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New Packaging Concepts Could Cut Food Waste

Image Credit: Packaging Innovations 2015

UK recycled packaging manufacturer Spectra unveiled a number of new concepts emphasizing closure technology this week at an industry event in Birmingham.

One of the new closure concepts is a two-piece cap that features an inner screw mechanism, which allows customers to snap on five alternate outer shells for a mix-and-match outcome. Another idea is a new push button sliding cap that can be operated with one hand, available in twin color options.

In addition to the closure concepts, Spectra also showcased several new container designs at the show. The company revealed designs for a fin-shaped tottle pack available in twin-color options, as well as a range of square ice cube shaped PET packs in three sizes and a selection of oval tottle designs that use Spectra’s flared disk tops.

Overall, innovations that reduce food waste were praised at the event — including Heinz ketchup moving from glass to plastic then an upside down “squeezy” bottle, coffee refill pouches and and cook-in-bag packaging.

Due to the fact that consumer purchasing habits are changing from once-a-month bulk purchases to more frequent visits to the grocery store for a small amount of items, packaging must become more functional as portion sizes become smaller, according to Jason Wiley, senior packaging development manager, formerly IGLO Group.

Packaging also has become more a bearer of information, to the detriment of attraction and functionality. However, the widespread adoption of smartphones offers opportunities to modify branding on packaging.

Wiley said he hopes to see augmented reality and bar coding play a more prominent role. This also could help balance the battle between branding and labeling and packing laws.

In other packaging news, The Dow Chemical Company recently completed a pilot program aimed at showing how certain plastics such as juice pouches, candy wrappers and plastic dinnerware — which are not easily recyclable under traditional models — can be converted into synthetic crude oil for fuel. The results show the potential for long-term environmental benefits, including less landfill trash, more local energy resources and less fossil fuel energy dependence.

Sometimes it’s better to rethink the concept of packaging altogether. Finnish dairy producer Valio recently became the first company in the world to sell products to consumers in carton packaging made entirely from plant-based materials. Launched in October by Tetra Pak, the Tetra Rex® Bio-based is the first package manufactured solely from a combination of plastics derived from plants and paperboard.


Based in San Francisco, Mike Hower is a sustainability strategist and storyteller on Edelman's Business + Social Purpose team where he works with some of the world's leading brands on corporate sustainability strategy and stakeholder engagement. With several years of… [Read more about Mike Hower]