A flexible polyethylene package designed for easy recycling in curbside programs has picked up the top honor for the Packaging Innovation Awards for 2021.
The awards, sponsored by Dow Inc., had 189 submissions for 2021. Independent judges met — in person for the first time since 2019 — to pick the top packaging.
The flexible high-barrier stand-up pouch developed by OF Packaging for client Brookfarm's muesli was created to develop a monomaterial package consumers could recycle in curbside programs.
The Roll 'n' Recycle packaging, created in close collaboration with partners PREP Design and Results Group, has consumers roll up the empty semirigid pouch after it is empty.
"The product label takes on a second life as a sticker to keep the new shape of the packaging," OF Packaging of Melbourne, Australia, said in its submission. Once it's rolled up into a 3D shape, it can be recognized by sorting systems, so it can go into curbside recycling.
"Recovery of end-of-life packaging can be challenging. Flexible packaging is typically not easily recognized by material recovery machines and hand-picking such materials is difficult, if not impractical," said Joe Foster, CEO of Close the Loop Group and managing director of OF Packaging. "It took a lot of involvement from our team and partners, along with more than 12 months of hard work and testing, to make this new packaging a reality."
The March 31 awards recognized 35 projects: nine diamond-level finalists, 13 gold awards and 13 silver awards.
"Dow and the packaging industry have very ambitious goals to stop the waste, close the loop and protect the climate. Looking at the submissions for the awards this year, we are absolutely heading in the right direction," said Diego Donoso, president of Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics.
Lead judge David Luttenberger, global packaging director for Mintel Group Ltd., said that what struck him during the judging process was the passion within the packaging innovations. Projects considered accessibility, safety and hygiene. Packaging firms seemed to ask themselves: "What does this packaging mean to the consumer, [and] how can the consumer act on it?"
"It's what I call that 'hyperactionability,'" he said. "How are they making this product work in harmony so that the consumer can actually be more responsible with it?"