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In Packaging, Less May Mean More

By: Terry Glass
Posted: November 10, 2008, from the November 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Marketing of personal care products relies heavily on the use of creative packaging, and converters must continually search for materials that aid in the creation of more dynamic branding effects—often, again, with an eye firmly on sustainability—i.e., “less polymer.” In those applications where light weighting and/or clarity is critical, certain polymers can deliver improved toughness while maintaining stiffness and clarity, thus allowing the converter to design and deliver package designs at much lower packaging weights. This capability to create lighter weight package designs with excellent clarity is especially appealing to the cosmetic and personal care consumer interested in the environmental footprint of a product—often expressed through the packaging.

According to the recent Sustainability: Balancing Opportunity and Risk in the Consumer Products Industry study by Deloitte Consulting LLP and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), consumer packaging companies are implementing sustainability programs to alleviate costs, avoid regulatory issues and prepare for possible commodity shortages. While many are ahead of the game, there are still additional opportunities to implement material changes that will help make packaging more appealing for both retailers and consumers. Depending on what process is used, the material solution may be different. Ultimately, these goals can be achieved through selecting materials that demonstrate a range of improved characteristics—including improved stiffness to allow for light weighting, improved clarity, improved ESCR properties to allow for squeezable packaging, and lower package weight to product weight ratios to produce packaging that is designed to meet the needs of today’s personal and health care consumers.

Terry Glass is the application technology leader for rigid plastics at The Dow Chemical Company, working in various product development roles in chemicals, epoxies, new business development, central research, and plastics TS&D Businesses. For the past 15 years, he has been working in the development of barrier technologies for rigid packaging applications for both PET and polypropylene.