Packaging Blog: Packaging Industry News

Packaging news, ideas, rants and raves, and inside deals. Whether you are an insider in the packaging industry, concerned about the environmental or economic impact of packaging, or interested in one of the largest industries worldwide the Packaging Blog is for you!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Packaging Dilemma #1 Part 2

What ridged packaging containers are attractive with great shelf appeal, functional, maybe even innovative but are still environmentally friendly?

Obviously some products due to their chemical nature or function of use are limited as to what packaging you can use. This article will only address products where the choice of packaging container is up to the buyer.

The three packaging container materials that these we will examine are plastic, glass, and metal. These are the three most popular materials in ridged packaging and are many times interchangeable between the same products.

ll three packaging materials are recyclable, although for universal ease and efficient recycling glass bottles and jars and aluminum containers reign supreme. Although many plastics can be recycled in many cases coextruded plastic containers cannot be recycled. Containers made from PVC are the least recyclable and is some cases is even banned as a packaging material.

New plastic resins for packaging are being developed from renewable sources such as corn. You can read about this on the article Packaging from Bioplastics: a new era on This to me is one of the most promising advances in packaging.

Bioplastics from corn for packaging

Not only are some of these Bioplastic materials the most recyclable - even compostable (see Green cookies for all on the fact that less petroleum is needed in the manufacturing of the material in helping save the environment before the packaging container is even manufactured!

When you think of metal containers that are used in packaging you generally think of cans for food, aerosol cans such as for hair spray, or aluminum soda or beer cans. Aluminum cans are being recovered and recycled more than any other material - even in states that do not have deposits. Aluminum containers used in packaging are attractive and durable and are being used in an ever-expanding range of products such as personal care items and even wine. You can read more about this new phenomenon on the PackagingBlog article Aluminum Bottles keep growing in popularity.

Colored glass bottles

Glass packaging can easily be recycled and is environmentally sound as long as it is not decorated by being chemically etched, metalized, or colored with environmentally unfriendly pigments. It is not only the residual effects of some of these processes that remain in or on the glass packaging, that can be an environmental factor, but the manufacturing processes that pose the risk. While much of the frosting and coloring of glass containers for packaging that is manufactured in the US is environmentally sound, glass containers produced in many foreign countries does not have to be produced with the same environmental controls that glass bottles and jars in the US and most of Europe must adhere to.

One container used in packaging offers 3 very significant environmental advantages is the Airless Dispensing System which is available with a self sealing mechanism in the dispensers actuator.

The fact that the system is airless (as product is dispensed, a piston moves up so air is not allowed back into the container) and that the actuator seals by it self so air does not come into contact with the product, means that the product inside will have greater stability and thus might not need as much or any chemical preservatives in the product. Less preservatives means lower environmental impact.

Airless dispenser with a self sealing actuator

Airless packaging systems evacuate more product that any other packaging method. More of the product inside the container gets dispensed outside of the container meaning less residual product that will enter the waste stream. Happier consumer as they can use all virtually all of the product they paid for, cleaner environment because customers are not throwing product into a landfill

And the final environmental advantage of this airless packaging system is this all plastic dispenser has no metal parts and thus the entire contains and dispensing mechanism is 100% recyclable unlike any pumps with metal parts

In part 3 next week we will examine other ways your packaging choices can help or hurt the environment.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Packaging Dilemma #1 Part 1

What do you do when it is your job to present the most attractive or innovative packaging for a product when it is a less environmentally friendly packaging than other alternatives?

For those who design, manufacture, distribute or decorate packaging the motives are simple: the more complex or expensive the packaging and decoration, the more profitable the package can be for the salesperson and the company presenting the package.

For those companies who purchase the packaging materials, the more unique, innovative and attractive the package is, if positioned properly, the more units that can be sold verses the competition with a similar product in a less attractive and innovative package. Of course cost of the packaging factors into this equation as well.

We think most consumers’ motives are even simpler, they want for the lowest price the best performing, safest, and easiest to use product. The Natural Marketing Institute conducted a recent survey of 2,000 adults and found that 88 percent think that it is important for companies to not just be profitable, but to be mindful of their impact on the environment and society. What I also found surprising is that more than 70 percent of those consumers who were surveyed claimed they were more likely to buy products or services from a company, which is mindful of its impact on both the environment and society.

This packaging dilemma lies in the fact that “over packaging” a product might give it better shelf appeal, but at what cost to the environment and loss of sales from your more conscientious and environmentally aware customers? While we know that many respondents who answered the survey that they make their purchasing decisions based upon the ethics and environmental record of a company, there is often a gap between what someone says to others and what they actually do on their own. Even if 1 out of 3 customers actually change their purchasing decisions based upon this criteria, can you afford such as significant loss of customers?

Consumers are becoming more educated in environmental issues. Urvashi Rangan who is an environmental scientist at Consumers Union which publishes Consumer Reports magazine, said" We are not only interested in helping consumers understand how to buy more environmentally sustainable products, but also how to use them in the most sustainable way, which can save them money and save their health in the long run". They have now put together a fascinating website comparing products for their environmental impact at

Sometimes what seems like an environmentally good idea can go horribly wrong. When SC Johnson and Son decided to remove chlorine as an ingredient from its plastic wrap last July, they never expected that their new packaging that came with the new “slide 'n cut bar” that was needed to cut the new less flexible wrap would be such a disaster. An amusing yet informative story about this packaging failure by Caroline Baum can be found on

So what can you and your company do to protect the environment, increase sales and maybe even save a few bucks on your packaging purchases?

It is not just as easy as switching from using aerosol propellant using CFCs to a fingertip sprayer pump to save the ozone layer as now even the exemption on albuterol inhalers has been dropped by the FDA as there will be sufficient supplies of using new environmentally friendly propellants by the time the BAN on them kicks in (see FDA to Ban CFC Inhalers article on packaging blog).

I can say from personal experience that using a foaming pump rather than a dispensing pumps or dispensing caps when I am washing my hands does save water and soap. Since a foaming pump produces foam faster and with less soap, you are saving water, which is becoming a more precious commodity and reducing the amount of chemicals in the soap going down the drain and to the local wastewater facility or septic tank. Now here is a case where you an offer the consumer much better packaging that is in fact more environmentally sound.

There has been an explosion of new packaging of premositened wipes on the retail shelves. Products from cleaners, waxes, and car care products can now be found in these handy dispensers. Since these dispensers are all plastic, the whole package can be tossed into the recycling bin. If these keep growing in popularity, they could effect the sales of packaging such as trigger pumps and other sprayer pumps. The huge success of this packaging shows that customers are willing to pay much more for a product the sake of convenience.

In part 2 I will touch on packaging containers.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

FDA reports most websites selling Canadian drugs are not in Canada

FDA commissioned study which investigated the approximately 11,000 web sites on the web claiming to sell Canadian prescription drugs and found fewer than 2 percent are actually based in Canada.

The study also found that around 10% were true online stores and those that were originated in places such as the United States, Barbados, Mexico, the Czech Republic, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and El Salvador. What is so disturbing is that websites located in may of these countries do not have the government scrutiny and oversight to guarantee quality of the pharmaceuticals as the United States or Canada does.

drugs packaging

American consumers are going in droves to Canadian Pharmacies to get their prescription drugs as prices keep going up in the US.

Many US consumers feel safe buying drugs from their neighbor up north since Canadian drugs have similar quality control as their US counterparts and even though it is illegal to import any prescriptions drugs into the US, the FDA has been usually turning a blind eye to those who are importing medicine for their own use. Consumer groups have been fighting the FDA to allow importation of drugs for personal use, but this new study only provides more ammunition for the FDA.

Todd Bransford from the Virginia-based company Cyveillance Inc. who are the people that the FDA commissioned to perform the study said "The reason people are going to Canadian sites in this country is to buy cheaper drugs. Now, if a consumer goes to a fake Canadian pharmacy that's based in the US and the drugs are still cheaper, that's a pretty good indication that there's something wrong with those drugs".

Food and Drug Administration director of pharmacy affairs Tom McGinnis commented "We worry about the deception because if these pharmacies are in Southeast Asia someplace, the quality and purity of the drugs may not be the same as what they're get from their state licensed pharmacy. They might not act the same way in the body, and they could be dangerous.". He went on to say "If they're really not Canadian pharmacies, they're fooling American consumers who might believe drugs in Canada-a pretty good assumption--are just as good as the drugs they get in the U.S.," McGinnis said that the FDA plans to test the medicines sold from some of the more suspicious websites.

The FDA is warning consumers that they should be extremely cautions if the web site selling "Canadian" drugs has prices far to low below market rates, unfamiliar packaging, grammatical errors on the website or the packaging of the drugs or unusual drug dosages. Another indication of a possible problem is web sites that cannot be reached through a search engines and only through clicking on links in spam e-mails.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Welcome to Packaging Blog

As a professional in the packaging industry for more than 15 years, buying, selling and designing packaging, it is fair to say with my experience I know a thing or two about packaging and the packaging industry.

There is a blog with some of our archived articles at PackagingBlog on bloglines, but from now on we will be posting here.

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