Hong Kong — Plastics processors at Cosmoprof Asia and its sister show Cosmopack — the continent's largest gathering for the cosmetics supply chain — were looking for any new thing that could give them an advantage.
For China's Foshan Anran Import & Export Co. Ltd., it was a new ABS perfume dispenser it manufactures, made with a microchip inside and looking like a smartphone.
The old pumps for shooting out perfume were replaced with a rechargeable (via Android-type port) atomizer that wafts a gentle mist.
"It's more convenient and easier to use than a spray bottle," said sales rep Leona Xiang.
Artful packaging that can keep cosmetics fresh for months or even years as they sit on a vanity is a holy grail of cosmetics packaging.
Container makers such as GLP Korea Co. Ltd. came to the two shows, held Nov. 14-17 in Hong Kong, to promote bottles that add longevity with a layer of oxygen-resisting EVOH.
"Our tubes and bottles offer higher protection, especially for sunscreen and sunblock lotions," said General Manager Jina Ahn.
This year, Japan's Mitsubishi Shoji Packaging Corp., a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corp. and Mitsubishi Chemical Corp., made its first appearance at the show — to promote a bottle that minimizes the harmful effects of air exposure.
A bag containing liquid is placed in a more attractive bottle; the bag collapses as product is used.
"It is popular in Japan for food packaging," said Daiko Shiino of the company's packaging development office, gesturing to a table with soy sauces and other food products.
An airless compact is a specialty of Seoul-based FS Korea Industries Inc.
Less flashy, but with potentially a greater long-term impact, are the injection moldable blends of plastics and wood that Seoul-based FS has spent years researching. One blend features sawdust, while the other features cellulose from recycled paper.
"Everyone understands the environment is important," said founder and President J.K. Hwang. "But environmental packaging doesn't always look so good."
Glass-in-plastic molding poses unique challenges, as the glass can easily break, said Jarret Shih, sales director of Taiwan's LYJ Plastic and Metal Co. Ltd.
The company was showing a polycarbonate bottle molded around a glass bottle: "The interest is more than we expected," he said.
"We'll work with design companies that specialize in perfume bottles, as they don't have our technical skills," Shih said.
Tubes, a mainstay of the personal-care products, have traditionally been extruded. But Hong Kong-based Viva Healthcare Packaging Co. Ltd. said it's been making headway in the four years since it debuted injection molded tubes at Cosmoprof.
Injection molding is faster than extrusion, said Business Development Manager Andre Cheung. Viva's products are also more easily recycled, he said, as the tube and cap are both made of polypropylene, compared to the polyethylene tube and PP cap combination of extruded tubes.
Viva's clients include Revlon and John Frieda. Viva's factories in Warsaw and Toronto serve the European and North American markets, respectively.
Viva also has a factory in Hong Kong, where automation keeps labor costs down and proximity to company offices makes for better quality control, Cheung said.
"We don't have many workers, so it doesn't matter if our factory is in China or Hong Kong," he said.
The company got its start in 1973 making cassette tapes and media accessories before branching out to manufacture DVDs and then tubes. Worldwide company headcount is 1,500.
"We're adding new production lines every year," Cheung said.