Digital Magazine

Innovation is a winner in FPA competition

For meeting the challenges of today's packaging industry, ten companies are honored with Top Packaging Awards by the Flexible Packaging Assn.

Judges in the annual competition of the Flexible Packaging Assn., Washington, DC, selected 13 packages from ten companies that represent advancements in modified atmosphere applications, source reduction, packaging system innovation, product protection, and ease of use. For the first time since the competition began in 1956, all converters with US operations were eligible to submit entries.

The panel of seven judges included chair Arnie Orloski Jr., VP and editor of Packaging World; Carol Andress, economic development specialist, Environmental Defense Fund; Theron Downs, professor, Michigan State Univ. School of Packaging; Michael F. Mohr, senior economist, Federal Reserve Board; Edward S. Shorkey, FPA WEB Society; Betsy Spethmann, Chicago bureau chief, Brand Week; and James Styne, senior package design and development specialist, The Solaris Group.

"These winners illustrate how advances in flexible packaging are opening new markets every day," says Glen E. Braswell, FPA president. It's a very exciting field out there right now."

The Green Globe Award for environmental achievement was awarded to Rollprint, Addison, IL, and Kapak, Minneapolis, MN, for reducing packaging weight by 80%.

The Avitene[R] MCH (microfibrillar collagen hemostat) stand-up pouch uses a peelable stand-up pouch containing a plastic tray with a peelable lid to replace the previous jar inside a paperboard spiral-wound can.

"Source reduction, convenient storage, ease of handling, and eliminating glass from the operating room are just a few of the benefits of this package," reports Richard B. Wood, Rollprint's VP of marketing.

FPA created the Green Globe Award for environmental achievement in 1992 to recognize and encourage source reduction, resource conservation, and pollution prevention by flexible packaging manufacturers and suppliers.

Food and Drink

Shelf Life Extended

Andy Boy Broccoli Florets and San Francisco Stir Fry packages, one of three award-winners for James River Corp., Milford, OH, reflect a major advancement in controlled atmosphere packaging. Low-respiring produce, such as iceberg and romaine lettuce, has been packaged in films whose thickness was adjusted to allow for the correct rate of oxygen and carbon dioxide transmission required to extend shelf life. Higher-respiring produce, such as broccoli, requires a film so thin that it can be difficult to run on existing form/fill/seal equipment. The winning packages address that problem with a proprietary microperforation system featuring minute holes that are invisible to the naked eye. The amount of the holes is adjusted to meet the variable respiration rates of a variety of produce, a solution that extends the shelf life of prepackaged, precut produce for days, in some cases, for more than a week. The bags are antifog-treated and flexo-printed in six colors on 1.18-mil oriented polypropylene.

Meat Snacks on View

American National Can, Chicago, IL, also won three awards, including one for the Armour Big Ones Meat Sticks package, said to bring new light and extra convenience to packaged, smoked meat snacks. Ultra-high-barrier, nonfoil film maximizes product protection and allows the consumer to see the product, while the reclosable zipper pouch precludes the need for individual wrapping.

The package comprises multiple plies of biaxially oriented nylon, a coextruded five-layer barrier core, and a linear low-density polyethylene sealant. The construction creates protection with less packaging than the canister alternative. Polyvinylidene chloride and ethylene vinyl alcohol oxygen barrier layers provide product integrity.

American National Can produces a registered, printed lamination (flexo-printed in eight colors with photopolymer printing plates produced by the American National Can Graphics Center). Kapak Corp., Minneapolis, MN, adds the zipper reclosure feature and converts the rollstock into pouches for filling by Dial. The job required multiple-color application with very tight registration to accommodate the registered reclosure zipper application.

One package replaces ten individual packages to achieve real source reduction. Package design was provided by Mary Shepard, American National Can, and Chris De Coster, Dial Corp.

Precut Produce Problem Solved

Cryovac Div. of W.R. Grace & Co., Duncan, SC, solved the respiration problems inherent in packaging precut produce by developing the PD 900 family of films, whose permeability is matched to the produce they will protect. The films have oxygen transmission rates that range from 3,500 cc (sufficient for carrots and onions) to 16,500 cc (required for broccoli) per sq m every 24 hours.

The films, a proprietary structure based on a multilayered polyolefin, can be as thin as .6 mils, offering up to a 75% reduction, from existing films. Material is available as either films or bags and can run easily on any kind of filling and packaging equipment.

Films are available with an antifog feature, and they comfortably withstand microwave cooking. They can be designed with a reclosable zipper. The package, which was flexo-printed in eight colors, was designed by end-user Mann Packing.

Prepacked Apples Stay Fresh

The packaging system of Sunmet Fresh Sliced Apples, converted by Maine Poly Inc., Greene, ME, has brought prepacked, fresh-cut apples to the grocery produce section. The controlled atmosphere of this package offers another option for solving the respiration problem of precut produce. The package label doubles as a breathable membrane, allowing for the release of carbon dioxide and the re-entry of oxygen. A natural citric acid solution, which acts as an antibrowning wash, helps to extend shelf life up to two weeks when apples are refrigerated. The bag offers consumers a reclosable zipper.

The material is a 3-mil, 300-ga ethylene vinyl acetate/LLDPE custom blend. The film is extruded, slit, and surface flexo-printed in five colors by Maine, who also adds the zipper attachment, converts the bag, registers the punchout, and attaches the patch.

Energy consumption involved in canning, freezing, or flash-freezing apple slices for distribution is eliminated. The construction was custom-designed to fit the packer's complex requirements, including perforations between the bags for easy assembly prior to filling and sealing.

The end-user, Met West Agribusiness, designed the package. River Ranch Technologies, Salina, CA, designed the specifications and provided the material for the FreshHold breathable label, which was then converted by Avery Dennison of Monrovia, CA.

A Toast to Flexible

To create a product and package that could replace a blender, Lawson Mardon Flexible Inc., Arlington Hts, IL, introduced flexible packaging for alcoholic beverages to the consumer market with Tropical Freezes premixed frozen alcoholic drinks. The pouch structure, custom-designed for a new product, is critical to the frozen slushy consistency important to daiquiris and margaritas.

The aluminum foil and plastic films combination had to allow the ice to freeze without inhibiting the necessary patent-pending crystallization process. The multiply laminate provides the structural integrity to run on a heat/f/f/s system. The graphics were eight-color reverse-printed, and captivating images and saturated colors pop off the scuff-resistant package.

Pet Food

Ferreting Out a Winner

The Kaytee Forti-Diet Ferret Food bag introduces flexible to the small-animal food market. Converted by Duralam Inc., Appleton, WI, it holds 3 lb of ferret food in an illustrated, reclosable pouch that reduces the volume of the package by over 95% from its original canister form. At the same time, it provides shelf appeal, added consumer convenience, and barriers for the high fat content of the pellets (all of which may help to explain the 50% increase in sales of ferret food since this package was introduced).

The structure combines coated nylon film adhesive-laminated to an opaque polyolefin sealant, totaling only 2.75 mil thick. It provides an improved moisture vapor barrier and resistance to puncture and cracking. The manufacturing process includes eight-color, flexographic, reverse printing, a single-pass adhesive lamination, and the application of the zipper.

It is less expensive by 55% and less complex than the multicomponent canister it replaces. It also provides significant reduction in warehousing storage space. Allied Signal, Morristown, NJ, supplied the packaging materials, and the package was designed by Gammon Ragonesi Assoc., NY.

Dog Treats Made Easy

James River earned another award for the Meaty Bone Easy Carry, Reclosable, Stand-Up Bag. The 6-lb bags of dog treats feature reclosable zipper seals and carry handles for easy portability. The large size was developed for sales through mass merchandisers and pet superstores. A window allows the consumer to see the product before purchase and to monitor supplies without opening the bag.

Construction of the package is 48-ga polyester/10# PE blend/48-ga polyester/7# PE blend/3-mil coextruded sealant film. The sealant film is a proprietary extrusion from American National Can that provides strong seals, puncture resistance, the stiffness necessary to make the pouch stand up, and clarity for good product visibility.

The eight-color design is reverse rotogravure-printed, providing excellent gloss and scuff resistance. Zipper fabrication, bag fabrication, and zipper installation were by Minigrip/Zip-Pak, Manteno, IL. The package provides source reduction (reportedly 40% by weight versus paperboard box) and offers stand-up presentation for shelf impact, a window for product visibility, a zipper for package reclosability, and a die-cut handle for ease of portability.

The bags offer hermetic sealing to prevent insect infestation and result in less broken product. Bags can be displayed upright or on their backs - the bottom panel is fully decorated.

The package was designed by Andrew Gordon and Barbara Padgett of Heinz Pet Products, Minigrip/Zip-Pak, and the Chesapeake Group, Cincinnati, OH.

Medical Packaging

What the Nurse Ordered

Rollprint Packaging Products, Addison, IL, took honors for the Avitene[R] MCH easy-open, stand-up pouch. The pouch allows operating room nurses to reach the sterilized product quickly and easily, while reducing weight by 80% from the package it replaces, a jar inside a cardboard spiral-wound can. The foil pouch houses a plastic tray with a peelable lid. It provides an easy peel-open feature with a sterile presentation.

The foil pouch provides excellent moisture, oxygen, and light barrier properties. The gusseted bottom allows sufficient space to hold the primary package, which contains the sterile powder, and to accommodate the gas expansion that occurs during dry-heat sterilization.

The pouch is a 48-ga polyester, reverse-printed and adhesive-laminated to 1-mil foil, which is adhesive-laminated to a 2-mil proprietary sealant that maintains total seal integrity during high-temperature sterilization. Kapak converts the rollstack into the stand-up pouch. The instructions are flexo-printed in two colors.

The package was designed by Rollprint and end-user MedChem.

Easy Access, Lower Weight

The Ethicon Peelable Suture Package brings the advantage of a peelable opening feature to the operating room. The package, another winner for American National Can, replaces a tear-open foil package, which was contained inside a permeable overwrap. By replacing a two-part system, access is easier and faster. The new four-ply lamination continues to offer the barrier properties required to protect the product from exposure to extremely low levels of moisture.

The single-layer package reduces package weight by 18% and volume by 25% over the previous package. The structure can be printed with water-based inks, and the single-layer package reduces package waste in excess of 10% by weight and 15% by volume as compared to the previous double-barrier system.

The new package requires only one pass through an ethylene oxide sterilizer instead of the two required by the old system.

Consumer Goods

Flexible Comes to Fishing

James River won again for Spiderwire Fusion Fishing Line Pouch, which brings flexible to fishing line in a bold way with a sparkling hologram designed to grab attention. It allows a length of fishing line to exit the package for fishing fans who want to test the feel of the line without compromising the package.

The package is four-color reverse flexo-printed on a multilayer structure (polyester/hologram metallized polyester/PE) for excellent product and printing protection throughout distribution. The pouch brings extra benefit by protecting the fishing line from pilferage.

Glue Package Does it All

Polymeric Systems Inc., Phoenixville, PA, was honored for the SumPak[R] Smart Glue Package. This small package, 8.5 x 1.5 in. wide, turns a basic burstable-seal package for two-part adhesives into its own mixing and dispensing kit. It houses the two adhesive components in small pouches, one on top of the other, at the bottom of a series of ten small, perforated pouches that form the mixing chamber.

Rolling a pencil up from the bottom of the package ruptures the burstable seal and sends the adhesive components through these ten chambers via the various holes between them, which direct the flow of the components into a thorough mixing. In about 20 seconds, the adhesive is fully mixed and ready to dispense through the precut dispensing tip. The problem of insufficient mixing is said to be eliminated.

A continuous-feed process heat-seals three films into a specially designed configuration, fills the separate product pouches by volume, heat-seals the ends, and cuts the joined packets into individual strips. Polyester prevents bleed-through of the epoxy resin or the curing agent that was used in this product. A shelf life of one year is offered for this adhesive. The package provides a 34% reduction in volume when compared to an alternative container.

Package design was by Theodore Flint and Thomas Steinsmetz, Polymeric Systems; graphics by Lisa Lacek, Graphex Inc., Exton, PA. Modern Packaging Inc., Mr. Laurel, NJ, supplied the film.


Protection for Welding Electrodes

James Dawson Enterprises Ltd., Grand Rapids, MI, and Quebec, Canada, converted the ElectroPak System, a vacuum-packed, heat-sealed barrier package used to protect welding electrodes from excess moisture during shipment and storage. The package, containing 2.5 kg of electrodes, replaces metal canisters, which reportedly are not cost-effective for shipping small quantifies. The package offers increased protection, because specific quantities remain sealed until their use, allowing electrodes to be more easily traced back to a specific welder after their use. Vacuum packaging, heat sealing, and in-line hot packaging reduce absorbed moisture during the packaging process.

The structure is 48-ga polyester/10# PE/.0003 foil/7.5# PE/3-mil cross-laminated Valeron/37# PE. Package weight is reduced by 57% over its predecessor, and packaging costs were reduced by 17%. The Valeron prevents the relatively sharp electrodes from puncturing the package and allowing moisture to infiltrate. The package is opened easily, and the small unit packaging allows a welder to use only the quantity required while the rest of the unit packs (shipped eight to a carton) remain unopened and uncompromised.

Van Leer Flexibles Inc., Houston, TX, supplied the Valeron film, and Georgia Packaging Inc., Columbus, GA, supplied the lamination structure. James Dawson designed the package.

Furniture Stays Safe

The LockPak[TM], converted by Guilford Packaging & Fiber Inc., High-point, NC, is a flexible packaging system said to protect upholstered furniture as well as a corrugated box. A sofa, for example, is placed on a corrugated tray; the sofa is covered with a PE film/PE foam composite bag; a corrugated end cap is placed on one end of the sofa; and the entire structure (tray, sofa, composite bag, and end cap) is encased in a PE shrink-film bag, which is stapled under the tray bottom.

The composite bag is made of a closed seal foam, 3/32 in. thick, that has been bonded to 3-mil film for integrity. The outside millage can be changed from one to seven mils. This outer bag is then heat-shrunk (by passing the whole unit through a heat runnel or by hand-held heat guns). The result is a sofa that is totally encased in protective foam and immobilized to prevent damage during shipment.

The design has drastically reduced damage claims. The flexible packaging allows products to be nested, which increases the amount of product that can fit into a transport vehicle by 35% to 50%, lowering shipping costs. Nesting also makes better use of existing warehouse space. The process saves package storage space, as the PE foam/PE film laminate is shipped to the upholstery manufacturer in roll form.

LockPack reduces the volume of the packages by an average of 60%. Production line speed was increased as much as 50% over cartoning, and two hours are saved in the loading process.

The package design was a team effort among Guilford Packaging, material supplier Astro-Valcour, and end-user Ethan Allen.

Supplier Information:

Kapak Corp., Minneapolis, MN; ph: 612/541-0730; fax: 612/541-0735.

Allied Signal, Morristown, NJ; ph: 201/455-2000; fax: 201/455-4807.

Minigrip/Zip-Pack, Manteno, IL; ph: 810/488-6973; fax: 815/468-6550.

Modern Packaging, Deer Park, NY; ph: 516/595-2437; fax: 516/595-2742.

Van Leer Flexibles, Houston, TX; ph: 713/462-6111; fax: 713/690-2746.

Georgia Packaging Inc., Danbury, CT; ph: 203/743-6112; fax: 203/778-8306.

Astro-Valcour, Glens Falls, NY; ph: 518/793-2524; fax: 518/793-2904.

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