Packaging World February 2021

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Magnum First in Ice Cream with Certified Circular Plastic 20

Dove Joins Refillable, Reusable Movement 42

Market Expansion Calls for End-of-Line Robotics 46


Juice Brand’s Biodegradable Bottle Withstands HPP Pressure

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With recycled materials from traditional technologies in short supply, Unilever collaborates with chemical supplier SABIC to use polypropylene created from the advanced recycling of mixed waste plastics for its Magnum ice cream tub.


PACK EXPO Connects Exhibitor Showroom Directory PACK EXPO Connects continues through March 31 with on-demand access to content and experts to help you find solutions to your packaging and processing needs. This Exhibitor Showroom Directory includes an alphabetical list of all the exhibitors at

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22 COVER STORY Magnum Tub is First to Use Certified Circular Plastic

40 AUTOMATION Indicators Facilitate Changeover

The indulgent ice cream brand pioneers the use of recycled plastic, with the material sourced from mixed plastic waste that is converted to plastic resin feedstock through advanced recycling.

Reliable operator guidance for size changeover on end-of-line packaging machinery is provided by AP05 electronic position indicators.

26 CANNABIS FOCUS Packaging Technology Keeps Vireo Health’s Cannabis Flower Flavorful and Potent Longer The packaging system preserves naturally occurring compounds within the flower, creating a robust, consistent product for consumers.

32 CANNABIS FOCUS Cannabis Operation Ascends Steep Packaging Learning Curve

42 Case Packer, Palletizer Meet Increase in Demand It was one thing when this Tennessee producer of fertilizer products was focused on one niche market. But when it broadened its marketing message, automation was required.

46 EMERGING BRANDS HPP Juice Line Takes a Green Turn Florida-based premium juice distributor finds the perfect mix of technology and shelf appeal with its landfill-biodegradable bottles.

As it fills a market gap to produce a refined product for discriminating tastes, particularly amid a competitive set that tends toward speed to market, 1620 Labs leans on packaging to differentiate itself.

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7 Lead Off 16 The Legal Side 18 The Big Picture 20 Sustainable Packaging 60 Shelf Impact! 64 The Insider



8 News 13 Quotables/By the Numbers 62 Industry Watch

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14 First Person



41 Automation Technology 61 Technology

Expressed Juice Gets HPP Treatment


63 Advertiser Index

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Aladin Alkhawam Director, Packaging Operations, Par Pharmaceutical Jan Brücklmeier Technical Application Group Packaging Technology Expert, Nestlé David France Packaging Research Fellow, Conagra Foods Patrick Keenan R&D Packaging Engineer, General Mills/Annie’s Organic Snacks Mike Marcinkowski Global R&D Officer, GPA Global & Hub Folding Box Co. Paul Schaum Chief Operations Officer, Pretzels Inc. David Smith, PhD Principal, David S. Smith & Associates Brian Stepowany Packaging R&D, Senior Manager, B&G Foods, Inc. Jasmine Sutherland President, Texas Food Solutions; Vice President, Perfect Fit Meals

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Regulate or Not? As I type this on January 20th, President Biden is being sworn into office after a tumultuous few months of politics. What that will mean to we who labor in the packaging arena isn’t entirely clear, but it’s probably a safe bet that we’ll see a tilt toward more regulation aimed at protecting the environment. And since consumers have long viewed packaging waste, particularly plastic, as an environmental villain, we should probably expect a renewed interest in some form of regulation seeking to address packaging waste. The outgoing administration, of course, was big on deregulation. Critics of this approach lamented that deregulation is a way for government to shirk its responsibility for tackling perceived plastic waste by naively assuming that CPGs and brand owners would tackle the problem on their own. Those same critics felt that only legislation would keep private enterprise accountable. But the legislation proposed was often stark and impractical, coming as it did in the form of bans on plastic that had the potential to destabilize supply chains and, worse, make it difficult to distribute food and essential items like medicine. Not all legislation fit this description. Take, for example, the Save our Seas Act 2.0 that was signed into law in December with bipartisan support. The bill not only seeks to reclaim ocean plastics for forward use in a circular fashion but also encourages investment in the infrastructure needed to create a circular plastics economy. Naturally, an organization like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation that is dedicated to fostering a circular economy approves of such legislation. But so does PLASTICS (known as the Society of the Plastics Industry until a 2016 rebranding), the trade association representing the plastics industry. Its CEO Tony Radoszewski wrote a letter to then President-elect Biden pledging to work closely with the new Administration to continue these efforts, both on collection and infrastructure. Such initiatives are fundamentally global in nature, which is encouraging because it means the U.S. doesn’t have to go it alone. As we look back at the past four years, what’s fascinating is that even though the deregulationminded administration’s rule of thumb was that for each new regulation, two others needed to go, brand owners and CPGs have made remarkable strides in producing more sustainable packaging and advancing recycling. But they’re doing it because they’re listening to the consumer, not because legislation is forcing their hand. They’re holding themselves accountable via self-imposed sustainability goals, with aggressive but realistic timelines of 5, 10, 20 years to soften the adoption curves. Equally fascinating is the amount of innovation we’re seeing on the chemical recycling front, some of it potentially transformative. Check out the cover story on page 22 to learn how Unilever launched the first ice cream in plastic packaging that is truly circular thanks to advanced polypropylene recycling technology. Or check out a brief session from PACK EXPO Connects (pwgo. to/5989) on the potential for syngas in recycling all waste, not just plastic. And then there’s all the new stuff that keeps pouring into our email in-boxes here at Packaging World. Like Berry Global’s December 13 announcement that it has created a fully recyclable, singlesubstrate packaging solution for tubes that will make them more recyclable. This development emerged through a partnership with research and consulting company More Recycling, and research from this group influenced the Association of Plastic Recyclers to recognize the Berry Global tube as recyclable in the HDPE bottle stream. One month later we got a press release from Mura Technology out of the UK announcing a “groundbreaking” technology capable of recycling all forms of plastic waste. Called Cat-HTRTM (Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor) technology, it uses supercritical steam to convert plastics back into the chemicals and oils from which they were made. The supercritical steam acts like molecular scissors, cutting the longer-chain hydrocarbon bonds in the plastics to produce shorter-chain hydrocarbon products. These are then ready to be used to produce new, virgin-grade plastic and other materials, or sustainably reused in other sectors, such as in roads. Keeping an eye on these new technologies will be essential moving forward—regardless of who’s in the White House. We’ll also need to monitor emerging legislation like the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2020, which may cross the President’s desk in 2021. The bill formally introduces a container deposit system, a form of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). As Mike Richmond of packaging consultancy PTIS points out on page 9, EPR might be in the cards for the U.S. Bottom line? Pay attention. As the old saying goes, forwarned is forearmed. PW

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One New Amcor Product Focuses on Hot-Fill… A collaboration between two Colombian companies—Nutrea, a food and beverage company, and Frudelca, a leading juice supplier—has led to the breakthrough Frupro protein juice. The new beverage is the latest in a growing category that blends the benefits of natural juice with protein to appeal to health-conscious consumers. Amcor developed a new hot-fill polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle for the project. “We relied on Amcor as an important partner to deliver an innovative packaging solution that meets the performance test of this new functional beverage,” says Alejandor Gaviria, General Manager of Frudelca. For its part, Amcor says it is a pioneer in the development of PET heat-set technology, which allows beverages to be hot-filled at temperatures up to 185°F (85°C) to ensure product quality and extended shelf life.

Frupro protein juice will be launched this month in Colombia. In their collaboration, both Nutrea and Frudelca are responding to a growing trend among consumers who are moving to healthy beverage options while taking advantage of advancements in hot-fill beverage packaging. According to Euromonitor, the category is expected to grow by nearly double the pace of other segments. The lightweight, recyclable bottle not only preserves the natural juice and protein ingredients, but also delivers a clean look and strong shelf appeal that consumers want, the company says. Amcor supplies 300-ml and 440-ml bottles for Frupro’s orange juice product. Nutrea and Frudelca plan to jointly launch other fruit flavors down the road. Glanbia, a leading protein supplier, was a key collaborator in the product development effort. —Matt Reynolds

… And Another is a First in Recyclable, Food-Safe Mono-Material Mars Food has announced it will begin using recyclable monolayer polypropylene plastic for its microwavable rice pouches for household brands such as Ben’s Original and Seeds of Change in limited European markets. According to Mars, the project will bring to market the industry’s first food-safe, mono-material microwavable rice pouch. Launching with an initial pilot in the first half of 2021, the business has ambitions to further scale the technology across its portfolio beginning in late 2021. Mars Food is using Amcor Flexibles’ AmLite HeatFlex Recyclable high-performing monolayer polypropylene material, which will allow the company to retain the shape, shelf life, functionality, and high safety standards needed for its brands’ packaging, while ensuring pouches can be mechanically and chemically recycled where infrastructure exists. Where it doesn’t, Mars Foods plans to design the material for future recycling. The breakthrough is a result of a three-year partnership between Mars Food and Amcor. Says Mars, the companies share a vision to support a circular economy where packaging doesn’t become waste. The progress is part of Mars’ Sustainable Packaging Plan, which outlines the business’s commitment and plans to achieve 100% recyclable, compostable, or reusable packaging by 2025. The project will also move Amcor closer to achieving its pledge to develop all its packaging to be recyclable or reusable by 2025. Says Fiona Dawson, Global President, Mars Food, Multisales and Global Customers, “We’re committed to finding more sustainable solutions for our packaging that are food safe without compromising quality. This is a huge step for us towards our 2025 commitment of 100% recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging. “We believe in tackling the world’s sustainability challenges together, and through this partnership with Amcor, we will pilot, learn, and then scale the volume of recyclable mono-polypropylene pouches across our portfolio.”

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This upcoming launch builds on Amcor’s recent introduction of AmLite HeatFlex Recyclable film. This will be its first application for microwavable food and the first in a stand-up pouch format. Mars Food accelerated the development of the new material through rigorous testing and conducted significant scale-up tests in its production facilities in the U.K., challenging what was previously considered possible throughout the production process. Working in collaboration with Amcor, it then ensured the material development met all its functional requirements while protecting product quality and safety. —Anne Marie Mohan

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10 Foamer for Self-Tanning Product is MetalFree, Recyclable Bondi Sands, an Australia-based selftanning brand inspired by that country’s most well-known beach, has launched a new range of products under the Pure name that use a metal-free, 100% recyclable foam dispenser. The application uses Silgan Dispensing’s first foaming solution, the EZ’R foamer, which is made entirely from plastic components, including 97% polypropylene, and is recyclable in PP streams. In addition to its eco-friendly design, the EZ’R foamer was selected by Bondi Sands for its simple, easy-to-use dispensing capability, which requires no priming and creates propellant-free foam. The EZ’R also allows for onehanded upside down use. The foaming engine is made from 50% fewer components compared to traditional foamers, making it 52% lighter. Additionally, notes Silgan, the EZ’R dispenses twice as much foam than a traditional foamer. Bondi Sands’ Pure Self Tan Foaming Water, in Light/Medium and Dark varieties in a 6.76-oz bottle, uses an EZ’R foamer with a 26-mm neck size and a snap-on attachment. The foamer is assembled with a flip-top cap and is produced via extrusion blow molding. The Bondi Sands’ Pure Self Tan Foaming Water range was launched in early January in retailers throughout the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand, as well as on its website for US$27. —Anne Marie Mohan

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Packaging Market Trends for 2021

PTIS, along with partner Leading Futurists LLC, is known for gathering and synthesizing data from all sectors to form 10-year forecasts for its Future of Packaging (see www.packagingfore program. While many of the projections from its most-recent 2019 study will stay on course, some will probably accelerate as companies find workarounds. Savvy packaging professionals should concentrate on the factors listed here to ensure a successful 2021. • Technical disruption: Emerging technologies will have significant relevance in packaging, says PTIS co-founder and Partner Mike Richmond. He anticipates much greater use of artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Packaging (IoP), augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) in 2021. • Focus on productivity: PTIS Partner Todd Bukowski foresees sharper attention to operational efficiency. To achieve this, many brands will reverse the long-term trend of SKU proliferation. Instead, they will reduce the number of SKUs to decrease the need for equipment changeovers. Many companies will also try to locate production closer to local markets to reduce transportation costs. • Growing use of automation: All the PTIS partners agree that brands will accelerate the automation of their packaging lines. There are many factors driving automation, including labor shortages, manufacturing speed, and worker and food safety. Expect to see increased usage of robotics to handle case packing and kitting. • Real-time analytics: More packaging lines will take advantage of numerous sensors to collect meaningful data that can be displayed in dashboards. Partner Tim Brown says this will allow operators, maintenance crews, and engineers to identify and repair variations more quickly. Brian Wagner, PTIS co-founder and Partner, says companies may not be able to use all that data today but will rely on AI to analyze vast quantities of data to hone productivity. • Remote service: Key to productivity is keeping packaging lines up and running. With the pandemic and quarantine mandates, machine vendors may not be able to provide immediate technical service. Increasingly, service calls will be handled remotely, eliminating costly and timeconsuming travel. Service reps will use technology such as smart glasses and AR to diagnose and help on-site personnel remove bottlenecks. These advances might allow multiple remote experts to visualize machinery and suggest repairs. • Changes in how we work: Last year saw more people working from home—a trend that’s unlikely to change in 2021. Many packaging operations employees are considered essential personnel and are required to work on-site. However, managers, designers, engineers, and others may work remotely. These employees will increasingly rely on communications technology to improve collaboration. Automation will also enable activities such as line trials and remote diagnostics. • Ongoing sustainability emphasis: In spite of the economic slowdown, consumer demand will continue to drive efforts to make packaging more sustainable. What might be different in 2021 is an emphasis on reusable packaging. Making packaging more durable for multiple reuses will increase costs. However, it is still questionable whether consumers will accept scuffing and dings on their packaging. • EPR coming to the U.S.: Climate change is a major concern for the country, and packaging waste is seen as a contributing factor. Wagner points out the new administration is committed to new environmental protections, and extended producer responsibility rules are likely. Brands and packaging suppliers are showing increasing acceptance of the concept to promote sustainability. At least five states are likely to impose some type of scheme to extend control of packaging waste costs to producers in the near future, and federal measures are being discussed to ensure consistency across the country. • Packaging’s role in branding: Richmond says packaging will play a stronger role in branding. With an emphasis on building a circular economy, consumers expect packaging companies to “do the right thing” in material choices and package design. This will make packaging a key part of a brand’s message. • Ultraconvenient packaging: Convenience has been a major driver in the development of new packaging. Look for designers to find new ways to make packaging more convenient and to create a stronger experience for consumers by enhancing their sensory experience. Any developments that enhance ease of use, product freshness, and easy disposal will add appeal in this competitive market. Packaging also must be designed for ease of use across more retail channels—especially in the rapidly expanding e-commerce market. —Anne Marie Mohan

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Brrr Box Cooler: A Sustainable Alternative to EPS After four years of trial and error, value-added packaging company Vig Pak, LLC finally found a material that ticked all the “boxes” for its EPS-free, 100% recyclable and biodegradable convenience cooler. Company co-founders Ed Battle, President, and Don Costanzo spoke during DS Smith’s demo, “A Cooler Alternative: Greencoat® Sustainable Plastic Foam Replacement Packaging,” presented at PACK EXPO Connects. “We have probably 15 patents on this cooler,” noted Battle. “And this has not been an easy project. We’ve been working on this for over four years because this is almost an impossible thing to make work. But we did it. In the back of my mind, I had always been looking for a product that could replace Styrofoam, and our initial impetus was to dominate the retail market, and the retail market is anybody that sells ice.” The Brrr Box™, “The Official Cooler of Planet Earth™ ,” uses DS Smith’s proprietary Greencoat corrugated moisture-resistant and FDA food contact-safe material made of sustainable renewable fiber that is repulpable and recyclable. Explained Adam Olson, DS Smith Sales Director, Greencoat & Specialty Unit for DS Smith, the material was launched 13 years ago as a solution to wax-coated boxes for poultry and has since been adopted by a number of other markets, including meat, seafood, and produce. Greencoat uses a patented process applied on its corrugators at one of its three Greencoat facilities. According to Olson, the technology combines impregnation in the paper and coating on the paper. He added that advantages of the material include a lower cost than wax-coated and EPS boxes, and unlike EPS, it ships flat, saving shipping and storage costs. Greencoat also allows for high-impact graphics and is easier to glue than wax-coated material. For Vig Pak, LLC, the challenge was to replace EPS coolers in all 1,500 7-Eleven stores through McLane Food Service as well as other c-stores and retail outlets to improve sustainability and improve sales. The company’s goal was to disrupt the market by offering an innovative corrugated beverage cooler solution. “So, you’ve got c-stores, grocery stores, mass merchandisers, dollar stores, and liquor stores,” related Battle. “In order for this to work in that environment, we had to have a cooler that was

Jumpstart on demand Learn more about sustainable packaging, along with a host of other on-trend packaging topics presented during the recent PACK EXPO Connects Jumpstart sessions, at

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intuitive, so that we could go from flat to being a cooler, then back to flat. We had to make sure that anybody who walked in that store and bought this cooler could turn it into a cooler. Because if they can’t, they’re going to take it back to the store, and it won’t work. And then we were going to be out. “But in addition to that, we had to figure out a way that the cooler could withstand all the things that are necessary to have a great experience. You’ve got to be able to pack it with ice, put your beverages in it, and transport those beverages to whatever events you’re going to. We were using corrugated tabs as a structure for this thing, with the handles and the formation of our cooler for the most part. What happened was, we would get to the point where we knew we had the right cooler, and it could handle everything and then, Bam!, it would fail.” Added Costanzo, “We went through at least a dozen coatings, and we got some of them to the point where we did trials and testing on them. And there was always something that came up that made it so that it wasn’t the appropriate coating to use.” The solution was DS Smith’s Greencoat combined with a patented design that creates an easy-to-use, spacesaving, pop-up cooler that replaces standard EPS offerings. Said DS Smith’s Olson, “We have partnered with Vig Pak, LLC to have a Greencoat coating, so you can put ice, gel packs, cold packs, whatever you want in there. And it’s going to maintain that water repellency for a period of time. It’s not a single-use cooler. It’s a multi-use cooler if treated properly. And the best part is instead of those Styrofoam coolers going back into the waste stream, this goes back into the circular economy and is fully curbside recyclable.” Costanzo said Greencoat is “fantastic.” He added. “It does everything we want it to do. The reason we work with DS Smith as well we do is because it understands that the cutting and the production process are also extremely important. If you have a great coating, if you punch holes in it, even a little pinhole can create havoc on our products. So, it’s been a great partnership all the way to this point.” At presstime, the Brrr Box was set to be launched in the next 60 days in 7-Eleven, with a DS Smith-created video to drive sales and open the market. Once the cooler has been launched successfully, the material will be preprinted at DS Smith’s Lebanon, Ind., facility to improve the graphics, after which Vig Pak, LLC will work through McLane to explore future markets. Although the cooler will cost $4 to $5, its co-founders say it’s worth the price, as the box brings great value and can reused over and over. View this demo, as well as the other packaging solutions featured by DS Smith at its PACK EXPO Connects Virtual Showroom at —Anne Marie Mohan

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Ocean Spray Snack Pack Joins Mono-Material March A premium, high-barrier recyclable package for Ocean Spray’s Craveology Tuscan Herb snack mix uses ProActive Recyclable R-1000 film, part of ProAmpac’s ProActive Sustainability® product offerings. The R-1000 film is recyclable in flexible polyethylene (PE) film streams and qualifies for store drop-off in North America. It is available with a registered matte or gloss finish, or with ProAmpac’s Signature Surfaces Paper Touch tactile enhancement. “We partnered with ProAmpac because of their unique approach to innovation, expanding lineup of sustainable alternatives, and how well they align with Ocean Spray’s culture of collaboration and our legacy as a cooperative of farmer families,” says Tracey Todesco, Commodity Manager-Packaging at Ocean Spray. Designed to help brands meet their sustainability goals, R-1000 is available in standard or high-barrier versions, offering a recyclable high-performance alternative to conventional film laminations. With high heat-resistance and premium sealant technology, R-1000 outperforms typical recyclable monomaterial films in high-speed form/fill/seal applications and provides superior seal quality, according to ProAmpac. “When developing R-1000, we wanted to ensure that it maintained the speed of vertical and horizontal form fill sealing machines and ran much faster than typical mono-material films currently in the market,” adds Hesam Tabatabaei, vice president of Product Development and Innovation for ProAmpac. “It has been engineered with high heat-resistance and unique sealant technology that resists ‘gum up’, burn-through and deformation during highspeed packaging.” —Matt Reynolds

Paper-based Diaper Pack Makes Recycling Easy Drylock Technologies, a global hygiene products manufacturer and producer of baby diapers, approached packaging and paper supplier Mondi to create a more sustainable alternative to its existing plastic diaper packaging. The goal was to launch a pack

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that would travel well, have strong shelf appeal, and protect the product, while also using renewable resources and significantly reducing its CO2 footprint. The company selected Mondi’s EcoWicketBag solution. “Consumers are looking for more sustainable packaging that is kinder to the planet without compromising on the integrity of the product. With the EcoWicketBag, consumers can be confident of product quality and packaging sustainability,” says Werner Van Ingelgem, R&D Director at Drylock Technologies. A key advantage of using paper-based solutions, according to Drylock, is the commonly known recyclability of paper—consumers are highly likely to know how to dispose of it correctly. The EcoWicketBag can be placed in existing paper streams, even in countries with the strictest recycling regulations, thereby supporting the circular economy. An EcoWicketBag made out of fully compostable materials is also available. Plus, the EcoWicketBag fits with Drylock Technologies’ existing plant processes, meaning it is the first paper wicket bag range that can be filled and sealed on existing machines. —Matt Reynolds

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Last Chance to Access PACK EXPO Connects Content The clock is ticking to take advantage of PMMI Media Group’s initial foray into the world of virtual trade events and video content, offering an unparalleled perspective from industry thought leaders and PMMI Media Group editorial team analysis. The streamlined search functionality enables quick and efficient identification of suppliers and access to a jampacked slate of on-demand educational content. March 31, 2021, brings PACK EXPO Connects to a halt, and missing potential connections or solutions could leave CPGs scrambling until PACK EXPO Las Vegas, to be held Sept. 27-29, 2021, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. If nothing else, a rare look inside Amazon’s e-commerce fulfillment and the packaging demands it creates is 30-minutes CPGs won’t find anywhere else, along with insight from industry titans like Bumble Bee Foods, General Mills, L’Oréal, and others. Not sure where to start? Check out The Daily Download, a highlight reel of quick-hitting summaries of what PMMI Media Group editors say are must-see technologies. Revisit the latest technologies from the packaging and processing industries’ most inventive suppliers on The Innovation Stage. These 30-minute sessions include The Secret to Food & Beverage Manufacturing Agility in a Changing World, Sustainable Packaging, Automation Requirements for Project Success, and more. Explore brief conversations between prominent industry experts and

PMMI Media Group editors at Trend Chats. These discussions include hot industry topics such as Cannabis Packaging, Food Processing Manufacturing Innovations, and more. Jumpstart Sessions feature collections of brief discussions with industry visionaries, offering a wide range of expertise on sustainability, workforce, robotics, remote access and monitoring, and more. Sessions are also available in Spanish. Finally, The Solution Room also provides unique answers to industry challenges with recordings of what transpired during the live PACK EXPO Connects sessions. Gain useful insights on the evolution of the industry and your role in it—including how COVID-19 is reshaping the contract packaging industry, or how best to utilize LinkedIn for professional resources—from the OpX Leadership Network, the Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC), the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP), and the Contract Packaging Association (CPA). In one example, research from The Contract Packaging Association’s 2020 State of the Industry report offers insights into the contract packaging and manufacturing industries. Learn about the impact of the pandemic and how it is reshaping what the report calls “an already dynamically growing industry.” Understand how management and labor uncertainties have driven a fresh new look at more automation into a traditionally manual market. Visit for free registration. —Sean Riley


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“Historically, the packaging industry has traditionally designed their products based on the scales of larger brands, many of which have made decisions based on cost and market appeal; however, as consumer demands and behaviors change, I believe that packaging companies have an opportunity to refresh their product offerings and begin closely collaborating with large and small brands on their missions to find solutions that have a lower impact on the environment.” –Ken Kaneko, founder and CEO of Vancouver, Wash.-based indoor vertical farm Forward Greens, as quoted in an article from, “Package makers look to enhance leadership role in design, sustainability efforts”

“In common with many other manufacturers, the costs [of packaging] in relation to our products have risen. In the U.K., we have made a change to our Nutella 400g jar, which will now be available as a 350g. In Belgium, our 750g Nutella jar is now available as 700g, and our 975g jar is available as a 900g. These changes enable us to still provide our consumers with the highest quality, taste, and freshness of their favorite product without increasing the unit price.”​ –A Ferrero spokesperson, as quoted in an article, “Ferrero to reduce Nutella jar sizes in latest shrinkflation move,” from

“Winerytale enables wine producers to tell their story, and virtually attach it to their wine labels, for consumers to come along and discover through their phones. It’s a very different concept to other wine apps, which tend to focus on delivering detailed wine information and wine ratings. It’s about delivering an experience, straight from the label, that gives consumers genuine insight into the people, place, and processes that go into every wine. We see this as a new opportunity for winemakers to really connect with their audience, and we’re delighted to have so many pioneering brands onboard for the launch.” –Dave Chaffey, Managing Director of Winerytale, in an article from Beverage Industry, “Winerytale app brings brand, consumer engagement”

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The number of times new reusable polypropylene plastic takeout containers from New York City-based third-party delivery service DeliverZero have been designed to be reused

8.04% The CAGR of the vaccine storage and packaging market during the forecast period of 2020-2027, surpassing $15 billion by 2027, according to a new study from Coherent Market Insights


According to Oceana, this is the number of times the air pillows used by Amazon last year alone could encircle the globe; Amazon disputes that estimate, saying it used just a quarter of that amount



The length of time Pfizer’s frozen COVID-19 vaccine can be stored in its 195-vial “pizza-tray” packaging, assuming a new batch of dry ice is added every five days

1/20/21 1:55 PM

14 PW FEB2021



Setting a Design “North Star” in a Fragmented, Emerging Market Cristin Rudolph, VP of Consumer Products at Green Thumb Industries (GTI), discusses the intersection between classic packaging design and fast-changing cannabis industry packaging design. PW: How do you approach a packaging design project? Rudolph: We’re really thinking about three critical things as we kick off any packaging design project. First, what does the brand stand for, and how can we visually communicate that through the lens of packaging? Second, what does the consumer actually want? That can range from truly functional to aesthetic, but really we want to be putting that consumer mindset at the forefront. The last part, which is arguably the most important part, is what the business actually needs. Combining all of those things helps to really set the North Star for what we’re looking for, because there’s obviously lots of trade-offs that need to occur as we’re trying to think about the right balance. PW: Do consumer interests vary, or can you lump them all into one consumer? Rudolph: One of the interesting yet complex parts of cannabis is everything is state by state. The regulations in Pennsylvania are different from the regulations in Florida. So, while consumers may to some extent approach that category similarly, each state is in a different phase of development in terms of consumer acceptance, and each regulating body in the state thinks about cannabis differently. While we like to come to the table as a unified brand, we constantly have to push and pull to understand, how do we approach this state relative to where the state is? Is cannabis still nascent? Is it a little bit more mature, but then, also, what does the regulating body allow to make sure that we’re compliant with what’s going on in that particular state? Audience Question: Are you talking state-by-state regulation as it pertains to CBD or THC, or are those two different things? Rudolph: I was referring to THC, specifically. Certainly, CBD does play a role, and depending on where that CBD is derived, whether it’s from hemp or from the cannabis plant itself, the regulations do vary. PW: Several Green Thumb brands like Dog Walkers ( and incredibles ( have undergone packaging changes over the past few years. What are some of the biggest learnings from those redesign initiatives? Rudolph: Packaging is very iterative. Even with projects like that, where we’re happy with the results, and they have been met with a lot of success and even some awards, we always continue to assess, are the trade-offs right? Is the pendulum swinging in the right direction?

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PW: Are you observing any color trends with regards to packaging? Rudolph: I think what we are seeing is a little bit of a bolder take. If you looked at cannabis, even two years ago, a lot of what you would see was a very white, stark background, things that looked very medicinal in nature. What you’re starting to see happening is the introduction of color. There is more of a design-forward point of view on packaging that is a little bit closer to traditional CPG and not so much a pharmaceutical look, which I think is an interesting sort of evolution of the industry over the last 18 to 24 months.

VIDEO: This Q&A is just a small portion of a longer cannabis packaging discussion with GTI, Green Thumb Industries, covering logistics, regulations, packaging equipment acquisition, and a lot more. Visit pwgoto/5984 to watch.

PW: What trends tend to be the main driver for cannabis packaging? Price, functionality, aesthetics, or some combination of those? Rudolph: I think it’s a combination. You’re going to have a subset of consumers that are always going to choose based on costs. You’re going to have others who are looking for more of a holistic lifestyle experience where the aesthetics of that packaging are going to help drive their choice. And so, at the end of the day, it’s the job of my team to understand all of the various consumer segments, to think about our brands, to identify white spaces and to make sure that the packaging is really designed to reflect the needs of that consumer. It’s very similar to other CPGs where whether you’re in beer or crackers, there’s a spectrum of products relative to the varying consumer needs. And we think about it very similarly and use packaging as a way to reflect that. PW: Is sustainability in packaging a cannabis market trend? Rudolph: Yes, we have started to get questions about whether our packaging is sustainable. One of the challenges in cannabis is that the child resistant mechanism can be in conflict as you sometimes need plastic elements to execute that. It continues to be a point of tension with us to make sure that we’re executing on that mechanism, but also thinking through suppliers and different materials that can help us reduce the overall footprint of the packaging, but make sure that we’re doing that in a compliant way. —Kim Overstreet

1/22/21 9:49 AM

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1/19/21 4:44 PM

16 PW FEB2021


By Eric F. Greenberg, Attorney-at-law

Import Tariffs Apply to One Thing or Another Questions recently arose about whether a specific shape of pasta was actually a drinking straw. The other day, my pal Larry Friedman, also a lawyer, sent me an article he had found about the shortage of bucatini pasta. It’s a funny article, available on Bucatini is a tubular pasta shape with a hole longways through the middle. Larry thought the story would interest me because it included discussion of the Food and Drug Administration’s “standard of identity” for macaroni. (This column has discussed such standards in the past). The story piqued his interest because it also described how people have been using bucatini as a straw instead of plastic straws, and any discussion of a thing that might be another thing is the essence of his law practice, which is concentrated in customs requirements for imports and exports. He helpfully explained the basics: “Most imported items are subject to a duty based on a percentage of the value of the merchandise. For about half the merchandise that enters the U.S., that rate is “free,” meaning no duties are assessed. For dutiable goods, the rates range from a fraction of a percentage to around 40%. The average rate of duty is about 3%. Some footwear, for example has a 37.5% rate of duty.” The duty is based on the nature of the product and its country of origin. Because straws and macaroni likely have different rates, this is a “tariff classification” question. Sometimes, tariffs are imposed in order to implement a specific government policy that isn’t directly related to the articles or products involved. “Tariffs can be assessed to offset unfair trade practices, to protect national security, and for other policy reasons,” Larry explains. “For example, President Trump has imposed a 25% tariff on a large group of products from China, a 25% tariff on steel from most countries, and a 10% tariff on aluminum from most countries.” Packaging imports are included. “For example, there is a category of merchandise for plastic ‘Carboys, bottles, flasks, and similar articles,’” Larry says. “Plastic items in this category are subject to a 3% duty (and an additional 25% if from China). On the other hand, glass containers used for packing perfumes or other ‘toilet preparations’ are subject to a 2.5% duty if ‘produced by an automatic machine.’ If not, the rate jumps to 5.2%. The glass containers are also subject to the 25% duty on goods from China.” Most people understand that when you import things or articles, you gotta consider the customs tariffs, if there are any, and that’s on top of whatever other regulatory obligations apply to it. Sometimes companies and governments disagree about what a thing is. “The classification controls the cost of importing goods and has a

direct financial impact on clients. Classification is also used to indicate (but not conclusively) other regulatory requirements. For example, goods classified as plastic bottles might trigger both U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the FDA to examine the merchandise and determine whether it requires FDA clearance.” Customs lawyers like Larry can help keep tariff costs down. “If we see an opportunity to reduce duties or otherwise create efficiencies for the importer through classification, we can submit requests to Customs for a binding classification opinion.” Or, “If Customs makes a classification determination with which we disagree, there is an administrative protest process to challenge that decision.” Larry says classification is like a very technical puzzle, taking into account a broad range of facts. “The physical characteristics of the merchandise are the primary considerations, but we might also consider how the product is used after importation. The controversies often surround the meaning of words in the tariff, particularly when new products or technology come to the market.” “As an example, there was a long-running controversy over the classification of sandwich wrappers consisting of aluminum foil laminated to paper and printed with restaurant logos. This product might have been classified as a paper, a label, or aluminum foil that has been ‘backed.’ Customs had to work through the meaning of the terms ‘label,’ ‘backed,’ and ‘printed.’ In the end, Customs decided that the wrappers were fully described as ‘Aluminum foil (whether or not printed, or backed with paper, paperboard, plastics or similar backing materials) of a thickness (excluding any backing) not exceeding 0.2 mm: backed: covered or decorated with a character, design, fancy effect or pattern.’ This carried a 3.7% rate of duty.” What’s new in the tariff classification game? “Tariff classification has not changed very much since the introduction of the current tariff schedule in 1989,” Larry explains. “The big controversy at the moment is to what degree and under what circumstances should Customs or a reviewing court consider how a product is used after importation. The traditional rule is that Customs classifies merchandise in the condition in which it crosses the border.” Separate from classification, there are heated disputes ongoing over the legality of the various tariffs President Trump imposed. (Larry’s too modest to tell you, but he is representing in a federal lawsuit a group of steel importers who didn’t get exemptions from the Trump administration’s high import tariffs on steel, alleging that the companies who did get the exemption got an unfair advantage.) Yes, imports and tariffs are best thought of as one strategy among many for maximizing a company’s supply chain efficiencies. Doing that is, as they say, a thing. PW

Eric Greenberg can be reached at Or visit his firm’s Web site at INFORMATIONAL ONLY, NOT LEGAL ADVICE.

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1/19/21 2:47 PM

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By Sterling Anthony, CPP, Contributing Editor

Stretch Wrap Recycling Facilities such as plants and distribution centers that receive palletized loads secured with stretch wrap have two choices regarding that material: disposal or recycle. Disposal costs can be a large annual expense. A recycling program, on the other hand, can generate revenue, in addition to providing the practitioner with sustainability bona fides. Stretch wrap recycling is distinguishable in several ways. One is that facilities are high-volume accumulation sites, lending economiesof-scale to collection and hauling. Another is that stretch wrap (linear low-density polyethylene) is relatively homogeneous, capable of mixing with stretch wraps from various suppliers, formulation differences notwithstanding. Yet another is that stretch wrap is identifiable on sight by employees, simplifying collection and separation. Additionally, stretch wrap, because it’s not primary packaging, doesn’t need to be cleaned of product residuals. The aforementioned don’t comprise an exhaustive list, but they explain why stretch wrap recycling is a growing industry with an expanding infrastructure of facilities, markets, and intermediaries. Facilities divide into two camps: those that don’t recycle stretch wrap and those that do. The former should determine the revenue potential. Needed is knowledge of: current prices; price fluctuations, and drivers of fluctuations. Such knowledge is indispensable in identifying potential markets, determining supply chain partners, and negotiating best terms. If the revenue potential justifies, a facility should conduct a costs/ savings analysis, pitting disposal costs against recycling savings. At minimum, disposal costs include hauling, along with fees (for example, those charged by landfills). Facilities that don’t recycle stretch wrap most likely mix it with other waste, there being no need to separate it. Such facilities should determine the percentage of its waste that is composed of stretch wrap. That percentage, multiplied by the annual disposal costs, is what can be saved through diversion. Offsetting the savings are the costs associated with a stretch wrap recycling program. Those costs may be of the start-up variety. Collection bins are an example, the number of which should reflect the size of the facility and the quantity of stretch wrap generated. The cost of the bins can be spread over their useful life. Another cost may be balers, although certain intermediaries supply them as part of their

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service. A facility that already has a baler that it uses for corrugated can use it for stretch wrap. The bales, however, won’t be as dense as those made with a baler designed for stretch wrap. The denser the bales, the greater the transportation-related savings and efficiencies. In-facility labor costs will vary, depending on whether certain tasks (baling, for example) require an increased employee count. As for facilities already involved in recycling stretch wrap, the continuously asked question should be: are we getting the most from our program and how can we improve it? Any affirmative answer must include employee education. Employee buy-in is essential, not just through compliance, but also through the submission of ideas and suggestions. To command the best price, a facility’s stretch wrap must be high-quality, meaning as free of contaminants as feasible. It starts with communications with the shippers of the stretch-wrapped loads. Shippers should use plastic strapping (ideally polyethylene), if it provides adequate restraint, since the receiving facility can include it in the stretch wrap bales. Paper placards, attached by shippers for identification and inventory control, are a source of contamination. Receiving facilities need to remove them before baling; better yet, shippers should be asked to substitute plastic film (again, ideally polyethylene) for paper, for the aforementioned reason. Loads should arrive at the facility with the stretch wrap as pristine as possible. That result, in large measure, depends on the storage and handling practices of the shipper, in addition to the interior of the transportation vehicle, which should be reasonably free of dirt and debris. After loads arrive at the facility, care should be taken to keep the stretch wrap clean while on the loads. After removal, the stretch wrap should be immediately placed in designated bins and never placed on the floor. Bales should be stored under conditions that protect cleanliness, preferably indoors; however, if stored outdoors, bales should be protected from the elements (e.g. rain), but also from UV degradation. Separate from cleanliness is color. Pigmented and opaque stretch wraps have specific uses. Nonetheless, clear stretch wrap should be the choice whenever possible because of its higher recycling value. Of packaging materials, stretch wrap comes closest to being a universal candidate for recycling, and, it’s the rare (non-existent?) facility that receives no stretch-wrapped loads. And to make such a claim is no stretch. PW

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By Anne Marie Mohan, Senior Editor

Dove Designs Refillable Deodorant Pack Reusable packaging has come a long way—in strategy, sophistication, and sustainability. Launched in January by Unilever, the new Dove refillable deodorant system exemplifies this new approach, comprising a sleek, stainless-steel outer case guaranteed to last a lifetime, paired with refills in recycled-content, recyclable packaging. The innovation is just one of 100 projects Dove is working on across the globe to meet its goal to ensure all its packaging is plastic-free, is made from 100% postconsumer recycled plastics, or is reusable/refillable. It also represents Unilever’s first refill launch on a mass scale. The system was engineered by Unilever in collaboration with A Plastic Planet—a grassroots organization founded to “turn off the plastic tap”—and Dutch design consultancy VanBerlo, which began the project in 2018. The refillable Dove deodorant package has a design similar to that of the minim™ reusable package prototype, developed for Unilever’s Dove, AXE, and Rexona brands as part of the Loop reusable shopping platform (see, but it has been “optimized for personal use,” says Augusto Garzon, Dove Global Vice President of Deodorants, Unilever. The ergonomic, rounded-corner, stainless-steel case is compact, at 2 7⁄8 in. H x 2 3⁄8 in. W x 11⁄4 in. D, and has a minimalist design, with silver on the base and white on the overcap, and the iconic Dove logo in silver. Garzon explains that the screw mechanism typically used for deodorant packaging was eliminated, as “it’s often those smaller components that can be most prone to damage over time.” Instead, the case is fitted with a recyclable PET insert, selected for its engineering properties. Says Garzon. “As the refillable case is unlikely to ever be disassembled, it should last the consumer a lifetime.” First-time buyers purchase a starter kit that contains the reusable case and one 1.13-oz deodorant stick refill, packaged in a carton made from 100% FSC-certified paper from responsibly managed forests. After the initial purchase, consumers can buy two-pack refills of the deodorant—Dove’s 0% Aluminum formula, in Cucumber

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& Green Tea, Coconut & Pink Jasmine, and Sensitive varieties— also in a carton made from FSCcertified paperboard. To ensure the deodorant formulas stay fresh and hygienic, the refill sticks use primary packaging made from 98% recycled polypropylene that is also 100% recyclable (in those communities that have appropriate recycling facilities). According to Garzon, the PP packaging uses 54% less plastic than the current Dove 0% Aluminum Deodorant Stick. To use the refill, the consumer places the deodorant stick on the base of the case, then twists the top until they feel and hear a click. “Remove the refill cover, and it’s ready to use!” says Garzon. Commenting on the packaging, Sjoerd Hoijinck, Design and Innovation Director at VanBerlo, says, “Cutting consumption and crossing over to circular business models by design, Dove refillable deodorant gives you back an experience not unlike a Swiss army knife, a quality object that is personal and ages well over time.” For its part, global campaign organization A Plastic Planet contributed to the project by providing insights to Unilever on how to communicate the new concept. “We have been very involved in helping craft the overall messaging of the idea, who the audience would be, and how it could influence other Unilever brands,” explains Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet. “Our role, past and future, will be to work closely with the wider team to see how the next iterations of this beautiful structure can have even less plastic, less impact, and more permanence, especially on the refill system. We act as a touchstone on authenticity and integrity. “The whole Dove team sees this as a first big step in a long journey, with a radical new way to deliver products we all love and want in a way that takes as little from our planet as possible. The first step is always the most important, but it definitely won’t be the last!” For the initial launch of its Dove refillable deodorant product, Unilever has decided not to implement in partnership with Loop, but launched online at and in January 2021. At presstime, the company says the product will also be available at Target and Walmart stores in February 2021, and on Amazon. com in March 2021. The starter kit, which includes the case and one deodorant refill, is priced at $14.99; the refill kit, with two deodorant refills, is $9.99. PW

1/22/21 2:13 PM

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1/20/21 1:59 PM

22 PW FEB2021

Magnum Tub is First to Use Certified Circular Plastic The indulgent ice cream brand pioneers the use of recycled plastic, with the material sourced from mixed plastic waste that is converted to plastic resin feedstock through advanced recycling. WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

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By Anne Marie Mohan, Senior Editor Creating a circular economy for single-use plastic packaging has become the rallying cry for Consumer Packaged Goods companies around the world. To comply with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, many top multinationals have committed to ambitious goals around reducing their use of virgin plastic as a way to address plastic waste and pollution at its source.

Unilever’s Magnum ice cream brand is the first in the category to use recycled plastic in its packaging. In August 2020, it rolled out 7 million tubs made from 100% certified circular PP throughout Europe.

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One company leading the charge is Unilever. Among its 2025 goals, the global provider of food and refreshment, home care, and beauty and personal care products has committed to several significant advancements, including cutting in half the amount of virgin plastic it uses in its packaging for an absolute reduction of more than 100,000 tons of plastic; helping to collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells; ensuring that 100% of its plastic packaging is designed to be fully reusable, recyclable, or compostable; and increasing its use of post-consumer recycled plastic material to at least 25%. The biggest hurdle for Unilever—as well as for the other signatories to the Global Commitment—is the reality that, “in its current form, the U.S. recycling system cannot deliver the supply of recycled materials demanded by the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment.” That’s according to The Recycling Partnership, which in a recent report, “The Bridge to Circularity,” outlined the massive challenges ahead, using the limited availability of recycled PET as an example. Notes the report, “While not necessarily a proxy for other resins, PET provides a good bellwether because it is a core packaging substrate for many Global Commitment signatories, and it is already widely collected, with a relatively mature supporting infrastructure.” Despite these advantages, the partnership estimates that the U.S. is 1.1 billion pounds short, or 100 additional bottles per person annually, of the 1.6 billion pounds of rPET that will be needed to meet CPGs’ recycled-content goals.

1/19/21 5:05 PM


So how does Unilever, with more than 400 brands worldwide, requiring a range of packaging formats and materials, intend to reach its circular economy goals by 2025? Says the company, “Our four commitments demand a fundamental rethink in our approach to our packaging and products. It requires us to introduce new and innovative packaging materials and scale up new business models … at an unprecedented speed and intensity.” One technology opening up entirely new opportunities for sourcing recycled-content plastics, including for food packaging applications, is advanced recycling. In August 2020, Unilever’s Magnum brand became the first in the ice cream category to use recycled plastic in its packaging, rolling out more than 7 million ice cream tubs made with certified circular polypropylene from SABIC’s TRUCIRCLE™ initiative. TRUCIRCLE involves taking mixed plastic waste and recycling it through pyrolysis into an oil that can be used as the feedstock to produce a range of plastics with the same characteristics and functionality as virgin plastic. “Chemical recycling can play a complementary route to mechanical recycling,” says Sanjeev Das, Global Packaging Director, in Foods & Refreshment, for Unilever. “Although there have been recycled polypropylene options available for beauty and personal care products for some time, there were previously no solutions approved for use in food-grade packaging. So, Chemical producer SABIC creates plastic resin using pyrolysis oil made from mixed we collaborated with SABIC to develop one. The plastic waste. The resulting resin is then then used by Magnum for its packaging, which recycled polypropylene used in Magnum is not can be recycled after use, creating a circular system for single-use plastics. obtained by traditional mechanical recycling, as this is not suitable for food contact packaging. The technology used alpolyethylene, low-density polyethylene, polystyrene, and polypropyllows us to recycle low-quality, mixed plastic waste that would otherwise ene, that would otherwise be incinerated, sent to a landfill, or downmost likely be destined for incineration or landfill. It is not currently cycled. This includes multilayer flexible films that can’t be recycled, as possible to produce food-grade recycled polypropylene with any other well as monolayer films that, while recyclable, are oftentimes used for form of recycling system.” non-packaging applications such as synthetic lumber for decking or park benches. Plastic Energy uses a patented pyrolysis technology described by the company as Thermal Anaerobic Conversion (TAC) to recycle the materiBased in Saudi Arabia, SABIC is a producer of diversified chemicals, als. Explains Vester, “In the case of pyrolysis, you heat the plastics, but including high-performance plastics. At the World Economic Forum in you make sure there’s no oxygen in the reactor. The plastics then break Davos, Switzerland, in January 2020, the company shared its plans for down and form mainly a liquid product that has properties similar to TRUCIRCLE, a portfolio of solutions that include design for recyclabilthe feedstock that we use today to make plastics. We call that feedstock ity, mechanically recycled products, certified renewables products from pyrolysis oil.” bio-based feedstock, and—of particular interest to Unilever—certified He adds that one of the differences between pyrolysis oil and the circular products from feedstock recycling of plastic waste streams. crude oil, or naphtha, that is traditionally used to produce plastics is As Mark Vester, Circular Economy Leader at SABIC, explains, SABthat pyrolysis oil needs to be purified to remove contaminants, such as IC is now producing an ISCC (International Sustainability & Carbon PVC, ink contaminants, food waste, or chlorides, before use. “Pyrolysis Certification)-certified circular polymer resin from a feedstock known oil has a very particular blend in terms of contaminants because it origias Tacoil, a pyrolysis oil from U.K.-based Plastic Energy Ltd. Tacoil is nates from waste and not from the soil,” he says. made from low-quality, mixed plastic waste, including high-density

Drop-in plastic made from mixed waste

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1/19/21 5:05 PM

24 PW FEB2021

After treatment, SABIC feeds its naphtha cracker, located at its Geleen, Netherlands, plant, with the purified pyrolysis oil, using the same process as used for traditional petroleum naphtha, to produce plastics that are identical to what would be made from virgin naphtha feedstock. One advantage of plastics produced through advanced recycling is that, in contrast to mechanically recycled materials, where LA102-Half-Page-Island-Spread-2.pdf 2 7/21/20 10:26 AM waste originating from a specific polymer can only be recycled back into

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that polymer—for example, PET into PET, PP into PP, etc.—pyrolysis oil can be used as a drop-in to produce a number of polymers. Not only that, the plastic can be customized to meet specific functionalities of an application. Vester notes that while there are other advanced recycling technologies, such as gasification and solvolysis, SABIC believes pyrolysis currently offers the best route to circular plastics. “From our assessment of the current status of all of these technologies, and looking at the economics and the footprint, we think that for now, pyrolysis technology offers the best possibility to bring mixed plastic waste back into the value chain,” he says. And, while there are other companies pursuing pyrolysis technologies, none are at the stage of development where the output can be used commercially or at-scale. Plastic Energy owns and operates two chemical recycling facilities in Spain and is working with SABIC to bring another plant online, at SABIC’s Geleen site, to increase the production of pyrolysis oil. According to Plastic Energy, for every tonne of end-of-life plastic waste processed, 850 L of chemical feedstock Tacoil are produced.


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Immediately following Davos, SABIC revealed it was working with Unilever as a strategic partner in developing commercial applications using the recycled plastic. Eight months later, Unilever launched its Magnum tub, made with 100% certified circular plastics from SABIC, across all European countries. The introduction followed a successful pilot of the tub in Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands in 2019. Unilever’s Magnum brand of indulgent ice cream is available as ice cream bars and in tubs in countries around the world. In tubs, the brand is known for the shell of Belgian chocolate that wraps around the ice cream and can be cracked by squeezing the packaging. Shares Unilever’s Das, there were a number of qualifications that needed to be tested before using SABIC’s recycled plastic as an alternative packaging material for the brand. “The big test from a technical standpoint was obviously whether the material could be processed at our converter in the same way as our current tubs. Once we learned it could, we also looked at durability and aesthetics. The other big element for Magnum is this huge experience of cracking—when you use the tub, you can crack the chocolate. The new material from SABIC had to also fulfill that specific functionality, so it had to be flexible enough. It also had to be durable enough to withstand the frozen supply chain, because that’s a completely different environment to deal with. “We worked together with our top suppliers in Europe to try out the material and do the requisite functionality tests to be sure it passed the overall require-

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ments for durability, aesthetics, and distribution. Then we qualified the material for production. That process obviously took some time. Remember, this was the first time we were looking at bringing this technology to the world, so we wanted to be sure it was perfect.” Das adds that Unilever was able to give SABIC the requirements for the specific application upfront, “so they tailored the resin to suit the application,” he says. “And when we did the trials, we didn’t find any differences compared to the current materials being used.” Notes Vester, “That’s also the huge relevance of advanced recycling. Unlike mechanical recycling, where you can’t tailor to requirements, advanced recycling enables the tailoring to bring out resins with specific applications, like in this case, it was a frozen supply chain.” The recycled PP is used for both the 440-mL tub as well as the lid. The packaging is recyclable, continuing the circularity of the materials. Magnum promotes its use of advanced recycling technology on-pack, as well as provides detailed information on its website on “this new recycled material and how it’s helping with the whole area of sustainability and packaging waste,” Das shares.

purpose, I say ‘used plastics’ and not ‘plastic waste.’ They need to remain in the loop, and that requires a big change for the industry. That’s not something that individual companies can do. Individual companies can set examples, and I think our partnership with Unilever, in this and in other projects, is a good example of trying to make this value chain more circular. In doing that, we will have to build on partnerships LA102-Half-Page-Island-Spread-2.pdf 1 7/21/20 10:26 AM where we are working together across the supply chain.” PW

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Driving a circular plastics economy Last August, when Unilever announced the widespread rollout of the Magnum tub, SABIC estimated that by the end of 2020, the brand will have used 160,000 kg of certified plastic material. Following the launch of Magnum, Unilever introduced two more applications of the certified circular plastics: Knorr bouillon powder containers for professional kitchens, and REN Clean Skincare’s new airless Evercalm Global Protection Day Cream packaging. Regarding the launch of Magnum, Das says that so far, Unilever has “received very, very strong support from the retailers on this change.” He adds, “From consumers, what I’ve seen so far is very positive. In social media, there’s been a lot of discussion around how we’re trying to find a way to take plastic waste out of the environment. And on the website also, we’ve received a lot of support for what we’re trying to do. From a product perspective, it was a seamless change, so consumers haven’t commented on that at all, but the rest is good feedback. “At Unilever, we believe that obviously plastic has a role in packaging, but the key issue is how do we keep this plastic waste out of the environment? And for the waste created, how can we bring value to that waste? This technology actually brings value to waste that otherwise would not have been recycled or would have ended up in landfills. I think that’s the biggest story of this technology.” Says Vester, “Going forward, one of the roles we see for SABIC in the value chain is that we’re bringing used plastics back into the materials chain and keeping them in the loop so they don’t become waste. On










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Packaging Technology Keeps Vireo Health’s Cannabis Flower Flavorful and Potent Longer The packaging system preserves naturally occurring compounds within the flower, creating a robust, consistent product for consumers. WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

Two-part labeling system

Functional package structure

By Melissa Griffen, Contributing Editor A group of compounds collectively referred to as terpenes are what provide the characteristic smell and flavor of cannabis. There is evidence that terpenes are also responsible for some of the pharmacological benefits of medical cannabis. These compounds are volatile, however, so as soon as the plants are harvested, these molecules begin evaporating into the air–especially during drying and storage.

Vireo Health International Inc., a physician-founded, sciencefocused multi-state cannabis company, signed an exclusive licensing agreement with eBottles420—a supplier of high-quality packaging for the cannabis market—to manufacture and distribute Vireo’s patentpending, terpene-preserving packaging system to keep the product consistent.

The company uses a two-part labeling system, with the main label displaying the brand name and the product type. The supplementary label contains the lot number, the specific testing results, and any state-specific content.

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• Child resistant and continuous thread closures, jars and vials • Protocol tested to meet Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards • Optimal cannabis storage environment that is airtight, opaque, moisture-resistant and odor proof • Polypropylene, High Density Polyethylene and PCR options available • Premium packaging competitive with PET pricing • Made in the USA

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How the system works This system is designed to preserve cannabis flower by inhibiting the gradual loss of terpenes within jars–made from any standard material, such as glass or plastics–by including a source of volatile terpene compounds within the package itself. These will resupply the headspace equilibrium, meaning the terpenes in the flower won’t have an equilibrium drive to fill the air space. Using a 12-cavity injection mold, eBottles420 created a basket–

made from a proprietary blend of recyclable plastics to ensure material compatibility with terpenes (as those compounds can have some incompatibilities with some plastics)–that fits into the underside of the jar’s cap, which hangs down slightly into the jar’s headspace. Inside the basket is the matrix that cannabis producers impregnate with the terpene compound. The process method is dependent on the producer. It can be done with a robotic filling system or by hand with a dropper. These efforts are meant to ensure the terpene levels in cannabis products are preserved throughout the distribution chain–from greenhouse to the consumer’s home–maintaining a robust and consistent flavor profile.

eBottles420 created a basket that fits into the underside of the jar’s cap, which hangs down slightly into the jar’s headspace.

“From a medical point of view, we are focused on consistency,” says Eric Greenbaum, chief science officer at Vireo Health. “We want to make sure that when customers buy the strain that they prefer, a month or two months from now it’s the same.” While the system is designed to work with most materials, Vireo does encourage the use of recyclable materials and is working with eBottles420 to ensure that materials used in the company’s initial offerings are recyclable.

The labeling Vireo says there are no special labeling requirements with their packaging. As the company is multistate, the label content changes based on the state program overseeing production. The company uses a two-part labeling system, with the main label displaying the brand name and the product type. The supplementary label contains the lot number, the specific testing results, and any kind of state-specific content.

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Future plans for cannabis packaging The current packaging system is only for cannabis flower in jars, so Vireo is working toward making it available in bags as well. The company is also experimenting to test whether or not the system works with concentrates. Another future endeavor is to add a temperature and humidity controlling system in the packaging. Vireo recently established a subsidiary called Resurgent Biosci-

ences to house Vireo’s portfolio of intellectual property and related initiatives in a non-plant-touching entity meant to broaden potential partnership opportunities or other strategic outcomes. Technologies like the terpene-preserving packaging system have a variety of potential applications in many industries beyond cannabis, says the company, including food & beverage and health & beauty products. PW

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Packaging professionals in engineering, packaging, operations, and sustainability roles in a range of industries were interviewed for PMMI’s Packaging Sustainability: A Changing Landscape. Here’s a look at just a few of the comments from life science respondents: • “ We’ve created healthcare product recycling for hospitals and a returnable program for vision care products.” - Sr. director of Packaging, Global Leader in Healthcare Products • “ We converted our medical products packaging from a rigid tray to prefilled pouch requiring a new FFS machine.” - Sr. director of packaging, Global Leader in Healthcare Products • “ Our labeling has been improved by using rotary type labeling which is faster and more precise.” - Packaging engineer, Vitamins/Supplements • “ We don’t have any sustainability goals for packaging right now, we are focusing on monitoring and reducing our utility usage.” - Packaging manager, Contract Manufacturer, Pharma • “ We are trying to eliminate the need to cellophane wrap our cosmetic products but still looking for a tamper evident solution.” - Project engineer, Personal Care Download the FREE Executive Summary, or PMMI Members can download the entire report at

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Cannabis Operation Ascends Steep Packaging Learning Curve As it fills a market gap to produce a refined product for discriminating tastes, particularly amid a competitive set that tends toward speed to market, 1620 Labs leans on packaging to differentiate itself. WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

Seed-to-sale track & trace

Regulatory considerations

By Matt Reynolds, Editor

1620 Labs’ child-resistant pack configurations, both containing 0.5-g pre-rolls, include a push-pack carton of five (above) and a J-tube pack of two (inset upper right).

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In 2016, when recreational marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts, the idea behind 1620 Labs was hatched. As is often the case when a new market opens up, a vacuum is created that sucks folks in from other markets. In this instance, four local career changers shared a vision of leveraging their combined expertise—namely in horticulture, landscape architecture, real estate, and investing—and applying them to a fledgling industry. In particular, they saw a gap in the market for the highest end, premium cannabis flower for use in pre-rolled cannabis cigarettes (pre-rolls). In a business environment where large companies were flooding this fresh new market with whatever they could grow as soon as they could grow it, 1620 Labs positions itself as a carefully produced craft cannabis cultivator. “Even though we’re employing advanced technology [horticulturally speaking], we’re doing things old school,” says Mike Lance, COO, 1620 Labs. “Ours is very much a hands-on approach, with a lot of love and a fierce dedication to the ancient art of thoughtful cultivation. We’re growing plants in small batches using real soil. Instead of using harmful chemicals, we are using all-natural compost tea for fertilizer and have also adopted a natural pest control methodology using primarily beneficial insects, including ladybugs. Our staff is at the facility around the clock taking care of the plants, constantly monitoring the pH balance of the soil, and checking humidity levels in the grow rooms. We harvest by hand, as well as hand trim each flower to produce the highest quality products.” But, especially with cannabis, starting a business from scratch isn’t just a matter of having a dream and hanging out a shingle. In fact, get-

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The Sluice Box filling system simultaneously fills 406 pre-roll cone wrapping papers.

ting the business up and running was a four-year process, and a very specific order of operations needed to be followed. This included site selection (Athol, Mass.) first, then a lengthy process of town and state approvals for a cultivation license, and only after receiving a provisional license was the company able to concentrate on retrofitting the building to meet the needs of the new business. In March 2020, 1620 Labs received the go-ahead to start growing, and on October 26, 2020, it received authorization from the state to commence operations as an adult-use cultivator. Lance sees his company’s slow but certain path to production as a transformation story, one that isn’t over yet. “Our commitment to transform Athol and the lives of its citizens will continue to grow with each new harvest,” Lance says. “Likewise, the transformation of our little company will continue with Phase Two as we look to expand our footprint on the property. We own a mill building next to our current facility, with plans to knock it down and build another state-of-the-art grow facility in its place. This new building will be three times the size of our current building—a vital part of our transformation goals to bring more jobs to the area and build on the promise of a better tomorrow.”

Packaging a key component As 1620 Labs began the process of investigating packaging solutions for its product, an industry notion Lance frequently encountered was that packaging was an afterthought; common knowledge held that the product would sell itself. And there was some truth to that—there was a certain period where the cultivators struggled to keep up with new, pent up demand. But Lance looked at it differently. “More generally, we knew wanted something that was different than what was out there. A lot of retailers, when I started meeting them, emphasized that the packaging wasn’t necessarily that important yet. It wasn’t what was drawing people to the flowers. A lot of the market

Cannabis_1620Labs.indd 33

is driven by just numbers right now and meeting demand,” Lance says. “But as we went in, we knew that we wanted the full presentation—to have that high testing flower, as well as really nice-looking packaging.” This is a good place to note that the primary packaging on a pre-roll isn’t discarded, it’s actually consumed (smoked) by the consumer. The packaging in that case—what would have traditionally been called the rolling paper—had to be something that would produce a favorably slow burn compared to other pre-roll paper on the market. “We aren’t putting trim [also called shake, trim is loose cannabis leaf no longer adhering to the more favorable bud or flower] into our pre-rolls, we’re putting flower in so it’s a really high-quality product going in, and we wanted that to be represented throughout the brand.” But as career changers coming from landscape architecture, marketing, and finance, the packaging supply chain was a steep learning curve. Director of Marketing Liz Carroll put out a call for samples from suppliers, and there was a wave of possibilities and considerations, but the solution arrived upon was a slam dunk, according to both Carroll and Lance. The package system was an 85-mm, 0.5-g pre-roll system, packed either five to a child-resistant paperboard push-pack carton, or two to a child resistant J-tube. Among competitors sampled, “it wasn’t really close, this one was an easy choice,” Lance says.

Soup-to-nuts packaging solution The company selected Custom Cones USA, a builder of pre-roll machinery and supplier of pre-roll packaging, like cartons and coneshaped rolling papers. The advantage Custom Cones presented 1620 Labs was the simplicity of a complete, turnkey solution for the emerging pre-roll brand. The supplier was able to provide everything 1620 Labs needed to get that super-premium flower—expensive material that had already consumed so much science, space, light, water, and

Video: Cannabis Packaging Watch a deep-dive discussion with cannabis brand owner GTI, held during PACK EXPO Connects, covering cannabis logistics, regulations, packaging equipment acquisition, pack design, and a lot more. Visit pwgoto/5984 to watch. PW

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The filling system consists of two cartridges that sit atop a vibratory table that gently vibrates ground flower from the upper cartridge into the cone wrapping papers in the lower cartridge.

general TLC—into a pre-roll cone, then into a child-resistant push-pack carton or J-tube, and finally into a corrugated shipper or bin. The most basic unit in the packaging operation is the cone itself— this is a cone-shaped, pre-rolled rolling paper awaiting filling with cannabis flower. Aligning with 1620 Labs’ desire for as natural an operation product as possible, the cones are 100% organic hemp rolling paper. They include an integral folded hemp paper filter structure, best described as a spiral of heavily folded paper that adds stability at the base of the pre-roll where consumers hold it in their fingers or lips when consuming. These cones arrive at the 1620 Labs facility as nested 10-packs. Ready for filling, the cones are hand loaded, open or female side up, into a semi-automatic vibratory filling station called a Sluice Box, sold by Custom Cones. The three-layer filling system consists of vibratory base, a lower receiving cartridge holding the cones, and an upper cartridge from which cannabis flower is dispensed. Watch a brief video on how the Sluice Box works at The base of the Sluice Box is a vibratory mechanism designed to gently vibrate the cannabis flower from the upper cartridge into the cones in the lower cartridge. The lower cartridge consists of slots designed to hold the cones. The company uses a Sluice Box with a 406-slot cartridge for 85-mm cones, but for larger 98-mm and 109-mm cone sizes, a cartridge containing 325 slots is available. Once the cones are loaded (which takes about 15 minutes), the upper cartridge with a corresponding slot pattern is placed on top, and the hand trimmed cannabis flower is placed loosely into it. Turning on the system, vibrations shake the flower into the cones lined up beneath the upper cartridge slots. The whole three-layer set-up sits on a rubberized mat to help absorb vibration and catch loose product. A final step is a tamping tool with male pin pattern to match the female slot pattern on the lower cartridge. This allows mass tamping of cannabis flower into the cones.

Secondary push-pack cartons

Filled pre-rolls are removed from the lower cartridge for weighing, folding closed, and manual packing.

Cannabis_1620Labs.indd 34

Following filling, each cone is weighed to ensure it’s precisely 0.5 g per cone. Then, these are hand-packed into either the five-pack pushpack carton (2.5 g total) or the two-pack J-tube (1.0 g total). The push-pack carton is custom made for 1620 Labs by Custom Cones. It consists of a heavy-duty paperboard inner tray (at 2 mm thickness as taken with a caliper), complete with lighter paperboard insert to cradle each of the five pre-rolls and prevent movement within the tray. The inner tray slides into a thinner paperboard outer sleeve, and “clicks” into place. Tested and certified to be tamper proof and child resistant, custom push packs provide all related regulatory compliance for 1620 Labs. The back of the pack features a discrete, rubberized (silicon) push-button tab that the consumer pushes down to unlock and then slides under the outer paperboard jacket to slide the tray from its jacket. The silicon feature adds tactile assurance for the thumb. Watch a brief video on how the mechanism works at “You just depress it slightly and you slide it with your thumb in one motion,” says Lance. “It’s a really nice design.” The entire pack is made of sturdy, recyclable paperboard that the company says is a more sustainable packaging option than its first-generation plastic cartons. Important for start-ups in cannabis packaging, Custom Cones offers a MOQ as low as 500 to 1000, depending on the level of customization.

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Manual filling of J-tubes prior to shrink wrapping, labeling, and batching in bins for transport.

The J-tubes are packed with the same product, just two instead of five. They fit together into the tube as inverse but corresponding shapes, one filter-side down, the other filter-side up, and the certified child-resistant tube closure clicks close. Both the cartons and the J-tubes are then shrink-wrap sealed, both for freshness and to fully enclose packs. The push-pack cartons use a transparent film to let the design show through, while the J-tubes use a printed film containing branding, logos, and more information about the product. Both package varieties are hand packed into corrugated, marked with information generated from metrc software for seed-to-sale data (more on that a little later), and manually taped closed with anti-tampering tape. Logistics and delivery to retailers occurs thereafter.

Packaging design collaboration Not yet mentioned, but absolutely key in both staying in compliance with the law and communicating accurate information to the retailer and end consumer, labeling is a crucial step in 1620 Labs’ packaging process. The precise placement of the artwork that goes on the cartons, and considerations regarding placement of legally required label identifiers, plus regulations indicating what needs to be visible and where, are considerations capable of vexing the most experienced CPGs. But like many start-up cannabis producers, 1620 Labs didn’t have a team of package designers awash with pack design best practices available to it. Custom Cones was able to offer experience in that manner. “The entire cannabinol profile [THC/CBD content, and varietal of indica, sativa, or hybrid] of flower is on each label, plus the batch number, the packing date, expiration date, and so on,” Lance says. “Part of what Custom Cones helped us with was the sizing. We knew we needed a certain label with a certain font that we have to print out every time we grow it, and it has to fit on the pack somewhere. And there’s a lot of information on the pack and on the tube. Plus we needed to include our branding and our color scheme, and we had all that stuff figured out, but they helped us manipulate where it would fit and what size, shapes.” The plain white pressure sensitive labels are currently printed on a simple office inkjet printer and manually applied. In a first go-around with this packaging system, how the labels fit on the packs, and what they potentially obscured on the secondary packaging underneath, was an issue. Finding the right real estate without covering up logos or other important information was a problem. A more recent iteration of packaging accounts for this and standardizes label size and location on both the push-packs and J-tubes.

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Label specifics “A lot of what’s on the label is lab-determined,� Lance says. What he means is that some label information, THC content, for instance, is dependent on lab measurements that reflect natural fluctuations from marijuana plant to marijuana plant, and harvest to harvest. Also, the company uses a software system, called metrc, that is designed to monitor a safe and legal seed-to-sale supply chain. This non-consumer-fac21-496_Cannabis 1-2 island print ad FNL.pdf 1 1/13/21 10:38 AM












ing track and trace meta-information allows complete visibility of every pre-roll, all the way back to the plant that grew the flower. “The cultivators basically track weight, but the dispensaries like to have us adapt that weight into units, into actual round numbers of products instead of weights,� Lance says. For instance, in the case of 1620 Labs’ J-tubes, operators pack the tubes by the hundred, 113 per shipper to be precise. That’s because 113 J-tube packs is the individual package equivalent to the weight that 1620 Labs tracks on the cultivator side. But all of this information, and the conversions from weights of flower to numbers of individual packs or SKUs, is constantly tracked in the metrc system. And all of that is printed onto a label on the shipping case, so the retailers also have the numbers they’re used to dealing with. Backward conversions to weights are readily available, and batch and lot numbers follow each pack through the entire chain.






M !

Manual label application is completed for a batch of pre-rolls bound for J-tube two-packs. The J-tubes are shrink-wrapped with printed film prior to labeling.

Resulting pack system




The result was a design collaboration between graphic designers at 1620 Labs—the company already had an established logo and brand cues when it first sought packaging—and the knowledgeable team at Custom Cones, who with an eye for regulations and how they affect pack design, had ushered more than one cannabis brand across the start-up finish line. “We have someone on staff who was responsible for a really elegant design and branding creation, and we wanted to be sure that shone through,� Carroll says. “But her design was sent to Custom Cones and they turned it into the packaging that we needed. To have a company that helped us out with all that packaging design work, created the proofs and worked with us on all the necessary labeling, was super helpful and a huge reason why we chose Custom Cones.� PW


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Each of the following market-leading companies* participating in Packaging World’s 2021 Leaders in Packaging Program are named sponsors of PW’s Future Leaders in Packaging scholarship. This year’s recipient is Purdue Northwest (PNW), College of Technology. We appreciate the support of all participants on behalf of packaging education.

More Information: *These logos represent some of the recent Leaders in Packaging Participants. Sponsor recognition will alternate every other month. ©2021 PMMI Media Group

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Indicators Facilitate Changeover Reliable operator guidance for size changeover on end-of-line packaging machinery is provided by AP05 electronic position indicators. WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

Automating changeover Somic is well known for innovative solutions when it comes to endof-line packaging machines. And because so many customers need to change the size or format of the case they’re filling on a particular day or shift, electronic position indicators from SIKO have become a trusted way of simplifying the changeover process on Somic packaging machines. According to Dr. Johann Härtl, Head of Construction at Somic, first it was the AP04 indicator the firm relied on, but now the successor model AP05 is in use. “They are very compact, easy to integrate into the machine control system, and very user-friendly in terms of readability and clarity,” notes Härtl. Some customers have 20 or 30 formats on a line, so they make full use of the flexibility designed into the machines, he adds. Some even produce both wraparound and tray-plus-lid formats on a single machine. The monitored size changeover made possible by the integration of the electronic position indicators means the operator simply selects the required format, which is stored as a recipe in the machine control system. The control system then sends the new set values to the displays to be adjusted. The back-lit LCD displays are easy to read and also feature green and red status LEDs. When the correct value is reached by turning a crank, the LED changes to green: position reached. Otherwise the LED will continue to light up red, an indication that readjustment is necessary. In addition, arrows also conveniently indicate the direction in which adjustment is required. As the communication interface of the SIKO position indicators in the machine control always provides the current position information, it is effectively ruled out that incorrect settings could lead to quality problems or even damage to machine parts when the machine is restarted. Adjustment with electronic displays is much more efficient, especially on machines with many adjustment points and frequent changes. The machine has stored all default values; target positions no longer have to be manually selected from format lists.

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Help for operators

The next expansion step for Somic would be the full automation of size changeover via actuators. The first concepts are already being tested, as Somic is keenly interested in increasing machine flexibility while simultaneously maintaining high process reliability. The more adjustment points there are and the more often the formats have to be changed, the more attractive fully automated adjustment becomes. “We are happy to provide support for further developments and new projects,” says Moritz Müller, PositionLine Product Manager at SIKO. “This includes, for example, the integration of IO-Link interfaces to simplify integration into the machine control system or full automation via our add-on-compatible compact actuators.” —Pat Reynolds

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Case Packer, Palletizer Meet Increase in Demand It was one thing when this Tennessee producer of fertilizer products was focused on one niche market. But when it broadened its marketing message, automation was required. WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

Robotic case packing

Automated palletizing

Pat Reynolds, VP Editor Emeritus

The robot picks two containers at a time and places them gently into the corrugated reshippers.

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Floratine Products Group of Colllierville, Tenn., is a leading producer of biostimulants used for many years as fertilizers for golf courses and other sports turfs. But management realized that its products are just as suitable throughout most categories of agriculture as they are for fairways and putting greens, so they made a concerted effort to broaden the firm’s marketing message in an effort to expand beyond their previous niche market. That resulted in an increase in demand, which in turn made automated packaging operations more appealing than ever. Targeted first for automation was case packing and palletizing of extrusion blown HDPE bottles. In the past, the 21⁄2-gal filled bottles were placed into triple-wall corrugated reshippers with center dividers by an operator who used a vacuum-assist device to lift and insert the 20- to 35-lb bottles. Not only was this slow and inefficient, it was difficult to avoid damaging the reshippers due to the heavy weight of the bottles being handled. As for palletizing, it was strictly a manual operation. Now the case packing is done on a system from Hamrick that relies on an M-710iC robot from Fanuc. Rockwell controls include a CompactLogix controller, Powerflex 525 drives, and Panelview HMI. And palletizing is done on a low-level-infeed palletizer from Top Tier. According to Director of Operations Justin Eason, throughput has been doubled to 12 cases/min, damaged packaging has been greatly reduced, and because operators could be reassigned elsewhere in the plant, the labor savings will provide a 2.5-year ROI. Eason says that when the firm began looking to automate case packing, a robotic solution was not necessarily a given. In fact, a drop packer was the original plan. “I went to see a Hamrick drop packer operating at a plant in Louisiana that was handling a 21⁄2-gal bottle similar to ours,” says Eason. “But our products are so packed with nutrients that the specific gravity of our

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filled bottles is probably twice what it is for the bottles I was watching. I worried that a drop packer just couldn’t stand that violent dropping motion without being structurally or mechanically compromised in short order. So we decided to attend PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2019 to see what our options were. We talked with plenty of machine builders, including Hamrick. And it didn’t take long to see that the robotic action, which gently lowers the heavy bottles two at a time into the reshipper, was going to be the best approach.” Eason says he was especially concerned about damage to shipments that go to international markets by way of sea containers. “We sell a lot of product overseas,” he explains, “and we can’t afford to have a bottle leak in one of those sea containers. All it takes is one leaker to ruin half a truckload, and once that happens you don’t get those bottles back. You just eat the cost.”

Mechanical end effectors include two pneumatically driven clamps to mechanically close on the containers and help minimize excessive swaying. Unchanged in the Floratine operation is the manual removal of bottles from reshippers and infeed of bottles into the filler. Also unchanged, for now at least, is filling, capping, and labeling. Operators remove empty bottles from their reshippers and put the bottles on a conveyor leading to the filler/capper while the reshippers go on a parallel conveyor leading to the Hamrick robotic system.

Infeed to case packer Filled and capped bottles enter the case packer single file. The bottles get turned 90 deg by a turning hook so that they are wide-side leading when they reach the case packer. Bottles are indexed two at a time into the pick station, and right beside them are the corrugated

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reshippers in their parallel conveyor. Major and minor flaps are mechanically plowed open and held open throughout the bottle-insertion process. Meanwhile, the Fanuc robot uses its end-of-arm tooling to pick two bottles and place them into a waiting case. A centering frame helps ensure spot-on positioning as bottles enter the case. Hamrick made the end-of-arm tooling, which uses two pneumatically driven clamps to mechanically close on the container handles for the purpose of lifting the heavy containers. Also making an important contribution to the picking and placing process is a vacuum suction cup on each end-ofarm tool. By closing firmly on the cap, the vacuum cup becomes in effect a second gripper. Not in the sense that it will help lift the heavy bottles, but rather in that it provides a steadying effect. “When the bottles are lifted and swung through SOCIAL DISTANCE YOUR EMPLOYEES WITH AUTOMATION. the air that short distance to the reshippers, the liquid content inside sloshes and makes the bottles want to sway,” says Eason. “That extra bit of contact provided by the vacuum cup brings a little extra stability and keeps that swaying from becoming a problem. It works out beautifully.” Operating at about six cases/min as the case packer now does, that is a welcome contribution. But in the near future, when a new and faster filler will replace the one currently operating, speeds will be more like 12 cases/min. Under those circumstances, any added element of stability on the case packer will be most welcome indeed.

Learn more about the robotic revolution, along with a host of other on-trend packaging topics presented during the recent PACK EXPO Connects Jumpstart sessions, at



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Watch a video of the case packer in action at:

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No matter the complexity of your operations, IPG has the right solution for you. Manufacturing safety is a PRIORITY. The right automation will allow your operations to implement growing safety needs, allowing proper social distancing on your production lines. IPG’s focus on customizable, automated full in-line and end-of-line packaging solutions ranges from cartoning and case packing to pouch packing, random case erecting, palletizing and robotic integration. IPG’s packaging automation solutions can improve your productivity with lower operating costs and higher throughput efficiency. Experience the IPG/Tishma Technology difference:  World class engineering capabilities  Highest industrial throughput (1000 cpm)  Serving Global Food, Pharma, Ecommerce, Confections, Cosmetics & Beverage Companies Our dedication to packaging doesn’t stop there – IPG can also seal, bundle, unitize and protect your shipments with our stretch film, shrink film, void fill and bundling solutions.

Worth noting on the Hamrick case packer is the inclusion of a remote access device from Ewon. The Ewon Cosy establishes a secure VPN connection from the machine to anywhere in the world via a cloudbased remote connectivity solution. The gateway seamlessly communicates on the local area network with the Rockwell PLC and HMI, allowing remote connection from a computer, tablet, or smart phone. The filled reshippers exit the Hamrick case packer and are taped shut and given labels by equipment that has been in place for some time. Next is palletizing. Research for this equipment was also done at PACK EXPO Las Vegas. “The Top Tier machine was the best option available that could handle the weight,” says Eason. “We’re close to a thousand pounds per layer. Plus, because we ship to 31 countries, we need to use more than one pallet format, and it accepts all three formats that we need to use.”

Virtual FAT The new packaging equipment has been running now since July, and Eason says he’s pleased with how smoothly it’s gone. “There were some delays caused by the pandemic, and the FAT had to be conducted virtually because it wasn’t clear there’d be a hotel for me to

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stay in if I traveled to Hamrick in Ohio for an in-person FAT,” says Eason. “But the equipment running in our plant now has been just flawless.” Eason notes that additional improvements are just now being implemented, most notably perhaps a new filler from G&B Packaging Equipment. A four-nozzle inline filler using positive displacement pumps, the Aurora Elite delivers on two key performance characteristics: versatility and accuracy. “These products are very expensive, so overfilling of any kind would be a big problem,” says Eason. “With this filler I get plus or minus a half a percent.” The versatility component is important, too, says Eason, because other bottle sizes are also filled on this filler. “I can change to a new size in 20 minutes,” he says. “And as our business continues to evolve and change now that we’re broadening our target market, I expect additional bottle types and sizes to be introduced.” Another area of improvement is in vision systems. Nearly all of Floratine’s labels arrive with little more than company branding information printed on them. Things like date and lot codes and instruc-

The heavy liquid product results in each pallet layer weighing close to a thousand pounds. tions for use—all done in the language of the country to which the production run is being sent—are printed online by a thermal-transfer print-and-apply unit from ID Technology. Also thermaltransfer-printed and applied online by a CTM Labeling unit are case labels having the required identifying information on them. Cases also receive a corner-wrap label, thermal-transfer-printed by a unit from Diagraph, having just a bar code used for internal inventory systems. In the past, Floratine relied on operators to visually inspect bottle and case labels. But now being installed are two Cognex In-Sight 9912 ultra-high-resolution area scan vision systems. One will perform cap inspection and will inspect for label presence and print accuracy on labels applied to bottles. The other will inspect for label presence and print accuracy on labels applied to cases. These inspection upgrades will allow Floratine to redeploy as many as four operators to tasks elsewhere in the plant. PW

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HPP Juice Line Takes a Green Turn Florida-based premium juice distributor finds the perfect mix of technology and shelf appeal with its landfill-biodegradable bottles. WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

Optimized rigidity ratio bottle

High pressure processing

By Joe Derr, Contributing Editor When Paul van Hamond arrived in the U.S. in 2012, he didn’t expect he would end up staying nine years. A native of Queensland, Australia, van Hamond was taking what he thought would be a six-month sabbatical from running the five restaurants he owned in Australia to pursue another business venture. “That venture didn’t get legs,” says van Hamond, also a chef who trained in Monaco and London. “But when life gives you lemons, you make lemon juice, and that’s literally what I did.” The Drinks Company, the premium juice distributor he founded by squeezing those lemons, has grown to be a dominant player in South Florida, he says. “Today, we distribute about 22 brands throughout South Florida and the Caribbean, focused mainly on our main sector in hospitality and cruise lines.” The rise of The Drinks Company reads like a case study in being in the right place at the right time: Not only did Drinks start in Miami—one the world’s juice capitals—just as the fresh juice market had started to boom, but according to van Hamond it also was an early adopter of high pressure processing (HPP) to deliver juice, working with some of the technology’s Miamibased pioneers.

‘Better beverage company’ The Drinks Company was founded in 2014 by van Hamond and his business partner, Wilfredo Pinillos, who also brought a background in hospitality. With 11 employees and annual sales experiencing double digit growth, van Hamond calls his Miami Produce District company small, but with a big commitment to quality. “We like to refer to ourselves as the ‘better beverage company’ because we don’t do sodas, but nectars and other products packed with nutritional value,” he says. Besides its flagship product, Expressed™ Juice, which offers blends of colorful, fresh juice in seven flavors, the company also makes Mixology Maker, a range of cold-press cocktail mixers originally developed for use behind hospitality industry bars that has now expanded into liquor stores throughout South Florida, followed by a national rollout. It all began in van Hamond’s South Beach kitchen, where his kids would ask him for daily fresh juice, which he says is more prevalent in

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After discovering how the technology renders pathogens in food inert without compromising taste, it was a no-brainer for The Drinks Co. to use HPP to launch Expressed Juice, its first brand. Australia than in the U.S. Making those blends at home inspired the idea for a new venture: a cold-pressed juice franchise. He later pivoted back to his roots in hospitality, to supply the food service sector for Florida’s hotels and cruise lines. To succeed, van Hamond needed a way to keep his product fresh throughout distribution in a geographic region ranging from West Palm Beach, Fla. down to the Florida Keys, without the need for preservatives or heat pasteurization. Early in his quest for quality, he discovered HPP technology, pioneered by HPP machine builder Hiperbaric, which maintain offices in Doral, Fla., just outside Miami. “It was an easy way for me to learn about HPP,” van Hamond says.

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Mixology Maker is a range of cold-press cocktail mixers originally developed for use behind hospitality industry bars that has now expanded into liquor stores throughout South Florida, followed by a national rollout. After discovering how the technology renders pathogens in food inert without compromising taste, it was a “no-brainer” for Drinks to use HPP to launch Expressed Juice, its first brand. “The best juice I can make is right now right in front of me in my kitchen,” van Hamond says. “The next best is with HPP.”

Building a brand around a bottle Van Hamond’s first bold move was to reduce container size. “Everyone in Florida seemed to be doing 16-oz bottles of juice, which for me is a significant amount of liquid,” van Hamond says. “So, we decided that we would go under the market and bring it to what I think is more acceptable to the consumer, which is a 12-oz size.” Then, van Hamond reached out to Captiva Containers, a custom rigid packaging manufacturer founded in 2013 with ties to Hiperbaric who had also entered the market during the specialty beverage boom. Most of Captiva’s clients are small- and medium-sized companies in the HPP sector. “We have hundreds of customers on a monthly recurring basis and at least 60 percent use HPP,” says Leon Morgenstern, chief operating officer at Captiva Containers. Captiva worked with Drinks to design the Expressed Juice bottle using food-grade polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, a highly flexible material that can withstand the high pressure of the HPP chambers. Then began the quest for the rigidity ratio. “The bottle had to be somewhat flexible, but not too flexible,” Morgenstern says. “In the HPP process, pressure is applied all around the bottle, so material distribution and wall thickness are key.” The bottle’s closure also needed to withstand HPP, while preserving the bottle’s thread and neck finish with perfect compatibility. “We got a lot of guidance from Hiperbaric, and through some trial and error, we learned our way to what a successful HPP bottle design requires,” Morgenstern says. To sell juice in upscale markets, the Expressed Juice bottle also needed a design with strong shelf appeal. “We wanted to build a brand around the bottle,” van Hamond says. For inspiration, van Hamond looked to old-school medicinal bottles, which seemed to work well with a marketing plan he was simultaneously concocting in his kitchen, based on the nutritious ingredients in his juices.

ExpressedJuices.indd 47

“I would write the names of the juices in shorthand, like K-8, which has kale and eight other ingredients,” van Hamond says. “We ended up using letter codes for our Expressed Juice products, which reminds consumers of vitamins.” The product needed to look edgy and new. “It’s a lot of fun—we came up with a bottle that is a hybrid between a bourbon flask and a cough syrup bottle,” van Hamond says. “And it fits in your back pocket.” The flat front of the Expressed Juice bottle acts as a picture frame, displaying the brightly colored juice content inside to maximum effect. “With a round bottle, you only see a quarter of the product,” van Hamond says. “But when you have eight of our Expressed Juice bottles sitting side-by-side on a shelf, you see the whole front and it creates great visual appeal.”

Green challenge Expressed Juice–delivered in Captiva’s innovative bottle and using Hiperbaric’s HPP technology to reach a shelf life of up to 45 days–was taking off. Then in 2018, another ingredient was added to the mix. Van Hamond got a call from one of his top clients, a luxury hotel, saying that

HPP Beyond Just Liquids In the eight years since Captiva Containers entered the industry, Leon Morgenstern has seen the HPP market move beyond just liquid products and into other viscosities. “We’ve achieved packaging for new products such as salsas, even seafood, that open up the market to take advantage of HPP as a healthy option of preserving food,” Morgenstern says. “Future uses are going to be products like ready-to-eat foods such as salads, which might have a variety of ingredients inside.” Other products like seafood and oysters can be maintained completely fresh in a PET jar using HPP, Morgenstern says. PW

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HPP Resources for Emerging Brands Interested in learning more about high pressure processing? Take three minutes and get the scoop on how the use of HPP is growing for foods like juices and pet foods, enabling both emerging and mature brands to extend shelf life and broaden distribution from local to regional and beyond. ProFood World’s Joyce Fassl brings you this brief video segment from PACK EXPO Connects with Jeff Williams from Universal Pure. Watch the video at Also, get to know the Cold Pressure Council (CPC), which leads, facilitates, and promotes industry standardization, user education, and consumer awareness of high-pressure processing. The council addresses questions about HPP while developing and formalizing industry best practices. For instance, the council recently released a new set of High Pressure Certified® (HPC) Guidelines. The topic of the newest guideline is Wet Salads, also known as deli salads. This

addition is one in a continuing series of CPC initiatives to raise the awareness and use of HPP and be the voice within the industry. The CPC has previously issued guidelines for juice, protein products, sauces, and dips. Also, the Cold Pressure Council also promotes networking among professionals using this processing technology. Learn more at PW

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they would be going plastics-free across the board. “Basically, we had to reinvent our packaging,” van Hamond says. With the notion that about 85% of plastic bottles go into landfills, Captiva’s solution was EcoClear, an additive it makes to help PET plastic break down faster in landfills. “EcoClear increases the appetite of microbes in a landfill to absorb or consume the plastic packaging,” Morgenstern says. “Bottles with EcoClear can degrade up to 30 times faster than other plastic bottles in a landfill.” Morgenstern says EcoClear has several advantages. Only a small percentage of material is added during blow molding, enough to make it biodegrade in a landfill but also allowing it to be recycled. “And it only degrades in a landfill environment, not on store shelves,” he says.

Under pressure After receiving injection stretch blow molded bottles with EcoClear from Captiva, Drinks bottles Expressed Juice on its proprietary automated in-line filling, capping, and labeling machines. The bottles feature a clear, tamper-evident closure from Silgan Closures that met Captiva’s specifications to work with the bottle to handle the high pressure of HPP vats. “It’s a double seal screw top, with a double locking function—a plug on the inside of the cap and an outer lock along the thread so that process water will not get in,” Morgenstern says. Drinks works with a custom labeler, Pro Label, who developed a

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Seafarers Inc, a Miami based processor, importer, and marketer of fresh and frozen food and beverages (specializing in seafood), uses a Hiperbaric 300 to process juices from The Drink Co. via HPP. Inset: Expressed Juice bottles awaiting High Pressure Processing (HPP). three-sided, peel-off label that provides further aesthetic appeal and promotes easier bottle reusability by the consumer. The sealed and capped bottles are then shipped to the toller (see sidebar below), Seafarers, Inc., a Miami-based food processor specializing in seafood, who own a Hiperbaric 300 HPP machine for the final step of processing. Seafarers first places the filled bottles into the Hiperbaric 300’s cylindrical canisters, which are then sent into a high-pressure vessel that is flooded with cold water (4-25°C) that removes air, says Vinicio Serment, U.S. Applications Manager for Hiperbaric. “Once flooded, high pressure pumps inject up to an extra 15 percent water volume into the full vessel to raise pressure up to 87 kpsi [87,000 lbs/sq in], which is equivalent of submerging foods close to 200,000 ft under the sea if this depth would actually exist.” Such pressurization of the bottles, which Seafarers runs for three minutes at 87 kpsi, inactivates most pathogens, such as listeria, e-coli, and other bacteria. “It leaves the nutritional value intact and does not have any change

What’s a Toller? For smaller companies or those doing smaller HPP runs like Drinks, buying a new HPP machine can be costprohibitive. The solution for Drinks was to outsource its HPP processing to a toller, or a company that does custom runs of small to medium HPP batches. “HPP is a massive capital outlay,” van Hamond says. “These machines are high end, and I would rather use a toller where the onus is on them to finish the end product.” Working with Seafarers, Drinks is now processing around 5,000 bottles/day. Van Hamond says that working with a toller helps him stay focused on what he likes best: fresh juice. “I’d rather look after my own side of the street and do it really well,” van Hamond says. PW

ExpressedJuices.indd 50

on the product’s color or on the palette,” van Hamond says. Van Hamond says he is proud of not only of how his product tastes but how the packaging looks and feels. “This packaging is like my fourth child,” he says. The industry also has taken note of the packaging: Drinks picked up a 2019 InnoBev Award in the Best PET Packaging category for its Expressed Juice bottles. Morgenstern attributes the success of Expressed Juice’s container in all its aspects—strength, aesthetics, and friendliness to the environment—to the close working partnership forged between The Drinks Company, Captiva Containers, and Hiperbaric. “It’s a combination that is not that common in the market,” Morgenstern says. “But it translates into something positive for the environment and the end consumer appreciates it.”

Pandemic pivots Up until March 2020, Drinks was distributing to hotels and cruise ships, largely focused on its B2B business model. “We had trucks on the road that were loading three cruise ships a week,” van Hamond says. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it disrupted Drinks’ operations, as it did so many others. “We had a sharp downturn starting in March–an 82% decline–when every hotel and cruise line shut its doors,” van Hamond says. Drinks had to get creative to stay afloat. They shelved product innovation in 2020 to focus on a new area: expanding distribution to supermarket consumers at chains like Milam’s, which has five stores in greater Miami. “We’re focused on keeping our pricing as tight as possible for the consumers,” he says. “The days of the $10 juice bottle are gone.” E-commerce also helped carry the company through. “We actually had a lot of consumers reach out to us, so we’re now shipping nationwide,” van Hammond says. Having improved shelf stability thanks to HPP sure helps that venture. In 2021, Drinks is looking to get back to its plans of expanding its B2B distribution within Florida and possibly launch a new product. Van Hamond did not reveal what the new line is, saying only that packaging will again figure prominently in branding. PW

1/22/21 11:09 AM

Exhibitor Showroom Directory Exhibits & Content Open through March 31 PACK EXPO Connects continues through March 31 with on-demand access to content and experts to help you find solutions to your packaging and processing needs. Discover why more than 18,000 registered attendees have already engaged with this comprehensive resource. This Exhibitor Showroom Directory includes an alphabetical list of all the exhibitors at To visit an exhibitor’s showroom, simply type into your browser the shortened URL within each listing. Attendees can now view demos on demand! Whether you were unable to watch a planned broadcast or simply ran out of time to attend during the live week, the good news is that exhibitors are offering technology demos on demand. Those exhibitors who offer demos are listed in blue. We hope you’ll take some time to learn more about these leading suppliers. Watch demos and search for products and educational content to help you identify solutions for your most pressing challenges. Remember, the PACK EXPO Connects experience continues through March 31st!

Want to search exhibitors by product category or keyword? It’s easy to do at



There’s still time to explore! Exhibitor showrooms listed in blue offer technology demos. EXHIBITOR




48Forty Solutions

Applied Motion Products, Inc.


APPMA - Australian Packaging & Processing Machinery Assn.

Aptean Factory MES

AR Packaging

Argha Films USA

AROL Group

A A-B-C Packaging Machine Corp.

A. B. Sealer, Inc.


ABB Motors and Mechanical

ABB Robotics & Discrete Automation

Accraply, Inc.

ACE Controls Inc.



Actionpac Scales & Automation

Actionpaq Corporation

ADCO Manufacturing


Admix, Inc.

Advantage Puck Technologies, LLC

AEK Packaging Equipment / Aaron Equipment Co. Aesus Packaging Systems Inc.

AFA Systems Ltd.

AGR International, Inc.

AIM North America


Airguard Packaging

Alfa Laval, Inc.

All-Fill, Inc.

Allen Field Company, Inc.

Allied Technology - PicPac

ALLIEDFLEX Technologies, Inc.

Alstrut India Private Limited

AmbaFlex, Inc.

Amcor Flexibles North America

Amcor Healthcare Packaging

Amcor Rigid Packaging

American Film & Machinery

American Holt Corp.

American Industrial, Inc.


AMS Ferrari Srl

AMS Filling Systems, Inc.


Antares Vision

Anuga FoodTec

Apex Motion Control


Aplix, Inc.

Apple Processors Association

AROL North America


Ashland Inc.

Aspen Technology, Inc.

AstroNova Product Identification

AT Information Products, Inc.

ATI Industrial Automation

Atlantic Zeiser

Auger Fabrication, Inc.

Australian Institute of Packaging


Axiflow Technologies, Inc.


AZCO Corporation

AZO, Inc.

B B&R Industrial Automation Corp.

Bainbridge Associates LLC

Banner Engineering Corp.

Barnum Mechanical Inc.

Basic Crating & Packaging

Bastian Solutions

Baumer hhs

BeardowAdams, Inc.

Beckhoff Automation LLC

Bedford Industries, Inc.

Belco Packaging Systems, Inc.

Bell-Mark Sales Company

BellatRx Inc.

Ben Clements and Sons, Inc.


Bericap North America

Berry Global, Inc.

Besser Vacuum, S.R.L.



Big Ass Fans

Bihl+Wiedemann, Inc.

Bishamon Industries Corporation

Black Forest Packaging Solutions, LLC

Blentech Corporation

Exhibitor and educational content are available until March 31 at



There’s still time to explore! Exhibitor showrooms listed in blue offer technology demos. EXHIBITOR




BluePrint Automation (BPA)


Boix Machinery USA LLC

Cofil Inc.

Bonfiglioli Engineering S.r.l.

Cognex Corporation

Bosch Rexroth Corporation

Cold Pressure Council

Bostik, Inc.

Colquimica Adhesives, Inc.

Bradman Lake Inc.

Columbia Machine, Inc.


Columbia/Okura LLC

Brevetti Gasparin SRL


Buhler Group

Compass Industrial Group, LLC


Composite Can and Tube Institute (CCTI)

Burns & McDonnell

Concetti North America Corporation

Busch Vacuum Solutions

Conflex Incorporated

Buskro Ltd.

Consolidated Technologies Inc.

Butler Automatic Inc.

Container Handling Systems Corporation

BW Flexible Systems

Contract Packaging Association

BW Integrated Systems

Controls Engineering

BW Packaging Systems

Coperion K-Tron

Cornerstone Specialty Wood Products (ResinDek)

C Cablevey Conveyors

Cousins Packaging Inc.

Cadence, Inc.

Coval Vacuum Technology, Inc.

CAM Packaging Systems

Craemer (Craemer US Corp.)

Cama North America


Campbell Wrapper Corporation

Crenteria S.A.C.

Carleton Helical Technologies

CSI - Central States Industrial


CSi Palletizing



Custom Powder Systems. The Containment Company

Cavanna S.p.A.

CXV Global

Celtheq Industries, Inc.

Centric Software

Cepi SPA

CGP Expal Inc.

Change Parts, Inc.

Charles Beseler Company

Charter Next Generation

Chase-Logeman Corporation

Chroma Color Corporation

Circle Packaging Machinery Inc.

Citronix Inc

Citus Kalix SAS.

Clevertech North America Inc

Closure Systems International

Cloud 9 Perception, LP

Cloud Packaging Solutions

Clysar, LLC

CMD Corporation

Code Tech

Codian Robotics

D Damark

Dara Pharmaceutical Packaging

Dase-Sing Packaging Technology CO., LTD

Daubert Cromwell

Davis-Standard, LLC

DCI, Inc.

DCS USA Corporation

Decade Products, LLC

Decker Tape Products, Inc.


Delkor Systems, Inc.


Delta Modtech

DENSO Robotics

Deublin Company

Deville Technologies, LLC

Diagraph Marking & Coding, A Division of Illinois Tool Works

Domino Amjet, Inc.

Exhibitor and educational content are available until March 31 at



There’s still time to explore! Exhibitor showrooms listed in blue offer technology demos. EXHIBITOR





Flexible Packaging & Packaging Strategies

DS Smith North America Packaging and Paper

Flexible Packaging Association (FPA)

DTM Massman, LLC

FlexLink Systems, Inc.

Dukane IAS, LLC

Flexopack S.A.


FlexSim Software Products

DVP Vacuum Technology

Flowcrete/Key Resin Company

Dynamic Conveyor Corporation

FMH Conveyors


Focke & Co.

E-PAK Machinery, Inc.

Fogg Filler Company

Eam-Mosca Corporation

Foil & Specialty Effects Association


Food Plant Engineering, LLC


FoodSafe Drains

Econocorp, Inc.

FOOT MASTER® North America

EDL Packaging Engineers

Fords Packaging Systems Ltd.

Effytec USA

Formers International, Inc.

Elettric 80 Inc

Formost Fuji Corporation

Elmar Industries, Inc.


ELPLAST America Inc.

Fort Dearborn Co.

Elried Marking Systems

Fortress Technology Inc.


FOX IV Technologies, Inc.


FoxJet, An ITW Company

EMS Group (Emmeti)

Frain Industries

Encoder Products Company

Frazier & Son

Enercon Industries Corporation

Fres-co System USA, Inc.


Früh Verpackungstechnik AG

EngView Systems

FT System North America

EPG, A Cargo Care Company



Garrido Printing Equipment Inc.

Epson Robots

Garvey Corporation




GearSync Automation


General Packaging Equipment Co.

Esko, Brand Solutions

General Packer Co., Ltd.

ESS Technologies, Inc.

Georgia-Pacific Corrugated

Evergreen Packaging, LLC

GGA Packaging, division of George Gordon Associates, Inc.

Fallas Automation, Inc.


FANUC America Corporation

Goodway Technologies


Gorreri SRL

Federal Mfg LLC

Felins USA, Incorporated


Festo Corporation



Film Source International

FilmLOC Inc



GR-X Manufacturing

Graphic Packaging International

Greener Corporation



Greystone Logistics

groninger USA LLC

Gruppo Fabbri Vignola

Exhibitor and educational content are available until March 31 at



There’s still time to explore! Exhibitor showrooms listed in blue offer technology demos. EXHIBITOR





Interpak LLC


H.S. Crocker Co., Inc.


Habasit International


Hamamatsu Corporation


Hamer-Fischbein LLC

IPL Inc.

Hamrick Packaging Systems


Handtmann Inc.

Italian Trade Agency



Hardy Process Solutions

ITW Hartness

Harpak-ULMA Packaging, LLC


Haumiller Engineering Company

J Pack

Haver & Boecker USA, Inc.

J.W. Winco, Inc.

Heat and Control, Inc.

JASA Packaging Solutions Inc

Heat Seal/Ampak

JBT Corporation

Heisler Industries, Inc.

JBT Corporation - A&B Process Systems

Highlight Industries

JBT-Avure HPP Technologies


JetAir Technologies

Hitachi America, Ltd.

JLS Automation

HMS Industrial Networks


Honeywell Intelligrated


Hoosier Feeder Company

Kaitech Automation

HP Inc.

Kawasaki Robotics (USA), Inc.

HRS Heat Exchangers

KEB America, Inc.

Kendall Packaging Corporation

H.B. Fuller Company


Keneng Limited


Key Technology, Inc.



ID Technology

Kirk-Rudy, Inc.

Ideal-Pak Massmann LLC

Kliklok LLC, A Syntegon Company

Idemitsu Unitech Co., Ltd.

IDM Automation Srl

Klöckner Pentaplast, Food and Consumer Products


KOCH Packaging Systems, Inc.


Kolinahr Systems, Inc.

Ilsemann Corp. USA / Heino Ilsemann GmbH

Körber Pharma

IMA Dairy & Food USA


IMA North America Inc.

Kwang Dah Enterprise Co., Ltd.

Image Fillers, Inc.

In-Line Packaging Systems, Inc.



Inland Packaging

Inline Filling Systems, LLC


Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP)

INTEC Energy Systems

International Paper

International Society of Beverage Technologists (ISBT)

L Label-Aire, Inc.

Labelpack Automation, Inc.

Lako Tool and Manufacturing

Langguth America Ltd


Latini-Hohberger Dhimantec, Inc.

Lawer S.P.A.

Layton Systems

Lean Factory America

Lenze Americas

Exhibitor and educational content are available until March 31 at



There’s still time to explore! Exhibitor showrooms listed in blue offer technology demos. EXHIBITOR




Leuze Electronic USA

Mitsubishi Electric Automation, Inc.


Miura America Co., Ltd

Lighthouse Systems, Inc.

Modern Manufacturing Services LLC

Linmot USA, Inc.

Modern Packaging LLC

Liquid Packaging Solutions, Inc.

Modern Process Equipment Corporation


Mold-Rite Plastics

LJ Star Inc.



Morris Packaging

Loma Systems, An ITW Company

Morrison Container Handling Solutions

Longford International Ltd.

MP Elettronica SRL

Lorenz Pan Inc.

Mpac Group


MSK Covertech, Inc.

Lyco Manufacturing, Inc.




Multifeeder Technology, Inc.

M M & M Industries, Inc.

MULTIPOND America Inc.


Multivac, Inc.

Magnum Systems, Inc.

MXD Process

Mamata Enterprises, Inc.


manroland Goss web systems Americas LLC

Nalbach Engineering Co., Inc.

Maplejet Co.

National Bulk Equipment, Inc.

Marchesini Group USA Inc.

National Confectioners Association


Nelson-Jameson, Inc.


Neopac The Tube

MASSMAN Automation Designs, LLC

Nercon Conveyor Systems

Matcon Americas (IDEX MPT Incorporated)


Matrix Packaging Machinery

New England Machinery, Inc.

Matrox Imaging

Nichimo International Inc.

Matthews Marking Systems

NIMCO Corporation


Nita Labeling Systems

Medical Packaging Inc.

NJM Packaging

Mega Speed

NORD Gear Corporation

Mega Technical Company LLC

Norden Inc.

Mehta Flex LLP

Nordson Corporation

Mekitec LLC



Norwix Inc.


Nuova Caveco

Metsa Board Americas

Nuspark Inc.




Oden Machinery, Inc.

MG America, Inc.

Ohlson Packaging


MHI - Maruho Hatsujyo Innovations

OMAC - The Organization For Machine Automation and Control

Middleby Processing & Packaging

Midwest Metal Craft and Equipment

Milliken & Company

Mini Motor SRL

Minipan SRL

OMAG srl

Omega Design Corporation


OnRobot US Inc

Optel Group

Exhibitor and educational content are available until March 31 at



There’s still time to explore! Exhibitor showrooms listed in blue offer technology demos. EXHIBITOR




OPTIMA Machinery Corporation


ORBIS Corporation

PMMI Media Group

Oriental Motor USA Corporation

Pneumatic Scale Angelus

Orion Packaging Systems


OSP (Primark American Corporation)

Point Five Packaging, LLC


Polipak Plastik Ambalaj San. Ltd. Sti.

Overnight Labels, Inc.

Polymer Solutions International, Inc.


Polymerall LLC

P.E. Labellers

Polypack, Inc.

PAC Machinery

PPC Flexible Packaging

PAC Strapping Products, Inc.

PPi Technologies Group

Pacific Packaging Machinery, LLC

Precision Automation Company, Inc.

Pack Leader USA

Preco, Inc.

Packaging Digest

Pregis LLC

Packaging. Switzerland. (by Switzerland Global Enterprise)

Premier Protective Packaging

Packsize International, LLC

Premier Tech


Pressco Technology Inc.


Presto Products Company

Panther Industries, Inc.

Paper Converting Machine Company

Paperboard Packaging Council

ParityFactory, LLC

Parsons-Eagle Packaging Systems

Pattyn North America, Inc.

Paxiom Group Inc.

Paxton Products - ITW Air Management

PDC International Corporation

Pearson Packaging Systems

Peco InspX

Peel Plastic Products Ltd

Per-Fil Industries, Inc.

Perfect Pallets, Inc.

Perfex Corporation


Pester USA Inc.

PFM Packaging Machinery Corp.

Pharmaworks LLC

Phoenix Wrappers

Piab Inc.

Pineberry Manufacturing

Plan IT Packaging Systems Inc.

Plastic Ingenuity, Inc.

Plastic Packaging Technologies, LLC

Plastic Suppliers, Inc.


Plex Systems, Inc.


Primary Packaging Incorporated


ProMach, Inc.

Propack Processing & Packaging Systems Inc.

Proseal America Inc

Prospection Solutions LLC

ProSys Servo Filling Systems


PWR Pack Inc

Q QC Conveyors


Quadrel Labeling Systems

Quantum Design Inc.

Quest Industrial

R R.A Jones

Raytec Vision S.p.A.

Raziele Inc.

Reading Bakery Systems

Redzone Production Systems

Regal Beloit Corporation



Rennco LLC

Republic Manufacturing

Reusable Packaging Association



Robatech USA Inc.

Exhibitor and educational content are available until March 31 at



There’s still time to explore! Exhibitor showrooms listed in blue offer technology demos. EXHIBITOR




Roberts PolyPro

Sidel Inc.

Robinson, Inc.

Siemens Digital Industries US




SIKO Products, Inc.

Rockwell Automation


Rollem Intl.


Romaco Group

Slideways, Inc

Ronchi America, LLC

SlipNOT® Metal Safety Flooring

Ropak Manufacturing Co., Inc.

SMC Corporation of America

ROVEMA North America, Inc.

SN Maschinenbau GmbH

RPI Graphic Data Solutions

SNAC International

RR Donnelley

Soft Robotics, Inc.

Rychiger NA

Sollich North America, LLC

Ryson International Inc.

Somic America, Inc.


S.T.V. Di Salati Giovanni Snc

Sonoco Healthcare Division


Span Tech, LLC

SACMI Packaging & Chocolate SPA


SACMI USA LTD DBA Hayes Machine Company

Spee-Dee Packaging Machinery, Inc.

Sani-Matic, Inc.


Sappi North America

Squid Ink Manufacturing, Inc.

Satake USA Inc.


Savage Brothers Co.

Standard-Knapp, Inc.

Scan American Corporation

Starview Packaging Machinery Inc.

Schenck Process LLC

Statco-DSI Process Systems

Schmalz Inc.


Schneider Electric

Stevanato Group

Schneider Packaging Equipment Co., Inc.


Schober USA, Inc.

STOCK America Inc.

Schoeller Allibert USA

Stratus Technologies

Schreiner MediPharm

Straub Design Company

Schubert North America LLC

Südpack Oak Creek Corporation

Sealstrip Corporation

Sullair A Hitachi Group Company


Super Duty Fans

Selig Group


Senzani Brevetti SPA

Syntegon Packaging Technology, LLC

Septimatech Group Inc.

Syntegon Pharma Technology, Inc.

Serac Inc

Syntegon Technology Services, LLC

Serpa Packaging Solutions


Servi-Tech Inc

Systech Illinois


System Packaging

Sesotec Inc.



Taisei Lamick USA

Shemesh Automation

Tanis Confectionery

Shrink Tech Systems

Tapecase Ltd.

Shurtape Technologies, LLC


Shuttleworth, LLC

Tawi USA, Inc.

SICK, Inc.

TC Transcontinental Packaging


Exhibitor and educational content are available until March 31 at



There’s still time to explore! Exhibitor showrooms listed in blue offer technology demos. EXHIBITOR




Technipes SRL

Viking Masek Global Packaging Technologies

Tecnopool S.P.A.

Vimachem Industrial Solutions

Teinnovations LLC

Vishakha Polyfab Pvt. Ltd.

Tekni-Plex, Inc


Teknika Strapping Systems

Visual Components North America

Teledyne TapTone

VMek Sorting Technology


VNE Corporation

TGW International

Volm Companies, Inc.

Thermo Fisher Scientific


Thriller Metal Fabrication & Manufacturing


Thwing-Albert Instrument Company

Tippmann Group

Weber Packaging Solutions, Inc.


WECO The Science of Optical Sorting

TNA North America, Inc.

Weidmüller, USA

Toli Packaging Sdn Bhd

Weiler Labeling Systems


Weima America

Toppan USA


TopTier Palletizers

Wexler Packaging Products, Inc.

Tourmaline Enterprises

Wexxar Bel

Triangle Package Machinery Co.

Winpak Lane, Inc.

TriEnda Holdings LLC

Wire Belt Company of America

Tripack LLC


Tube Council North America

World Packaging Organisation

Turbofil Packaging Machines

Wuhan Rentian Packaging Automation Technology Co., Ltd.

Wulftec International Inc.

U UCIMA - Italian Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Association

Ultra Packaging, Inc.

Yamato Corporation


Yaskawa America, Inc., Drives & Motion Division


Unitech Srl

Yaskawa America, Inc., Motoman Robotics Division

United Barcode Systems

Yeacode (Xiamen) Inkjet Inc.

UniTrak Corporation Limited

Yeaman Machine Technology

Universal Labeling Systems, Inc.

Universal Pack, S.R.L.

UPM Raflatac

UVA Packaging

V V-Shapes S.r.L.


Valco Melton

Vanguard Shrink Films


VC999 Packaging Systems Inc.

VDG (Van der Graaf)

Veo Robotics, Inc.

Videojet Technologies Inc.



Z Zachry Engineering Corporation



Zambelli USA LLC


Zhoutai Pouch Machine



Exhibitor and educational content are available until March 31 at

60 PW FEB2021

By Anne Marie Mohan, Editor, Shelf Impact!

Tree-Ring Graphic Symbolizes Winery’s History After 10 years of owning and working the vineyards of Healdsburg, Calif.-based Limerick Lane Cellars, Jake Bilbro decided it was time to recast the winery’s brand to be more reflective of the estate’s unique 110-year history. He wanted to convey the rich story of the land and the people who worked it. But how to weave a visual and verbal narrative that succinctly speaks of the land’s magic and the world-class wines it produces? Bilbro pondered these questions for weeks, until one day he found his inspiration. “Often, I find the answers to many questions associated with Limerick Lane in the property itself: the hills, the vines, the rocks, the trees, and of course, my family. This would be no different,” Bilbro says. “At home, where my family sleeps, and the original founders of the vineyard slept, covered with grass and flowers at the end of our driveway lies a section of a tree stump. I have passed by the stump hundreds of times and never noticed what it was trying to tell me. When I looked closer, I saw the beautiful rings on the stump, and I suddenly understood our brand at a much deeper level.” The concentric circles of the old, weathered stump signified centuries in time—a perfect representation of everything Limerick Lane embodies. “This evocative image became the foundation for our new brand story,” says Limerick Lane Cellars Director of Marketing Gina Lathrum. “It was the springboard for all packaging decisions going forward.” According to Bilbro, the goal was to create something thoughtful and magical but grounded and humble, much like Limerick Lane’s wines. Bilbro is a fourth-generation Sonoma County winemaker and grape grower who grew up around the vineyards of Dry Creek and Alexander valleys, where his father owned Marietta Cellars. When he and his wife, Alexis, bought the 30-acre Limerick Lane estate in 2010, he immediately began to reinvigorate the vineyard, focusing efforts along the way toward more sustainable, organic processes. Then in 2018 he brought on Chris Pittenger as winemaker. Pittenger’s passion for winemaking began

ShelfImpact_0221.indd 60

during college at Cal Poly. Over the years he studied viticulture and worked in the industry in many capacities, including 11 years as winemaker at Rhone-focused Skinner Vineyards in El Dorado. When he began working at Limerick Lane, he says he felt an immediate connection to the historic vineyard, wanting to express and showcase its beauty, grace, structure, and precision through its wines. “The provenance and quality of our wine is deeply embedded in our brand story,” emphasizes Lathrum, “so our new packaging had to reflect that as well.” Conceiving the new packaging, Bilbro wanted to go back to the vineyard’s beginning when Italian immigrants were brought in to plant vines and make wine. So, Bilbro, along with Erica Harrop, founder and CEO of Global Package, LLC, designed a custom bottle that would stand on its own with the historical symbolism, yet include modern cues with a specialized sommelier ring top, and with an L cartouche signifying strength and dedication to Limerick Lane’s vines. Harrop was intimately involved in every step of the process, from custom mold design and creation to glass production and delivery. Taking her cue from the tree-stump rings was independent design professional and artist Barbara Lietzow, who spent over a year creating the label by hand, with each line and color thoughtfully considered. “There are now 110 rings in sequential order on our label, each representing a year of life at Limerick Lane,” says Bilbro. “If you look closely at the label, you will notice points distinguished on the rings. These subtle points represent key moments in the Limerick Lane story over the last 110 years.” According to Lathrum, the bottle was the essential component, providing the platform, or stage, on which the narrative is told and in which Limerick Lane’s world-class wines are protected. “Erica and the Global Package team were critical to making it all come together,” she says. “On such a small space, we needed to convey our rich history, the quality of our wines, the terroir and stewardship of the land, and our winemaking expertise. Global Package helped make all of that happen. Even when were up against time deadlines, they made it work.” PW

1/20/21 2:00 PM

Visit the link below each item for more info.



Air Cushioning System Pregis’ AirSpeed Ascent highpressure air cushioning system creates the company’s patented square-pattern hybrid cushioning (HC) packaging material ondemand.


Labeler for COVID-19 Vaccine Packaging

Automated Cap Chute Changeover

Weiler Labeling Systems (WLS), part of ProMach Pharma Solutions, introduces its VR-72 labeler for COVID-19 vaccine packaging applications. It can apply wraparound labels to vials and other cylindrical products at speeds in excess of 600 vials/min.

Fogg Filler offers an option for automated chute changeover for different caps.

Fogg Filler

Weiler Labeling Systems

Straw Former/ Wrapper IMA Group’s machinery line for producing paper straws consists of the SF-150 forming machine and SW-2000 wrapping machine.

IMA Group

Thermal Ink-jet Printer

Clamping Module Option for Conveyors

MapleJet Co.’s new Hx Nitro thermal ink-jet (TIJ) printer features next generation print cartridge technology. It can print high-resolution date codes and batch numbers onto angled or concave surfaces, such as the bottom of can.

Dorner is offering a clamping module on its FlexMove conveyor system that gives users the ability to hold back or pace products for accumulating applications.

MapleJet Co.


Robotic Case Packer Quest Industrial, a ProMach brand, launches its Quik Pick high-speed robotic case packer that can be configured to pick up as many as 1,000 pieces/min.

Quest Industrial

Technology_0221.indd 61

CRP Cap for Cannabis Beverages PakTech’s PakLock is a certified CRP cap designed for THC beverages. It fits on 8-, 12-, 16-, and 19.2-oz 202260 aluminum can formats.


1/20/21 2:02 PM

62 PW FEB2021

Visit the link below each item for more info.


X-ray Inspection System Eagle Product’s compact Eagle Tall PRO XS is designed to inspect cans, jars, and bottles and is recommended for manufacturers with limited line space.

Eagle Product Inspection

1-1738 Orangebrook Crt. Pickering, ON, Canada, L1W3G8 905-839-6018 . 1-888-8buskro

Compact In-line Capper

949S Tandem Case Packer The industry standard for reliable operation, quick change-over and versatile product range.

Silgan Equipment’s WC150 compact in-line capper is designed to apply 27- to 110-mm regular, deep twist-off, and press-on caps on glass food jars at rates of 100 to150 per/min, depending on cap type and jar style.

Silgan Equipment

This tandem version allows for multiple cases per drop, operating at higher speeds spe than our standard model. A two-axis servo system allows the Versatron Servo Case PPacker to actually “catch” the product pro while it descends into the case!

Automatic Testing System for Metal Detectors

• Multiple cases per drop • Reshipper capability • Packs up to 50 cases pe per minute

Fortress Technology launches the latest version of its Halo automatic metal detector testing device designed to automatically test ferrous, non-ferrous, and stainless steel samples on all Fortress metal detectors.

• Soft Catch technology on board

LEARN MORE AT: Standard-Knapp, Inc. Portland, CT USA

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1/11/21 2:28 PM

Fortress Technology

1/20/21 2:04 PM




AD INDEX Search for additional information on any of the advertisers listed or visit their website directly ADVERTISER WEBSITE PAGE

TricorBraun entered into an agreement to be acquired by Ares Management and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board.

ABB Motors & Mechanical

Spartech announced the acquisition of Tufpak, Inc.

Allied Technology LLC

Fanuc America and Plus One Robotics paired their automation technologies to meet the needs of their mutual customers in e-commerce.

Bell-Mark Sales Company




ProAmpac acquired Canada-based private businesses Rosenbloom Groupe Inc., Hymopack Ltd., and Dyne-A-Pak.

Blueprint Automation, Inc.


Buskro, Ltd.



Ellsworth Adhesives


Exair Corporation


Lisa Hunt was appointed CEO of Plexpack Corp.

Fibre Box Association


Westrock named Margaret Herndon Chief Marketing Officer and announced that Brandi Colander joined its sustainability leadership team as Chief Sustainability Officer.

Heat and Control, Inc.


High Tek USA, Inc.


Matthew Kelley was appointed Regional Sales Director for Dorner Mfg. Corp.


AFM - American Film & Machinery Targeted Cover

ID Technology IAI America, Inc.


5 43

Roland Strabler was hired as Vice President of Sales for K2 Kinetics, LLC.

Intralox, Inc.

The Massman Companies appointed current CEO and President Jeff Bigger to Executive Board Chair and Jeffrey Hohn CEO and President, effective immediately. Also, Massman Automation hired Ray Musson as Regional Sales Manager.

IPG (Intertape Polymer Group)


James Alexander Corp.


Paul Swietlinski was named National Sales Manager-Canada for JLS Automation.

Label-Aire, Inc. Material Transfer & Storage


Rodrigo Melo Sanfuentes was hired as Regional Sales Manager for Serac Inc.

mk North America


Scott Bolnick was hired as Southeast Regional Sales Manager for Morrison Container Handling Solutions.

Mold-Rite Plastics




Harrison Chien was named Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Weber Packaging.

Norwix Inc


Packaging World




Paxiom Group


Yoshi Izumi was appointed President of Shibuya Hoppmann Corp. IoPP announced its newly elected members of the Board of Directors: Camille Chism, CPPL, Fellow, Owner, Indigo Packaging & Consulting, LLC, and Brian Stepowany, CPPL, Fellow, Senior Manager, Packaging Research & Development, B&G Foods. Returning members of the Board of Directors are: Jennifer Benolken, CPPL, MDM & Regulatory Specialist, Packaging Engineering, Tyvek®, medical packaging, DuPont Protection Solutions; Sara Michals, CPPL, Manager, Packaging and Merchandising, Corelle Brands LLC; Rebecca Oesterle, CPPL, Fellow and Chair, IoPP Board of Directors; Michael Okoroafor, PhD, Vice President, Global Sustainability & Packaging Innovation, McCormick & Company, Inc. and Treasurer, IoPP Board of Directors; William Rice, Principal, Packaging Technology, SC Johnson & Son, Inc. and VP, Education and Certification, IoPP Board of Directors; Tom Seymour, Sales Account Manager, Hammer Packaging and Vice Chair, IoPP Board of Directors; and Toby Wingfield, Global R&D Packaging Director, PepsiCo—Global Gatorade and VP, Membership, IoPP Board of Directors. Cavanna Group reorganized its management team with the following appointments: Riccardo Cavanna was named Chairman of the Board and Lead Strategist, Alessandra Cavanna will manage the family assets and remain a minority shareholder, and Riccardo Ciambrone was named CEO. Pierre Pienaar was re-elected WPO President for a second term.

IW_AdIndex_0221.indd 63

Klöckner Pentaplast PHD

PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies


IFC 24, 25

36, IBC

Spee-Dee Packaging Machinery


Standard-Knapp, Inc.


Triangle Package Machinery Company




Van der Graaf Weber Packaging Solutions WestRock

40a 35 OFC

Connect with a Leaders in Packaging supplier and support packaging education!

1/20/21 6:22 AM

64 PW FEB2021


By Ben Miyares, Packaging Sherpa

Packaging Plays Unsung but Pivotal Role in Vaccine Development March 2020: Just as PACK EXPO East was starting, I got a phone call from my wife: “I’m sick. Come home.” Four hours later I was on a flight home to Bay Village, Ohio. Doctors’ initial thoughts about her condition were vague, cautious, and to me, not very reassuring: “Some kind of upper respiratory infection…pneumonia, flu, or something…” I remember one doctor describing my wife’s URI as “severe.” We were just becoming aware of a disease called COVID-19, a type of coronavirus for which there was not yet a cure. Seven men and women between the ages of 30 and 80-something were already infected in Ohio with this new respiratory virus. By February, the outbreak was branded a pandemic. Cause: unknown. Disinfectant sprays, wipes, paper towels, and toilet paper disappeared from store shelves. Shelf tags told us where the products had been. Virus cases in the U.S. were developing in specific hot spots around the country. Nursing home residents, cruise and airline passengers, people who’d clustered together for shows, concerts, and church services—and the elderly—were said to be at highest risk. Was that what my wife had? Probably not. Best guess? A bad cold/sinus infection with a touch of pneumonia. As weeks stretched out to a year, COVID-19 infections and deaths rose. Medications developed for other diseases were tried as treatments for COVID-19. Most didn’t work. More than 22 million Americans and 90 million people around the world tested positive for the virus in the first year. The number of infections continued to climb. The consumer media reported that the coronavirus pandemic was overwhelming the pharmaceutical industry. The media hailed doctors, nurses, firemen, teachers, and first responders as heroes in what appeared to be a futile struggle to fight the virus. But the efforts were not all futile. Vaccinologists raced to create effective treatments. And around the world, packaging engineers worked to develop innovative solutions for the safe and effective distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines, not all of which had yet been cleared for use on patients. Two packaging projects of note: A transdermal patch. Researchers at Swansea University in Wales are designing a microneedle “smart patch” to let patients selfadminister vaccine less invasively than with traditional hypodermic needles. The adhesive patch incorporates a phalanx of microneedles to dispense the medication. The patch is also designed to measure the patient’s inflammatory response to the vaccination by monitoring biomarkers incorporated in it.

“The primary goal,” says Project Lead, Dr. Sanjiv Sharma of Swansea University, “is to create a prototype of smart vaccine delivery device that can not only deliver the COVID-19 vaccine transdermally but also monitor biomarkers in the skin compartment in a minimally invasive way, offering real-time information on the efficacy of the vaccination. The new method would change the way in which vaccine efficacy trials are performed from a statistical assessment to a scientific measurement of patient inflammatory response to vaccination.” A nasal spray vaccine. Another delivery system is under investigation at Imperial College in London. “We have evidence that delivering influenza vaccines via a nasal spray can protect people against flu as well as help to reduce the transmission of the disease,” says Dr. Chris Chiu of the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College, who is leading the investigation. “We are keen to explore if this may also be the case for SARS-CoV-2 and whether delivering COVID-19 vaccines to the respiratory tract is safe and produces an effective immune response.” When borosilicate glass vials proved to be unsuitable for the vaccine created by Pfizer, Inc. and its German collaborator, BioNTech SE, a new pharmaceutical-grade glass formulation from Corning, Inc. containing no boron, proved effective. Corning’s boron-free glass, called Valor®, was able to endure both 500ºF salt baths and submersion in -94ºF dry ice during the processing of the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine. Corning boasts that its Valor glass is “the first and only fundamentally new glass composition to be approved by the FDA since the advent of borosilicate glass more than 100 years ago.” Vaccines typically require years of research and testing. But in the case of Pfizer/BioNTech, the concept-to-delivery time was just 332 days. “It’s important to remember the robust foundation that enabled that pace,” says Jeanne M. Marrazzo, director of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. She was speaking of advances in medical science, but without doubt, healthcare packaging technologies such as these have also been a significant, though largely unsung, accelerator of the timeline for corona virus vaccine development. Before 2020 was over, 64 COVID-19 vaccines were in clinical trials and 20 had reached the final stages of testing. Vaccines from Pfizer/ BioNTech and Moderna were the first two to be approved for COVID19 in the U.S. by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Others are on the way. And packaging can take some credit for the progress being made. PW

Ben Miyares, Packaging Sherpa, is a packaging market and technology analyst and is president of The Packaging Management Institute, Inc. He can be reached at

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