Posts Tagged ‘environment’

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

All of these courses can be run as bespoke events at your own premises – See more at:
All of these courses can be run as bespoke events at your own premises – See more at:

Pharmaceutcial Packaging Challenges – What are yours?

Posted in Business News, Design Cognition News, Government, Healthcare & Pharma, Medical Devices, Opinion, Technology on July 29th, 2014 by Chris Penfold – 9 Comments
New Challenges in Pharmaceutical Packaging sector

New Challenges in Pharmaceutical Packaging sector

With an ageing population and the growth of emerging economies across the world, the pharmaceutical sector is booming. Research business IMS predicts that the global pharmaceutical industry will reach sales of as much as $1.2tn by 2017 – representing annual growth of 3%-6% and, crucially, a growing market for pharmaceutical packaging suppliers and contract packers.

Yet it is a market that brings particular challenges, and particular opportunities, to those packaging suppliers and packers operating within it, not least the regulatory environment, which is complex and becoming more so. New regulations – notably the EU Falsified Medicines Directive, which requires every individual pack to carry a unique serial number – are posing new challenges to the supply chain both for product and packaging.

Chris Penfold, CEO of Design Cognition, along with a number of other industry experts recently took part in a Packaging News and Essentra roundtable discussion looking at the wide range of issues facing players in the pharmaceutical packaging segment.

You can find a Chris Penfold discusses pharmaceutical packagingmore in-depth transcript of the discussion here:

Packaging News – Tough Talking – Pharmaceutical Packaging

or a short video ‘taster’ by clicking on the photo of Chris to take you to the YouTube video.

If you would like help and advice on any of these or other issues further and would like to contact Chris, please send an email via or via phone on +44 (0)115 846 1914.

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:

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

Student Starpack Awards – open for entry

Posted in Academia, Associations, Awards, Branding, Design, Events, Innovation on November 23rd, 2011 by Chris Penfold – 11 Comments

The Student Starpack Packaging Design Awards are open for entry. Rachel Brooks explains the briefs on offer for 2012, and catches up on developments within the Starpack Advisory Board.

Student Starpack 'Best in Show 2011'

Student Starpack 'Best in Show 2011'

The Student Starpack Awards challenge students to solve problems set by brand-leading FMCG companies, design agencies and manufacturers, and win recognition of their excellence. Designed to encourage students to take up a career in consumer packaging design, they are the only awards in the UK aimed exclusively at providing a platform for new talent emerging from universities, colleges and schools……

Check out further info at The Packaging Society site:

Student Starpack Awards – further information

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

Building competitive advantage through packaging training & coaching

Posted in Design Cognition News, Events, Healthcare & Pharma, Opinion, Product News, Training, Uncategorized on August 2nd, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 1 Comment
As your training partners Design Cognition can provide all of your packaging-related training needs

As your training partners Design Cognition can provide all of your packaging-related training needs

We believe that the old adage that ‘your people are your most important asset’ is true. It’s fundamental that key members of staff keep pace with new technologies, best-practice processes and the continually evolving packaging regulations and standards – not an easy task for busy professionals, is it?

Additionally, it’s essential to keep a teams’ skills ‘honed’ to make sure that they are well-informed in order to help maintain competitive edge.

With that in mind, at Design Cognition, we have created a range of friendly, easy-to-learn and access courses to help you in two important areas:

1. Knowledge

To help you develop your own knowledge and experience, so that you are equipped to make better and more informed decisions.

2. Skills

To help you apply the information provided and learn through your own insights and experience.

The training sessions will be fairly interactive, providing plenty of opportunities for you to bring your current packaging problems along for review and discussion by the tutor, in confidence if necessary.

We guarantee to engage your interest and commitment on the courses and are confident our training will improve your effectiveness at work. In addition, you’ll receive a full set of course notes in a comprehensive ‘takeaway’ package for future reference.

We also encourage you to let us know what you think. We are always able to consider running a bespoke course for you, if that would suit you better, and most courses are available as in-house training programmes at your own premises.

You can find out more about our training events at: Design Cognition training programme

We have put together a range of courses, from areas as diverse as creative and technical disciplines and from processes ranging from artwork generation to cost-optimisation. Some of our initial topics include:

Pharmaceutical packaging, Branding and shelf impact, Introduction to packaging for non-packaging professionals, 2D Data Matrix barcodes, Braille and Sustainability.

Further information and dates will follow on our ‘Training’ page and we are continually adding to these events, so please pop back often to review additions, or ask to join our training mailing list (email: or call +44 (0)115 846 1914.

Chris Penfold

Art, branding, packaging & a pestle – forged with love

Posted in Branding, Design, Events, Exhibitions, Gift Packaging, Marketing, Opinion, Uncategorized on July 23rd, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 12 Comments
Bex pestle & mortar

Bex's beautiful pestle & mortar

It’s Friday and we’ve reached the end of a journey – the last in our series of reviews of the High Street Dreams, BBC ‘reality TV show’ about product branding, packaging & design development. Following on from yesterday, we continue to look at ‘Homeware’, but this time it’s the turn of Bex Simon, an artistic blacksmith who designs beautiful one-off metal-ware objects for the home.

From her forge in East London, she produces stunning one-off commissioned ‘works of art’ in steel. Everything from table-top candelabras to ornate garden gates. Like many other small businesses, she is limited by the achievable output from her ‘one-woman-band’ operation and to meet demand in a more ‘cut-throat’ commercial world would need to find reliable partners/outsourced resource who could produce her designs to the same quality but at a fraction of the cost.

Bex’s mentor in the show was product designer Nick Munro, who is famous for (at the age of 23) kick-staring his ‘business empire’ by turning a bedspring into a commercial success as an ‘egg cup’. He has since created ranges for John Lewis, Arga and Fired Earth, with over 500 designs in production. As a starting point he took Bex to the Victoria & Albert museum (V&A) to study 5 centuries-worth of ironmongery as inspiration. Was she inspired? You bet! Everything from cotton-twist glass, pan hangers, bells, door chimes and (the crowning glory) a pestle & mortar, which got Bex really excited!

So off she went to design her own and a week later, after mapping out all of her ideas on a giant floor-mural, came ‘back to the table’ with a wonderful pestle & mortar of her own. She contacted a commercial casting foundry regarding a mould and after commissioning a prototype, she sat down with the Jo Malone, Nick Leslau and Nick Munro to be quizzed about costings and, like many of the other creative ‘contestants’, failed miserably when it came to business and finance. Bex’s solution was to involve her husband Dave more in the business to cover the financial aspects, leaving her to cover the artistic elements.

Bex's alluring carton branding with pink logo & embossed bubbles

Bex's alluring carton branding with pink logo & embossed bubbles

At this point branding consultancy Landor were brought into ‘the frame’, providers of branding to well known brands like Heinz Baked Beans, Morrison’s supermarkets and Vodafone, to name but a few. The result was some very alluring branding in the form of an eye-catching and distinctive bright pink anvil logo (great) and a very appropriate grey/slate carton embossed with some swirling bubbles, the logo and a short sentence on the back of the carton, also in bright pink lettering (tastefully done): “FORGED with LOVE”. Bex says of the logo, it was a “cleverly designed pink colour infill to be off centre to represent the jarring from the strike of the hammer” The box was lined with some matching bright pink tissue paper which added vibrancy & energy to the pestle and mortar product within. See the picture above. Of all of the High Street Dreams packaging shown over the past few weeks, this is my favourite. Bex says herself, on her website: ”the colours we chose for the packaging and website were to represent the filth and grime of the workshop, whilst maintaining a luxurious and premium feel.” Having looked at Bex’s website (link at end of this post), I think that the branding there is also well put together and professional looking – overall it’s all very well coordinated.

Along with Harry Singer (see yesterday’s Phlib post), the ‘big test’ for Bex 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

Unfortunately for Bex, unlike Harry, consumers weren’t as engaged for her, with products priced at £125 for a pewter? (or maybe steel) pestle and mortar and £250 for a bronze version. Everyone liked her work but no one was willing to pay that sort of money for a piece of ‘kitchen decorative art/furniture’, even though it was all “hand finished and polished”. This led to a concern by Jo and Nick that Bex wasn’t ready to pitch to a retailer – they thought that she needed more time to get her ‘act together’, which Bex took pretty well really. So she lived to ‘fight another day’. It’s interesting to note that, since the programme Bex announced on Twitter recently that she had been approached by Heals with a view to displaying some of her work in-store. So that’s a positive conclusion – well done Bex!

In terms of packaging, where does that leave us?

As far as I can tell, at the moment the only products that Bex is selling as ‘retail items’ are the pestle & mortar, which are available on her website for a price of £80 now  – a big reduction on what they were being sold for at the Ideal Home Show exhibition. Other products, such as her wrought iron gates and garden furniture etc are generally huge and bulky, one-off items. These are impractical to develop or even have a need for a range of bespoke packaging but I think that Bex should make the most of her branding and maybe make some wrought-iron ‘tags’ on which she could etch “FORGED with Love from Bex” with her logo (each painted pink) as a really engaging and personal note to each customer – and that would be really novel!
I believe that there is also a place for Bex to print some really high quality brochures (if she hasn’t done so already), with some stunning atmospheric photography to engage consumers at an emotional level, providing an opportunity for Bex to ‘connect’ with her target market. She could provide all sorts of information on the brand heritage, her vision for the business, brand values, the methods she uses to make her artistic creations, the quality of materials & methods used and really build an emotional story on which to ‘pivot’ her brand.
Transporting & Protecting

Clearly there is a need to transport and protect the large items as they are transported, which is probably best performed by some form of ‘designer (pink?) bubble-wrap’ or other, more environmentally friendly material. 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 now that can also provide a more ‘environmentally friendly’ transit packaging solution. These could be complimented with the embossed ‘anvil’ metal labels that I mentioned above to provide some branding.
I hope that this has highlighted SOME of the added branding and packaging considerations that need to be taken into account when developing and selling high quality bespoke art products to the market. Well done Bex, we wish you every success in the future.
You can find out more about Bex’s products from her Bexsimon website.
Chris Penfold