Tuesday, 30 June 2009

I Moved My Blog

As of July 01 all new articles are posted on my new blog: "Best In Packaging", which you can find here.

Hope to see you there

Anton Steeman

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Vitro’s Perfume Bottles Difficult to Falsify - True Glow of Avon

Many products are targeted by counterfeiters when it is easy to copy their packaging. If the product manufacturer uses undifferentiated bottles and boxes the counterfeiter can easily obtain the same materials and use desktop publishing systems to print packages and create counterfeit labels.
The counterfeit market is a multi-billion dollar market. The counterfeiter prefers a strong brand since it equates to higher-priced merchandise. It is therefore not a surprise that counterfeiting perfumes is a hot item, as confusion is another ally of the counterfeiter. If there are many different, ever-changing versions of the packaging, and that’s the case in the perfume market, how is the consumer to know when a new product package arri ... read more


Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Counterfeiting: The Industry is on the Wrong Track

Many products targeted by counterfeiters are very easy to copy due to their simple-to-copy packaging. Undifferentiated packaging is one of the first things to be addressed to, to stop making it easy for the counterfeiter to copy. But that’s not the case with perfumes and up-scale alcohol beverages. With designers having all the freedom to create the most fantastic and sometimes exclusive bottles, the danger of being illegally copied is not the undifferentiated packaging, but confusion.

Confusion, a strong ally of the counterfeiter, occurs when the consumer is confronted with many different, ever-changing versions of the packaging. How is the consumer to know when a new product package arrives that it isn't legitimate? You just have to do a Google search for some upscale perfume brand to discover how many different bottles and packages the brand carries, and introducing new ones with high frequency.

The brand doesn’t have a choice, as the market is plummeting, companies are desperately trying to keep the attention of the consumer by creating new presentations and fragrances, knowing perfectly well that they give counterfeiters innumerable chances to fake the brand, not necessary to copy the packaging.

And the consumer? He has nothing other in his hands to qualify a product as genuine, than his confidence in the retailer. As counterfeit products are unstoppably turning up on shop shelves with fakes simply being knock-offs, relabelled sister products, a mix of fake and genuine product, or a refill masquerading as a virgin product, the consumer may become victim of a do-it-yourself counterfeiter or of a vertically integrated international operating counterfeiting organization including well-established factories, international distribution chains and distinguished retailers. The consumer’s trusted store could be an unsuspecting conduit or a complice in the crime. One thing is clear: the problem is getting worse.

So, what is the answer of the industry?
There is a tremendous array of companies providing security systems, such as special papers, inks, foils, holograms, taggants, built-in electronics, authentication codes or even forensic authentication tests. Most brand owners know they cannot rely on a single method, so they deploy a variety of defence systems that incorporates overt and covert elements. The overt elements, like watermarks or optically-varying inks, serve as a very public warning, but can be easily counterfeited to either duplicate or obtain similar materials. Covert effects remain hidden from the consumer and often require special instruments for detection.

The covert elements: You can’t expect the consumer to walk around with an infra-red detector or any other hi-tech device in his/her shopping bag.
And the overt elements: This is what happens when the consumer sees a hologram and assumes that any hologram must be genuine. Who can distinguish a genuine hologram from a fake one the moment you decide to buy?
The problem is, the consumer expects the partners in the distribution chain to be honest, but in many cases they are not and partner-up with the counterfeiter in order to maximize their bottom-line.

To this problem the industry answers with the most fantastic, mouth watering technological and intellectual tour-de-force, entirely forgetting what the real goal is in his battle against counterfeiting. The goal should be the consumer and not exposing the counterfeiter. A common misconception is that a counterfeiter will quit the practice if he gets caught ........

For a counterfeiter, success is having every non-complicit person handling the product downstream to accept the fakes as legitimate products. The products do not need to be exact copies, only good enough to fool those handling or buying the goods.

In his article “Authentication - are brands under siege?” in Packaging World Magazine of December 2008, Pat Reynolds has an interview with Randy Allen, vice president of operations of OPI Products a manufacturer of beauty products. In this interview Mr. Allen states that he “is working closely with a number of ink suppliers and manufacturers of marking and coding equipment to come up with better anti-diversion solutions that are covert in nature. He sees special promise in infrared inks and what he calls “narrow-spectrum readability”.
Unlike a broad-spectrum UV-type light such as black light, which makes everything readable, infrared inks are only excited and made readable by a narrow range of light frequencies.”
The other key strategy that Allen is exploring is “to incorporate a covert diversion-tracking code within the batch code. This twin code would be ink-jet-printed on a label that goes on the bottom of OPI containers. If diverters discover this code and try to remove it, they’ll be tampering not only with a diversion-tracking code, but also with a batch code that is incorporated into the diversion-tracking code. Removing a diversion-tracking code so that product can be diverted is not illegal, but defacing a batch code is.”
And then he explains why he is doing all this research:
“That takes it out of civil court and puts it into the criminal court system,” says Allen. “That’s huge, because in criminal court, the identity of the distributor who is doing the diverting will be revealed. That doesn’t happen in civil court cases that we bring against a retailer selling diverted product.”

And that is exactly what happens with the ‘war against drugs’. Catch a guy, get him convicted, turn around and discover that he is replaced by ten others. Counterfeiting doesn’t go away by putting the tugs in prison.
All hi-tech solutions, as inks, authentication, tracking and tracing are useless. You can only track and trace your own genuine products, not the counterfeited ones as they don’t have the codes. So, what happens: You discover a non-coded fake. What does it give you? In the meantime consumers have bought a fake and are disappointed by the quality, taste, fragrance and never buy again.

The industry has to go back to the basics. And the basics are its consumers. It is the consumer who decides to buy. And there is no consumer willing to buy an expensive perfume or liquor knowing it is not genuine. He/she will go for the original. That means that the industry, suffering under counterfeiting attacks, has to supply a tool to the consumer. A way the consumer can easily verify whether the product is genuine or false. All covert security measures are useless and are only of interest to the company itself, the consumer needs an overt system which enables him to check the authenticity of the product.

Back to the basics implies a simple tool the consumer can handle and always has available. His cell phone or mobile phone. Both RFID labels and 2D bar codes can be faked and don’t give a 100% guarantee to the consumer but can be used in combination with ...... nano-technology.

A new collaboration between Life Technologies and NanoSys is aimed at developing quantum dots, also known as fluorescent nano-crystals, to provide what they claim a unique fingerprint, a forge-proof stamp of authenticity to fight counterfeiting.

The nano-crystals can be mixed in ink and printed onto surfaces in a precise pattern of colours, providing a fingerprint effectively invisible to the naked eye, detectable under blue, violet or ultraviolet light to specifically identify the source of the product as authentic. However the unique fingerprint only can be visualized with a special detection device.

That is exactly the mistake the entire industry is making. The fluorescent nano-crystals might create a unique fingerprint but they are not visual to the naked eye. When starts the industry to realize that the solution to counterfeiting is the consumer. The nano-fingerprint, however, is a promising start.

I think it is time for a roundtable conference between the suppliers of anti-counterfeit systems, consumer products companies and mobile telephone manufacturers to create a counterfeit-system which the consumer can easily handle and gives him the guarantee that a product is genuine.

The challenge of brand authentication remains and won’t be going away anytime soon. The industry has to do something substantial and stop fighting windmills.

Update: The day after I wrote this article I received the daily newsletter from PackWorld, in which Pat Reynolds in his article “Authentication that also engages consumers”, argues that the industry is moving towards inclusion of the consumer in regard to anti-counterfeiting. Unfortunately the systems he describes, including the computer-authentication-code which the consumer can call-in with his cell phone, has proven not be reliable. The counterfeiter can mislead the system very easily and the industries involved could not supply me with satisfying answers as a counterfeiter could buy a genuine product and then copy the number. The first time the code is registered the system will confirm that the code is genuine. However, and most importantly, subsequent attempts to register the code will confirm that the code has been previously checked. This is a red flag that should raise concerns and alert the consumer to a potential problem with their product.

photos courtesy: MicroSoft, Pro-tex, eProvenance, HP's Digital Printing & Imaging, Kodak.


Monday, 22 June 2009

An Exotic Change of Scenery

A major player on the highly competitive Finnish wine market, the Franco-British wine dealer and producer, Boutinot, introduced its two South-African Seriti wines in a distinctive exotic style. The Seriti Chenin Blanc features the delicate detail of a zebra skin, while the Seriti Merlot wine opted for the might of the cheetah.

Boutinot, a Cheshire-based wine production and distribution company, always has sought to remove the aura of elitism which has surrounded wine drinking, with light-hearted brand names such as "Old Git" and "Old Tart" carrying labels with caricatures of old gits and old tarts. Others are named "Italia" or "Big Mamma's Italian Red" and a best-selling French wine is calle ... read more


Saturday, 20 June 2009

Aluminium Bottles for Wine adding Value to the Drinking Experience

In a recent study conducted by Owens-Illinois which polled nearly 150 wineries in the USA, glass was still the highest used packaging material with 99-100% of the wineries still using glass packaging, despite the fact that between 17-20 percent of the surveyed wineries had plans to chang their packaging mix in the future. Apparently glass will still be the preferred packaging material by the majority of wineries.

A short study conducted by GfK among wine consumers of 9 European countries (Germany, France, UK, Italy, Netherlands, Austria, Spain, Russia, Poland) brought good news to wine brands: European consumers are loyal to their favourite brands. I haven’t data about the consumer loyalty in the US, the third-largest wine market in the world, where consumption rose 16% between 2003 and 2008, and is expected to increase another 7% by 2013, according to Euromonitor. Like Australia, the US wine consumer might be more open to packaging innovations, although the Owens-Illinois study suggests otherwise.

The stuffy wine industry which is still overwhelmingly marketing its products in the old industry-standard glass bottles with the same old, uninspiring labels, sees some progressive wineries executing a packaging design revolution in their attempt to attract new consumers. Success in the wine market comes from being chic, relevant, drink accessible, and importantly single serve. A lot of new wine brands created innovative packages that let to the introduction of the MonOxbar-PET bottles of Constar (see picture), the bag-in-boxes in various, even exclusive designs, TetraPaks in all its variations, South African’s Astra Winebag and even stand-up pouches, but aluminium containers always have been left alone.

Although in the US aluminium bottles in several market segments of beverages are not uncommon, the wine industry have never looked at aluminium, probably due to the generally accepted assumption that wine and aluminium (even with a inside liner) are not merging well together.

The US beer brewers have proven that aluminium bottles are a perfect marketing tool. Graphic designs with brushed metal effects or pure white and gold create a distinctive visual identity and immediately position the products in the premium segments. Limited editions, special events collectors as well as mass market productions are possible. Presented individually or in prestigious presentation packs the bottles offer fatal attraction. The aluminium bottle chills rapidly and offers a cool and refreshing touch. It is ideal for both on and off premises drinking occasions, in bars and pubs or in outdoor and travel areas. Ultra-light and shatterproof, the aluminium bottle offers total mobility and is one of the few materials to be able to be recycled over and over again in a closed loop process where aluminium cans are turned back into aluminium cans using only 5% of the original energy. The reduced carbon footprint emanating from the adoption of the aluminium packaging format is a major attraction for many consumers and the industry as a whole.

But there still stands the technical problem: aluminium and wine don’t digest each other.

Australian Barokes
We all know how much Australians love the outdoors. So, as a consequence Australian Barokes Wines, a South Melbourne-based firm, led the way to replace glass bottles as challenging environmental and recycling issues continue to emerge. A leader since 1996 in innovative wine packaging, Barokes developed an environmentally friendly wine packaging, the ‘Wine-in-a-Can’, which they called Vinsafe.

Barokes is unique in that they have perfected the technology to produce premium wine in an individually sized, sealed 250 ml aluminium can. Using their proprietary innovative Vinsafe wine packaging system Barokes has produced a range of wines renowned for premium quality, stability and longevity (up to 5 years to date).

The Australian Barokes wines come in various styles (varietals and blends) and even in a 4-can pack.

Last year, with the success of winning a Silver Medal for their Sparkling Chardonnay and Merit Award for their Chardonnay at the Wine for Asia Singapore Expo the product is firmly making a significant impact in the wine markets of Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and of course Australia where it originated. Even in Japan with its very stringent packaging requirements, it has been granted a Japanese patent for its innovative product.

The first question which arises is of course: Doesn’t the wine have a ‘tinny’ or ‘aluminium’ taste’?
According to the company, the patented Vinsafe technology includes the specifications for: wine construction (minimal preservatives and/or additives); specialised filling requirements (wine stabilisation and exclusion of oxygen); and, the unique can lining to ensure there is no contact between the wine and the can. Barokes proves this with regular independent scientific analysis to assure quality and non-interaction with the can lining.

Being a small company it is obvious that Barokes had to defend its patent against the big players in the aluminium can market. After a three-year dispute in Australia, where Barokes successfully defended Vinsafe’s patent against a challenge from global packaging firm Amcor Packaging, they were back in Court on 17 February 2009, this time at the European Patent Office (EPO) in The Hague/The Netherlands against some of the world’s largest packaging companies, including Rexam Beverage Can Company, Crown Packaging UK and Ball Packaging Europe. Barokes was successful as the patent hearing panel unanimously confirmed the validity of Barokes’ patent for Vinsafe in Europe.

Ok, Barokes won the patent struggle in Europe, but they still have to conquer the European wine market, which as I said earlier is loyal to its existing brands and with that to its traditional glass bottle packaging. Or, as some blogger, defined it:
“My French opinion is that wine is a noble nectar you MUST NOT treat as ordinary soda! To me, wine is not just a drink; wine is a philosophy, the Epicurean's religion. My French culture and education forces me to consider that drinking wine in a can is an aberration!!”

At the final end, Europe is, and always will be, the ‘old world’. And I might add particularly with wine. Australia doesn’t have the traditions in wine as Europe has. Or is even that changing .......?

Boxal’s Aluminium Wine Bottles
In contrast to the ‘soda-like’ aluminium cans, Boxal introduced the aluminium wine bottle with the goal to add value to the drinking experience. And don’t be shocked when you discover that Boxal is a French company with headquarters in Beaurepaire, manufacturing aluminium containers.

French being French they offer an elegant alternative to the ‘soda-like’ Australian wine-in-a-can. How they solved the ‘negative interaction’ between aluminium and wine, without infringing the Australian patent, is not known. They might as well, due to the recent decision of the Euro Patent Office, use a license from Barokes.

What ever the case Boxal enriched the wine market with some interesting aluminium wine bottles. In strategy, as well as in its products, it is a little more subtle and elegant than its Australian counterparts. Ok Prosecco and Britz by Santero in Italy, Glitter & Gold by In-spirit in Germany are perfect examples. The same is true of the young Bordeaux-based Lubie.

Instead of aiming at the general wine market, Lubie focuses at young and upper-scale consumers, mostly the young crowds in night clubs and outdoor activities. Their very first target is feminine, since they describe the wine as “feminine, natural, contemporary and self-indulgent”. Women are more sensitive to an elegant and unusual packaging as it is much more fun to show up at a party with your pack of four small bottles of wine instead of a regular wine bottle.

Lubie’s 25 cl Red, Rosé and White Sauvignon offer a comprehensive, exclusive and innovative range using soft colours and light brushed metal effects. Presented individually or in prestigious presentation packs the trio offers tremendous attraction.

Aluminium wine bottles might, after all, conquer the European market.


Thursday, 18 June 2009

Decorating a Champagne Bottle

Created in 1983, the Taittinger Collection combines the genius of modern artists and the art of champagne. The collection is a series of limited-edition champagne bottles encased in a shell specially created by an artist to pay tribute to this wine.

This year artist, decorating the bottle for the Taittinger Brut Millésimé 2000, a blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, is the American painter Robert Rauschenberg, well-known for his “Combine” works that integrate the aspects of painting and sculpture. The Rauschenberg Bottle, is encased in a moulded “shell” of DuPont Crastin PBT, and decorated using DuPont dye-sublimation technology - selected for its ability to accurately reproduce delicate artwork on complex shapes.

The artwork created by Rauschenberg for the 11th edition of Taittinger Champagne uses a largely chromatic, but a very subtle palette of colours, with very light and “faded-looking” tones of mauve, brown and yellow, together with large areas of dark grey and black.
3D-sublimation printing was the most effective way of reproducing these very delicate colours on such a complex shape. 3D-sublimation printing requires a material for the shell that resists the temperatures incurred during the sublimation process. This ruled out ABS, the polymer initially foreseen for the application and used in previous years, while DuPont’s Crastin demonstrated to provide the best combination of temperature resistance, colour reproduction and post-shrinkage.

Dye sublimation is a dye-transfer process, developed in the 1960s for use in textiles, since then advanced to provide wear-resistant, full-colour surface decoration of three-dimensional products.
Developed by Kolorfusion International Inc., the technology allows for transfer of a full spectrum of colours, shades, and designs to a variety of surfaces, including plastics, metals and glass.

When the dyes are heated in this transfer process, they vaporize, and if they are in close proximity to a suitable substrate, such as a plastic or coating, the vapours penetrate the adjacent substrate by around 0.002 in. (0,005 mm) up to 0.25 in. (0,635 mm). The plastic substrate must be able to withstand temperatures of 280 to 375 ºF (138 to 190 ºC) necessary to vaporize the dye.

Since the dyes are transparent, the substrate should be light in colour (white, light grey or beige). If the plastic substrate is translucent, it will remain translucent after colouring. The lighter the substrate colour, the better the result of this process.
For 3D decoration, Kolorfusion typically prints the design on an air-permeable and flexible textile-based medium called Kolortex. This is then placed around the object, which is put into a high-temperature film bag from which the air is pulled, forcing the textile to tighten around the substrate. The vacuum bag with the part is then placed in an oven for 5 to 40 min.

The process was developed as an alternative to the dipping process developed by Cubic Printing of Japan. That method involves floating a pre-printed film on a pool of liquid, allowing the film to dissolve and leaving a floating layer of inks into which the substrate is dipped. This is a very expensive process and not as durable as dye sublimation, as it does not penetrate the part. Compared with the dip process, dye sublimation is some 20% to 40% lower in cost.

DuPont's PBT, PET, acetal, and nylon resins are among those materials that are suited to the process.

The dye sublimation technology for the Taittinger Champagne bottle was developed by DuPont in partnership with Pacific Colour, of Lons-le-Saunier, France.


Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Coca-Cola’s innovative renewable, recyclable, plant-based plastic bottle

The "PlantBottle", made partially from plants, is fully recyclable, has a lower reliance on non-renewable resources, and reduces carbon emissions, compared with petroleum-based PET bottles.
Traditional PET bottles are made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource. The new bottle is made from a blend of petroleum-based materials and up to 30 percent plant-based materials.

"The Coca-Cola Company is a company with the power to transform the marketplace, and the introduction of the "PlantBottle" is yet another great example of their leadership on environmental issues," said Carter Roberts, President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund, U.S.

Before we describe the PlantBottle in detail, let’s have a look at the sustainability and recyclability of renewable resources first. Is the PlantBottle a “great example” as the World Wildlife Fund claims?

Apart from overflowing landfills and shameful dispositions in nature, petroleum based plastic is responsible for the deaths of millions of sea creatures and has, as the story goes (I have never been able to check it) created a plastic garbage island twice the size of Texas in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

In the industrialized world, packaging for all types of products has become both necessary and truly ubiquitous. As more people become "modern consumers" around the world, it is an increasing burden on producers, individuals, and the environment. According to a new study from Pike Research, sustainable packaging is a fast-growing segment of the global packaging industry, and will grow to 32% of the total market by 2014, up from just 21% in 2009.

"The $429 billion global packaging industry is huge but extremely fragmented, with no clear market leaders," says Pike’s managing director Clint Wheelock. "As such, the move toward sustainable packaging represents a broad-based effort by manufacturers, retailers, industry groups, and governments to promote the design of minimal packaging that can be easily reclaimed. A tremendous amount of innovation is going into reducing energy requirements to manufacture packaging and using more recyclable and compostable materials, but there is still a long way to go."

The market intelligence firm forecasts that plastic-based packaging, which represents 35% of all materials used, will be the fastest-growing sector of the sustainable packaging market over the next five years.

But there is a little problem, as Napcor (National Association for PET Container Resources) calls for restraint in the use of degradable additives in PET packaging. Napcor, the trade organization for the PET packaging industry, is concerned that no data has been made publicly available to substantiate or document:
1) the claims of degradability of PET resin products containing degradable additives;
2) the effect of degradable additives on the quality of the PET recycling stream;
3) the impacts of degradable additives on the products made from recycled PET; and
4) the true impact on the service life of these products.

In this light Napcor urges manufacturers of PET resin and packaging to refrain from introductions of degradable additive-containing products until data is made available for review and verification.

In 2007, 1.4 billion pounds of post-consumer PET containers were recycled in the United States. The post consumer recycled PET infrastructure depends on the quality of the recyclate and its suitability for a variety of next-life product applications. The value of recycled materials, such as PET, is an important economic driver for curb-side recycling programs throughout the country.

Aside from the potential impacts on recycling, Napcor questions the value of the concept itself. Whether or not it’s proven that packaging will safely degrade in landfills, or as roadside or marine litter, the value of the inherent energy used in the manufacture of plastic packaging is lost, not recaptured as it is through a recycling and re-manufacturing process.

“Even if a package were to disappear or fragment - and we’ve not yet seen this evidence - it would not make the package sustainable, nor does it provide any positive impacts in terms of greenhouse gas emissions or resource conservation,” said Mr. Sabourin, Napcor’s Executive Director. “Degrading plastic provides no useful nutrients to the soil, and the impacts to soil and sea of reducing the plastic to molecules using degradable additives is unknown.”

What does that mean for Coca Cola’s PlantBottle? In the first place, Coca Cola claims that, unlike other plant-based plastics, the PlantBottle can be processed through existing manufacturing and recycling facilities without contaminating traditional PET. So, apparently the material of the PlantBottle does not bio-degrade, but can be recycled without contaminating the PET recycling process.

The PlantBottle is currently made through an innovative process that turns sugar cane and molasses, a by-product of sugar production, into a key component for PET plastic. Coca-Cola states that it is also exploring the use of other plant materials for future generations of the PlantBottle.

Manufacturing the new plastic bottle is more environmentally efficient as well. A life-cycle analysis conducted by Imperial College London indicates the PlantBottle with 30 percent plant-base material reduces carbon emissions by up to 25 percent, compared with petroleum-based PET.

Coca-Cola North America will pilot the PlantBottle in select markets with Dasani water.

The PlantBottle is undoubtedly an interesting development, as it reduces carbon emissions by some 25% compared to petroleum-based bottles. That's a drastic cut in emissions considering the millions of Dasani bottles manufactured each year. It's a great marketing tool too, as Coca Cola plans on identifying the bottles with "on-package messaging and in-store point of sale displays".

Earlier this year, Coca Cola opened the world's largest plastic bottle-to-bottle recycling plant in South Carolina. The plant will produce approximately 100 million pounds (45.359 mtons) of recycled PET plastic for reuse each year - the equivalent of nearly 2 billion 20-ounce (593 ml) Coca Cola bottles.


Sunday, 14 June 2009

Recycling PET-bottles for Executive Suits

It is seldom that a well-dressed young female executive turns up in my blog. But this is different.
How many women are out there willing to wear a suit made from recycled PET-bottles?

Using recycled PET-bottles in clothing is not new. Polar fleece, usually referred to simply as "fleece", was created in 1979 by Malden Mills, now Polartec LLC. They came up with a soft napped insulating synthetic wool fabric made from (recycled) PET or other synthetic fibres. A material meant to mimic and in some ways surpass wool. Fleece has some of wool's finest qualities but weighs a fraction of the lightest available woollens. It is used in casual jackets, and outdoor outfits.

Last year I wrote the article “A Samurai outfit made from PET-bottles”. Kosuke Tsumura, designer for the urban survival clothing brand Final Home in Japan added an extra dimension to the recycling possibilities of PET-bottles. Not recycling to fleece material, but creating fashionable albeit not effective armour and combat suits by slicing up PET-bottles and sewing them together.
The armour will not stand up against the slightest battle and moving around may be a problem, but for a party anybody wearing it looks fashionable and cool in this samurai design.

Although interesting with regards to recycling the billions of PET-bottles the world is throwing away daily on landfills, it was primarily a ‘fashion joke’. However it certainly was also the beginning of a new era for the re-use of discarded PET-bottles.

Eying the current credit crunch, in which people are looking for good value and still wanting to keep up their commitment to sustainability, Debenhams, a High Street department store in the UK, introduced a female business suit created entirely (although I doubt that) out of recycled plastic bottles. According to Debenhams, the ultimate eco-friendly outfit is equally friendly priced at £55 (€ 65).

The project to create clothing from 100 per cent recycled sources has taken the fashion retailer 12 months to perfect. The resulting expertly tailored trouser suits look and feel like any other outfit created for smart female executives.

Each suit is made from 50 bottles which are put through a special process. The bottles are cleaned and have their labels removed before being ground down into chips which are melted at a plant in Taiwan. The mixture is then refined and woven into a soft but hard-wearing type of polyester. The suit is made in Vietnam.

A spokesman for Debenhams claims that the single-button jacket and the boot-cut trousers will tempt the ' fashion conscious' shopper and 'would not look out of place in the boardroom'.

And here is an expert review from some fashion website: “Although its polyester feel may not be luxurious enough for everyone, the unique jacket and trouser suits from Collection, Debenhams own brand, do not compromise on style. The single-buttoned jacket is nipped in at the waist with a subtle herringbone lining, while the trousers have a modern shape with a boot-cut finish, ensuring the suit ticks all the right boxes for the fashion conscious female.”

Debenhams claims its eco-suit is an innovation which saves energy, reduces CO2 emissions and cuts down land-fill sites, making it the perfect outfit for eco-friendly fashionistas.

An outfit for life as PET doesn’t biodegrade.


Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Danimals Yogurt in CrushPaks

In May 2003, EverEdge IP (formerly Inveratek, Auckland/New Zealand) began the development of a revolutionary packaging technology for viscous foods such as yogurts, jellies, condiments and sauces. The challenge was simple: to update the fundamentally old technology currently used to package dairy and other viscous food products by focusing on modern consumers' increasing demands for convenience and “on-the-go” products. The result was CrushPak.
CrushPak containers are moulded with accordion-style pleated sides from a standard polystyrene plastic with a small addition of rubberiser or elasticiser but in all other respects stock material. The packs are deliberately not labelled on the sides to allow the consumer to see the bellows of the accordion design.

With the ability to be manufactured on existing machinery, CrushPak can be made in virtually any dimension or shape like 30 gram packs, rectangles, ovals etc, and is suitable for most viscous products including jellies, fruit pulps, condiments, sauces, pastes and sorbets.

In 2006 New Zealanders were the first in the world to experience the CrushPak innovation, when CrushPak was exclusively licensed to Fonterra, New Zealand’s most important dairy producer.
A market study by Fonterrra for its flag ship brand ‘Fresh ‘n Fruity’ revealed that 5-to-12 year-olds dislike “spooning’ the fruity bits out of their yoghurt as they’d rather have a smooth yoghurt experience without the obligation to use a spoon. The answer was CrushPak, designed by award-winning brand design agency Dow Design and by Fonterra brought to the market under the product name ‘Splatz’.

The CrushPak, an accordion-like pack enabling the contents to be squeezed into the mouth eliminating the need for a spoon, was exactly what the New Zealand youngsters wanted to have. For the more civilised consumers wanting to use a spoon in the traditional way, the door is not closed.

And now the CrushPak package is entering the US-market, as the system is licensed to Dannon through EverEdge IP for its Danimals yoghurt products.

The Crush Cups are produced in Dannon's plant using existing Arcil thermoform/fill/seal equipment. The cups continue to be thermoformed using polystyrene sheet.
The packs are deliberately not labelled on the sides so the consumer can see the bellows /accordion design and are put into a sleeve for storing at the shelves.

CrushPak promises material reductions of up to 35% due to container strengthening from the pleated sidewalls versus smooth-walled containers


Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Bericap and BioGaia develop LifeTop

Have the dispensing caps I recently described in my previous posts been products of small research or packaging companies, it is clear that the introduction of them have aroused the interest of the ‘big boys’ in the game. Here is number five: a dispensing cap for probiotics.
Recently Bericap, a global manufacturer of plastic closures with 20 factories in 18 countries and well-known Swedish biotechnology company BioGaia entered into a Strategic Alliance Agreement with the aim to promote probiotics for beverages packed in a plastic closure system under the name: Lifetop Cap.

BioGaia’s proprietary probiotic strains (such as Lactobacillus reuteri or Reuteri) and other ingredients (minerals, vitamins, flavours, colours, trace elements) are to be dispensed at time of drinking the beverage.
Probiotics are extremely delicate and difficult to keep alive. As a result, most probiotic products today are dairy-based because probiotics tend to stay alive longer in a dairy environment. The problem with these products is that the probiotics will die off over time and it is difficult to determine how many probiotics the consumer actually gets down at the time of consumption.

According to Bericap, they spent several years in search of the best compromise between an efficient system of protection of the ingredients against humidity and a simple and cost effective solution, that is easy to fill and to apply on the bottles without significant changes of the capping lines, and that is easy to understand and to use by consumers.

LifeTop Cap, initially developed and patented in one format by BioGaia, will be further developed by Bericap to cover all the needs of the beverage industry in term of sizes and functionalities and it will be industrialised by Bericap to be commercially available to Brand Owners.

The dispensing cap, made from LDPE, consists of a plastic screw closure to be used on standard neck finishes (30/25, 38 mm), sealed inside the plastic closure sits a blister, made from full barrier aluminium laminate, containing the ingredients up to 200 µl in liquid form or 200 mg in powder, offering an unique solution against humidity, supporting a long shelf life of the sensitive ingredients.
A flexible dome, protected by a hinged overcap, should be used to press on the blister, to tear off the lower part of the blister and to deliver the ingredients into the liquid in the bottle.

I just received the information from Bericap that Mass Probiotics will be one of its first major customers using LifeTop for its “phd” flavoured water.
phd - “probiotic health daily” is a line of probiotic beverages and beverage mixes made by Boston-based company Mass Probiotics.
Mass Probiotics is launching the first Ready to Drink or Ready to Go - phd probiotic line of 16 oz (474 ml) enhanced flavoured water in the predominantly dairy-based probiotic category. The bottles feature the innovative LifeTop push-button cap, as described above, which protects the live probiotics and then delivers them to the water at the time of consumption. Each flavour contains a total of 20 billion cfu of 6 different probiotic strains, or about 10 times the amount in most dairy-based probiotic products. It also contains 4g of probiotic fibre which helps to maximize the probiotics’ effectiveness.