The Glue Talk Blog


Bringing New Sustainable Packaging Concepts to Life with the Innovation Academy

Posted 29 Jun 2022 by Sabine Pietka, Rigid Packaging Marketing Manager

After meeting through Packaging Europe’s Global Packaging Innovation Forum in 2021, an idea sparked between Daphné Deledicq, Chief Innovation Officer at Blue Box Partners, and Elizabeth Staab, Rigid Packaging Sustainability Manager at H.B. Fuller. The idea was to leverage the perspective of two packaging suppliers at exclusive events to co-create new sustainable packaging concepts through sophisticated innovation tools. The Innovation Academy combines Blue Box Partners’ paper and corrugated expertise with H.B. Fuller’s adhesive expertise to work cross-functionally and accelerate the development and validation stages.The first Innovation Academy took place in November 2021 at H.B. Fuller Lüneburg location and was facilitated by the Board of Innovation.

“The packaging landscape is changing quickly, and we have to revolutionize the grocery shelf,” shared Staab. “This collaboration allows us to create fast, effective solutions that support sustainability goals.” During the first Innovation Academy, the team first had an intake call to review the customer problem, then created an initial solution, prototype, and business case in two days. The concept was refined over the next two quarters.

“We cannot innovate solutions on our own. Partnering brings more value to the client than only thinking for ourselves,” says Deledicq. “We need to open up, listen to the clients, and put them in the center of our thinking.” She and Staab spoke with Elisabeth Skoda at Packaging Europe about the event, the innovation process and the results.

For more information about these events, you can contact Elizabeth Staab by clicking here. We also invite you to explore our sustainable packaging solutions.

Below is an excerpt from their conversation. You can listen to the podcast here.

Elisabeth Skoda

I understand that the two of you first got talking at the Packaging Europe Global Packaging Innovation Forum. I'd like to know a bit more about that and how that came about.

Daphné Deledicq

I was in contact with Tim [Sykes], from Packaging Europe, and he invited me to join the Global Packaging Innovation Forum that started, if I'm correct, a little bit more than one year ago.

I attended the second session, which was about innovation in secondary and tertiary packaging, and there was H.B. Fuller, a machine manufacturer and another actor of corrugating and paper. And at that time, I was just about to launch a solution that is called ECOGRIP to substitute single-use plastic shrink wrap with a solution that is able to grab the neck of bottles. This is suitable when you have a solid neck, but when it is caps that are glued onto any kind of brick, then this is challenging because the tab actually can go away while taking the full pack.

When I listened to Elizabeth, they just announced the collaboration to bundle rectangular bricks – aseptic bricks – with a paper-based and corrugated-based solution and glue. And the main challenge at this time was really how can we think of a paper-based solution that is almost as light as the plastic one? Because this is a huge, huge challenge to be able to propose alternatives that are really in the same weight area. When I saw the example of Elizabeth, I said, OK, let's deep dive into that option and let's stay in contact with H.B. Fuller and Elizabeth, so that we can really have a broader perspective than just our corrugated and paper perspective – to see how we can really redesign or rethink the packaging feature to make it sustainable, circular, actually recyclable, and mono-material, so that we can propose alternatives to a single-use plastic, but also in an economical and viable manner so that it's not, as I said, too heavy or too material-consuming versus the current solution.

Elizabeth Staab

Yes, I was one of the panellists at the Global Packaging Innovation Forum and I was really presenting H.B. Fuller’s sustainability ladder. From our perspective, adhesives are generally a very small part of the overall packaging, but really an essential part of the packaging because they keep everything together: the label in place, the box closed and the corrugated gives it really the shape and the stability, amongst other things. Then also for the circular aspect, in terms of the recyclability, the properties and the characteristics of the adhesives are also essential. If we think of the consumer goods companies that are using packaging, in particular for food and beverage items, they have many, many assets already in place. In terms of really being able to revolutionize the packaging, they have a huge challenge.

It's really a step-by-step process, in our opinion, to make the packaging more sustainable. There are various levers that can be pulled in order to get energy use down, make production more efficient, use less adhesive, enhance recyclability of the primary packaging materials, and the like, so it's really that step-by-step process where you are able to make incremental improvements. That's really what the H.B. Fuller sustainability ladder is all about. You don't have to completely scrap the assets that you have for your, for your packaging; they're really incremental changes that can be made.

Once you have pulled all those levers, then you can really go further beyond that and say, “how can the overall packaging design be changed?” In particular for the multi-packs, there are really many possibilities of reducing the plastic, in particular the shrink plastic that is used, and for liquid beverage cartons, it's straightforward due to the rectangular shape. It’s easier to glue them to a board, and then we can use a board that is fairly light, as Daphne said, by using a reinforcement tape in the handle that then gives that convenience to the consumer to be able to carry that six pack home very easily.

Then, of course, the other aspect where really a substantial amount of packaging material can be saved is that of the overall palette packaging – the tertiary packaging – can oftentimes be quite a bit of packaging that goes through the supply chain, in order to keep all the items dust-free, moisture-free, but also give that inherent pallet stability throughout the supply chain from the factory to the supermarket. When it comes to the pallet stability, that's really where various adhesive solutions can greatly enhance the palette stability and take out a substantial amount of those materials.

That's really where we're coming from, from the H.B. Fuller point of view, the adhesives that that go into the packaging and really making those incremental changes before really completely redesigning the overall packaging. Although I personally do believe that as we advance more and more towards the circular economy, our customers will be looking more closely at the overall packaging design and what more fundamental changes that can be made. I think that’s where our collaboration, and then the design innovation, really comes in to find those appropriate solutions because they're going to be different for each of the customers.

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