Category Archives: Packaging

Fresh cucumbers

Do cucumbers really need to be shrink-wrapped?

Retailers are under enormous pressure to eliminate plastic packaging altogether.  Do cucumbers really need to be shrink-wrapped with plastic?  Read on to find out…

OK, so most people know that if you keep a cucumber wrapped it will stay fresher for longer.  If you are curious like me about by how much, here is an easy experiment you can do at home to see what difference the plastic shrink-wrap makes;

 

Experiment

Get hold of 2 cucumbers of similar size and the same best before date.  Weigh them both using kitchen scales and remove the shrink-wrap from one and weigh the packaging.  Put both cucumbers in the fridge and continue weigh every day (more often if you like) until the best-before date.  On the best before date, weigh the cucumbers one final time, take a slice from each and taste.  (For one way to use up your cucumbers at the end of the experiment, try this recipe for cucumber soup from Delia)

Cucumber being weighed

Cucumber being weighed

Here are my results, weight of the cucumber plotted vs time;

Weights of wrapped and unwrapped cucumbers vs. time in home fridge at 4°C

Weights of wrapped and unwrapped cucumbers vs. time in home fridge at 4°C

The wrapped cucumber lost just 1g during the testing period, the unwrapped 12g – 3.5% of its total weight on the day of purchase (day 0) on the graph below).The unwrapped cucumber was still fresh but less crunchy than the wrapped cucumber.

 

What does this mean?

Shrink-wrap isn’t just a barrier to moisture-lossAfter harvest all fresh produce continues to respire (breath) – its carbohydrate reacts with oxygen in the atmosphere and releases carbon dioxide and water (see here for more info).  Shrink-wrapping reduces the amount of oxygen available so the cucumber’s respiration rate slows down, less water is lost and it stays fresh for longer.  (Note a number of factors also affect the respiration rate – the variety, ripeness of the cucumber when picked, wax coatings and storage conditions). 

These particular cucumbers came from Greece, so were picked, wrapped and labelled in Greece, loaded onto a truck, travelled 2000 miles including a trip over the sea to a UK distribution centre and then from the UK DC to the local stores.  This can’t take any less than 2 days.  Even with temperature controlled transport the temperature the cucumbers are kept at will vary. In many cases (as with these) they are sold and stored at room temperature, so respiration and water-loss will be greater during the time they are on sale.   The shrink also physically protects the fruits from damage during transit.

OK, so the home-experiment above was just a bit of fun (yes I know, I need to get out more). However, the Co‑op, regarded as one of the greener supermarket retailers for packaging, performed a rigorous trial across the whole supply chain in 2012.  Their trials showed that the shrink-wrap prevented waste by two-thirds (See this article from Sky News). Extensive scientific research has also been performed – see this report from the Journal of Food Science and Technology.

 

So what next?

Just 2g of plastic means that a cucumber can be as fresh on its best before date as on the day it was purchased, not to mention the protection it provides during a 2000 mile journey to our fridges.  This doesn’t mean the industry should not act in order to reduce plastic usage, but until they find a workable solution, the best thing we as consumers can do is to keep the pressure on retailers to reduce plastic packaging where they can.  What about the wrappers on soap bar and tinned tuna multi-packs – are they really necessary?

In the meantime I’m off to eat some cucumber soup!

Chilled cucumber soup in a teacup

If you are a brand owner and want help in removing plastic packaging from your products contact me for advice.

Subscribe to my newsletter to find out more about packaging in general.

Sarah Greenwood

07826 791 045

6 Ways to Reduce Your Packaging Footprint This Christmas

Do you ever feel guilty about the amount of waste packaging created on Christmas Day or are you just fed up with the extra bags of rubbish waiting for the first collection after the holiday?

This is a reblog of a post from last year with details updated.  The packs from Muc-Off and M&S in 2) are still available.  This year I’ll be posting photos of Christmas packaging on my Instagram profile – @sarah_greenwood_packaging Why not take a look and let me know what you think?

It’s not always possible to choose low packaging options if your loved one has their heart set on the latest toy or technology, but where you do have a choice here are some tips on how to reduce your packaging waste over Christmas;

 

1. Use Your Own Bags When Christmas Shopping

Since the introduction of the 5p bag tax in 2015, we’ve got used to taking reusable bags food shopping, but how many of us them for gift shopping too?  Every single bag refused by a customer, whether paper or plastic, means fewer raw materials used and less energy used to produce, transport and recycle/ dispose of it.

My Christmas shopping in the rucksack I’ve bought for the Rucksack Project Barnsley, more on that below

My Christmas shopping in the rucksack I’ve bought for The Rucksack Project Barnsley, more on that below

 

2. Choose Gifts in Secondary-Use Packaging

Packs with a secondary use are a good way of making fabulous looking gifts – there aren’t many households without a repurposed traditional biscuit tin, even if it’s just used for keeping more biscuits in (which is a very noble cause if you ask me).  More up to date examples include chocolates in a jewellery box from M&S and Muc-Off (the bike-cleaning experts) personal care kits in a tub perfect for keeping bike odds and ends in.

M&S Chocoates in packaging reusable as a gift box

M&S Chocolates in packaging reusable as a jewellery box

Muc-Off body products in reusable container with closures in their signature hot pink

Muc-Off body products in a reusable container with closures in their signature hot pink

On the other hand…

 

3. Beware of Gift Packs!

Retailers and manufacturers are wise to the fact that we like an easy life and package gifts in easy to wrap boxes designed to make them fly off the shelves.  These packs often contain large amounts of plastic packaging that can’t always be recycled, but we only really notice at the point of disposal.  Consider buying the components separately and putting in a homemade gift box (see 6.) for a personal touch.  However, gift boxes can be very competitively priced versus the individual components so some inconvenient plastic could be a small price to pay for a bargain – only you can decide that.

Reusable and recyclable gift boxes from the Body Shop

Value for money, reusable and recyclable gift boxes from the Body Shop

 

4. Shop at Your Local Craft Market

Handmade gifts from craft markets use less packaging as they have not had to be protected with as much secondary transit packaging, usually unseen by us as shoppers, in order to ship it halfway round the world.  Not only are you saving on packaging, but buying unique items, supporting your local economy and probably having a much better shopping experience – sipping mulled-wine and listening to local musicians.

I’ll be going to the Etsy Local event in my local town of Barnsley on 2nd Dec organised by Crafty Business Barnsley – check this link for one near you.

Etsy Made Local advert from Crafty Business Barnsley

 

5. Choose Recyclable Wrapping Papers 

No-one can deny that half the fun of receiving a present is the unwrapping, and the fancier the better, but the decorative effects that make the papers so attractive make them difficult to recycle – many local councils don’t accept wrapping paper for recycling (or greetings cards) for this reason. Choose papers that have been decorated with print, not foil and glitter.   Curling ribbon and premade bows are difficult to recycle too – it’s difficult to find recyclable alternatives – if anyone comes up with anything please let me know!

Recyclable and non-recyclable wrapping papers. The one on the left is printed, the one on the right decorated with glitter.

Recyclable and non-recyclable wrapping papers. The one on the left is printed, the one on the right decorated with glitter

 

6. Make Your Own Reusable Boxes

I guess most of us have reused a gift bag at some point but how about covering old boxes with wrapping paper and lined with tissue paper to make reusable gift boxes?   The photo shows a covered shoe-box my mum made a few years ago for a pair of vintage Babycham glasses for me.  OK it takes a bit of time and planning, but you’ve got something that can be used again next year or if you’re conservative with the wrapping paper design the giftee can use it as a storage container.  Follow this link to find out how to wrap a shoe-box from Karen Kaye, a professional gift-wrapper.

Reusable gift box made from a shoe box covered in wrapping paper - it's seen better days, but you get the idea

Reusable gift box made from a shoe box covered in wrapping paper – it’s seen better days, but you get the idea!

Of course if you really wanted to reduce packaging, you could look at giving gift vouchers, tickets, or a donation to charity on someone’s behalf – no packaging at all, except the envelope for the gift card.  This year I’m sitting somewhere in the middle – giving smaller presents and spending the difference in donations to The Rucksack Project Barnsley – you get hold of a  rucksack and fill it with warm clothing etc.  The rucksacks are then given to people sleeping rough this winter.

Whatever you decide to do, Happy Christmas!

 

Do you have any more ideas on how to reduce your packaging footprint this Christmas?  Please add them to the comments below.

If you need help with the development of your packaging for 2018, please contact me.

Sarah Greenwood,

Sarah Greenwood Packaging

sarah@scgreenwood.co.uk

07826 791 045

Nov 2017 – Garçon Wines, BBIC and Instagram

Garçon Wines

I’m delighted to have been included in the BarnsleyBIC autumn newspaper Business Matters with an article on my work with the fabulous Garçon Wines.  The newspaper is available in print form at various locations around Barnsley and available online here.  I have been using BarnsleyBIC as a base for my business for over 3 years now – it is great to be part of a wider business community.  Here’s the article;

Garcon Wines letterbox wine bottle

Flat bottle idea matures nicely

Sarah Greenwood, Packaging consultant at Sarah Greenwood Packaging and one of BarnsleyBIC’s Virtual tenants is currently working hard with award winning inventor of slim-wine bottles Garçon Wines.

Sarah is a packaging technologist with a background is physics and polymer science which gives her that edge when working through the technical limitations of packaging.  She is currently helping them develop bottles slim enough to fit through a letter box yet tough enough to withstand the postal system without the huge amount of protective packaging needed for a standard glass bottle. 

“The project is very exciting, it really is cutting edge and shows real innovation” said Sarah.  The whole project is still in development but keep an eye out and watch this space.  With Sarah’s experience in the packaging industry, we’ll all be getting our wine through the letterbox in no time.

Find out more by visiting:

www.scgreenwood.co.uk

 

Instagram

Photos from Instagram – T2 tea carton, Lyon’s coffee tin, novelty brushes

In other news, I’ve recently joined the millenials and have set up a business account on Instagram.  Like many other packaging professionals, I’ve always got an eye on the packaging around me in my everyday life, and this is a record of that.  I post pictures of innovative packaging, repurposed packaging and, well items I just like the look of.

 Check out my profile – sarah_greenwood_packaging.   If you’ve not used Instagram before, give it a try.   It’s giving me lots of ideas so keep an eye out for more blogs from me in the future!

 

For help with Packaging Innovation, or any other help you require with your packaging – please get in touch.

Cheers

Sarah

6 Ways to Reduce Your Packaging Remorse This Christmas

Do you ever get Packaging Remorse after all the presents have been opened on Christmas Day  or are you just fed up with the extra bags of rubbish waiting for the first collection after the holiday?

It’s not always possible to choose low packaging options if your loved one has their heart set on the latest toy or technology, but where you do have a choice here are some tips on how to reduce your packaging waste over Christmas;

 

1. Use Your Own Bags When Christmas Shopping

Since the introduction of the 5p bag tax last year, we’ve got used to taking reusable bags food shopping, but how many of us them for gift shopping too?  Every single bag refused by a customer, whether paper or plastic, means fewer raw materials used and less energy used to produce, transport and recycle/ dispose of it.

My Christmas shopping in the rucksack I’ve bought for the Rucksack Project Barnsley, more on that below

My Christmas shopping in the rucksack I’ve bought for The Rucksack Project Barnsley, more on that below

 

2. Choose Gifts in Secondary-Use Packaging

Packs with a secondary use are a good way of making fabulous looking gifts – there aren’t many households without a repurposed traditional biscuit tin, even if it’s just used for keeping more biscuits in (which is a very noble cause if you ask me).  More up to date examples include chocolates in a jewellery box from M&S and, Muc-Off (the bike-cleaning experts) personal care kits in a tub perfect for keeping bike odds and ends in.

M&S Chocoates in packaging reusable as a gift box

M&S Chocolates in packaging reusable as a jewellery box

Muc-Off body products in reusable container with closures in their signature hot pink

Muc-Off body products in a reusable container with closures in their signature hot pink

On the other hand…

 

3. Beware of Gift Packs!

Retailers and manufacturers are wise to the fact that we like an easy life and package gifts in easy to wrap boxes designed to make them fly off the shelves.  These packs often contain large amounts of plastic packaging that can’t always be recycled, but we only really notice at the point of disposal.  Consider buying the components separately and putting in a homemade gift box (see 6.) for a personal touch.  However, gift boxes can be very competitively priced versus the individual components so some inconvenient plastic could be a small price to pay for a bargain – only you can decide that.

Reusable and recyclable gift boxes from the Body Shop

Value for money, reusable and recyclable gift boxes from the Body Shop

 

4. Shop at Your Local Craft Market

Handmade gifts from craft markets use less packaging as they have not had to be protected with as much secondary transit packaging, usually unseen by us as shoppers, in order to ship it halfway round the world.  Not only are you saving on packaging, but buying unique items, supporting your local economy and probably having a much better shopping experience – sipping mulled wine and listening to local musicians.

I’ll be going to the Etsy Local event in my local town of Barnsley on 3rd Dec organised by Crafty Business – check this link for one near you.

Banner advert for Crafty Business, Barnsley

Banner advert for Crafty Business, Barnsley

 

5. Choose Recyclable Wrapping Papers 

No-one can deny that half the fun of receiving a present is the unwrapping, and the fancier the better, but the decorative effects that make the papers so attractive make them difficult to recycle – many local councils don’t accept wrapping paper for recycling (or greetings cards) for this reason. Choose papers that have been decorated with print, not foil and glitter.   Curling ribbon and premade bows are difficult to recycle too – it’s difficult to find recyclable alternatives – if anyone comes up with anything please let me know!

Recyclable and non-recyclable wrapping papers. The one on the left is printed, the one on the right decorated with glitter.

Recyclable and non-recyclable wrapping papers. The one on the left is printed, the one on the right decorated with glitter

 

6. Make Your Own Reusable Boxes

I guess most of us have reused a gift bag at some point but how about covering old boxes with wrapping paper and lined with tissue paper to make reusable gift boxes?   The photo shows a covered shoe-box my mum made a few years ago for a pair of vintage Babycham glasses for me.  OK it takes a bit of time and planning, but you’ve got something that can be used again next year or if you’re conservative with the wrapping paper design the giftee can use it as a storage container.

Reusable gift box made from a shoe box covered in wrapping paper - it's seen better days, but you get the idea

Reusable gift box made from a shoe box covered in wrapping paper – it’s seen better days, but you get the idea!

Of course if you really wanted to reduce packaging, you could look at giving gift vouchers, tickets, or a donation to charity on someone’s behalf – no packaging at all, except the envelope for the gift card.  This year I’m sitting somewhere in the middle – giving smaller presents and spending the difference in donations to The Rucksack Project Barnsley – you get hold of a  rucksack and fill it with warm clothing etc.  The ruscksacks are then given to people sleeping rough this winter.

Whatever you decide to do, Happy Christmas!

If you need help with the development of your packaging for 2017, please contact me.

Sarah Greenwood,

Sarah Greenwood Packaging

sarah@scgreenwood.co.uk

07826 791 045

Brand New Image!

GreenwoodPackagingLogoOrange_7408

So here it is, my new business name and logo. After working in Packaging Development on well-known brands for years, it’s been so exciting to work with a designer on my own branding.

Created by Steph Cronin of Black Bee Creative in Barnsley, my brief was for the logo to look professional but to avoid appearing too corporate – I work with large companies and also early stage start-ups so it needed to appeal to both.  The name has also had a makeover – ‘Greenwood Packaging Consultancy’ is now proudly relaunched as ‘Sarah Greenwood Packaging’.

I’m delighted with the result – I hope you like it too!

Sarah

 

 

 

Happy (Packaging) Christmas 2014!

For many packaging professionals Christmas 2014 was done and dusted weeks, if not months, ago and some of us are working on Christmas 2015 already.  With less than a week to go, here are my favourite (and not so favourite!) picks of the season:

 

1. Glass Bauble – Molton Brown Scented Washes

A beautiful glass bauble designed to be hung from the tree from a classy looking closure.  What initially looks like an unnecessary box protects the product from breakage during transit and makes it easier to wrap.

Molton Brown Baubles

 

2. The Old-Fashioned Sweet Tin

Slowly but surely, the traditional tin of sweets is being replaced by colourful plastic tubs.  Tins are now more upmarket novelty affairs – such as M&S musical Christmas tree or alarm-clock shaped tins available in Debenhams (pretty but not much cop for keeping things in).  That’s why it’s so refreshing to see the good old fashioned Quality Street tin is still with us.  It comes with a decent 1kg weight of product as well – at £7, much better value than buying two tubs of 400g for £4 each.

Old Style Quality Street Tins

 

3. Jagermeister Gift Pack

It’s a bobble hat in a box, with the bobble sticking out of the top! That’s all there is to say. Oh, there’s a miniature of the liqueur in there too.

Bobblehat

 

4. Body Shop Lollypop

An unusual, fun looking pack.  With a recent Which? Report warning consumers about poor-value gift sets*,  it is good to see that the cost of the gift set of 5 lip balms is the same as buying them individually, giving the perception of value, if nothing else.

Body Shop Lollypop

*although they only managed to name two packs.

 

5. Worst pack of the season – HP Gift Pack

The physical packaging itself which looks fine and seems to protect the product well, but the description of what’s inside is the issue here.   The contents include a ‘Man’s Mug’ and the gift on display in the ‘Gifts for Him’ Section in Asda (similar gifts are also in Tesco etc).  A more suitable description would be ‘Tea Lover’s’ mug or something similar, surely?

HP Mug and Sauce

 

6.  Ferrero Rocher – Various

This year Ferrero have produced a gift pack for almost every price point including Christmas tree stars, a kit for a DIY Ambassador’s Reception-style pyramid, and my favourite, a giant Ferrero Rocher.  The merchandising units for larger stores are made from foil-backed corrugate and look absolutely stunning.

Giant Ferrero Rocher

 

If you need help with the development of your packaging for 2015, please contact us.

Happy (Packaging) Christmas!

Sarah Greenwood

Greenwood Packaging Consultancy