Author Archives: The Boss

Will You Make Your Next Trade Show Visit Zero-Waste?

An important part of the calendar for packaging professionals is attending trade shows.  it gives us a good opportunity to catch up with our industry colleagues, find out what is new from the exhibitors and to attend seminars given by industry leaders.  At the time of writing, it is just under two weeks to the next big Packaging trade show – Packaging Innovations, co-located with Luxury Packaging on 11th – 12th Sept 2019 at Olympia in London. 

Trade show tatt

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re anything like me, you’ll come away with a couple of plastic carrier bags full of leaflets, brochures, pens and, to be frank, useless plastic tatt, which ends up languishing in a corner of the house.  I have a drawer full of average quality pens, lanyards that are too good to throw away and no end of plastic carrier bags, and even worse reusable carrier bags, with an industrial company logo that I wouldn’t want to be seen with in normal life cluttering up my kitchen.  At least the leaflets and brochures can go into the recycling when I’m done with them!  That was until February this year when I made the change at Packaging Innovations in Birmingham.  I now try to make my visits to trade shows zero-waste, it’s not that hard, it just takes a bit of remembering stuff.

This was my kit in Feb –

Trade show reuse kit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Lanyard – I was fully prepared to look a bit odd wearing last year’s lanyard, as it turned out, they were exactly the same.  Tbh I was a little disappointed that no-one could tell I was reusing an old one! 
  • Reusable bag, the older the better. Back in February I challenged my Linked-in contacts to do exactly that. Below is me with my collegue Dr Peter Cox from the Plastics Consultancy Network – mine was from just 2018 – Peter won with one from the 1980s!  It should be cool to use old stuff.  
  • Keep-cup – meeting up with colleagues for a cuppa means I must get through at least 4 cups a day – that means taking a reusable cup saves 8 unrecyclable paper cups from landfill/ incineration = smug feeling. 
  • Pen – I take my own(and a notebook) so I’m not tempted to take a free one.
  • Hankie – meant I used fewer single-use napkins
  • Business Cards – These are hard to give up, and unless your company specialises in zero-waste solutions, it seems really rude to refuse one.  I am also fully aware that mine are laminated on both sides which made them difficult to recycle.  Next time I order some I’ll change that.

Comparing old bags!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So did it work?  On the whole, yes I think.  I came back with a few free copies of Packaging News to give to colleagues, a couple of samples of novel materials and not much else.  At this particular show you’re given an RFID tag in your badge which means you can ‘check-in’ at stands, the exhibitors then send info over email, so no brochures/leaflets required.  I was, however, disappointed to see that I was only one or two people using reusables in any way – and was especially disappointed to see the number of single-use plastic water bottles being left on the tables at a certain NGO’s stand who should have known better! 

A report prepared by ThePackHub and recently published by the Packaging Innovation organisers Easyfairs highlighted that 43.2% of industry stakeholders are investigating reuse or refill options for their products.  If that includes you, will you put your money where your mouth is and join me on 11th-12th september (or whichever your next visit to a trade show is) by trying one or two of the waste-saving options above?

I plan to be at Olympia for the full two days – I’m especially looking forward to the discussions on compostable packaging, and will be on the IOM3 stand (H44) around about lunchtime on the 12th as part of the The Packaging Society‘s Packaging Surgery.  If you see me, show me your reuseable bag (or tweet me at @GreenwoodPkg) and I’ll buy a cuppa (in a reusable cup) for whoever has the oldest one, can’t say fairer than that!

 

 

 

 

Sarah Greenwood MSc(Eng) FIMMM APkgPrf is a Sustainable Packaging specialist.  She is currently leading a proof of concept study at the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures at the University of Sheffield on reusable packaging. This is part of the UKRI funded project Plastics: Redefining Single Use . She is also an independent consultant www.scgreenwood.co.uk #plastics #RedefiningSingleUse #Reuse

Packaging Review – Fortnum and Mason Loose Leaf Tea Caddy

Fortnum and Mason Tea Caddy - photo for packaging review blog at scgreenwood.co.uk

Fortnum and Mason loose leaf tea caddy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under normal operating conditions I can’t last for more than a couple of hours without a cup of tea. I also love a little bit of luxury so one of my guilty pleasures when work takes me to London is to pop into Fortnum and Mason at St Pancras Station for a cuppa on the way home.  At over £6 for a pot it isn’t cheap but not that much more than London prices for a pint of decent beer.  The tea is also available to buy from the adjoining shop in attractive caddies, which are reviewed below;

 

In Store

The St Pancras store is a satellite from the flagship department store in Piccadilly.  This is the ideal location to catch both day-trippers and visitors from Europe via Eurostar ready to spend money on a last minute cuppa or a souvenir to take home before their train departs.  The unit is split into two, a bistro on one side and retail on the other offering small, easy to pack luxury food and drink items, ideal for gifting, all beautifully packaged and displayed.

With Fortnum and Mason signature duck-egg blue as the background colour the cube–shaped tea caddies look fresh and modern and block well on shelf (and are also a very efficient shape for shipping).  Different varieties are identified with a bold stripe of colour half way up the pack, which makes the tea easy to shop.  Rather than use 100% ink coverage, the graphic designer has allowed the metal to show through in parts of the design without showing the grain of the metal sheet (which can happen all too often with tins).  Both gloss and matt lacquers have been used, some subtle embossing embellishes the design and the overall print quality is excellent, adding to the premium feel. The tins themselves are over-wrapped with OPP film, many would consider this to be unnecessary plastic, but this is a useful addition as it will protect the finish from scuffing during transit, especially the areas that have been embossed.  These caddies are likely to be given as gifts, so the overwrap keeps the tins in optimum condition whilst also acting as tamper evidence.

There is clearly a focus on customer service here; on purchasing a tin of Countess Grey – black tea with a citrus scent, I was given instructions on how to make an iced version (brew twice the normal strength, chill, add ice and slices of orange).  There is also the added thrill of being handed your purchase in a sturdy Fortnum’s plastic carrier bag. To my shame I find it really hard to say I don’t need a bag on the rare occasions when I buy a luxury brand (the bag was used just once and now languishes in the corner of my kitchen – I can’t quite bring myself to use it as a bin bag). 

 

At Home

The tin is essentially a square version of a paint can with a round lever-lid.  The lid provides a tight seal, but requires the tea-maker to have a suitable lever to hand.  This isn’t an issue in this case as the tea is loose leaf, you’ll be most likely be measuring it out with a teaspoon and can use the handle to prise open.  On opening it is a pleasant surprise to see that the tin is almost full; there is very little head-space.  At £12.95 for 250g, the tea works out at 5.18 per 100g – that’s cheaper per 100g than equivalent products from high-street tea merchants T2 and Whittard.

Some tins aren’t made to be completely air-tight, but these keep the tea in good condition over a few months.  An amusing touch is that when you get close to the bottom of the tin, the words ‘Time for Tea’ appear on the inside of the base as a gentle reminder.

Time for tea

Inside of Fortnums tea caddy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are improvements I would like to see.  I have a couple of these now (Smoky Earl Grey and Duchess Grey) and it would be useful for space saving in my kitchen if they stacked easily on top of each other.  I’m also bothered by the presence of the bar code and a QI code being printed on the back panel – these spoil the overall appearance and could easily be applied using a removable label. 

 

Reuse

Up until a couple of years ago this would have been the end of this blog, the tin is pretty and I’d probably keep it to keep other things in for a while or put in recycling.  However, although it took me a few visits to realise, F&M also sell many of their teas loose.  I’m currently researching reusable and refillable packaging, so recently I took my empty caddy back to the store and to my surprise they happily refilled it for me from a bulk tin behind the counter.  At £4.80 for 100g it came to £12 to refill to the original weight of 250g, saving me 95 pence on the online price for a caddy.  I even remembered a reusable shopper so apart from a small label, my purchase was almost completely packaging-free!

 

Overall

The tea caddy is a desirable object that I am happy to have on display in my kitchen, it keeps the contents fresh for as long as I need it to, and having the option to refill, either directly in store or at home from tea bought loose in store is a definite bonus.

Do you buy loose leaf tea?  If so what is your favourite way to buy it?  Or so you prefer teabags?  let me know in the comments section below.

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Greenwood MSc(Eng) FIMMM APkgPrf is a Sustainable Packaging specialist.  She is currently leading a proof of concept study at the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures at the University of Sheffield on reusable packaging. This is part of the UKRI funded project Plastics: Redefining Single Use . She is also an independent consultant www.scgreenwood.co.uk #plastics #RedefiningSingleUse #Reuse

 

 

Summer 2019 Update

 

 

 

 

Hope you are OK, and enjoying the summer it’s been a while!

The trouble with being a single-person operation is that communications can be a bit me, me, me, which is why I’ve held off sending this out for a bit, but as anyone who is self-employed will tell you no-one else is going to blow your trumpet for you so….

I spent last summer researching and writing a report for Smithers Pira – The Future Lifecycles of Packaging Recycling to 2023 – it is now available to purchase online here – http://bit.ly/31Mw9zy or you may already have access to it if your company is a member of Smithers Pira.

My client Garçon Wines has been winning awards left right and centre for their flat eco-wine bottle, but the ones that mean the most to me were the UK Packaging awards for Innovation of the Year and the Consumer Convenience award – you can check out their website here – http://bit.ly/2ZaVYqY

Along with my colleague Steve Jackson, I spent the last few weeks of 2018 working some maternity cover at Iceland Foods, working at their head office in Deeside.  I enjoyed every single minute of it – they are a great team of people.

My big news is that for the last 6 months or so I’ve been working 4 days a week at the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures at the University of Sheffield on the UKRI funded project Plastics:Redefining Single Use http://bit.ly/30aM4Y0 They’ve now taken me on as staff for the next year, leading one of the sub-projects, a proof of concept study on Reusable Packaging.  I’m absolutely thrilled, and so proud to be working on solving the plastics problem at my old (and new!) university.  I’ve already given oral evidence to the EFRA committee at the Houses of Parliament, am working with some very high-profile stake holders, and am enjoying the interdisciplinary nature of the project, working with not only Polymer Scientists, but Sociologists, Psychologists and Environmental Scientists.

I work a 4 day week, so I am still available for smaller projects, straight consultancy work and coaching smaller businesses through the packaging development process. Please get in touch, and if I can’t help directly I’ll put you in contact with someone who can.

If you live in or regularly visit the North of England, and are not already signed up, please consider joining the North of England Packaging Society.  It is free to join (follow this link – http://bit.ly/2VQaug19) and we plan factory visits and networking socials in Leeds and Sheffield (and possibly beyond if there is demand).  The next email will come out in a couple of days so if you sign up now you will receive it.

See you at Packaging Innovations at Olympia on 11th and 12th Sept if you are going.

Cheers,

Sarah


Sarah Greenwood MSc(Eng) FIMMM APkgPrf
Packaging and Plastics Consultant
07826 791 045

The North of England Packaging Society Spring Social 3rd April 2019

The Adelphi Hotel Leeds. Picture from Wiki Commons

Our next event is a Networking Social on 3rd April at the wonderful Adelphi in Leeds (just round the corner from Asda House). The last event was so sucessful we have moved to a larger function room! Call in any time from 7-10 pm, with the opportunity to buy a meal. The room hire is paid for by the society and we’ll be asking for donations to Yorkshire Air Ambulance. No formal talk, but attendees are encouraged to bring packaging samples for us to geek over further details from myself, Sarah Greenwood 07826 791 045 sarah@scgreenwood.co.uk

North of England Packaging Society – Autumn Social 8th Nov Leeds

The Adelphi Hotel Leeds. Picture from Wiki Commons

 

I’m happy to let you know that the North of England Packaging Society will be having a social on Thursday 8th Nov at the Adelphi Hotel in Leeds (close to Asda House). 

We have great plans to arrange a program of visits and talks over the coming months with a focus on cpd and building a support network between members.  Although affiliated to IOM3 and a division of The Packaging Society, there is no requirement for you to be a member of either to come to our meetings.  If you have suggestions or ideas for future visits or talks, please get in touch, we want as varied a program as possible.

Back to 8th Nov – We’ve got a small function room booked in the Adelphi 1-3 Hunslet Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1JQ, 7-10pm.  Please feel free to drop in at any point during that time.  If you want to purchase a bar meal (I know I will) we’ll be ordering about 7.30pm.  (see here for current menu).

As a conversation starter feel free to bring a packaging related curio for ‘show and tell’. 

Hope to see you there, and if you can’t make it – keep in touch to find out about our next meetings.

Cheers

Sarah Greenwood

Chair, The North of England Packaging Society

07826 791 045

lots of people's faces

Networking for Packaging Professionals in the North of England

Northern Packaging Professionals!

If you’re anything like me, you’ll enjoy meeting up with industry colleagues at packaging shows and events, but find that living in the North of England it is usually a long way to travel.  For some time now I’ve been thinking of starting networking sessions for those of us working in the North of England – the facebook group UK Packaging Professionals Discussion was created as a starting point.  I’ve spoken with a lot of people in the course of this year. After careful consideration I’m excited to let you know that I have agreed to chair the northern branch of The Packaging Society – NEPkgS.  I’ve been a member since I started the Diploma in Packaging course in 2004 and although there are excellent events planned by TPS in London and Nottingham, have been disappointed by the level of activity here in the North.  The only way to fix that is to do something about it, and with the help of my occasional colleague and associate Steve Jackson will be organising the first of, hopefully, many meetings in the North of England soon.  You will not have to join up to attend – we just want to get as many people together as possible.

The North of England Packaging Society covers all of Yorkshire, and the North West and North East up to the Scottish border.  Ideally, I’d like every packaging professional in the region to be within an easy drive of at least two events a year.  This is a big ask – we’re effectively starting from scratch so this is where you come in.

Please get in touch if you;

  • Have ideas of who you would like to see speak, where you would like to visit or know a great place for a social
  • Are interested in hosting an event /tour at your workplace,
  • Would like to speak at an event
  • Help us organise an event near you

Events could be a simple meet up for networking drinks, a talk by an industry expert, a visit to a manufacturer – anything packaging related.

If you are already a member of TPS, keep an eye out for emails and newsletters with details of the new events (it’s also a good idea check your preferences for communication are up to date in your IOM3 login, if you use it).  Events should also appear in the events section of Materials World magazine.

Non-members can join the UK Packaging Professionals Discussion Group on facebook (completely independent of TPS, but run by myself and a few others), connect with me on Linked-in or subscribe to my monthly newsletter to be notified of new events.

If the last few months have shown us anything it is that us packaging professionals need to stick together, we do a lot of chatting online, but it would be good to do it in person!

Cheers,

Sarah

07826 791 045

Minty Feet

Classic Packaging – The Body Shop Boston

It is hard to describe exactly how exciting The Body Shop was when my school friends and I first discovered it as teenagers in the 80s.  Up until that point the most interesting event our health and beauty world had been the introduction of a Miss version of Matey bubble bath.  To us, luxury bathing products were either dubiously coloured bath salts in a jar or foil-wrapped bath cubes from the chemist or the Avon lady. 

That all changed with our discovery of the Body Shop – a whole shop devoted to cosmetics, with its risqué name (this was the 80s afterall), exotic, cruelty-free products and in-store social justice and environmental campaigns, it was the epitome of cool.  We swooned over Morello Cherry Lip Balm and Coconut Hair Gel, both in glass jars with black thermoset plastic lids, colourful shrink-wrapped soap bars and elegant bath pearls in plastic cartons.  There was a gift-wrapping station (no ready-made gift-packs then), an apothecarian perfume shelf, and before I get completely consumed by a Dewberry scented mist of nostalgia, hair and body care products sold in round semi-opaque HDPE bottles, the Boston.  These came with a black screw top and you could get them refilled once you’d used up the contents.  For me, these simple bottles defined The Body Shop and what they stood for.  Here is their story –

 

Humble Beginnings

According to her 1991 autobiography, when Anita Roddick opened the first Body Shop in Brighton in 1976, she wanted to sell no-nonsense cosmetics without using what she saw as elaborate, unnecessary packaging or by making exaggerated claims about their effectiveness.  She chose the round off-the-shelf Bostons as they were the cheapest option.  Citing her own frustration at not being able to buy small amounts of cosmetics, she bought them in a variety of sizes.  Selling the products in multiple sizes also had the advantage of making the shelves look fuller (the business launched with just 25 different products).  The bottles were labelled with generic stickers branded with a £25 logo, the product title being written on by hand.   Further information was supplied on postcards and from Anita herself.   A refilling service was offered as she said there was not the money to buy enough bottles – customers could even bring their own containers to be filled.

 

Teenage Dreams

WOuld you use 20 year old moisturiser?

HDPE Body Shop Boston with unusal pink label – this would normally been Body Shop Green

By the time I was frequenting the Norwich store in the late-1980s, refills could only be made in their own bottles, and only for the original product for safety reasons.  Labels were now printed with the product with a simple design with the Body Shop logo and green background name.  Like most other cosmetics companies at the time the labels were made of paper and would rub away from the bottle when exposed to wet bathroom conditions.  Although there was not much difference between the packaging for different products, the shop assistants, testers and information available in store were used effectively to provide information to the customers.

 

Reuse Refill Recycle

Original 80s / 90s Body Shop Against Animal Testing Badge

Campaigning formed a large part of the company’s identity.   From animal rights, acid rain and preservation of the rainforests, to packaging, which included opposition to the use of CFCs in aerosols, and a Reuse Refill Recycle Campaign. In 1990 they were the first retailer to introduce a system where the bottles could be returned for recycling if customers didn’t want to refill them.  This was absolutely groundbreaking – there were no doorstep collections other than general refuse back then.

 

The End of the Boston?

mmmm pink grapefruit

New Body Shop bottle shape, 250ml with Boston miniature, 60ml

Over the years they stuck with the shape, making changes by using an embossed screw-cap, using high clarity PET versions and changes to the label design.   But in 1999, when sales stated to decline, it was decided to introduce more packaging differentiation and new styles were introduced.

Now the company that has managed to ‘own’ a generic packaging item, have moved almost completely away from their once-beloved Boston. The Body Shop was sold to L’Oreal in 2006, who in turn sold it on to Natura in 2017.  During this time, a new bottle shape was introduced without fanfare.  Stylish and modern it compares with those of competitors like Neal’s Yard and sets them up for the modern retail environment.  The Boston is now only used for miniatures. 

The refilling service ceased in 2002 due to lack of demand (ref WRAP).  Since then it has become easier to recycle plastic bottles; most local councils now accept plastic bottles in kerbside collections for recycling.

 

The Future

The Body Shop now has ambitious new targets set in 2016 to become ‘the world’s most ethical and sustainable business’ under their ‘Enrich not Exploit’ strategy.  Fossil fuel reduction is now the focus – a target of 70%, and a commitment to packaging innovation. 

I have to confess, apart from an emergency lip-balm purchase, I’ve not shopped in the Body Shop for years – there isn’t the sense of fun there now that there once was (although yes, I admit I’m no longer a teenager!).  Looking at the old Boston and new bottle side by side, going back to the old shape is clearly a retrograde step.  However, with the current rise of Zero Waste shops, and new owner Natura at the helm, I wonder if the time could be right now for them to have another go at the refill system, even just on one or two products, and bring back the magic that the Boston once held, if not the bottle itself. 

Did you used to get your bottles refilled at the Body Shop? (or did you do the refilling?)  What was your favourite product? Do you think they should bring back refills?  Let me know in the comments section below. 

 

If you enjoyed reading this article and would like to read more – visit my blog or join my mailing list to be notified of new posts.

For help with your packaging development – get in touch or call 07826 791 045 to find out how I can help.

Sarah Greenwood

Henderson's Relish old v new

How to use Packaging to Grow Sales – Henderson’s Relish

Henderson’s Relish is a dark, spicy table sauce which has been produced in Sheffield since 1885.  Although much loved in its home city, up until a few years ago it could only be found on sale in Sheffield and North Derbyshire.  Thanks to a business expansion programme, which included moving to a new factory in 2013, availability has now increased to the rest of Yorkshire and beyond.  Improvements to their packaging have played an important part in this.  Below I explain how the company has made the most of new branding and label layout, a bespoke glass bottle and the introduction of shelf-ready packaging. If you are interested in how to increase distribution and sales of your product using packaging, read on (Disclaimer: I have not worked on this, I just think they have done a really good job!  Please get in touch or call me on 07826 791 045 if you want help with your packaging development though).

 

1. Graphic Design and Label

Old Henderson’s label wrap-around

 

New Henderson’s label wrap-round. It makes more use of the space available than the old version

To most Sheffielders, the sight of a clear half-pint bottle filled with a dark brown liquid and with a bright orange label is unmistakably Henderson’s Relish.  Until their rebrand in 2015 the label design had remained pretty much unchanged for decades.  There was no logo as such – the bottle pretty much being its own logo and the type was simple capitals, reminiscent of old-style letterpress printing.  All pack information, including awards and the barcode, was visible on a single face.   The result was that it looked rather cluttered – OK if the product is on sale in a local butchers, but far from ideal for supermarkets and convenience stores, where the packaging needs to do the selling. 

For the new design, they have introduced a Victorian style font, sticking with uppercase letters.  The strokes of the letter Rs extend below the baseline, turning the product name into a logo.  The white Yorkshire rose now sits above the text, showing the brand’s provenance, white highlights on the lettering complement the rose.  Founder Harry Henderson’s signature has been added  to the base of the label and a subtle background texture breaks up the solid orange background.

The layout of the label is much neater.  Although shorter, it has been made bigger so it  wraps further around the bottle, and front and side panels have been introduced.  The barcode, accolades and newly added nutritional information are now hidden on the sides of the bottle rather than the front, creating a much neater appearance. 

 

2. Bottle

Embossing on the shoulder of the new Henderson’s bottle

Even the base is branded on the new Henderson’s bespoke glass bottle

Although Henderson’s used bespoke embossed bottles in their early days, more recently they had been using a generic half-pint bottle.  They returned to their roots in 2017 with a bottle produced by nearby leading glass manufacturer Beatson Clarke.  ‘Henderson’s Relish’ is now proudly positioned in relief on the shoulder and even the base.  This gives a real feel of class – in order to have bespoke bottles for your brand, there is a significant minimum order quantity and the associated tooling costs.  To someone who has not come across the brand before, this says ‘we are here, we are reliable and we are going to be around for a long time’. 

The glass itself is 30% recycled, 10% is from locally recycled glass – a great story which reinforces their Made-in-Yorkshire credentials.

 

3. Shelf-Ready Packaging

Hendersons SRP

Along with other requirements, major retailers will often not list a product unless the outer packaging meets their specifications.  They will have strict guidelines on the type of packaging and how it is labelled and palletised.  It is common for them to insist on shelf ready packaging (SRP or RRP), outer packaging that can be opened quickly and place directly on the supermarket shelf without the need for decanting.  Originally in an ordinary brown cardboard box with cardboard dividers to protect the bottles (like a crate of wine), the dividers have been done away with and the top portion of the box is easily ripped away to reveal the contents inside.  This SRP is printed in Hendo’s Orange, and they’ve jumped on the opportunity to add serving ideas and their gluten-free and vegetarian credentials to the part of the packaging which stays on the supermarket shelf, turning it into a valuable marketing tool. 

 

So what next for Henderson’s ?

Combined, the above changes have transformed a very ordinary-looking local hero into a product that looks worthy of any upmarket supermarket or farm-shop shelf.  Over the period that most of these changes were introduced, sales increased by 30% (Sheffield Star, October 2016). Clearly this hasn’t been entirely down to the packaging, for example Henderson’s are very good at taking advantage of publicity opportunities, Hendogate, for example, and futher establishing the brand by producing special editions.   When the new design was launched In 2015 their aspirations were just to conquer Yorkshire.  Now they have invested in a new bottling line and are planning to go global (Yorkshire Post 2017).  The changes to the packaging that have been made over the last few years have set them in excellent stead for this. 

 

To see how I can help your business grow using new packaging, check out the case studies and services provided pages on my website.  For more information, contact me here, call me on 07826 791 045 or subscribe to my monthly newsletter

Private Label or Retailer Own Brand Packaging

Retailer Own Brand – What You Need to Know About Packaging

If your company plans to supply products into Retailer Own Brand (or Private Label) and you are responsible for packaging, then this blog is for you.  Below is an essential check list of things you need to know, including what resource you will need, what to ask for from the retailer and what information you can expect them to ask you for.   (If you are looking to supply your own branded products subscribe to my mailing list to be notified when my next blog comes out).

 

Resource

Retailers work to very strict timescales so it is vital that you have enough resource to cover the work during the period to the launch date. There needs to be someone available to look after packaging sourcing and specification, e.g. a Packaging Technologist and also to manage the artwork process, an Artwork Co-ordinator.  Depending on your set-up, these roles can be done separately or combined into one position.  (If you do need extra resource – read this case study to see how I can help you). 

Retailers usually require a 48 hour turnaround on artworks, 24 hours on amends.  As several people within your business could be needed to check the artwork for accuracy– typically Technical, Product Development and the Packaging Technologist, it is vital that they, or a deputy, are made available to check artwork in order to keep to the project timescales.

 

What to ask for from the retailer;

Packaging Guidelines

Many of the large retailers publish packaging guidelines on their supplier web-portals, for which you will need a login and password.  These could include guidance on material grades, shelf-ready and transit packaging and an approved packaging supplier list.  I’m a big believer in continuing with your existing suppliers (see How to find a packaging supplier) but don’t dismiss the suppliers from the approved list straight away, the retailer might be able to get you a good deal. 

 

Login to the Artwork Approval System

You will need a separate login to their artwork management portal and the contact details for the artwork account manager – artwork management is usually sub-contracted to a specialist company.  It’s a good idea to put them in your speed dial – you‘ll be in contact with them a lot!

 

The Critical Path

Once you’ve supplied your FTP date (See below) You’ll be issued with a number of key dates that need to be met to keep the project on track, including pack copy submission dates and when the artwork is due to be issued for approval, etc.  The key dates could be at odds with your company’s product development timings, especially if you use a gated product development process. This is something you will just have to find ways to work around.  My experience of 6 years of working on ROB was that the two processes never matched!

 

 

What the retailer will ask for from you;

Mock-ups

If this is a completely new product, then you will be asked to provide an unprinted mock-up, including all packaging components.

 

Cutter Guide (primary pack)

This is the line drawing that either you or your printer have issued to have the artwork added onto.  It should show the position and orientation of panels, position and size of the BB area, etc. Chances are you might still be developing the packaging at the time the cutter guide is requested – this is where your artwork account manager comes in – they might be able to buy you a little time or allow you to submit a provisional cutter guide – it is really important to keep on top of this though, I’ve seen someone (not me!) lose track of this which cost a lot of money to fix.

 

Printer Details and a File To Printer (FTP) date

Your printer will be included in the artwork approval process and artwork will be sent to them directly once the artwork is signed-off.  You provide the FTP date working back from when you need the packaging on site, the printer’s lead times and a bit of wriggle room, etc.

 

Pack Copy

Your technical and NPD team will supply this through the retailer’s specification portal.  Artwork timings depend on these being supplied at the right time, so it is worth keeping in close contact with them on this.

 

Simple Packaging Specs and Recycling Information

Retailers vary enormously in the amount of information required. E.g. for outer cases, some are happy with ‘B-flute SRP’, others ask for the full spec!  It helps to have this information ready at your fingertips.  You could be asked to provide the OPRL labelling information for your lines (ask the packaging team at your retailer if you don’t have a copy of the OPRL guidelines).

 

New Line Form Information

Case count (number of products per case), size of outer case in mm, number of cases per pallet, number of cases per layer, and number of layers, weight per case and height of pallet.  These are usually required early on, so if the product is still in development stress that the values are provisional and UPDATE your sales manager (or whoever is responsible for filling in the new line forms) as soon as you can. 

 

The above just touches on what you need, but hopefully I’ve given you an insight into what is required from a packaging perspective when you start supplying your product into Retailer Own Brand.  There is a lot to consider, but as long as long as you stick to the checklist above, you’ll be winning.

Good Luck!

 

Have I answered your questions?  If not put your comments in the section below and I’ll do my best to answer.

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Cheers,

Sarah

Biodegradable Plastic Packaging – 5 things you need to know

If you use plastic packaging, carriers or cutlery to give to your customers it is tempting to use biodegradable versions.  These can be a good idea, but only in the right circumstances. Read on to find out why;

1. Biodegradable plastics don’t necessarily break down in the sea, on land or in landfill. There are 2 main kinds of biodegradable plastics for packaging – compostable and oxo-degradable.  Compostables have to be processed in specific conditions for them to break down, and there is currently doubt over the effectiveness of oxo-degradables.

 

2. Compostable plastics – are usually made from natural sources – like corn starch or cellulose from wood. They are often used for carrier bags, disposable cutlery and bags for food waste where councils collect it.  Most of these will only break down in an industrial composter, or an anaerobic digester, which operates at temperatures of around 60°C.   These can be identified with the symbol above with the code EN13432.  More details available here .   Unless you / your customers have access to an industrial composting waste stream, these materials could be doing more harm than good – at best they will either be incinerated or stay intact in landfill.  At worst they could decompose in landfill releasing methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, or end up contaminating the plastics recycling stream.  Green-field music festivals are a good example of where compostable items can work as they have complete control over their waste management.  (Vegware have this sorted)

 

Home compostability logo

3. Home Compostable plastics – are the same as the industrially compostable plastics above, but will compost at lower temperatures, so in theory you can put them in your compost heap. I’d love to hear from anyone that does this – my garden is too small for a compost heap!

4. Compostable plastics decompose to water, carbon dioxide or methane and a very small amount of biomass . Very little of the original material is left behind as compost.  Composting of plastics is really just a way to make them disappear, a slow version of incineration!  (although the methane can be captured from anaerobic digestion and used as fuel)

 

Oxo-biodegradable plastic bag on a beach in 2011.

5. Oxo-degradable plastics (or oxo-biodegradable plastics) – are standard oil-based plastics, like Polythene, which have an additive included.  The additive makes the plastic fragment into smaller pieces over time.  In theory, these smaller fragments can then be digested by micro-organisms.  However, in November 2017, 150 organisations including Greenpeace and WWF endorsed a statement from Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy that recommends putting a hold on using this kind of plastic until it has been proven that these particles do not accumulate in ecosystems. You can read the report here .  Naturally the Oxo-biodegradable plastics association refute this.  My experience is that they take a long time to break up in the environment – the photo above shows a carrier bag I found on a beach in March 2011 – it had been around long enough for the ink to fade, but not for the bag to break up (the retailer in question no longer uses this technology).  (By the way if you have stored something in one of these bags over the last few years check up on it – they make a real mess when they start to flake!)

The points discussed above don’t mean we should stop looking into biodegradable plastics, far from it, but the method of disposal needs to be considered before making claims about the benefit to the environment.  Ideally in a few years there will be no public demand for biodegradable packaging as all of it will be captured and reprocessed before entering the environment as part of a circular economy!

Do you use biodegradable packaging? Do you compost at home?  Do you think all plastic packaging should be biodegradable? Let me know your experiences in the comments section below.

To see how I can help your business grow, check out the case studies and services provided pages on my website. For more information, contact me here, call me on 07826 791 045 or subscribe to my monthly newsletter