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!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Cut Development Costs of Packaging Containers

Maker of Household Goods Japan-based Lion Corp now combines green and user friendly packaging container designs with IBM and Dassault Systèmes (NASDAQ: DASTY) Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions while Development Costs of Containers by 50%.

Lion Corp. is a leading consumer goods company in Asia that sells hygiene, health and beauty products including toothpastes, toothbrushes, soaps, cleansers, hair-and skin-care products, cooking-related products, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and other products, household detergent, and cleaning products.

The Lion Corp packaging design team has chosen the CATIA V5 one of the leading 3D products to be their new (PLM) to design and develop detergent containers that are both environmentally friendly and will increase customer satisfaction.

packaging design

Thanks to CATIA V5's surfacing capabilities, design strategies, analysis tools, and Digital Mock-up functionalities, the packaging team at Lion will be able to combine green design and ergonomic packaging. All of the different teams that are involved in package design will be able to work together in one product development environment and reusing previous packaging product development data and reducing errors.

Fewer raw materials and fewer physical prototypes need to be used, allowing more concepts to be explored while at the same time increasing innovation.

"To succeed in the highly competitive household products market in Japan, we think that our company needs to speed up all of its corporate processes," said Shigeru Hirata, director of the Packaging Engineering Department at Lion. "In particular, container design is seen as a key factor for products and is so important that it could be called a 'silent salesman.'"

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Foaming soap launch

Due to the success of Dial Complete anti-bacterial foaming soap and Softsoap Foam Works, instant foaming hand soap for children, the leading liquid hand soap maker in the US Colgate-Palmolive has broadened its selection their first adult anti-bacterial instant-foam product.

This new adult bacterial soap to be dispensed through a foaming dispenser will be called Advanced Protection and it clearly indicates the growth of the hand soap foaming dispensers here in the US and abroad.

foaming dispenser bottle for soap

Foaming dispensers for soap and other products first started in industrial and service sector applications. Since these foaming dispensers allow a precise mixture of liquid and air they provide instant foam, which makes the product appear richer and use less water and product in the process.

Many major personal care industry players such as P&G, L’Oreal and Unilever use this new packaging technology and have been rewarded with a tremendous growth in sales in products using the foaming technology such as bath and shower washes, shampoo and conditioners, hand soaps, baby washes and children’s washes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Maximizing liquid bottling efficiency

Australian company Rheology Solutions has found a way of enhancing the bottling of 'stringy' and difficult to handle liquids, leading to a cleaner more efficient and cost-effective packaging process.

For the cosmetic, food and pharmaceutical industries, the pumping, mixing and processing of fluid streams and then filling the final product is often a messy process as it is very common problem when filling bottles with liquids that are of an unpredictable viscosity there is often spillage so before labeling and final packaging, the bottles often have to be cleaned, lengthening the packaging process and causing, often unnecessary costs associated with both waste and the cleaning. This unpredictability of viscosity can also lead to significant losses of product.

A liquid's viscosity is the degree to which the liquid resists flow under an applied force and the secret behind regulating the flow of liquids in packaging is to accurately gauge the liquid's viscosity. An accurate estimate of this can allow processing and packaging to be adapted to minimize waste. Very often this can be accomplished by adapting the filling speed to suit the bottling application.

These properties can be quickly, scientifically and reproducibly measured for the first time using Rheology Solutions Thermo Electron Haake CaBER1 Capillary Break-up Extensional Rheometer.

The Extensional Rheometer can provide information on the apparent or relative extensional viscosity, as well as directly measuring the time to break-up of liquid strands. Using this knowledge, the surface tension of the liquid and actual extensional viscosity can be computed to be factored into the filling process.

A Rheology Solutions spokesperson said. "The stringy behavior of these fluids is related to a flow property known as extensional viscosity. Products with high extensional viscosity will tend to form threads or strings when poured, chewed or otherwise stretched. Although extensional viscosity may be related partly to viscoelastic properties, it can only be properly measured in extension, not by the traditional techniques of shear or dynamic rheometry."

Monday, July 25, 2005

Plastics Packaging Container now has Smart Seal

New 1-gallon, rigid plastic package by Letica Corporation features color-coordinated containers, gasketless lids and ergonomic handles that virtually eliminates tampering and is watertight even after reclosure.

There are many potential applications for the Smart Seal package which includes cleaning supplies, foods, drinks and drink mixes, flavorings, fruit, dairy products, pet foods, adhesives, lubricants, gypsum and similar solids, stucco, inks, paints, and other materials.

The new Smart Seal packaging container even has a tapered configuration allows nesting of empty containers for efficient shipping and Letica delivers this and other products to customers nationwide via their own freightlines.

Smart Seal Packaging container

After selecting Letica's new 1-gallon Smart Seal* containers to replace existing packaging the El Paso Chile Company's freezer drink mixes rapidly grew to be their top-selling product line. Each 1 gallon smart seal package holds pouches of dry and liquid ingredients which the customer mixes with water and spirits and then freezes the mix in the Smart Seal* packaging container. This versatile package allows the customer to mix, freeze, store, and serve these slushy freezer drinks.

The Letica Corporation based in Rochester, Mich., is a privately owned company and was founded in 1967 having 14 locations across the continental United States. They produces a wide range of rigid plastic containers and lids, paper and plastic cups and lids for the foodservice industry and supplies several large quick serve restaurants and convenience store chains in America.

Friday, July 22, 2005

OTC Progesterone use raises concern

Researchers are concerned women using Over The Counter (OTC) Progesterone products may be exposing themselves to risk without the counseling, screening and supervision that accompany the use of prescription progesterone products.

The June 2005 Journal of Clinical Pharmacology published a study recently published which found substantial evidence that OTC topical progesterone results in similar drug exposure as a result of skin absorption as taking a prescribed oral progesterone product.

The study was supported by Bassett Healthcare, led by Drs. Anne C. Hermann, Anne Nafziger and Joseph Bertino. The study was based upon twelve, healthy, post-menopausal women which were treated with topical OTC progesterone ( Pro-gest cream ) in one phase and then were prescribed oral progesterone ( Prometrium ) in the other phase of the study.

The results of the study showed that there were no differences between the two groups in the amount of progesterone exposure in the body. Regardless of the source of the progesterone, women involved in this study experienced similar rates of adverse effects.

The American College of Clinical Pharmacology has expressed considerable concern about the risk that many over-the counter (OTC) cosmetic preparations may pose to the public as since many of these cosmetic preparations are not regulated by the FDA are used without any medical supervision.

Commonly prescribed to women Progesterone used in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in postmenopausal women, and for the treatment of amenorrhea, infertility and premature labor. Past studies revealing the health risks of HRT causing a dramatic declines in prescriptions for these products. Natural progesterone in the form of herbal beauty creams continues to be sold over-the-counter exempted from regulatory scrutiny.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

AptarGroup: All-Time High Quarterly Results

AptarGroup (NYSE:ATR) a supplier in the packaging industry of a broad range of dispensing systems for the fragrance, cosmetic, personal care, pharmaceutical, household and food/beverage markets boosts dividend by 33 percent to $.81 per share compared to $.61 per share in the prior year as a result of record a breaking second quarter.

A 14 percent increase in sales for the quarter ended June 30, 2005 brought in $356.1 million from $311.8 million in the prior year. Net income for the second quarter of 2005 increased to a $29.3 million from $22.8 million in 2004. Reduced income taxes of approximately $3.2 million ($.09 per diluted share) related to research and development credits in the U.S. and tax changes in Italy helped boost Aptars net income.

Commenting on the quarter, Carl A. Siebel, President and Chief Executive Officer of Aptar said, "We are pleased to report that we continued to build on the momentum we experienced in the first quarter. We achieved a record level of quarterly sales as a result of strong demand for our products from the personal care, pharmaceutical, household and food/beverage markets. Sales to the fragrance/cosmetic market slowed in the quarter and were approximately equal to the prior year's level."

Siebel added, "With increased volumes, we were able to leverage our infrastructure and realize operating efficiencies. In addition, we were successful in passing through the majority of our raw material cost increases. These factors contributed to our record earnings per share."

Siebel further commented, "We are optimistic that the trends we have experienced in the second quarter will continue into the third quarter. At the present time, we believe demand for our dispensing systems from all of the markets we serve, other than the fragrance/cosmetic market, will improve over prior year levels. In addition, we plan to reduce and redeploy certain personnel at our French fragrance/cosmetic operations. We plan to implement this program over a three year period and we expect to realize cost savings over time. Anticipated charges related to the first phase of this effort will be approximately $3 million in the second half of 2005 and will be recorded in the quarter in which they are recognizable for accounting purposes."

Siebel concluded, "Excluding any effects of this program, we expect diluted earnings per share for the third quarter of 2005 to be in the range of $.70 to $.75 compared to $.68 per share in the prior year."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Rexam Plastics Packaging gets new group director

There will be a new director that will be responsible for Rexam's global plastics packaging business, health and beauty, pharmaceutical and plastic containers for food and beverages.

Graham Chipchase the Packaging Group Finance Director since March 2003 will now take the newly created position of Group Director Plastic Packaging. Mr. Chipchase will be responsible for Rexam's global plastics packaging business which includes the beauty and pharmaceutical packaging operations and plastic containers for food and beverages.

Rolf Börjesson, Rexam's Chairman was quoted as saying "During the time that Graham has been Finance Director, he has demonstrated the quality of leadership and a keen understanding of operations that make him eminently suited to this new role. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Yves for the excellent job he has done in building up a vibrant and flourishing beauty and pharmaceutical packaging business within Rexam."

Rexam is a global leader in consumer packaging whose product list includes beverage cans, glass bottles, glass jars, plastic containers for food, plastic beauty products such as lipstick cases, compacts and dispensing systems, plastic pharmaceutical products, PET bottles, plastics closures and other smaller product ranges, all of which serve the consumer packaging market.

Monday, July 18, 2005

FDA Issues Advisory on the Fentanyl Patch

The FDA issued a Public Health Advisory regarding the safe use of transdermal fentanyl patches. This is in response to reports of deaths in patients using these patches for pain management.

Several important safety precautions include but are not limited to patient education regarding signs of overdose, proper patch application, use of other medications while using the patch, safeguards for children, and proper storage and disposal of fentanyl transdermal patches were issued on a patient information sheet and an alert to healthcare professionals in regard to this potent narcotic medication.

The FDA is working closely with the manufacturers of fentanyl patches to evaluate the risks associated with their use and to develop a plan to help patients avoid accidental fentanyl overdose is conducting an investigation into the deaths associated with these patches.

There are still questions if the reported adverse events may be related to inappropriate use of the patch or factors related to the quality of the product.

The FDA is working closely with the manufacturers of fentanyl patches to fully evaluate the risks associated with their use and to develop a plan to help patients avoid accidental fentanyl overdose.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Dispensing Solutions is Launching DispenseQuick Division

Dispensing Solutions Inc. (DSI), from the repackaged pharmaceuticals sector, announced the launching of DispenseQuick and the DispenseQuick System, its new point-of-care division.

DispenseQuick introduces a new bottle design along with many new features and packaging designs that are a first to the industry and supports the DispenseQuick System that is comprised of: DispenseQuick Dispensing Cartridges and DispenseQuick Cabinets, both patent-pending and the10-Pak dispensing cartridges load into the DEA-compliant cabinet. The entire DispenseQuick System supports eDispense, DSI's proprietary dispensing technology.

Richard Wolpow, co-founder and COO said "It has taken us close to a full year to design this exciting new division. We have combined 20+ years of all our successes and mistakes to produce an unprecedented dispensing program that has been well worth the wait and effort."

Dispensing Solutions Inc. for 25 years they have been creating, producing and deploying point-of-care medication and technological dispensing programs. They operate as a pharmaceutical repackaging facility and are an FDA/DEA registered drug manufacturer.

DSI currently operates five divisions: Government, DispenseQuick (point-of-care), OneDose (hospital unit-dose outsourcing), Programs (custom programs creation and deployment), and Contract Packaging (bottles, blisters, pouching, bagging/over-wrap.

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Coca-Cola may have a Fatwa to deal with

Coca-Cola may face a fatwa, or decree by Muslim leaders if more samples prove to have liquor in them following the discovery of alcohol in a bottle of the beverage.

In June of this year a Mpumalanga doctor, Haroon Dindar, bought a crate of 1.25 liter bottles of Coke from a bottling plant in Ermelo South Africa. One of the bottles that he opened had a smell of alcohol so he sent the contents for testing. The test showed it had in fact contained 0.925g of alcohol per 100ml.

coke can

Moulana Abdool Wahab Wookay, chief executive officer of the National Independent Halaal Trust, said samples from bottles in the same batch were sent to an independent laboratory in Durban.

So far Muslim ulama, or leaders, are satisfied so far after visiting a number of Coca-Cola plants around the country that this was an isolated case.

The potential financial loss to Coca Cola if a fatwa is issued could be staggering and since Coca Cola is one of the cultural symbols of many generations of Americans one has to wonder if this was accidental, intentional for the economic reasons, or intentional by a disgruntled employee? Was this a hate crime do to offend a Muslim who would consume this product by accident, or was it even intentional for political reasons?

So I ask, since this is such an isolated incident, was this alleged alcohol introduced into the bottle as the raw ingredients where contaminated? Was it in the mixing, production and bottling, or was it contaminated in the distribution channel or retail level?

It is also a possibility that Dr. Haroon Dindar is creating another finger in Wendy’s chili incident that could have larger finical and political repercussions.

Friday, July 15, 2005

FDA says Able Labs falsified drugs data

Able is on the brink of bankruptcy as their shares have lost almost half their value as a result of the FDA report Able Laboratories fabricated data.

The FDA report raised concerns about the quality control and reporting procedures within Able Laboratories and released twelve observations. The report goes so far as to say "the quality unit and senior management failed to assure all drug products distributed have the safety, identity, quality, and purity that they are represented to possess".

The FDA conducted this inspection of Able Laboratories between May 2 and July 1. During this inspection Able Laboratories suspended manufacturing and recalled all its products that were in distribution.

Able intends to seek a "consent decree of permanent injunction" in a letter of response to the FDA which would Able hope would allow them to keep operating under court supervision.

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Alcan selling plastic bottle business

Alcan wants to explore the sale of its food plastic business and of Alcan's plastic bottle business have been put on notice.

Alcan a worldwide packaging leader plans to sell the plastic bottles business as part of an ongoing restructuring of its food packaging operations in order to concentrate its food business on the more profitable flexible packaging market.

Since world demand for converted flexible packaging is forecast to grow by about seven per cent to $53.5bn this year (see PackagingBlog article US flexible packaging demand to decrease) this looks like a logical move for Alcan to make.

Alcan's plastic bottles packaging business has plants in both North America and Europe and in 2004 had sales of $130m. The entire Alcan plastic bottles packaging business employs a total of 495 people. The Alcan plastic bottles packaging unit provides a range plastic bottles for products such as juice, energy drinks, coffee beverages, teas foodservice, and infant formula. They also manufacture both hot and cold fill containers that are used for condiments such as ketchup, salsa, pasta sauces, cheese sauces, syrups, relish, fruit, jams and jellies and salad dressings.

The President of Alcan's food packaging business in North America, Ilene Gordon was quoted as saying "This business is a leader in its field, pioneering multi-layer bottle technology for hot- and cold-fill products," said the. "We are confident that we can find a strategic buyer that will be attracted to the growth and profit potential of the business, as well as by its commitment to providing customers with top-tier quality and service."

Alcan has been both expanding and restructuring its packaging division since 2002. The significant growth they have experienced has mostly been a result of acquisitions such as Algroup in 2000, VAW Packaging (FlexPac) in 2002 and Pechiney Packaging in 2003.

Through these and other acquisitions Alcan controls a substantial position in European, Americas and Asian flexible packaging markets. The packaging division expanded manufacturing capacity in Poland, Russia, China and Malaysia in early 2005. In Europe Alcan's packaging business has plants in the France, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, Spain and the UK.

Alcan now supplies the food, pharmaceuticals, medical, health and beauty aid, and tobacco markets with food and beverage packaging currently represents 62 per cent of sales in the packaging division.

The entire Alcan food group manufactures packaging for dairy products, pet food, fresh and frozen food, beverages, shrink bags, retorted food, dry food, and snacks.

"Our food packaging business is moving strategically to focus greater resources on the flexible packaging market, where we already enjoy substantial scale and leadership positions and where we believe the most attractive growth opportunities lie," said the president and chief executive officer of Alcan Packaging, Christel Bories.

Alcan is a leader in both the packaging and aluminum markets and has 70,000 employees and operations in 55 countries. Alcan’s packaging business alone had revenues of $6.1bn in 2004. The plastic packaging accounts for 59 per cent of the division’s business, while aluminum makes up 26 per cent.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Recycle Now, the British recycling initiative

The UK launched the Big Recycle a week-long campaign to encourage more people to recycle by raising public awareness which does increasing the amount packaging and other waste being recycled.

The Big Recycle is part of Recycle Now which is a £10m campaign which is run by the Waste and Resources Action Program, a not-for-profit company set up to promote sustainable waste management. UK recycling organizations includingBritish Glass, Corus, Novelis, and Paperchain were involved as well.

Besides the Big Recycle, Recycle Now includes and a year-round schedule of promotional events, a recycling information website, newspaper and magazine adds and a series of animated TV commercials.

The Big Recycle was mostly organized by local councils, community groups, individuals, and supermarkets throughout England, Scotland and Wales. The volunteers showed why they should be recycling and how, and where, they can recycle.

The recycling campaign was being led by the environment minister Ben Bradshaw, who visited some of recycling plants ahead of the launch. Mr. Bradshaw said the UK was on track to reach its target of recycling 25% of waste by 2006.

He said: "I welcome this new study (see Recycling on the rise in the UK…but slowly) which shows that households and businesses are recycling more than ever before, which is excellent news. There is no doubt that it is becoming easier to recycle in the UK, and that people are becoming increasingly keen to do so. However, there is still room for improvement. The study does indicate that meeting European 2008 packaging waste targets will be challenging. We need to continue expanding our recycling infrastructure, and encouraging all households and businesses to play their part. Awareness-raising campaigns such as the Big Recycle have an important role in shifting public attitudes."

Friends of the Earth is an environmental charity welcomed the Big Recycle initiative but their spokesperson Claire Wilton warned that more action was needed. "We've been asking the government for a long time to put more money into awareness campaigns but we've still got a long way to go. What we need is more money and higher recycling targets which should lead to more local authority collections."

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Recycling on the rise in the UK…but slowly

A new study compiled by Valpak, a packaging compliance regulator, shows UK households and businesses are recycling one third of all their packaging in 2004 - an increase from around one quarter in 2002 more waste packaging.

The Valpak packaging recycling report also found that approximately 2 billion aluminum cans and 2.5 billion steel cans, 3.5 billion glass bottles and glass jars, 1 billion plastic bottles were recycled by British households in 2004. This brings the total recycled weight of packaging, including cardboard containers, to 1.25 million tons. UK business generated 5.6m tons of packaging in 2004 of which 66% of which were recycled.

The British government wants 30% of British waste to be recycled by 2010 but their current rate of recycling is rate said to be at around 14.5%. Despite nearly 60% of household waste being recyclable, Britain has one of the worst records in Europe when it comes to recycling with some parts of the country councils only manage to recycle 10% or less. Compare this to countries such as Austria whose people recycle 60% of their trash while Switzerland and the Netherlands which are also recycling at 50% plus.

In the next part we will discuss Recycle Now, the British recycling and educational initiative.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

US flexible packaging demand to decrease

US demand for flexible bulk packaging is expected to decelerate to 3.4 per cent growth per year with about 60 per cent of the demand to be for plastic flexible bulk packaging.

A researcher for the Freedonia Group a market research firm who conducted this study stated "Nonetheless, overall advances will benefit from healthy outlooks for manufacturing and retail activity. Products offering a combination of cost benefits and increased performance efficiency are expected to see the best growth, often supplanting a variety of alternative formats, both flexible and rigid."

The fastest growth is expected to in both the film wrap and flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs) market. The higher demand for plastic shipping sacks and plastic strapping will outpace the industry average, all of this at the expense of paper and steel packaging producers.

Plastic shipping sack packaging demand is expected to be driven mostly by the agricultural and horticultural market.

30 per cent of total flexible bulk packaging demand in 2004 was for Film wrap, which will remain a growth segment of the industry.

FIBC's low cost, versatility and performance for the shipping and storage of bulk dry flowable products is very attractive to manufactures. The demand for FIBC is expected to expand 5.6 per cent annually through 2009. This increased demand is strongly influenced by the popularity of home centers, club stores and other mass retailers and the ever growing requirements for the bundling and protection of goods during warehousing and distribution.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Packaging rethink for Mars and Snickers after threats

Just as the Tylenol poisoning changed pharmaceutical packaging forever, the threat in Australia to Masterfoods is likely to cause safer packaging of chocolate bars in the wake of the current extortion bid involving Mars Bars and Snickers.

It is now 5 days since Masterfoods received a letter claiming that seven contaminated chocolate bars had been placed in stores across Sydney.

Masterfoods is still recalling chocolate bars across New South Wales and is still working on getting its message out to the thousands of store owners who still have not heard the news. The company has even placed ads in Sydney's major newspapers in order to get its message directly to the public and will not discus the potential cost of such a recall but is expected to run in the millions.

Masterfoods president Andrew Weston Webb said "Obviously the number of products runs into many thousands and that's why we're calling on the help of the community as well if they see any product out there if they could make sure it's taken off shelf".

Mr. Webb said "Packaging is a concern for the whole food industry to ensure we have tamper-evident packaging," Masterfoods president Andrew Weston Webb said.

When the dust settles, chocolate bars may soon be a little harder to open, and the cost of the packaging will certainly go up. For packaging designers opportunity is knocking at your door!

No Packaging material has green advantage?

Jane Bickerstaffe who is the director of the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (Incpen) spoke at the Biodegradable plastics in packaging applications conference yesterday and claimed that promoting one material over another encourages the public to focus on trivial issues.

“An environmentally-responsible pack is one that gets its contents from production to consumption with minimum use of materials and energy, generating minimum wastage of contents and used packaging,” annouced Jane Bickerstaffe who went on to state that It was of secondary importance whether the packaging was degradable or inert, derived from renewable or non-renewable resources, capable of being refilled or easy to recycle and that no packaging material or type of packaging has a monopoly of environmental virtues.

The Biodegradable plastics in packaging conference was organised by Pira, which is owned by Swiss additives giant Ciba Specialty Chemicals.

Packaging Growth: East beats West

PCI Films Consulting forecasts that growth in flexible packaging will increase faster in central and Eastern Europe than in Western Europe over the next five years.

The results of this PCI Films Consulting study on flexible packaging is forecasting a 1% per annum growth in Western Europe and a 7% annual growth in Central and eastern Europe is forecast to be 7% per annum. Total European demand for flexible packaging is expected to be nearly €10.0bn in 2009.

The study also pointed out that rapidly rising raw material costs and high substrate prices are putting pressure on the profitability of flexible packaging and leading plastics converter groups, for example Alcan Packaging and Amcor Flexibles are setting up facilities in lower-cost countries.

The author of the report Paul Gaster said: "The highly competitive flexible packaging environment, especially in western Europe, is becoming more intense. It is clear that overcapacity remains a problem there and increased interest from end users in sourcing converted products from Turkey and some low-cost Asian sources is also creating additional pressures."