The PackHub Trend Report 25/03/2021

Packaging Innovations & Empack

The future of branded packaging and technology

16 & 17 February 2022 | Hall 1 NEC Birmingham

The PackHub Trend Report 25/03/2021

Welcome to the latest packaging innovation trends update brought to you in conjunction with Paul Jenkins of UK packaging innovation consultancy ThePackHub.

Our focus this time is on food packaging. We have selected five new packaging innovations that represent some of the many beverage initiatives introduced in the global packaging industry over the last month.  If you’d like much more news like this, you can subscribe to ThePackHub’s innovation newsletters here.  These innovations are a selection of more than 4,700 uploaded to ThePackHub’s Innovation Zone database. Find out more here.

Skittles to get home-compostable film packaging by end of 2021

Mars Wrigley is moving US packaging production of their Skittles product into a home compostable film by the end of 2021. In a collaboration with Bainbridge, Georgia Danimer Scientific, they will pack Skittles into Danimer’s Nodax polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) material. PHA is manufactured from oils such as soy and canola through a natural fermentation process and breaks down in both household and industrial compost settings. PHA is renewably sourced and leaves a minimal impact on the environment upon disposal. The two year agreement will see Mars Wrigley evaluating the material with a view to scaling up across their other brands. Initially Mars will target smaller single pack sizes as it is understood that these are more likely to be littered and less likely to be recycled. The move is part of Mars Wrigley’s corporate strategy called ‘Sustainable in a Generation’, its aim is to achieve 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packs by 2025. They are also currently evaluating mono plastic and paper based alternatives.

Baby formula transformed for 'on-the-go'

Danone’s baby milk arm has launched its Aptamil formula baby milk in pre-measured tabs for the UK market. Danone have entered into a partnership with Japanese food manufacturer Meiji who have a patented process for tab production. The tabs are being produced at Danone’s Wexford, Ireland formula milk processing plant. Following research, the business concluded that there was an opportunity for ‘on-the-go’ feeding. Greater convenience was also raised as a desire by mums. One tab is equivalent to one scoop of conventional powder, and it is claimed that the new tabs dissolve easily. Danone see the benefits for the tabs to be less mess during preparation and more accurate measurement. Although the new format uses more packaging than standard milk formula packs, a greater percentage is recyclable, and they are looking at other options including the use of mono materials to improve recycling. As the quality standards for baby formula products are critical, extensive testing was required to ensure that shelf life and product integrity are not compromised. Each pack contains 24 sachets with five unwrapped tabs per sachet. They expect to start distribution throughout Europe.

Surplas straw used for six-packs

Following successful trials, AB InBev have launched their Corona six-pack of bottles in a board carry pack made from surplus straw leftover from barley production. The project, conducted by AB InBev’s internal innovation and technology team, took three years from start to finish. The barley straw is a by-product of the farmer’s process that produces the barley required for the brewing process. Due to the relative fragility of barley straw compared to wood fibres in traditional board making processes, a unique pulping process was developed. Recycled wood fibres are added to the barley straw to give it strength. It is claimed that the resultant pack is as strong and durable as the previous wood fibre-based pack, and is stable from the store fridge to transport home or to the beach. The process for using barley straw is much more efficient than using virgin wood fibres, as barley straw uses 90% less water in its production. It also requires less energy and harmful chemicals to produce. It’s also claimed that for comparable amounts of area, using barley straw is a more productive option than virgin fibres derived from woodland. Following the successful pilot the first 10,000 six-packs are being launched in Colombia this month, with plans to roll out the format in Argentina later in the year. They then hope to scale up the new pack globally across AB InBev’s other brands.

Years of research to develop innovative packaging material

In Australia, Nestlé has been collaborating with a number of companies to trial a food-grade recycled wrapper for its Kit Kat product. The wrapper contains 30% post-consumer plastic waste, which is derived from kerbside waste soft plastic, along with material from the REDcycle supermarket soft plastic collection points and CurbCycle recycling initiatives. Once collected, the materials are sorted and then converted back into an oil product known as Plasticrude, which is a 100% recycled plastic-based crude oil. This is then further processed to turn it into PP film which is metalised and converted into wrappers by Amcor. The ability to return plastics back to its original oil state is limited in Australia presently, but the trial shows that the process is feasible. The Australian Food and Grocery Council are working with Nestlé and Amcor to assess ways of scaling up the process. Australia’s waste plastics are currently transformed into garden and outdoor furniture, used in road-making or burnt to produce energy.

Graphic Packaging launches Cap-it

Graphic Packaging International (GPI) have developed a board offering specifically for PET bottles. Currently available in commercial use in Asia, Cap-It is a paperboard clip alternative to shrink film and other plastic packaging. The fact that it is made from recyclable board means that it increases the overall pack recyclability to 100% as it made from a widely recycled, natural and renewable material. On shelf differentiation is improved with the Cap-It solution compared to conventional shrink film due to a higher quality of print available with board compared to shrink film. Due to the different options available with Cap-It,  the amount of board can be varied so that different amounts of the bottles can be visible. Cap-It is designed to maintain its packaging integrity through the supply chain, due to the tight fit around the neck of the bottles, providing support and protection. Cap-It also utilises finger holes for the consumer to carry the pack safely and comfortably, as well as providing a convenient carry experience for consumers. Removal of the bottles from the pack is straightforward and easy. Cap-It can be utilised on a wide variety of PET bottle sizes and styles. It can also be be used in a number of pack size combinations, including 4, 6 and 8 packs. Cap-It runs on either of Graphic Packaging’s Cap-It machinery equipment offerings, either the Cap-It 2 or the new generation machine, Cap-It 3 that can run at higher speeds. GPI’s aim is to make 100% of its products fully recyclable by 2025. 

These innovations are a selection of more than 4,700 uploaded to ThePackHub’s Innovation Zone database. Find out more here.

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