Tag Archives: Reuse Refill Recycle

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

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