The third-generation, fully automatic MSK Tensiontech F stretch hood applicator packages items of different sizes with stretch film. The understretch binds the product and the underpacking together into a stable load unit.
Appliance packages have to be multitaskers. As
the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) says, packaging has
to be survivable, sustainable, and successful.
is a given. The most obvious purpose of a package is to keep its
contents intact and unblemished on the journey from the factory floor
to the consumer’s home. Considering what a long journey that is for
some products, it’s no small accomplishment.
is also understood. After all, the appliance industry has been putting
a heavy emphasis on the sustainability of its packaging for decades. In
the early 1990s, APPLIANCE magazine was reporting how producers like
Mr. Coffee (now part of Jarden Consumer Solutions) considered
recyclability one of its most important packaging concerns. That’s
because packaging was one of the starting points of consumer awareness
in green issues. A 1991 survey by the Association of Home Appliance
Manufacturers (AHAM) and the Good Housekeeping Institute showed that
about two-thirds of consumers would consider switching to a different
small appliance brand if their favorite choice wasn’t packaged in
recycled or recyclable materials. Today, consumers are more
knowledgeable about environmental issues and, more than ever, they’re
choosing green products. That includes green packaging.
packaging has to present the appliance in its best light. That might
mean actually showcasing the product on a retail store shelf.
a lot for producers to weigh as they look for new packaging systems
that save them costs, or look to take costs out of their current
“Cost saving now is an
even more relevant subject for manufacturers than ever,” says Uwe
Jonkmanns, division manager and a member of the management of the MSK
Covertech Group (Kleve, Germany; www.mskcovertech.com). “On the one
hand, they aim at possible savings for packaging material and
maximization of automation levels; on the other hand, they make a point
of lower energy consumption. However, the demands for efficiency and
achievement of the packaging systems stay the same.”
OEMs would also like to get more productivity out of their packaging
equipment investment. “They expect their capital investment to amortize
in a very short period of time,” Jonkmanns tells APPLIANCE.
the appliance industry there is a broad spectrum of packaging
technologies, but Jonkmanns sees cardboard boxes increasingly being
replaced by film packaging. “Household appliances require a high degree
of transport safety, stackability, and display effect, all of this as
cost-effective as possible for all kinds of measurements,” he explains.
“This is the reason the choice of appropriate packaging is crucial for
economization of transport-, storage- and material cost, as well as for
the presentation result at the point of sale.” Jonkmanns points out
that BSH, Electrolux, Whirlpool, Candy, Smeg, Vestel, and other
appliance OEMs have turned to MSK’s ClearView packaging system.
In addition to saving operator costs through automatic operation, this rotary turntable stretch wrapper from Phoenix Innotech (St. Laurent, QC, Canada; www.phoenixwrappers.com) is designed to save on material costs. While some other stretch wrappers may wrap the same amount of stretch film on the top and bottom, the PCTA 2300 allows the OEM to apply only the stretch film required at the top separately from the bottom. The materials cost savings can be as much as 15%. Time savings come from the separate up and down carriage speeds, which eliminate the time used and stretch film wasted when applied with a common speed control.
The EPS Challenge
polystyrene (EPS), although one of the most effective materials for
keeping appliances and consumer electronics safe while in transit, took
much heat from environmentalists for its bulky size in landfills and
its inability to biodegrade. It’s also difficult to recycle compared
with other plastics—so much so that many community recycling programs
won’t take EPS.
But there have been multiple
low-impact methods developed for recycling EPS—everything from
regrinding the material into new packaging materials, to
high-temperature incineration, to breaking it down into biodegradable
materials using bacteria. And despite the challenges to recycling, a
large percentage of the material used is, in fact, reclaimed and
recycled. Data from the recently released 2008 EPS Recycling Rate
Report from the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers shows that the EPS
recycling rate had grown to 19.5% in 2008.
Reduced Material Use
of the type of material used in packaging, the less used the better for
the environment and for the OEM’s bottom line. Reducing material use is
usually near the top of the priority list when OEMs look for new
packaging solutions. “Lower film and energy consumption in combination
with standardized material for final packaging contribute to a
significant decrease in material usage,” Jonkmanns says. He points to
MSK tension hood technology as an example. It uses very thin film but
the packaging process doesn’t require the application of hydraulics and
gas. “Energy consumption is less than 0.1 kWh per packaging unit,
depending on power and the specific product,” he says. He adds that
another trend in packaging is to make packages more easily recycled by
making them completely from a single material instead of mixing
But reducing materials use can only
go so far. According to William F. Weber, vice president and general
manager—DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers, in his keynote
address at the Packaging Strategies CEO Summit a few months ago, “This
is not enough. We can do more through innovation.”
innovation in packaging was what DuPont (Wilmington, DE, U.S.;
www.dupont.com) was recognizing in May at its 21st Packaging Awards
event. While most of the winning packaging designs were for
consumables, DuPont stressed the span of market segments participating
in the competition. The judgment criteria went well beyond simply
minimizing the amount of material used (See the sidebar Responsible Packaging Criteria).
packaging is less of an environmental burden than the public, and
lawmakers worldwide, seem to think. Material reduction efforts work,
and recycling efforts in many parts of the world targeted packaging
from the start. There have been many years to develop the best reclaim
systems. The end result is a substantial reduction in consumer and
industrial packaging materials going into landfills.
Europe’s Sustainable Packaging Model
European Union (EU) quantified its reductions in recent data released
by Eurostat and analyzed by EUROPEN (European Organization for
Packaging and the Environment). While the EU GDP grew 40% in the
1998–2006 time period, packaging placed on the EU market increased just
11%. Nonwood packaging going into landfills actually decreased 33%. A
target of 55% package recycling set by the EU was achieved or surpassed
by 12 member states ahead of schedule. The 27 member states have
various timetables to achieve a 60% waste recovery rate, but the
average is already 69%. Only Greece and Portugal have seen only slight
increases in packaging waste disposal.
latest EU data on packaging consumption clearly demonstrate that Europe
has taken a proactive, innovative, and collaborative approach to
reducing packaging waste,” said EUROPEN managing director Julian
Most importantly, EUROPEN says Europe has developed a sustainable model for packaging waste management, enabling economic growth concurrent with environmental protection.