The Glue Talk Blog

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Using Adhesives and Tapes to Reduce Packaging

Posted 13 Apr 2021 by Erin L'Hotta, Marketing Manager, Paper Converting
Consumers increasingly want to buy from companies that demonstrate eco-conscious behaviors. In a study we recently conducted on consumer packaging attitudes, we found that the overwhelming majority of respondents expressed a preference for eco-friendly brands. For packaging, reducing excess packaging, increasing recyclability, and eliminating plastic were top priorities.

Demand for a circular economy is changing how Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) brands design and package their products. Instead of producing in a linear fashion – where products are produced, used, and disposed of – it puts pressure on manufacturers to design with a "waste-out" approach. 

What does the waste-out approach look like? 

In the waste-out approach, products are designed to minimize resource input, as well as waste and emission output. It also aims to reach maximum efficiency by limiting use of finite resources, transitioning to renewable resources, and recovering material and product at the end of its useful life. Changing the way products are packaged will be vital to advancing a circular economy.  

As CPG brands seek to meet their 2025 sustainable packaging goals, they are assessing how all the packaging components, including adhesives and tapes in primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging, can help meet their sustainability goals.

Primary Packaging: Eliminating Plastic 

Primary packaging is the packaging in direct contact with the product. Our adhesives are used in primary packaging, for example, to seal cereal boxes. With a little innovative thinking, you also can use our adhesives to replace plastic in primary packaging. For example, our Advantra® hot melt adhesives can be placed directly onto soda or beer cans, or in conjunction with a corrugated design, to eliminate Hi Cone plastic rings that are used to hold six-packs together. 

We are experts in multipack bundling and consistently work with packaging makers and equipment manufacturers to develop multipack solutions. Multipack also can eliminate Hi Cone plastic rings among other benefits. Through our multipack bundling solutions, packages are 100% recyclable without sacrificing quality. 

Secondary Packaging: Reducing Corrugated

Secondary packaging is used on the exterior of primary packaging to group multiple finished goods for shipment and merchandising. It protects the primary packaging from damage during shipment. Over the past five years, many CPG brands have focused on reducing excess secondary packaging, including eliminating trays often used for merchandising. Today, CPG brands are thoughtfully redesigning secondary packaging in order to reduce corrugated consumption. For example, some CPG brands are turning to our Sesame® reinforcement tapes to add strength to weak points in packaging, such as the handle of a soft drink pack, ensuring their packaging doesn’t break and cause product loss or damage. 

Tertiary Packaging: Reducing Plastic

The end consumer does not see tertiary packaging. Its purpose is to safely deliver materials from the manufacturer to the distributor and, eventually, to the retailer. Because this form of packaging is not visible to the end consumer, making changes carries less risk and is not as disruptive. An average pallet can have as many as six corrugated slip sheets and half a pound of plastic stretch film that need to be thrown away or recycled after the merchandising process is complete. The slip sheet and stretch film use can be substantially reduced or even eliminated by applying hot melt adhesive to the top of the package. The hot melt acts as a point of friction that stabilizes the pallet so that product doesn’t shift, fall, or become damaged during shipping.

When taking steps to reduce packaging, the following questions are important for CPG brands to consider:

  • Does the packaging work as desired?
  • Does the packaging maintain its shelf appearance? 
  • Is the packaging easier to open? 
  • Is the consumer experience improved? 
  • Can you quantify how much you down-gauged or lightweighted your packaging? 
  • Can you calculate your reduction in carbon footprint?
  • Can you quantify how much packaging you have reduced or eliminated?

H.B. Fuller is your industry partner and adhesives supplier, and we can help you validate these critical questions. Not only are we heavily involved in the food and beverage industry, but we also have dedicated R&D and technical teams that have developed a series of products designed specifically for your application needs. Click here to learn more about our sustainable packaging solutions. 

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