed country as Germany. The best way to find out, is to have a look at the winners of the German Packaging Award.
The German Packaging Award is probably the most prestigious packaging award in Europe. Once a year it draws the best and most innovative developments from the packaging sector within the public arena.
The German Packaging Award winners are also entitled to a nomination for the global packaging award, the WorldStar hosted by the World Packaging Organisation (WPO).
I selected 8 awarded innovations from the 25 winners recognised in the German Packaging Award ceremony on 23 September last year. I consider to make it the first article of a country-themed series of packaging innovations.
In the highly competitive juice markets, making sure their own products stand out from the crowd of competing products is high on every beverage manufacturer’s agenda. But to make a lasting impact, a packaging concept needs more than just a good, eye-catching exterior.
The Combidome by SIG Combibloc is, although a completely new format in aseptic beverage cartons, at the same time it is a logical step in the evolution of beverage cartons and an interesting answer to the TetraPak Evero with its plastic dome.
The Combidome combines the characteristics of a paperboard carton and the advantages of the bottle shape. With its centrally positioned closure, its special shape and stability, the Combidome is just as convenient to use as a bottle, but also offers all the proven and unmistakable advantages of a carton.
Compared to the traditional beverage cartons, it has a better pouring performance and optimized emptying characteristics, due to its large 28 mm closure, positioned in the centre of the carton top.
The large-sized closure is integrated into the carton using a new sealing process. While normally the base is sealed and the carton is then filled and sealed across the top inside the SIG Combibloc filling machines, and the closure is affixed afterwards using an applicator, with combidome it is a whole different story. First, the closure is moulded onto the ‘neck’ of the package – the ‘dome’ that gives combidome its name. The carton is then moved upside down into the filling zone, where it is sterilised and filled. At the end of the process, the base is sealed.
The photo shows the Combidome in use by riha Wesergold drinks GmbH & Co. KG.
Karl Höll GmbH & Co. KG developed the new 360° digitally printed laminate tube, which offers with its printing across the seam, complete freedom of design for marketing departments, designers and product managers.
The design is valuable for colour-strong, recognizable brands. The digital pressure tubes can achieve excellent photo-realistic motifs. In particular, the conventional white stitching of laminated tubes of up to 5 mm in width can now be fully utilized. The new technology even makes it possible to print text and image elements on the seam area.
Prototype hybrid printing plastic tube
Hybrid printing, developed by Tubex Holding GmbH, is a new inline-pressure combination of flexographic and screen printing. This combination can make previously unfeasible print designs in 4-colour flexographic printing. With the new flexographic printing process, the finest colour nuances are now possible.
Ecological and economic aspects have also been taken into account. Innovation and optimization of the production process allows the making of changes in a very short time and implementation of these one to one in production. The printing process has been designed from the beginning for LED drying. This drying process reaches a temperature of about 27 – 35°, resulting in a considerable energy saving.
Thus, photo-realistic resolution in the direct printing process not represented so far, as well as the energy, material and product-protecting LED drying were the reasons for an Award.
WLC Food Safe
Recycled paperboard essentially has unknown input so the potentially harmful substances can migrate above the regulatory threshold of 0.1 mg/kg set by the EU. Therefore recycled paperboard, used in carton boxes for rice, breakfast cereals or breadcrumbs and chocolate, should not be used in food contact without a functional barrier.
The WLC Food Safe boxes with a mineral oil barrier provide a solution to the existing problem of migrating substances from recycled paperboard, corrugated board and the environment in food and animal feeding. A problem heavily felt in the market segment for breakfast cereals and similar food products.
Any box can be used for the WLC Food Safe coating developed by Van Genechten Packaging GmbH. The main feature of this packaging is the barrier effect as an adequate solution to the sector’s problem. Also important is the possibility of using recycled fibres instead of virgin fibre, which can be selected economically and environmentally.
PET lite 9.9 carbonated
There have been dozens of light-weighting initiatives in the past years, significantly reducing overall weights, wall thicknesses and neck heights. These actions achieved huge material and energy savings in preform production and bottle blowing. But that all was in the area of still beverages.
What’s next? Can bottles for carbonated beverage really become any lighter, and can production become more energy efficient in this category?
For example, a 60cl PET carbonated drink bottle that weighs 25g has a shelf life of approximately eight weeks. The same bottle when treated with Actis Lite of Sidel France and reduced to 23g has a shelf life of over 20 weeks and results in an 18% saving of PET resin.
In the still beverage sector, Sidel’s NoBottle was the first lightweight PET bottle with only 9.9g per 50cl bottle. It can be manufactured and distributed on an industrial scale and weighs between 25% and 40% less than an average still water bottle with the same capacity, resulting in less plastic material to be recycled.
But that was still water. Now Krones AG comes up with a bottle, developed by Alexander Schau & Jochen Forsthövel, as a novelty with its 9.9 g PET for a 500 ml bottle of carbonated beverages.
This idea is additionally supported by the direct printing method used here, making label material redundant. In this method the bottle is printed directly and with minimal material completely without adhesives. An exceptional design and graphically reduced label type, without compromising the function, and allows the focus on the essentials: the product. The low material use and the elimination of the label make a sophisticated packaging innovation.
O-I Versaflow carafe
In 2012 O-I tested a new jar with a different shape of pouring spout which it claimed will stop food waste accumulating around the rims of the jar.
Eliminating a top-10 consumer complaint about jars with rounded openings that lead to spills or pouring mishaps, the VersaFlow design eliminates the potential mess caused by jars with traditional rounded openings.
It is interesting to see that, based on the functionality of the glass carafe, glass manufacturer O-I (Owens-Illinois) now has developed the beak-like opening for ordinary narrow-neck bottles.
It is a complete packaging solution, as the concept consists of the O-I Versaflow glass bottle and the matching Silgan Versaflow TO-closure. For brand owners and consumers, Versaflow offers a clearly improved functionality while pouring and dosing and an elegant presentation of the product directly on the table.
The integrated pouring into the opening is thus a unique feature of the glass bottle.
The photo shows the Versaflow design, by O-I Glasspack GmbH & Co. KG, Düsseldorf, for Detlef Steves, Moers & Jörg Tittel, with food brand PiPaPo.
ElastiTote tags carry small samples or products on other products for cross-sales promotions. With special die cuts or adhesives it can carry: trial samples, gourmet chocolates, small candies/mints, promotional items, and an endless range of mini-packets.
ElastiTotes, designed and developed by Bedford Industries Inc., are unique hanger-tags, which fix product samples particularly efficiently and effectively with minimal use in material. The hanger-tags are attached by an elastomeric strip, the tensile strength of which is individually regulated. The optional integrated second opening within the elastomers provides a safe, tear-resistant fixing of a product sample and an easy assembly.
The positioning of the sample remains flexible, allowing a return to the original stacking in secondary packaging without any additional material and space requirements.
The tags offer a high advertising value with individual shapes and designs. The large number of different standard shapes including elastomers and the corresponding digital flexographic print options enables production of small individual requirements up to millions of copies. Elastomers and tags are suitable for food and are moisture and temperature resistant.
The photo shows a Bedford ElastTote, manufactured by Lorentzen & Sievers for Nestlé Germany AG GmbH, which received an award for its simplicity and effectiveness.
That was Germany, with thanks to the information and photos courtesy dvi Deutsches Verpackungsinstitut e.V. A next time we will have a look at the best packaging innovations from another country.