Tag Archives: Packaging

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

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

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

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.

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

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

How to Find a Packaging Supplier

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

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 above. 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?

If you are a brand owner and want help in removing plastic packaging from your products contact me for advice or call +44 (0) 7826 791 045

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

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

Chilled cucumber soup in a teacup

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