Tag Archives: Packaging Advice

The Big Plastics Debate – Who Won?

The Packaging Innovations show at the NEC, held at the end of February could, at a pinch, be described as the Glastonbury of the packaging world.  Alongside supplier exhibits, there are plenty of opportunities to meet up with colleagues and attend talks and discussions from professionals in the industry. 

 The BBC’s Blue Planet, the UK Government’s 25 year plan and Iceland Foods’ announcement that they intend to go plastic free on their own brand products by 2023 has ignited an enormous amount of debate throughout both industry and the general public.

Rightly so, the Packaging Innovations organisers, Easyfairs leapt on this opportunity and planned as the headline event ‘The Big Plastics Debate’ a session of talks and a panel discussion with key industry players.

Martin Kersh from the Foodservice Packaging Association spoke on legislation.   The stand out points for me were;

  • The Packaging Industry’s frustration with the public’s understanding of the issues (using the anti-straw campaign as an example),
  • A call for legislation reform to encourage the incorporation of recycled material into packaging, and
  • For all brand owners to join a packaging waste compliance scheme, not just those above a certain turnover.

Ian Schofield shared Iceland’s vision for their own brand products.  The retailer says they have listened to their customers and by eliminating plastic are giving them what they want.  Interestingly he is avoiding the use of bioplastics marketed as compostable or biodegradable.   He acknowledged that it wouldn’t always be easy, but Iceland have made a strong statement of intent and they are sticking with it.

The discussion panel, which took questions from the floor included Ian Ferguson from the Co-op,  Nick Brown from Coca-Cola and Kevin Vyse from M&S.   Slightly disappointingly, it was a very well mannered affair.  You can view the whole session here on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Zib38FsFjU

 

So who won the debate?

Interestingly the retailers and brand-owners seemed to have more in common than differences.   They all (naturally) want to keep food waste to a minimum, in which plastic plays an important part, move away from plastic where possible and increase the recyclability and recycled content of the plastics they are left with – Iceland’s first step for frozen food bags is to move away from laminates to more easily recycled monolayers;  Coca-Cola intend to dramatically increase the use of recycled content of their bottles over the coming years.

In summary, it was an interesting couple of hours.   It would have been good to see more variety in the panel – maybe someone from Surfers Against Sewage or Friends of the Earth and the British Plastics Federation who have been very vocal on the subject , but it was a good start, and it will be interesting to see how much progress has been made this time next year.

Do you think the packaging industry is doing enough to combat plastic waste? Add your comments below.

If you need help to reduce plastic packaging from your products, contact me to find out how I can help or call me on 07826 791 045.

You can join my mailing list for general information on packaging (emails sent out about once a month)

Sarah

How to Find a Packaging Supplier

How to find a packaging supplier – a beginners’ guide

A Beginners’ Guide.

Whatever format of packaging component you are looking for; printed or unprinted, cartons, bottles, flexibles or rigid plastics etc, finding the right supplier isn’t always easy.  Whether you are working in an expanding start-up or an established business, here are some tips to help you find the right packaging supplier;

 

Making a Start

Before talking to anyone it is a good idea to have an idea of volumes i.e. how many units of packaging you will require a year in thousands.  This could filter out a lot of potential suppliers – some have high minimum order quantities, others will specialise in smaller quantities.  If your requirement is for anything under 1000 units, it will almost always be cheaper to go for ‘off the shelf’ options.  It is also a good idea to be clear at this stage what requirements the packaging may need to conform to in addition to standard packaging regulations – e.g. BRC accreditation if you are in the food industry.

 

A Google search will provide many packaging suppliers, but how do you find out which ones are right for you?

Creating a Short-list

Searching on Google will return more than enough candidates, but how do you identify who is most suitable for you?  The most reliable way is to ask someone for a recommendation (us Packaging Professionals are good for that!).  The next best thing is to check out online directories from the relevant trade associations – The British Plastics Federation or British Glass for example in the UK.  If you don’t need to find someone straight away, packaging trade shows are a good idea, like Packaging Innovations in the UK.  Visiting a trade show is a really good opportunity to talk to a lot of suppliers in one day.  Be aware though that many suppliers choose not to exhibit so you could miss out if you rely on trade shows alone. 

 

Narrowing it down

Once you’ve got your short-list, it’s time to contact the potential suppliers for an initial telephone discussion.  You’ll find out quickly if they are a suitable fit.  If so, the next stage is to invite two or three to provide a quote and to arrange to meet up for a face to face discussion.

At this stage it is tempting to go with whoever provides the cheapest quote.  Beware – this could end up being a false economy without considering the following;

Use this checklist to help you choose a packaging supplier

Samples

Sales managers will almost always bring a set of example packaging for you to look at to see the quality of their products.  It is essential to handle the samples to get a feel for the substrate as well as checking print quality.  As part of the development/quotation process they will provide mock-ups (usually unprinted) to your specification.

 

 Lead Times and Stock Holding

Can you accommodate the longer lead times associated with sourcing from continental Europe or the Far East? If a fast response is required, it may be worth sourcing from within your country even if the unit price is higher.  If space is at a premium on your site, ask if they are able to hold stock on your behalf in their warehouse. This could be a useful service, especially if included in the price.

 

Customer Service

Are they easy to contact to place an order? If there is an issue with quality how quickly can they be on site to address it?  Do they offer technical support for line trials or training for your colleagues on the packaging materials used? How fast can they turn around development samples? Fast responses to all of these are vital in an FMCG environment.

 

Specials

What do they offer in terms of special finishes and materials? e.g. foil-blocking and bio-based substrates.  Do they offer any other value-added services?  You might not need these now, but it could be useful to be able to offer these to your brand manager/ customers in the future.

 

Innovation and Development

What creative solutions can they offer?  Ask to see previous projects.  Do they keep on top of developments in their industry? Are they able to offer cost-saving ideas or more sustainable packaging solutions?  What are their development facilities like?  Again, these are useful for your supplier to have within their capabilities before you need them (who know what the next consumer trend will be?)

 

The Future

Once you’ve met with your potential suppliers and asked the questions above, you’ll have a good idea which companies you want to work with.  A small trial order will confirm their credentials and hopefully be the start of a wonderful business relationship!

 

If you need help to find a packaging supplier, contact me to find out how I can help or call me on 07826 791 045.

You can join my mailing list for general information on packaging (emails sent out about once a month)

Sarah

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