Chicago — The design elements for the Seal-2-Go line of plastic carry-out bags did not come to Mike Tan in a lightning bolt, but instead were developed over months of thought.
Bags are in Tan's blood as vice president of sales and marketing at Pan Pacific Manufacturing Inc. of Hayward, Calif.
The plastic packaging maker already was producing a variety of bags for the restaurant market, but the growing popularity of food delivery services created a need for an additional approach in that segment, Tan said.
Operations like UberEats, DoorDash and Grubhub are building businesses based on the idea that people want more types of food delivered to them.
"We created this in response to that. There's a lot of Americans that use this service now, especially millennials, and they use it religiously," Tan said.
"The problem is when the delivery driver picks up the food and delivers it to the customer, a lot can happen. There's no tamper evidence," he said, with traditional carryout bags.
"Maybe the driver is hungry," Tan said, and "picks a couple of fries." Or maybe a bag falls on its side and food tumbles out.
So Tan set out to develop a sealable, tamper-evident bag that's still consumer friendly.
Seal-2-Go features an adhesive strip that allows restaurants to seal the top of the bag before it goes out for delivery. Side vent holes allow steam to escape while still securing the contents. Once customers receive their orders, they simply tear the top off the bag at the perforation, located below the seal, to access their food.
The adhesive is so strong that the bag will show stress marks that will indicate to consumers that someone was trying to access their food prior to delivery.
Pan Pacific, which was a finalist for the Plastics Caps & Closures Innovation Award, has designed bags for both food and drink delivery. Tan spoke at the recent Plastics Caps & Closures 2017 conference. Both the award program and conference were organized by Plastics News.
"These restaurants wanted to get involved in this third-party delivery service, but they were concerned about their brand; their good name," Tan said.
"It's a three-pronged protection. It protects the restaurant. It protects the driver and the consumer," Tan said. "If you get your food and you see this bag stressed, you know the driver was trying to get to your fries."
The vice president said he drew inspiration for the Seal-2-Go bag line from plastic bags used to ship merchandise.
"When you get something shipped by UPS, they put them in those strong adhesive bags. You literally have to use scissors to open up the bag. Trying to open it by hand stretches the plastic. ... The bag will be stressed," he said.
Tan estimated it took him two to three months of thought and prototyping to come up with the final Seal-2-Go design.
"It was a lot of time in the office and at home thinking about it at night," he said. "I was kind of obsessed in trying to find a solution to this problem.
"It came in stages. It took me a few months because there are all of these factors involved."