jeudi 29 novembre 2012

How2Recycle Label: Making recycling make sense

Variation in recycling programs, unclear labeling, and inaccurate recyclability claims make proper recycling a challenge. The How2Recycle Label was created to provide consistent and transparent on-package recycling information to consumers. Currently the label only applies to packaging sold in the U.S.

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), a project of sustainability nonprofit GreenBlue, is pleased to announce additional participants in the soft launch of its pioneering How2Recycle on-package recycling labeling system.

Major brand names, including Best Buy, Clorox and Minute Maid, will be joining 10 other leading companies already participating in the soft launch, including Costco Wholesale, General Mills, Seventh Generation, and REI, in implementing the label on select packaging available nationwide in early 2013. Additionally, the SPC has announced its five-year plan for the labeling system.

How2Recycle was developed to reduce consumer confusion around recycling in the United States with a clear and consistent recycling label and corresponding informational website, It provides companies with an easy way to conform to the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) "Green Guides" while using nationwide recyclability data. While several other recycling labels and symbols exist, the How2Recycle Label is the only one that communicates recyclability across all material types and gives explicit directions to consumers to influence their recycling behavior. It also specifies when a package component is not recyclable.

dimanche 25 novembre 2012

Packaging gotchas: Mad at hard-to-open, shrinking, undersized, or overwrapped products?

You’d think that companies would get it right. They spend $130 billion a year on boxes, bags, and blister packs. You spend on packaging, too. According to Joe Angel, vice president and publisher of the trade publication Packaging World, packaging accounts for roughly 7 percent of a product’s overall cost, and some of that gets passed along to consumers.

Yet illogical, misleading, and over-the-top packaging continues to annoy consumers, and we have the letters, e-mail, and photos to prove it. The annoyances come in four basic types. 
  1. Oysters, our term for hard-to-open products. Often, they’re gadgets imprisoned in clear, tight-fitting plastic. That displays merchandise from all angles and discourages theft. But it also foils honest folks, who have tried razor blades, scissors, box cutters, and saws to free the contents they’ve bought. Other oysters: cereals in stiff bags that split and spew their contents when you pry them open and pills in blister packs that give you a headache even as you’re trying to treat your ulcer.
  2. Black holes, or products surrounded by lots of air. Federal law is supposed to prevent excessive “slack fill,” nonfunctional or empty space. But there are loopholes in the law if, for instance, the space limits breakage or discourages theft, or if the package does double-duty as a dispenser. One company we were about to criticize actually changed its packaging after buyers complained. Archway modified the tray design for its Original Windmill Cookies “to accommodate a more tightly packaged product,” a spokesman told us.
  3. Downsized products, shrunken by companies unwilling just to raise the price. Downsizing can occur in sneaky ways, as when Huggies reduced the number of Pull­Ups diapers from 72 to 70 but kept the words “New Larger” on the label. Companies usually blame downsizing on higher costs of ingredients, labor, and energy.
  4. Golden cocoons, tiny doodads shipped in giant cartons, sometimes with enough paper, bubble wrap, or airbags (called “void fill” in the packaging industry) to cradle a priceless vase. At least some companies are aware of the problem. (Read “Frustration-Free Packaging May Be Baffling,” below.)

Here you'll find a showcase of our latest examples of packaging faux pas, submitted by Consumer Reports readers and Facebook fans. For each product, we asked a company rep to explain the packaging decision. Usually we received an answer, though not always to the question we asked.


samedi 24 novembre 2012

Innovative and Active Fresh Paper: Extending the Shelf Life of Your Produce

Fenugreen, a company in Massachusetts, has invented FreshPaper, an innovative and active sheet of paper made from organic material that inhibits the growth of bacteria, fungi and the like, making the food last longer.

The company, compares it to the “dryer sheet” for produce, and there certainly are similarities in appearance and simplicity. The five-inch square paper is free of chemicals and made from edible organic extracts (Impregnated with organic spices) that can be placed under the produce where it’s stored. A single sheet helps keep produce fresh for 2-4 times longer than normal. It’s biodegradable and can be composted or recycled.

As long as the sheet emits a maple-like odor that means it’s active. After about two or three weeks, the smell will fade and the sheet should be replaced.

They have been launched in Whole Food Markets in the US at a pack of 8 sheets for $4.99.

dimanche 18 novembre 2012

Bioplastiques Biodégradables, Compostables et Biosourcés : Distinctions Subtiles mais Significatives

Je partage avec vous l’essai de Richard Lapointe, que j’ai eu le plaisir d’encadrer durant son mémoire et qui vient de graduer de l’Université de Sherbrooke.

Il s’agit d’une excellente revue de littérature sur les bioplastiques : terminologie, diagnostic clair et exhaustif sur la situation actuelle ainsi qu’une bonne critique des ACV et de la vraie valeur ajoutée des bioplastiques dans les emballages.

La terminologie utilisée dans le domaine des bioplastiques est complexe et mène à la confusion et à une mauvaise perception des consommateurs. Des propriétés souvent plus faibles, des coûts plus élevés, des solutions de traitement en fin de vie qui ne sont pas adaptées et une mauvaise image au niveau des pratiques agricoles sont les autres problématiques qui limitent l’essor des bioplastiques pour les emballages alimentaires. Les études de marché indiquent cependant une croissance soutenue de ces matériaux pour les prochaines années. Leurs fabricants tenteront d’exploiter leurs atouts, dont la possibilité de les composter et leur moins grande dépendance au pétrole.

L’essai est disponible sur le site du Centre universitaire de formation en environnement (CUFE) de l’Université de Sherbrooke. Vous pouvez télécharger l’intégrale de l’essai ici.

Bonne lecture.

mercredi 14 novembre 2012

5 Creative Packaging Ideas to Delight Your Customers

Small companies may lack the marketing dollars and visibility of larger brands, but they can still stand out on the shelf by thinking outside the box—literally. Here are five packaging design tips to help you get the attention of customers and even delight them.

1.     Go for a handmade look. Customers are drawn to packaging that feels personalized—it's almost as if they're holding a handmade object.

2.     Take a sustainable approach. Consumers want to feel good about their purchases. Using sustainable material, such as organic, fair-trade or recyclable paper, will send an environmentally positive message about your brand.

3.     Use surprising materials and shapes.  A distinctively shaped package or one made of nontraditional materials can signal to consumers that your product is different from the competition.

4.     Add in functionality. Customers like packaging that's functional because of its added value

5.     Let your package tell your product's story. Some companies think of creative, playful ways to give customers a clue to what's inside the package.

mardi 6 novembre 2012

US commission warns on compostable claims

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a revised version of its ‘Green Guide’, which warns against misleading claims regarding compostable plastics. 

The FTC had two concerns – the first related to the limited availability in the US of industrial composting facilities where plastics are accepted; the second related to the performance of compostable plastics in home and industrial composting.

The commission therefore warned that “to avoid deception about the limited availability of municipal or institutional composting facilities a marketer should clearly and prominently qualify compostable claims if such facilities are not available to a substantial majority of consumers or communities where the item is sold”.

Given that most compostable plastics cannot be handled by home-composting the guide indicates that firms should clearly and prominently qualify compostable claims to avoid deception if the item cannot be composted safely in a home compost device.

The FTC also warned against making potentially misleading claims about a material’s “renewable” credentials and said that any “compostable” claim must be substantiated by reliable scientific evidence that the entire item would break down in a safe and timely manner in an appropriate composting facility or a home composting pile. 

dimanche 4 novembre 2012

2012 Survey of Future Packaging Trends

Packaging World magazine partnered with DuPont to identify trends shaping the packaging industry today and in 10 years. Responses reflect the insights of nearly 500 industry professionals predominantly in Europe and North America working for consumer goods manufacturers and converters in marketing and packaging development roles. Food, healthcare and beverage markets ranked the highest, but nearly every industry that uses packaging was represented.

There was significant alignment in the views of respondents in Europe and North America and throughout the results, the top trends identified as driving today, are predicted to change in 10 years.  Trends in the second tier tend to maintain the same level of importance.

Key Findings:

Poised on the brink of change:

  1. Sustainability concerns, ranked behind cost and food safety/security as today’s driving trends, will dominate packaging industry work in 10 years in both Europe and North America.
  2. Cost, today’s top driver, drops in importance in 10 years.
  3. Food safety/security remains a top factor driving packaging work.
  4. Today’s emphasis on “right-sizing” gives way to strategies to use renewable materials, recyclable materials  and smart packaging in 10 years – a clear call for innovation and collaboration throughout the value chain.
  5. Though rarely selected as a “top” trend, convenience factors are identified as very important today – and that  importance is expected to be maintained in 10 years.
Maximum value. Minimal Impact:

  1. The packaging industry believes consumers will have increased value for recyclability and perceived
  2. “greenness” of packaging in 10 years – at the same time, demand for proof of sustainability claims will grow  exponentially, for instance in the demand for life cycle analysis data.
  3. Right-sizing packaging in terms of efficient package shape/size, downgauging of package material and minimizing package failures dominate both the North American and European packaging landscape today. 
  4. Materials play a critical role in these objectives.
  5. Plastics will continue to replace glass and metals and flexible packaging will continue to replace rigid structures.

samedi 3 novembre 2012

Mineral oil: a need for more data

Nearly 90% of the U.S. population has access to paper recycling services, and more than 65% of all paper that is consumed is recovered. In accordance with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s (SPC) Definition of Sustainable Packaging (see, it is essential to optimize the use of renewable or recycled source materials in package design, to help ensure sustainable management flows by encouraging waste reduction and resource conservation. Utilizing recycled-paper content can have a number of environmental benefits, such as landfill diversion, energy savings, and resource conservation, while still meeting the performance criteria required by many packaging manufacturers.

There are tremendous opportunities to increase and utilize recycled-paper content in packaging, but we need to be aware of products entering the recycling stream. By designing products from the start with sustainability and their full life-cycle impacts in mind, they can be made in a way that facilitates effective reprocessing, ultimately allowing them to become source materials for new products. The SPC, through its systems-based approach, is working toward engaging stakeholders throughout the supply chain in an attempt to make such efforts common practice.

However, this remains a work in progress, and there have been, and will continue to be, bumps along the way. In early 2011, a number of technical reports and media stories questioned the quality of recycled paperboard; in particular, concerns were raised over potential packaging migrants. The possible migrants were identified as mineral oil hydrocarbons (MOH), with their primary source being traced back to inks used in newsprint entering the European recycling stream. The researchers engaged in these studies found that petroleum-based inks used in European newsprint could potentially migrate from the recycled content into some food products, with a high degree of variability between products. The concerns focused on the high levels of uncertainty around MOH’s potential impacts on the human body and their potential to migrate from such packaging into foods.