News

  • Medical Device Packaging Regs Implementation on Hold
    by Lisa McTigue Pierce on April 7, 2020 at 10:05 pm

    To allow healthcare packagers to focus on fighting the COVID-19 crisis, the European Commission has decided to postpone implementation of the European Union Medical Device Regulation (EU-MDR), originally set for May 2020. With this delay, the disconnect of the EU-MDR with the ISO 11607 standard for packaging of terminally sterilized medical devices continues.As we explained in our April 2018 article “Harmonizing ISO 11607 with the EU’s Medical Device Regulations,” the EU-MDR affects packaging of terminally sterilized medical devices through the ISO 11607 standards. Our April 2019 article “Notable Changes to ISO Medical Packaging Standards Explained” also outlines how the revisions to ISO 11607-1/2 and ISO TS 16775 were written to harmonize with the General Safety and Performance Requirements (GSPR) contained in the EU MDR.In a short video (less than three minutes) made from his COVID-19-established home office, Thierry Wagner, Global Regulatory & Standards Leader at DuPont Tyvek Medical & Pharmaceutical Packaging, shares the latest update on the EU-MDR. Key highlights:• With this postponement, the current Medical Device Directive (MDD) will be valid for one more year.• The Commission is also harmonizing other standards with the MDD valid through to 2024, including the 2006 version of ISO 11607. However, in July 2020, the industry will be able to transition to the new January 2020 version of ISO 11607, which Wagner describes as “state of the art.”• The member states have approved the MDR draft.• Once accepted by European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (Cenelec), the MDR can be formally adopted by medical device manufacturers.&nbs […]

  • EPA Requests Comments on Designations and Recommendations for Recycled-Content Products
    by Headquarters, Land and Emergency Management (OLEM) on April 7, 2020 at 4:00 am

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  • EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region Transfers N-95 Masks to California Office of Emergency Services
    by Region 09 on April 7, 2020 at 4:00 am

    SAN FRANCISCO -- Today, the U.S. […]

  • EPA to Maintain WaterSense Program Specifications
    by Headquarters, Water (OW) on April 7, 2020 at 4:00 am

    […]

  • DOT Secretary Elaine Chao and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler: New fuel economy, CO2 standards mean more affordable, safer and cleaner vehicles
    by Headquarters, Air and Radiation (OAR) on April 6, 2020 at 4:00 am

    Cleveland Plain Dealer &nbs […]

  • UPDATED: What They Are Saying: Public Officials and Stakeholders Voice Support for EPA's Discretion Policy for COVID-19 Pandemic
    by Headquarters, Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) on April 6, 2020 at 4:00 am

    WASHINGTON (April 6, 2020) — Last week, the U.S. […]

  • EPA to Donate Personal Protective Equipment to State and Local Responders Fighting COVID-19 Across the Country
    by Headquarters, Land and Emergency Management (OLEM) on April 6, 2020 at 4:00 am

    WASHINGTON (April 6, 2020) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has identified approximately 225,000 pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) available to support the COVID-19 response. […]

  • EPA Administrator Wheeler Talks with Retailers and Third-Party Marketplace Platforms to Discuss Steps to Protect American Consumers from Fraudulent Coronavirus Disinfectant Claims
    by Headquarters, Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) on April 3, 2020 at 4:00 am

    WASHINGTON (April 3, 2020) — This morning, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler hosted an interactive telephone call with U.S. […]

  • What They Are Saying: Public Officials and Stakeholders Voice Support for EPA's Discretion Policy for COVID-19 Pandemic
    by Headquarters, Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) on April 3, 2020 at 4:00 am

    WASHINGTON (April 3, 2020) — This week, the U.S. […]

  • Wheeler, administrador de la EPA, habla con comerciantes y plataformas de mercado de terceros para debatir medidas destinadas a proteger a los consumidores estadounidenses de las declaraciones fraudulentas sobre los desinfectantes contra el coronavirus
    by Headquarters, Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) on April 3, 2020 at 4:00 am

    WASHINGTON (3 de abril de 2020) — Esta mañana, Andrew Wheeler, administrador de la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de los EE. UU. […]

  • EPA Region 5 to Donate Excess PPE for Use Fighting COVID-19
    by Region 05 on April 3, 2020 at 4:00 am

    For Immediate Release No. 20-OPA-030 EPA Region 5 to Donate Excess PPE for Use Fighting COVID-19 […]

  • Packaging Peers Offer COVID-19 Advice
    on April 1, 2020 at 9:41 pm

    The coronavirus pandemic is affecting nearly all Americans personally. Professionally, the impact is different for various markets and jobs. How are packaging professionals faring? During the last two weeks of March 2020, 66% of respondents to our poll said their job in packaging was slightly affected, with some disruptions.Packaging Digest issued its quick two-question poll in mid-March:1. Has your job in packaging been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?2. Do you have any advice or comments for your packaging peers?The results to question one — for the last two weeks in March 2020 — appear in the graph below.About two-thirds of respondents to our poll say their job has been disrupted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. How will your job be affected moving forward?How will these answers change as the self-quarantine continues for the next 30 days? Take the poll and let us know. It will remain open and everyone is invited/encouraged to share their thoughts and advice again, even if you answered already. We will be analyzing the results — from the next couple weeks only — in mid-April; and will take another snapshot with results of the final two weeks at the end of the month. Regarding question two, advice given by your packaging peers from the poll’s same late-March time period ranges from rational to inspirational:“If working from home, use this time to research packaging innovations that your company may not be exploring. One innovative packaging idea can help your company exceed and stand out after we return to business-as-usual eventually.”“Catch up on all those irritating tasks you never have time for. And take the time to really nail down the details of your projects.”“Live with faith, not fear. Also, for everyone who has ever questioned what a degree in packaging is, it is literally taking front and center of the world. How we come together to solve this can help us solve many things like refugee camp crisis etc. Afterall, packaging was started as a major after WWII, am I right? Innovate!”“It’s gonna be tough out there for a while and everyone will be hit differently — more work, less work, no work. Please help those that you can and keep your ears and eyes open for your fellow packaging friends. Many companies have recently frozen positions [or] are reevaluating all open positions, so be patient.”“Packaging is wildly important right [now].”“Care about others! Follow local recommendation to protect colleagues [and] family. Consider your supplier by releasing pressure regarding timings.”“Learn to work from home without distractions. Get up and dress as if going to the office and shut yourself in a room to work. Just watch your ergonomics.”“Video conference and stay connected with people 1-1 (also using video). Very helpful for clear communication.”“Stay in touch with colleagues and customers. Now is the time to deepen the relationship.”But…“When you visit your customers, have your masks, gloves, glasses used while keeping distances.” This comment shows how scary and challenging it is for some colleagues right now:“It’s day by day for us. Trying to stay positive.”We feel for you. Hang in there! To end on a high note, here is some encouragement from another respondent:“Keep a positive outlook! These days seem like they may be lasting forever but we WILL get through this and we will all be better for it!” Thank you to all who participated!&nbs […]

  • Food Packagers Address Pandemic-Driven Risk to Supply Chains
    by Kate Bertrand Connolly on April 1, 2020 at 7:55 pm

    For food manufacturers and packagers, the current and future impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the supply chain is a nagging concern. A recent webinar about today’s coronavirus challenges offered insight into the supply chain disruptions and how businesses can manage that risk.The COVID-19 Strategies for Managing Food Supply Chain Risk webinar, sponsored by FoodChain ID, included information on maintaining food-safety certifications if a company’s regularly scheduled audit is coming up in the next few weeks or months.For companies in that position, several of the major Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Certification Program Owners have already made provisions for six-month certificate extensions. Prior to granting such an extension, the certifying body may conduct a remote audit of the company and will perform a risk assessment based on information from the company regarding how its business has changed since COVID-19.For example, will the company need to use alternative manufacturing sites? Will it need to identify and approve new suppliers? What has it done to address such issues?Supply chain disruption or additions may necessitate approving a new supplier location without an on-site audit. Note that all GFSI standards include an “emergency approval” clause, for the approval of new suppliers during situations like the current one.“The American public is relying on us to continue to provide them with food, and importantly, safe food. So while we’re dealing with all these other moving parts — new risks, new requirements — we have to maintain our basic food-safety requirements,” said David Acheson, M.D., president and CEO of The Acheson Group.Although the FDA has postponed routine surveillance inspections because of the pandemic, it will continue with “mission-critical” for cause inspections. Recalls will continue to occur, as needed.As for COVID-19 and food, “the approach that FDA has taken in this regard, which is reflective of other regulatory agencies across the world, is that this virus is not being spread by food or by packaging,” Acheson said.The virus will not grow on food or surfaces, he noted, but it can survive on paperboard for 24 hours, and on plastic and stainless steel for two to three days. Most cleaning and disinfecting chemicals used in manufacturing plants will destroy the virus.Addressing the seemingly conflicting messages of the virus being able to live for a time on packaging but not being spread by it,Kevin Kenny, regulatory attorney and chief operating officer of Decernis, said: “The primary risk around spreading this virus is not the packaging. It’s not even the food. It’s the social interaction.”Packaging, Kenny said, poses “a very low risk compared to standing in line behind somebody who is shedding [virus].”Acheson concurred, adding that “packaging is not the place to focus. We know the virus will survive on it … but the virus is not going to [jump] off the packaging and into your eyes or your nose or your mouth. It’s going to die on the package. It’s not going to multiply on the package.“Don’t fear handling packaging, but do fear not washing your hands after you’ve handled the package and touching your nose. That’s where you can break the transmission. … This is about breaking the transmission chain.“The key thing is, if you’ve touched something that you deem to be a high risk, or you don’t even know, wash your hands before you do anything else. You’ve handled it, wash your hands. You’ve handled something else, wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.”Acheson also emphasized the importance of protecting the work force from COVID-19. As an expert in food-safety best practices and an infectious-disease specialist, he advised companies to focus on the primary methods of transmission to thwart viral spread among their employees.In addition to frequent hand washing, tactics include use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE); social distancing; use of hand sanitizers; and not touching one’s eyes, nose, and mouth.When employees get sick at work, it’s essential to immediately isolate them and get them home. “Removing them from the work force, obviously in a kind and understanding way, is important,” Acheson said.It’s also important to determine where those employees have been working in the past 48 hours, when they had no symptoms but were transmitting the virus to others. The company should identify the sick person’s close contacts at work and send them home, as well, to self-isolate for 14 days.Companies can reduce risk by reconsidering their shift structure, segregating groups, and practicing social distancing, plus hourly touchpoint cleaning of common areas. They should also develop a visitor policy, excluding all visitors other than essential ones and providing wellness checks for necessary visitors.Finally, to protect food and agricultural workers from citations for violating stay-at-home orders, employers should give them a letter stating that they are part of critical infrastructure.“There are several states that are imposing spot fines,” Acheson said, so provide workers with “documentation from you, on your letterhead, with a contact number, so that they can feel confident that if they get pulled over, they’re going to be okay.”Bottom line, companies should plan for a business disruption lasting at least the next three to four months. The situation is rapidly changing. To stay on top of it, brand owners and packagers can visit FoodChain ID’s regularly updated COVID-19 Updates & Resources page.&nbs […]

  • Coronavirus Is a Wake-Up Call for Supply Chain Management
    by TSC Webmaster on March 31, 2020 at 8:56 pm

    Article from Harvard Business Review As procurement teams struggle to cope with the Covid-19 global pandemic, most have been trying to keep up with the news about global response measures and have been working diligently to secure raw materials and components and protect supply lines. Read more  » The post Coronavirus Is a Wake-Up Call for Supply Chain Management appeared first on The Sustainability Consortium. […]

  • Chocolates’ Packaging Elevates the Cannabis Experience
    on March 31, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    Coda Signature’s edibles draw inspiration from classical music and classic chocolate to convey luxury similar to traditional high-end brands like Godiva and Lindt. What distinguishes Coda Signature’s luxury chocolates from other high-end offerings is that the pouches, bars, and boxed products are cannabis-infused edibles. The brand’s packaging is inspired by both classical music and classic chocolate and is similar to traditional chocolate brands like Godiva and Lindt.  Founded in 2015, Coda Signature operates in Colorado, though it was compelled to shift their packaging strategies due to regulations when they launched into California. For example, Coda Signature offers cannabis-infused truffles, and California doesn't allow mixing multiple varieties of a cannabis product in one box; unlike traditional boxes of chocolate, each of Coda Signature's truffle boxes contains one flavor. Kevin Roff, Product Development Manager, Coda Signature, discusses the brand’s packaging and design. Comment on the brand’s history and business proposition.Roff: Coda Signature seeks to elevate the experience of cannabis the way music elevates life. Inspired by both classical music and classical confections, Coda Signature creates cannabis-infused products full of imagination. The company has established itself as a leading luxury brand with products featuring bold flavor combinations and quality, natural ingredients. Coda Signature’s edibles, concentrates, and topicals are available in more than 800 dispensaries across Colorado and California, with planned expansion into other emerging markets in North America. Coda Signature has received dozens of industry awards across all its product categories including the 2019 California Emerald Cup; 2019 High Times Colorado Cannabis Cup; 2019 MJBizDaily Awards finalist in the U.S. Market Leader category; and Leaflink’s 2019 Best-Selling Products list.  Who’s your target audience?Roff: Our consumer is looking for a premium-quality product at price parity. They want the same delicious, decadent experience that they would get from a traditional uninfused food brand—but even better. How many different products/SKUs are in your portfolio? And what’s the pricing?Roff: In Colorado we have 25 SKUs for edibles, 9 SKUs for topicals and 6 SKUs for concentrates.  In California we have 13 edibles, seven topicals, and six concentrates. Our products include several varieties of chocolate bars; truffles; Fruit Notes gummies; chocolate on a spoon; CO2 cannabis oil and distillate concentrates; bath bombs; and massage oils.The suggested retail price varies by retail location. We have a rigorous process for managing our portfolio. We exit underperforming products and introduce new ones throughout the course of the year. Comment on your packaging formats.Roff: We use boxes for our chocolate bars and truffles, and pouches for our Fruit Notes. Our topicals and concentrates also come in boxes. All of our packaging is child-resistant and composed of food-grade materials, with flat surfaces and pull-out sheaths that showcase our visual designs. Why was this packaging selected?Roff: We look for packaging that is both beautiful and compliant. Because of state regulations for child-resistant cannabis packaging, Coda Signature developed package elements that meet requirements without sacrificing design. Until cannabis legalization, traditional child-resistant package design just looked like a prescription pill bottle. But as cannabis products have become sophisticated and diverse, brands like Coda Signature innovated compliant packaging to be more refined, with a luxury aesthetic. We’ll continue streamlining our packaging in the future as regulations allow. Describe the design and major graphic elements.Roff: Our packaging all goes back to our brand’s promise to delight the senses, and the packaging is the first impression we make in retail stores. The background is black and white—and then we let the colors of the natural ingredients featured in our products shine through. Each of our packages tells a story about the product experience within, whether it be the nostalgic comfort of coffee and doughnuts or the bold excitement of jalapeño and pineapple.  What was a packaging development challenge? Roff: Coda Signature’s packaging must strike the balance between safety and simplicity. How do we create packaging that meets regulatory compliance and child-resistant measures, while conveying beauty and elegance? Our solution was to go beyond expectations and develop packaging that is just as ingenious as the products inside it. Can you credit any design firms or any packaging suppliers?Roff: Our pre-press partner is the Ohio-based firm Gravity. They are amazing. What’s not apparent that you can point out?Roff: In cannabis, packaging is always a key part of the entire product development process. It requires more behind-the-scenes planning than people realize, and it takes a lot of creativity and agility to bring about the beautiful final product that you see in stores. Anything else to mention?Roff: The infused-products sector is becoming increasingly competitive, and the right packaging can set apart the good brands from the great. Our thoughtful packaging design is a big part of why Coda Signature has resonated with our customers across multiple states, and it will be even more important as we expand to new markets._____________________________________________ How is the Coronavirus Affecting Your Packaging Job?Please let us know how you are doing and if you have any advice for your packaging peers by taking this quick poll.­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_____________________________________________&nbs […]

  • Packaging Community Responds to the COVID-19 Outbreak
    by Lisa McTigue Pierce on March 27, 2020 at 11:39 pm

    Most packaging professionals have always felt they contribute a vital service to the world. They do. That’s more evident to the general public now because of the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s how the packaging community has been responding to the crisis. Virtual learning opportunities abound.Most people are taking the social distancing edict seriously. Thank you. We are finding that there is a lot of work we can do remotely.In my earlier article “4 Ways Packaging Can Help During the Coronavirus Crisis,” I asked you to keep focused on the important packaging issues, and to keep the conversations / learnings going. As predicted, virtual events have ramped up now that in-person group events are temporarily nixed.For example, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition had to cancel its highly valued SPC Impact conference, scheduled for late March/early April. But several sessions have been retooled as free webinars. Click here to see all the topics and times.Hurry, though, because some are taking place as soon as March 31. Silver lining: Cooped up consumers may recycle more.Sustainability has been and will continue to be one of the hottest issues in packaging. Even during the pandemic?George Valiotis, CEO of glass recycler PACE Glass, thinks so.He is predicting an uptick in sustainable practices like recycling because more people are working from home. People are consuming more materials there now, so Valiotis anticipates curbside recycling will increase by 30% to 40%.Want to know what other consumer behavior has been affected? In a March 18 survey, L.E.K. Consulting heard from about 2,600 Americans on what they think about the outbreak’s severity and effect on the economy. Respondents also reveal what it’s meant so far for their work, leisure activities, and spending priorities. Bottom line? US consumers expect hard times ahead financially for a while.Meanwhile … across the pond in Europe, the prognosis about recycling is quite different.In the Waste Management World article “European Markets for Recycled Materials React in the Face of Coronavirus,” senior editors Mark Victory and Matt Tudball for Recycling at Independent Commodity Intelligence Services (ICIS), see the European recycling markets “reeling” because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They say that staff shortages may limit the ability of smaller recyclers to manage cash flow if they are unable to operate for a while. But, they also note that, of wider concern, is the impact on getting materials to and from recyclers because several countries across Europe have closed their borders, restricting the movement of goods and people. Of course, the situation in Europe is highly fluid, so we’ll have to wait to see what transpires. Brands refit packaging lines to produce needed supplies.To combat the spread of COVID-19, breweries, distillers, and others changeover to package sanitizers to supplement inadequate supplies. Major brands Pernod Ricard and Paris-based luxury goods company LVMH, as well as several other brands, have stepped up. Read our March 24 article here.Since then, we’ve heard from Cardinal Spirits, a craft distillery in Bloomington, Indiana. The company’s director of communications, Erica Sagon, tells us that its hand sanitizer operations have gone “from side hustle to full time. By the end of the week, we’ll have made 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, much of which we’ve donated. And by early next week, 5,000 gallons more.” Global leader in compounding pharmaceutical production and an 503B FDA-registered outsourcing firm with cleanroom production facilities, Qualgen is producing hand sanitizer — in 16-ounce, 32-ounce, gallon options, and larger-batch forms for tote tanks — as well as saline, dextrose, and common-mix intravenous solutions (IVs), as well as some other key pharmaceuticals, for home health and hospitals. CLICK "NEXT" BELOW. ON PAGE 2:Packaging industry groups pledge support.Packaging suppliers stay on the job to fulfill your needs.The nation’s supply chain is delivering.A personal note Packaging industry groups pledge support.• The International Packaging Press Organisation (IPPO) compiles packaging-related coronavirus content from its global members, editors and freelancers who write about packaging.• The Flexible Packaging Association asks for clarity regarding federal, state, and local government proclamations distinguishing “essential” business operations from mass population event limitations. According to the association, “FPA and its members are vital to the supply chain when addressing the needs of U.S. consumers in responding to the COVID-19 crisis.  It is of fundamental importance that the industry’s manufacturing facilities stay open and functioning in order to supply the necessary packaging consumer product companies and retailers need to supply goods the public needs through this health crisis.”• From PMMI president/CEO Jim Pittas: “At this time, EXPO PACK México, Annual Meeting and PACK EXPO International and Healthcare Packaging EXPO remain scheduled to take place as planned. …This is a difficult time, but we will get through it. Our customers – and ultimately, consumers – rely on our industry now more than ever, and we will not let them down. PMMI is here with you and for you. We will get through this crisis together, stronger than before.”• AMERIPEN’s COVID-19 resource section offers fact-based resources about how the packaging industry is working to protect all of us and the value packaging can bring in the fight against novel coronavirus.• The Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute (TLMI) petitions government to recognize the industry and its members as “essential business operations.”• PAC Packaging Consortium asks the Canadian Federal and Provincial Governments to designate the packaging supply chain an essential service.• The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) President/CEO Tony Radoszewski requests all local, state, and federal governments to include plastic resin and plastic product manufacturers as “essential.”Radoszewski also petitions the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate and make a public statement on the health and safety benefits seen in single-use plastics, including packaging.Not everyone agrees, though. International campaign group A Plastic Planet co-founder Sian Sutherland tells Packaging Digest, “This is classic example of shocking opportunism from the plastics lobby, aka the fossil fuel industry. They want to use an international health crisis as an excuse to water down plastic bans, which are vital in the fight to save nature from the global waste crisis.” And Miriam Gordon, program director of Upstream Solutions, says in her blog “Plastics Industry Exploits Coronavirus to Prop up Single-Use Plastics,” “We are appalled that the plastics industry is using the American people’s fears about the coronavirus to push for making more single-use plastic.”• America’s Midwest is a hub for package printing. On March 27, Printing Industry Midwest (PIM) implored Minnesota’s Governor Walz to reverse his categorization of print- and paper-related industries as Non-Essential Businesses.Photo courtesy of Printing Industry Midwest (PIM). • EUROPEN, the European Organisation for Packaging and the Environment, petitions the European Commission, to maintain the necessary supply of food and hygiene products, as well as medicines, to citizens throughout Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic. With many countries closing their borders, some deliveries of packaged products and packaging materials have been delayed or disrupted. The organization asks, “To guarantee the continued uninterrupted flow of (packaged) goods, the Commission needs to recognize packaging and its raw materials as essential and to open the designated priority lanes, the ‘green lanes’ for their intra-EU transport.”• The Robotic Industries Association publishes “A3 Special Report: How Robots and Automation are Fighting Covid-19,” which outlines “how robots and automation are playing a critical role in helping to safeguard people and process the supplies that humans need as they shift to remote working and home learning.” Packaging suppliers stay on the job to fulfill your needs.Here are just some of the packaging suppliers that have announced their support, especially for customers in essential businesses:• SencorpWhite modifies thermoforming machines to form face masks for medical professionals combating COVID-19.Photo courtesy of SencorpWhite. • TPH Global Solutions, a Chicago-based retail packaging, display and supply chain company, along with its Chicago-area manufacturing partners — Dordan Manufacturing, Mercury Plastics Inc., Adams Foam & Rubber, Assemblers Inc., and Petra & Holum — are collaborating to manufacture up to 500,000 plastic face shields by the end of April for frontline medical personnel in the coronavirus effort. The companies expect to ramp up production for up to 2 million face shields within the next 60 days, according to David Schmidt, president and chief operating officer of TPH.Photo courtesy of TPH. • Plastic packaging manufacturer Placon is also scaling up production in two of its manufacturing facilities to help get plastic personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers.Photo courtesy of Prent.• And plastic thermoforming company Prent has already designed, produced, and donated plastic face shields to medical workers — all done in just 48 hours. It will continue to dedicate an entire production line to making the face shields for hospitals across the country as long as needed. Photo courtesy of Polar Leasing. • For critical products in the cold chain, Polar Leasing offers 24/7 backup refrigeration during COVID-19 crisis. Bart Tippmann, president of Polar Leasing, says, “Polar Leasing has prioritized an additional 300 new walk-in refrigerator and freezer units from our manufacturer Polar King International to meet the high demand for both short- and long-term rentals in healthcare, supermarket, and government facilities across the United States and Canada. We now have expanded beyond 80 distribution depots across the United States and in some cases can deliver orders within 24 hours.” • To help customers and partners keep production lines going and to enable businesses to continue to function while many are working from home, ABB’s Robotics & Discrete Automation business is offering key software services free of charge to its customers until December 31, 2020. Among the services included are condition monitoring and diagnostics, asset management software and remote troubleshooting and monitoring of production lines for the delivery of important supplies.Photo courtesy of ABB. • A real-time COVID-19 dashboard on the website of international beauty packaging manufacturer and provider Quadpack helps keep stakeholders informed of the effects of the virus on the company’s global operations.• C-P Flexible Packaging has introduced virtual press check capabilities for customers in critical infrastructure industries, allowing them to approve packaging graphics remotely using sophisticated light booths, 4K webcam equipment, and secure videoconferencing software.• Keyence Corporation of America is also providing customers virtual demos of its equipment — sensors, measuring systems, laser markers, microscopes, and machine vision systems.• Suppliers telling Packaging Digest they remain open to support their customers, especially those working in “essential” industries, include:Enercon, manufacturer of induction cap sealers and corona, plasma, flame, and ozone surface treating systems.Flexicon, manufacturer of bulk bag and drum packaging machines and conveyors.INX International Ink Co., manufacturer of inks and coatings for commercial, packaging, and digital print applications.Box Latch Products, maker of reusable box closures.The Packaging Lab, supplier of custom printed pouches and film in 24 hours using digital printing and highly automated workflow.Yupo, manufacturer of premium synthetic substrates for packaging and labels. The nation’s supply chain is delivering.Distribution packaging is working hard to ensure timely delivery of vital packaged goods.While direct-to-consumer deliveries are helping supply us without having to leave the house, the vast majority of materials in America still move by pallet load, and mainly by truck.The American Transportation Research Institute uses real-time Global Positioning System (GPS) to track freight flows. Analysis of recent data shows that “Trucks are continuing to move — in many cases faster than usual — to respond to the demands placed on the industry by the COVID-19 pandemic.”In a press release, the association said the results can be explained by several COVID-19 related factors: First is the dramatic reduction in commuter traffic, allowing trucks to operate at higher speeds, particularly during traditional rush hours. Second, is the continuous 24/7 truck operations that generate higher average truck speeds across nearly all hours of the day.The American Trucking Association’s president and CEO Chris Spear said in the same press release, “Normally, ATRI’s bottleneck data is used to show us where the problems are on our highway system, but during this period of extreme uncertainty, the data is showing us where the solution is — in the back of America’s trucks as professional drivers continue to quickly and safely deliver life-sustaining medical supplies, food, fuel and other essentials to Americans when they need it most.”Well said. On a personal note …Former Packaging Digest senior editor and frequent freelance writer Jenni Spinner gained some notoriety in The New York Times for helping to keep her Chicago-area community connected through singalongs. She chose “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi as their first song.According to the Times, “Jon Bon Jovi expressed his support in an Instagram post.” How cool is that?!&nbs […]

  • What Brands Should Look for When Shopping for Packaging Online
    by Jeff Hunt on March 26, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    Business-to-business ecommerce sales in the US are expected to reach $1.8 trillion by 2023, which will represent about 17% of all B2B sales, according to a Forrester report. With packaging being one of the slices of this pie, what do brand owners need to see on a supplier’s website before clicking “add to cart”? We make decisions based on what we see. Why? Because that’s how we’re wired: The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text.This fact alone should be enough for brand owners that shop for packages online to pause and reflect on the quality of the product images. Customers today have increasing visual expectations when they shop online — if you can’t find good photos of what you’re looking for on one website, you’ll head to another supplier’s site where you can.For a packaging suppliers, high-quality website visuals showcase every aspect of what differentiates their products: design, functionality, and customization options. They need strong visuals to stand out from the business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce competition and boost their bottom line.Here are three things brand owners need to see before deciding to purchase packaging for their products online: 1. Packaging attributes.A major purchase criteria for packaging customers is the product’s functionality. But static two-dimensional (2D) photos make it difficult to see smart designs in action — and 2D photos are often the default for packaging product photos.With 360-degree product imagery, however, you don’t have to rely on a product description to figure out whether it’s the solution you’re looking for. Whether it’s a bottle, tube, pump, or box, a 360-degree photograph can capture every angle of its structural design and give you an up-close view of its shape and material.Packaging supplier TricorBraun, for example, is able to display all the subtle details of its products so clients can more easily and confidently choose from similar options and easily pull together different configurations (above image is static; you must go to the website to see the moving image in action). If packages have innovative design, bold colors, or a minimalist shape — characteristics popular among today’s consumers — a 360-degree view of the product lets the quality speak for itself.Plus, if a bottle design uses a special kind of sturdy glass and an airless pump, for instance, you can view the bottle from different angles to see how it looks.Still, customers do care about all of the information they can find written on a product page: The packaging’s composition, dimensions, and content capacity are important. A 360-degree image should complement a product page’s text. It’s all vital information, but a dynamic and interactive visual can translate technical information into an easily digestible experience. 2. Customization options.Research from Ipsos shows that 72% of American consumers say their purchasing decisions are influenced by a product’s packaging design. Packaging customization, then, is a way brands can encourage purchases.But brands don’t just want to plug in their inputs and hope for the best. They want to visualize the final product before they commit to an order.Suppliers can make that possible by providing examples of branded packages or containers from other clients. If prospective customers have customized graphics, labeling, or printing options, an image of the final packaging design gives them a much stronger sense of what their product will look like once received.Prospective buyers can then better envision their customers’ experience with the package. 3. Real life applications.For food, beverage, and cosmetic product packaging especially, lifestyle photography — photos of products in the environment where they’ll be used — showcases real applications. For example, a custom-branded glass jar for face cream might be pictured on a bathroom counter. This helps brands envision how they can leverage the packaging product in their own marketing. As the packaging industry makes the ongoing transition to B2B ecommerce, first-mover suppliers with strong online visuals will maintain a competitive edge.By using 360-degree images to show off their most compelling offerings, suppliers clearly show the benefits of ordering their merchandise. By doing that, they make it easy for prospective customers like you to choose your next package — sight seen.A bonus is brands can also use these same tactics when showing off their product packaging online for business-to-consumer ecommerce sales.&nbs […]

  • Medical Device Packagers Want Greater Sustainability, But Unsure How to Get There
    by Lisa McTigue Pierce on March 26, 2020 at 8:01 pm

    Healthcare packaging might be behind from a sustainability point of view — when empty packages are in the same environment as human blood, safety supersedes recycling, as well it should. But the amount of packaging being recycled or the amount of recycled-content material in packages might change soon, if industry professionals, especially younger ones, turn their interest into action.Attendees at the recent HealthPack 2020 shared their opinions on several topics in an audience poll. The slideshow shares the results of the four questions asked and answered regarding sustainability (click "View Gallery" above to see the charts).During the polling, a panel of medical packaging experts commented on the topics. One of the panelists, Ondrea Kassarjian, senior manager, Packaging & Labeling, at Hollister Inc., acknowledged the sustainability challenges for medical packaging.“Sustainability is important. It’s on everybody’s radar. But in our industry, we have a lot of constraints on how to get there,” Kassarjian said. “We often think about material selection and configuration. But there’s really a full lifecycle for the product development and the supply chain that our products have, both from materials coming into our factories and finished goods out.”Kassarjian continued, “It’s interesting … putting recycled materials in a sterile barrier package … I think most of us aren’t comfortable to get there yet. But I suspect, and this data is showing, that this is the direction we might like to be moving in. The challenge is, how do you control that, how do you trace that, how do you ensure biocompatibility and things like that.”Another panelist, Georgianna Gallegos, vice president of global quality, Oliver Healthcare Packaging, shared that customers are asking more about package downsizing than recycling right now.Jennifer Benolken, medical device manufacturing (MDM) and regulatory specialist, packaging engineering, Tyvek, Medical Packaging, at DuPont, and fellow panelist, explained, “Ultimately, it’s always economics, and right now there’s no money in [recycling]. At some point there will be. But recyclers themselves are struggling to figure out how to take these materials on, and what to do with them.”Kassarjian agreed. “That’s part of the struggle: the lack of infrastructure to take in these materials and do something with them,” she said. “Even though some of our industry is moving towards recycle-ready and lightweighting, there might not be a place to take that material to once it’s the end of its lifecycle.”Benolken pointed out that she visits a lot of schools to talk about packaging and “younger engineers often ask about sustainability with respect to medical device packaging.” She reminded the audience that they can get help and guidance from the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council.During the Q&A, an attendee asked, “[GPOs (group purchasing organizations)] have a lot of questions about recyclability; post-consumer content. But it seems like it’s more to check a box than there is real business drive. Is anyone leveraging this to be a value-added proposition?”Kassarjian answered, “It can be a value-added proposition. Companies do need to be careful about what they’re claiming though.”Benolken also commented, “I’ve had customers indicating similarly that GPOs are making decisions based on sustainability and recyclability because the products they are comparing for a particular contract are so similar in other ways they don’t have a differentiator. At this point, if companies can at least say ‘My packaging is recyclable,’ that may give them a competitive advantage over someone else that doesn’t have that claim, even though it may be the same materials. It’s more economic now but, at some point, it actually becomes a reality.”“It seems to be regional too,” Kassarjian added. “I’m hearing more about competition based on environmental claims in Europe than in the US right now.”&nbs […]

  • How Packaging Operations Can Use 6S in this Time of COVID-19
    by John R. Henry on March 26, 2020 at 4:31 pm

    Essential packaging plants need to keep in running. But how can you ensure employee safety in this time of COVID-19? An organizational system like “5S” is more important than ever. Implementing 5S can help prevent transmission of the disease between workers. In some instances, it might prevent transmission to a customer via contaminated product.Here’s how to use 5S in this context.1. Sort: Banish anything not required from the workspace. The more stuff you have, the more surfaces there are to be contaminated and the more time it takes to sanitize them.2. Set in order: After banishing the unnecessary, organize what’s left. Better organization means less movement looking for things. This may be walking around the area or just rummaging through a pile of stuff on the desk or workbench. Movement increases risk of contamination and spreads it further than it might otherwise.3. Shine: Make sure everything is clean. This is standard 5S but with an additional step  — decontamination. Wipe everything down with sanitizing wipe, spray with disinfectant, or do whatever is needed to assure that it’s not contaminated.4. Standardize: It’s not enough to rely on individual judgement and memory. Develop a checklist to make sure that it is done systematically. Set a standard time to practice 5S, perhaps at the start of each shift or workday. Assign specific responsibilities so that Betty is responsible for this area, Joe for that one. They should initial the checklist when the task is complete.5. Sustain: This is always the hardest of all the S’s, and is the responsibility of managers and supervisors to establish a 5S habit. When the program is implemented, they need to make sure that it is carried out on Day 2, Day 3, and so into the future. These programs are easy to start, hard to keep going.So, what is the sixth S in the title (6S)?6. Social distancing: Safety is sometimes 6S. But now we need an additional specific kind of safety — social distancing. It’s a lot harder to practice in a workplace than in other contexts. It’s hard to separate workers on a line or in a workcell. Office cubicles may be shared by two or more people. What about meetings? And how about people moving around delivering documents and materials?Every workspace will present its own unique challenges but here are a few ideas.It seems odd to hold Webex meetings when the participants are 10 feet away in the next office. On the other hand, it does keep the social distance. Zoom is a free alternative with the benefit that cameras allow non-verbal communication.Depending on process layout, in a work cell or line, it may be possible to use simple partitions, such as this one from Versare Portable Products, to separate people working side by side.It is convenient to have all those people together in workcells, but is it really necessary? Perhaps some of the tasks can be moved, even if just a few feet. Every bit helps.Get creative. Even a workplace that requires people being in close proximity will have ways to practice social distancing.6S may feel weird but better weird than ill.&nbs […]

  • Packaging and COVID-19: Ongoing News, Insights, Advice
    by Lisa McTigue Pierce on March 25, 2020 at 3:55 pm

    Bookmark this page for easy access to a list of articles about the coronavirus pandemic and packaging, along with links and dates, posted by Packaging Digest. Most recent articles are at the top: 4-1-20: Packaging Peers Offer COVID-19 Advice4-1-2020: Food Packagers Address Pandemic-Driven Risk to Supply Chains3-27-2020: Packaging Community Responds to the COVID-19 Outbreak3-26-2020: How Packaging Operations Can Use 6S in this Time of COVID-193-24-2020: Brands Refit Packaging for Hand Sanitizers3-19-2020: How is the Coronavirus Affecting Your Packaging Job?3-16-2020: 4 Ways Packaging Can Help During the Coronavirus Crisis&nbs […]