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Flexible Packaging Made by Bemis, TC Transcontinental Key Among FPA's 2019 Award Winners

FPA’s 2019 highest achievement award given to Molson Coors 12-pack cooler bag produced by Bemis.
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In early March, the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) announced the winners of its 63rd Annual Flexible Packaging Achievement Awards Competition. According to Robert Kimmel, Sc.D., associate professor and director, Clemson University Center for Flexible Packaging and one of this year’s judges, sustainability continues to be a focus, with a number of entries using bio-based and compostable materials. Kimmel noted another key and related trend.

“We saw several examples of bio-based and compostable materials. But what we thought was most significant is several excellent examples of conversion of multilayer films, which have previously been diverse materials, into materials which will be recyclable in the existing recycle streams, particularly the polyethylene stream. We feel this is very important for the future of the industry.”

This year, 54 packages were submitted in the competition, for a total of 140 entries (some packages were entered into multiple categories). Fourteen packages were honored with 26 Achievement Awards in various categories.

In addition to Kimmel, judges for this year’s competition included Cory Francer, senior editor, packagePRINTING magazine; and David Luttenberger, global packaging director, Mintel Group Ltd.

Multisensory elements incorporated into flexible packaging were another growing trend seen in this year’s competition, according to Francer. “The multisensory aspect of flexible packaging has really taken several steps forward between films that have a leathery feel to communicate that aspect of a product and soft-touch materials that really entice a consumer to reach out and feel the product.”

Yet another trend was industry collaboration on packaging, according to Luttenberger. “We saw collaboration this year not just between one or two suppliers, but among multiple suppliers — sometimes two, three, or four suppliers. But what impressed me even more was that we're seeing collaboration across continents, looking at technologies developed in one region and applying them to another, on a global scale. I think that's going to really take the industry forward as well.”

Several of the entries also highlighted the transition of products previously packaged in rigid containers to flexible packaging, and addressed consumer convenience, making it easier for the consumers to shop, transport, dispense from, and use flexible packaging.

Two examples of this year’s winners that exemplify these trends include Molson Coors 12-pack cooler bag manufactured by Bemis Company and  Harney & Sons master tea blenders pouch manufactured by TC Transcontinental Packaging.

 ●  Highest Achievement Award

The Molson Coors 12- Pack Cooler Bag, received this year’s highest achievement award. This award is evaluated by the judges as possessing overall packaging excellence, significant attributes in all award categories, and contributing most to the advancement of the industry. This package, manufactured by Bemis, also received two Gold awards in the categories of expanding the use of flexible packaging and printing & shelf impact, as well as a silver award for the packaging excellence category.

Molson Coors’ 12-Pack Cooler Bag creates a fresh take on the ubiquitous beer carton. The new flexible bag delivers portable convenience with a pouch that expands into a larger, reusable bag that provides additional convenience features. This innovative package features easy-carry handles and can go directly into the refrigerator or cooler. The film’s sturdy, high performance structure allows consumers to reuse the bag. Reusability provides brand benefits to communicate benefits and quality to brand-loyal consumers over and over again.

According to Bemis, this new flexible application is based on proprietary material technology with high performance, reverse printed multilayer laminate of PET and nylon. This combination ensures maximum durability both during its primary function and in allowing continued use as a branded, reusable bag. A primary design factor was the high-handle strength needed to transport Molson Coors’ beer, as well as additional ice. The orientation of the cans enables easier carrying of the cooler bag and provides the greatest amount of surface area for the ice to actively and quickly chill the beer.

The film structure and handle design can withstand over 100 pounds of force, ensuring it never breaks during use. The cooler bag is produced on a conventional pouch machine used in other industries, such as lawn and garden and pet food. This innovative technology has hermetic, liquid proof, high strength seals with a punch out handle for maximum consumer hand comfort. As noted by Bemis in its FPA entry award form, the graphics are marked by a high gloss that conveys an ice cube effect and reiterates the Molson Coors brand message that this is the most refreshing beer.

  ●  Gold Achievement Award

Harney & Sons Master Tea Blenders Pouch, manufactured by TC Transcontinental Packaging, received gold awards in the categories of sustainability and packaging excellence and a silver award in the technical innovation category.

The OEM desired a flexible pouch with luxurious graphics that would protect the aroma and flavor of their fine teas while supporting their environmental values. TC Transcontinental Packaging, in collaboration with Charter NEX Films, Inc. and The Dow Chemical Company, achieved all of Harney & Sons key criteria of shelf appeal, shelf life, and recyclability. This pouch is the first commercial example of a package which contains EVOH, for oxygen barrier, and moisture barrier properties in a format which is 100% recyclable for in-store drop-off.

According to TC Transcontinental, the new flexible loose tea pouch is one of the first-in-market, 100% recyclable, multilayer barrier stand-up pouch. Key to this structure is the use of Dow’s Retain polymer modifiers—a set of distinctive functional PE-based polymers. The innovative Retain technology is based on a reactive, ultra-low viscosity compatibilizer. Reactive groups “coat” the polar components (such as EVOH or nylon barrier resins), encapsulating them into micro-domains to enable excellent dispersion. When blended at specified ratios with pelletized barrier film recycle streams, Retain polymers allow converters to recycle barrier film trim back into film production without sacrificing optical or physical properties.