Environmental Issues

New Season of Packaging Training Courses

Posted in Anti-Counterfeiting, Branding, Cosmetics & Toiletries, Design, Design Cognition News, Drinks Packaging, Environmental Issues, Events, Food Packaging, Gift Packaging, Healthcare & Pharma, Innovation, Marketing, Materials, Medical Devices, Safety, Technology, Training, Uncategorized, cost-optimisation on August 27th, 2014 by Chris Penfold – Be the first to comment
creative brain - opening

Open up your mind to new possibilities

By popular demand, we are pleased to announce a new season of packaging-related training courses starting in October.

The first will be Bar Coding & Mass Serialisation, which will take place on 14th October.

Other courses have been scheduled and are presently being developed, including Plastics Injection Moulding and the Packaging of Pharmaceuticals and you can find out about all of them and others on our Training page by following this link: Training Courses.

As always, all of these courses can be run as bespoke events at your own premises, if that would suit you better. As an international training provider, we are willing to consider running events anywhere in the world.

Why not give us a call (+44 115 846 1914) to talk through your own particular circumstances and needs, or drop an email to training@designcognition.com).

All of these courses can be run as bespoke events at your own premises – See more at: http://www.designcognition.com/training/#sthash.gMdIGbAF.dpuf
All of these courses can be run as bespoke events at your own premises – See more at: http://www.designcognition.com/training/#sthash.gMdIGbAF.dpuf

Pack To The Future 3 – ready for ‘take off’

Posted in Academia, Design, Environmental Issues, Events, Innovation, Materials, Recycling, Technology, Training, Uncategorized on February 9th, 2013 by Chris Penfold – 13 Comments
Pack To The Future 3 Flyer

Pack To The Future 3 Flyer

As many of you may know, as well as running Design Cognition, I am Chairman of the East Midlands Packaging Society (based in Nottingham UK) and in that role, my main focus again this year is to entice more of you, our valued members, to take part in events and also to encourage ‘new blood’ into the industry.

By popular demand we are pleased to announce the THIRD  in our very successful PACK TO THE FUTURE  series of collaborations between academia and industry to explore insights into the changing global landscape impacted by issues such as Global Warming and water & oil depletion that will affect consumer demand and some of the exciting emerging technologies that will enable us to adapt & thrive.

We are pleased to be working with Loughborough University Design School on this occasion and as previously have a fantastic line-up of leading edge thinkers & ‘doers’ with which to ‘whet your appetites’. This time topics will include:

Explaining the Future – Peak Oil, Peak Water & Climate Change

Printed electronics in packaging

LumeJet – photonic imaging technology

Please make sure that you book early to this FREE event to avoid disappointment, as both previous events have been heavily oversubscribed!!!!

All are welcome, members and non-members, but pre-registration is essential – OR  drop me an email if you have any questions: chris@designcognition.com

We’ve also got other fantastic events lined-up later in the year, in which you could participate in a number of different ways and at a number of different levels – it’s up to you how far you want to get involved.

Much of it will be FREE and could directly benefit you personally and your business.

You may want to participate yourself, or you know someone else that could be interested. Either way, I’m looking for partners and I’d love to hear from you. The aim of the whole exercise is to help raise the profile of packaging but also to facilitate the integration of academia and industry for everyone’s benefit. So this is applicable to:

Students – who may want to learn & enhance career options

Universities – looking for business avenues/partnerships to help commercialise their ideas

Product development companies, packaging suppliers & design agencies – wanting to keep up with latest technology & also identify high calibre students for job placements & opportunities

Come along and listen to some exciting & leading-edge talks from the university & from the packaging design industry. Network with industry & academic experts – with various table-top demonstrations, discuss your design projects in an informal atmosphere and get practical mentoring help & advice.

Some of the previous highlighted topics have included:

Smartphone technology & how it can enhance the consumer experience

Using packaging technology to tackle counterfeiting

University research into brand design

Display technology for packing applications

Design of packaging for reuse / recycling

You can find out more about this and other East Midlands Packaging Society events on our ‘ning’ site:

East Midlands Packaging Society website

and also on our LinkedIn Group & Facebook Pages:

EMPS LinkedIn Group

EMPS Facebook page

So whether in academia or business – You decide how you want to get involved, which could be as a speaker, sponsor, exhibitor, trainer or as a participant – how could it best benefit yourself? I really do think that ‘everyone’s a winner’ with this. More details to follow in future blogs.

If you’ve got any other ideas yourself, let me know.

Chris Penfold

Chairman – East Midlands Packaging Society


00 44 115 846 1914

Roses win Gold

Posted in Design, Environmental Issues, Food Packaging, Gift Packaging on October 19th, 2010 by Jane Bear – 7 Comments

Great to see that this Roses pack won the Starpack Gold Environment Award.  The judges said

Cadbury Roses Box “This entry is a winner because the design provides a 45% packaging weight reduction, allows for a more cost effective supply chain and has been developed to provide the strength and stability provided by a tin, but in a carton” 

Personally I really like this pack and indeed wrote about it last November  (Cadbury replaces Roses tin with cardboard box) when it was first launched in Tesco’s. 

It’s a shame, but I heard just a few weeks ago that this pack was being withdrawn.  It appeared to have everything going for it, so why is it being withdrawn? Comments at the time hinted that although consumers talk about wanting to be green the reality was a little different – I’m not sure I really agree with that.

Outside of the packaging industry who knew about the pack or its reasons for being there?  I certainly didn’t see any adverts or publicity for it.  I think Cadbury’s really missed a trick here, this could have been a great opportunity to engage with younger consumers.

A real missed opportunity!

PET falling out of favour?

Posted in Drinks Packaging, Environmental Issues, Recycling, Uncategorized, cost-optimisation on October 19th, 2010 by Jane Bear – 9 Comments

Well it would appear to be the case in certain sectors of the market.

German retailer Penny Markt has announced that it will be moving a range of its own beverages from PET bottles to aluminium cans.  They appear to be claiming that when you look at the whole life cycle of the product they feel that aluminium cans are more environmentally friendly, or should that be less environmentally damaging.

Penny Markt are justifying their move back into cans with claims that new can designs now mean that 30% less material is used, that the recycling rate for aluminium cans in Germany have risen significantly and that they can also achieve savings as the cans stack better than the PET bottles they are replacing and also chill much faster – therefore saving energy and money.

The full article written by David Vink of European Plastics news makes an interesting read and gives a good background to the German drinks market.  Penny Markt obviously feel they are doing the ‘right thing’ and others in their market appear to be preparing to follow, but who is ultimately right?

If you talk to PET manufacturers they will have you believe that PET is less environmentally damaging than other packaging materials – if you talk to the glass industry then they are of course the most environmentally friendly – if you talk to the aluminium can producers they will equally justify themselves.

I believe the answer is very much ‘horses for courses’ in other words it really depends on not only the products you are looking to package, but also the full life cycle of the packaging, including the transport of the empty container and the disposal of it after use.  If you need help with making the most environmentally friendly decisions for your products, then don’t forget that we have two Chartered Environmentalists who can help, so why not contact Design Cognition and see how we could help make those seemingly difficult decisions easy!

The making of Plastiki – turning plastic packaging waste into resource

Posted in Design, Drinks Packaging, Environmental Issues, Events, Innovation, Materials, Recycling, Technology, Uncategorized on August 13th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 6 Comments

Here’s how ‘Eco Warrior’ and ‘Gaia Capitalist’ David de Rothschild made his catamaran ‘Plastiki’ out of recycled PET bottle packaging -- turning waste into resource and into an (almost) completely recyclable boat, that he then sailed from San Francisco to Sydney.

You can read the related article I wrote earlier today here: Sailing through the Plastiki soup in search of Paradise

Chris Penfold

Sailing through the Plastiki soup in search of paradise?

Posted in Business News, Design, Drinks Packaging, Environmental Issues, Events, Marketing, Materials, Opinion, Recycling on August 13th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 10 Comments
Plastiki - David de Rothschild's yacht made of recycled PET bottles

Plastiki - David de Rothschild's yacht made of recycled PET bottles

As we have discussed in previous posts, there is a huge and ever-increasing mountain of rubbish growing in the middle of the Pacific, like a giant festering ’soup’, much of which consists of plastic packaging waste. This has had a massive knock-on affect in the  form of polluted beaches on islands throughout the South Pacific. See our previous article: Great Pacific Garbage Patch article

David de Rothschild is a man on a mission. The offspring of the wealthy banking family, he is one of a new breed of environmental crusaders and entrepreneurs that some are calling ‘Gaia capitalists’. ‘Gaia’ in mythology was the primal Greek goddess of the Earth and aptly a ‘gyre’ in oceanography is any large system of rotating ocean currents (source: Wikipedia).

To highlight the Pacific issue and raise it’s profile in mainstream media, De Rothschild decided to use his family’s high profile  (& money) to build a yacht made entirely of recycled plastic bottle packaging, which he named ‘Plastiki’ (making reference and tribute to the late Thor Heyerdahl’s papyrus Kon-tiki raft which crossed the Pacific back in 1947). Over a four month period he sailed this 60ft catamaran from San Francisco to Sydney, where he landed last week. But his exploits are no shallow ploy to fill aimless days with fun and adventure.

De Rothschild and his ‘Gaia’ friends are driven by a combination of social conscience and economic pragmatism, seeking a ‘paradigm shift’ in the way we live and desecrate our planet. They espouse a new form of capitalism that factors in the environment and social wellbeing as a cost. It considers protecting the environment not only as a moral issue but as a set of design challenges to correct inefficiencies that make the capitalist system unsustainable. Waste, for example, is considered the result of inadequate thinking. If you are smarter about it, and create products that work properly, then you shouldn’t have to throw anything away at the end – should you? The group include Chad Hurley (33) who with his co-founder, sold YouTube to Google for $1.6Bn and has since ploughed some of his fortune into the Green Products Innovation Institute and Jeffrey Skoll, worth $2.4Bn, who wrote the business plan for eBay and has set up the Skoll Foundation to encourage ’social entrepreneurs’ to play a greater role in developing a better world (source: The  Sunday Times).

These are ‘game changers’, who see solutions where others see problems – a new entrepreneurial revolution – one of collaboration something that de Rothschild calls ‘Planet 2.0′. So I feel that we will be hearing a lot more from this ‘band of brothers’ in the future. They mean to ‘rattle some cages’, get us all to think differently and make a real impact by influencing things at ‘the top’. They have a point! Can we really carry on the way we are? For a really ’sustainable future’, for our children and their children’s sakes, things have to change a lot quicker.What do you think?

Chris Penfold

Fizz Pop Bang! – Wine bottle Corks – the counter argument

Posted in Design, Drinks Packaging, Environmental Issues, Food Packaging, Marketing, Materials, Opinion, Recycling on July 23rd, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 1 Comment
Traditional wine bottle cork packaging

Traditional wine bottle cork packaging

There’s nothing quite like the ‘pop’ of a cork exploding from a wine bottle when it’s opened is there? For me, although screw thread or rubber closures do the job, they don’t quite have the same emotional appeal. Well, for those of you who have a similar opinion (94% of wine drinkers according to a survey of 1500), you will be pleased to hear that there is research available to backup the sustainable credentials of cork and its continued use in wine bottles.

According to the Portuguese Cork Association (APCOR) there are 3 misconceptions regarding cork stoppers, that are highlighted in a recent Packaging News article:

1. Trees are NOT cut down in the production of cork – they are harvested in a sustainable manner. In fact harvesting, if managed properly, actually guarantees a trees survival.

2. Screw caps are NOT the most environmentally friendly closure, as cork is 100% natural and renewable and apparently uses 10 times less carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than plastic stoppers and 24 times less than screw caps.

3. Corked wine is (allegedly) is NO MORE of an issue with natural cork than tainitng is with other closure systems (although this has been very carefully worded by APCOR).

You can read the full article on the Packaging News website.

You could also check out the campaign website www.ilovenaturalcork.co.uk

Chris Penfold

Packaging? You’ve been framed!

Posted in Branding, Design, Environmental Issues, Events, Exhibitions, Gift Packaging, Innovation, Marketing, Opinion, Product News, Uncategorized on July 22nd, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 10 Comments
Phlib (Monkey) Frames

Phlib (Monkey) Frames

So it’s Thursday and it’s time for us to continue our review of High Street Dreams, the BBC ‘reality TV show’ about product branding, packaging & design development and in particular look at ‘Homeware’ and Harry Singer from Somerset with his innovative wall hanging picture ‘Monkey frames’ product.

Harry is a likeable 34 yr old whose idea consists of a fantastic way to display photos using magnets and a metal frame. It was conjured up “in the pub” two yeas ago after ‘connecting’ the thoughts that it’s easy to print photos on-line these days but difficult to display them on the wall. So he made a few ‘Monkey Frames’, as he called them ( a “cheeky, hanging product”), and sold them to friends. The rest ‘is history’ as they say. Before the TV show he’d already spent £4000 developing the idea further, so he was pretty serious about it – a great product that’s really unique. Harry, quoting the likes of Google and IBM, with their straplines “organise the Worlds information” and “a computer on every desk in the home” came up with his own version “get photos on every wall in every home”.

However, after a day spent at Goldsmith’s University on ‘market research’ some interesting issues were highlighted:
1. The name ‘Monkey Frames’ didn’t particularly appeal to students.
2. The modularity (or lack of it) of the system also seemed to be an issue.
So Harry had a lot to think about. Critic Nick Leslau reiterated these concerns about the product concept (being a fixed system for 16 photos) and thought that Harry should rethink it and try to redesign it into a more flexible system. Enter designer Ben DeLeesy, famous for his ‘red carpet’ dresses, who then branched-out into interiors 10 years ago. His philosophy: “The product has to stand the test of time – you can’t just be a fleeting trend”. He now has one of the biggest ranges of ‘homeware’ on the High Street. His thoughts on how to make ‘Monkey Frames’ appeal more to the consumer were: “ingenuity, ambition, hunger & drive. If Harry gets the timing & product right, the £’s & pence will follow big time.” Easy peasy then!

The first job Ben suggested was to undertake a competitor review, looking at products like a ‘shower curtain’ (a hanging photo product). He was quick to point out to Harry, that “It’s not about your love of photos. At the end of the day, this is business!” (Wise words for any new start up entrepreneur). On the flip side, commenting on Harry’s design, he said: “I love them, but you need to break it down into different sizes, not just a ‘one- hit-wonder’. You’ve got to make it more versatile, to reach a broader base. At that point I think it dawned on Harry the amount of work that he still had to do – and in a very short space of time!

To cut a long story short, Harry went away, completely redesigned his product and in the process made it look really ‘tacky’& cheap (to get the cost down) and was pushed (by the HSD evaluating team) into deciding whether to stick with a ‘cheap-jack’ version or as Ben & the team intimated, take it back ‘upmarket’ and redevelop a ‘cheap-jack’ version later. To everyone’s relief he chose the latter – and everybody was happy.

Enter branding agency ‘Heavenly’, who rightly (in my view) affirmed that ‘Monkey Frames’ (as a  brand name doesn’t work too well). It describes the product and not the ‘lifestyle choice’ that the product could deliver. It was also polarizing (aimed at a young consumer) and not of broad appeal.
Their solution:
Brand ‘Phlib’ was unveiled – Photo Liberation – “Set your photos free” – great concept and easy to remember. I like it!

The ‘big test’ was a 1-day test that Jo Malone sorted out at the national lifestyle exhibition – The Ideal Home Show at Earl’s Court in London. The three things that they were trying to evaluate were:
1.    How you sell your product
2.    Whether you are great PR ambassadors to your product
3.    How the consumers view your product
Harry got a great response at the show, making his first sale, but when the ‘financials’ were discussed, it came to light that Harry needed to sell 10,000 units to recoup his tooling costs and 20,000 units to ‘breakeven’ – a big investment on his part and a bit of  ‘millstone round his neck’!

Anyhow, that aside, Jo and Nick put Harry through to pitch to Heals, one of the most influential homeware retailers in the UK. A 200 year old store with a turnover of £37M  and renowned for ‘breaking’ new designers. He got to pitch to Trading Director Gillian and Head of Accessories Furzana. Apparently they get to sit through 1000 pitches per year and of those, roughly 50% are successful.

Suffice it say, they liked Phlib and gave Harry an initial order of 100. Although Harry was clearly disappointed, it presented a great PR opportunity for him to ‘sell his story’ & background to ‘real customers’ and gain an awful lot of knowledge in the process. As Jo pointed out; “This is like the golden ticket’ – you have to take this opportunity and make it your own”

So what a bout the packaging? (hooray I hear you say!). ……The Heals buyers did mention the packaging at a superficial level. They liked the phrase on the promotional poster “photos belong on your wall – not on your hard drive (well done Heavenly again), but as I’ve mentioned on my other posts about this series, the packaging wasn’t entered into in any great depth. Not surprising bearing in mind the time constraints of the show. So let’s have a look at that now and think about some of the packaging issues that Harry will have either now, or potentially in the future, and try to help him pre-empt them.

As well as selling through Heals (assuming that Harry still is), he is also selling ‘on-line’ from his own website. So what sort of things should Harry consider? Let’s have a look at some of them:

Harry’s website does a great job at ‘selling’ the brand. On-line retail means the packaging does not really need to perform a selling role at Point of Sale (POS). I’m not sure if Harry is still selling at Heals and how these products are packaged to provide a consistent brand image with website and POS, but it’s something that needs to be considered carefully. I notice that Harry has already started to incorporate with his frames 3M Command™ Strips, to avoid customers having to hang or screw the frames to the wall and that’s a nice ‘added value’ touch.  Bearing in mind the flexibility of the modular system that he has developed, the packaging provides an ideal opportunity for ‘up-selling’ other frame sizes, providing ideas on wall-layout, and other photo/frame/homeware accessories.

If still selling through retailers such as Heals, Harry is probably already aware that product and bar code information will be required. This may not necessarily be so for Harry’s own website initially, but as his business grows, this type of information will greatly aid stock control. For consumers, useful information could include, at a basic level – frame size, colour, price, contact details but at a more emotional and engaging level, provides an opportunity for Harry to ‘connect’ with his target market. He could provide all sorts of information on the brand heritage, his vision for the business, brand values, the methods he uses to make his frames, the quality of materials & methods used and really build an emotional story on which to ‘pivot’ the brand.

Sealed air transit packaging & inflating machine

Sealed air transit packaging & inflating machine

From Harry’s online store, I should imagine that most of his transport needs are met by a courier such as DHL or other. I’m not sure what sort of stock-holding Heals will want to keep, but it’s certain that they will want to manage & move their stock in the most efficient way possible. To enable this, as well as relevant information, they will want frames boxed into suitable multiples (6, 10, 12 or whatever). The shipping boxes used will require their own ITF bar codes to enable ease of handling & storage.

At least Phlib products are not frames that incorporate glass into their manufacture. This makes them lighter and less likely to get damaged in transit than the ‘glass variety’, although being thin metal, they are liable to get bent. Careful use of traditional ‘padding’ materials like corrugated board and bubble-wrap can provide a simple enough ‘filler’ to protect the product from crushing, but there are a number of alternative organic, compostable and ‘sealed air’ filler materials around

Bamboo transit packaging trays

Bamboo transit packaging trays

now that can also provide a more ‘environmentally friendly’ transit packaging solution. If you want an interesting insight into the perils of picture frame packaging issues and remedies, check out this interesting article on the topic on the Datalite website.

I hope that this has highlighted SOME of the packaging considerations that need to be taken into account when developing and selling a product like picture frames and supplying them to market. I’m not sure how many of these issues were discussed ‘off camera’ during the programme, but they all play their role in a successful launch, and ‘branding’ is only a part of the picture. So well done Harry, for getting this far, and we wish you every success in the future.

You can find out more about Harry’s products from his Phlib website.

Tomorrow is the last installment of our High Street Dreams reviews. I will take a look at the final product covered in the last TV programme and, as well a giving an overview of what happened in that show and how packaging and design aspects were tackled as above, I’ll also take a ‘step-back’ and provide my own thoughts on some of the other important issues that entrepreneur (Bex) needs to consider (or should have considered already) in the successful launch of her products to a mass market! So keep your eyes open for the following posting on this site:

Friday 23rd July: ‘Homeware’Bex Simon an artistic blacksmith who designs beautiful one-off metal-ware objects for the home.

Chris Penfold

Medical packaging & devices go greener

Posted in Design, Environmental Issues, Government, Healthcare & Pharma, Materials, Recycling, cost-optimisation on July 15th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 2 Comments
Medical device packaging

Medical device packaging

Traditionally medical products, devices and their related packaging has been ’sidelined’ in much of the debate around the environment, where the major focus has been on retail products. However, it is estimated (Mulligan) that medical packaging contributes between 30% to 50% (or more) of the medical waste stream. There is a lot of work going on in the background, within the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, and further afield globally, as healthcare practitioners are put under increasing pressure to ‘go green’, become more ’sustainable’ and reduce their ‘carbon footprint’.  These initiatives go right to the core of their infrastructure, looking at everything from operating theatre furniture and equipment, through to medical devices and all related packaging.

However, there are wider ramifications, as it apparent that these sustainability initiatives will also enable huge cost benefits, improved regulatory compliance, and enhanced corporate social responsibility (CSR) when done correctly. So no pressure then ;-) !

On the face of it, this looks like a huge and daunting task, but with the aid of modern modelling techniques, such as those used by Walmart and by Marks & Spencer (M&S) in their ‘Plan A’, data and issues can be quite easily ‘chunked-down’ into manageable bite-size segments. This can help prioritisation and enable ‘quick wins’ on the highest ‘value creating’ initiatives.

It is important that suppliers and medical device manufacturers think about these sweeping changes and, if not already doing so, start to design and develop medical devices & healthcare packaging to meet these more stringent requirements. Next-generation packaging must be: 1) easy to manufacture; 2) meet stringent regulatory requirements; 3) meet the needs of distributors, healthcare institutions, and medical practitioners; and 4) minimize impact on the environment.

Mulligan talks in greater detail about all of this in an interesting article ‘Using a Life Cycle Analysis approach in medical packaging‘ recently published on the Healthcare Packaging website. Have a read and let us know what you think!

Chris Penfold

‘Best Before’ – Education Required!

Posted in Environmental Issues, Food Packaging, Retailers on July 14th, 2010 by Jane Bear – 14 Comments

Food WasteAnother article from a major UK newspaper discussing the amount of food waste generated in the UK each day. 

Whilst I don’t agree with all of Philip’s points, he does make some very valid ones, particularly regarding the use of ‘best before’ and ‘use by’.  I believe the major problem is that a large majority of consumers not only misunderstand the meaning of and the differences between the two dates, but they have also come to rely totally on the date shown on the packaging, regardless of whether it’s a best before or a use by.  

This appears to lead to a lot of people throwing away food that has nothing wrong with it just because it has gone past it’s Best Before date.  They appear to have lost much of the ‘common sense’ previous generations had when it comes to recognising if food is still safe and edible.  I think a prime example of this is fruit and vegetables.  Walk into any supermarket in the country and you will find bags of potatoes with Best Before dates on and I know people who won’t use them after they’ve past that date and yet in reality the potatoes may sit happily in a dark cool cupboard for much longer and still be perfectly edible.   Whilst having dates on food items is very useful for the supermarkets as it helps staff with stock rotation it also creates massive amounts of waste. 

I know that the supermarkets say that they are doing everything they can to lessen the amount of food waste, but I believe they should be doing more.  They should be making a concerted effort to not only educate their customers on what the difference is between Best Before and Use By dates, but also in how to identify if food is still safe and edible.  At the moment all the big supermarket chains whether it be Sainsburys with Jamie Oliver or Waitrose with Heston and Delia appear to have some sort of a ‘celebrity’ chief encouraging their customers to try new and different foods and recipes – what about using some of these people to publicise what constitutes edible food and encouraging people to use the Best Before date for what it was originally intended – just a guide and not the strict date many people seem to interpret it as currently. (Jane Bear)

To read Philips full article just follow the link to the Telegraph