Tag Archives: Sarah Greenwood Packaging

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

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

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