Rohrer’s sales and account representatives each work with a broad group of customers. On any given workday, they might be helping refresh a package for a major national brand, or working with an entrepreneur preparing their first product launch. National brands have a team of specialists. These individuals work in product and project management, marketing, and supply chain. The entrepreneur is doing all that and more him or herself.
One topic that arises consistently with partners of all sizes is sustainability. The entire packaging industry has been talking about sustainability and green packaging for a long time. Our sales team reports that customers are taking significant action towards sustainability this year.
Our customers look to us when they’re working on a revision or a refresh of a package design. They may ask, “How can we revise this package to make it green?” or, “How can we reduce our carbon footprint?” What they’re all saying is they want to explore sustainable options.
Sustainability and “green” packaging may include several components. Partners may explore recycled materials, reducing the total size of the package, or incorporating more paperboard. Balancing sustainability goals with product goals is tricky. As in the case with FSC-certified paper, sometimes costs increase with green packaging materials. Reducing the size of the package can also reduce the package’s security benefits.
Taking the path towards a package design refresh, some brands explore trapped blisters. But not everyone understands what a trapped blister is.
Trapped blister packaging includes a thermoformed blister that is sealed between two blister cards. Usually, trapped blisters are not heat-sealed to the backing card. (If it’s sealed to the card, we refer to that as a face seal blister. The blister is secured by heat-sealing the flange of the plastic blister to the backing card.) Most trapped blisters are held in place by a fold-over card or two facing cards that seal card-to-card. The blister comes through a die cut hole and is held in place by the flange. Without heat-sealing a blister, the flange may be smaller, and therefore may also contribute to sustainability initiatives.
Trapped blister packaging is common in club packaging. In a club store application, the packaging uses fluted board. Todd Zimmerman, East Region Manager, explains, “Usually I wouldn’t think of a club store trapped blister as a natural sustainable solution. However, a trapped blister could reduce the amount of plastic used if someone moves from a clamshell or large plastic package over to a trapped blister. So it’s sustainable that way.”
Jim Durham, Executive Vice President of Sales, added, “The other advantage to a trapped blister – if it’s not a club – is that you don’t have to have a face seal. That means there’s no coating to seal the blister to the card.” Durham explains that when consumers pull a heat-sealed blister off of a blister card, there is residual fiber tear. This fiber tear contaminates the blister, making it ineligible for recycling. He continues, “Trapped blisters hold the blister in place just by using the flange. The design requires more materials and can be a little more costly, so you may down-gauge on the paper and down-gauge a little bit on the blister. Then, those materials separate without any contamination, and both the blister and card are recyclable.”
Garet Filipchuck, a Regional Sales Manager in California, described a recent project to me. We’ll call his customer Terry.
“Terry has created a vape accessory for the cannabis industry. He was just about ready to go to market, but first he needed to figure out how to package his product for the retail shelf. He wanted it to provide product security, and he wanted it to be green.” Filipchuk brought the project to his design team to help determine the right solution for Terry.
After exploring several designs, the team recommended a trapped blister. Filipchuck explains, “We can design a package that supports his sustainability goals by using recycled materials, and his trapped blister design will offer a pilfer-proof solution for his product.”
States provide rigid childproof packaging regulations for cannabis products, and trapped blisters are not inherently childproof or child resistant. However, they may be an attractive option for accessories, chargers/batteries, or products with a childproof exit bag. The packaging regulations for cannabis and related products are changing, and as a result, trapped blisters have been a solution for several customers in this industry.
Simple Changes to Achieve Sustainability Goals
When my partners tell us they’re working on reducing their carbon footprint, our team’s number one solution is to consult with Rohrer’s design team. This was how many product owners switched to trapped blisters. Others relied on the design team to provide smaller blister solutions to reduce the material usage. There are a variety of other changes today’s product owners can try.
- Blister Materials: Switching from PVC to RPET is a great way to swap in a greener material. In almost every case, this can be achieved without significant disruptions to design or seal coating. Find more information about different blister materials here.
- Recycled Board: Talk with Rohrer about FSC-certified board for blister cards and cartons. We also offer post-consumer recycled materials. Let’s discuss whether these options are a good fit for your packaging design.
- Aqueous Coating: Moving from solvent coating to an aqueous coating is better for the environment. Aqueous coatings don’t use toxic chemicals in their composition.
- Vendor Selection: Rohrer engages in many green initiatives, including significant paper and plastic recycling, and energy efficiency programs. Our sustainability efforts continue to grow.
Our partners promote their sustainability “wins” through their packaging as well. One marketer at a snack brand has incorporated recycled board in their packaging. He promotes this initiative on the package alongside their partnership with a wind-powered vendor.
Rohrer strives to provide the right custom solution for all of our partners. Many partners find a great fit within our ezCombo™ programs, while others desire a custom packaging program. We embark on the same design consultation with our customers regardless of the route they choose. And we are as committed to achieving your sustainability goals as you are.
Rohrer is as committed to achieving sustainability goals as our customers are. You can read more of our customer’s stories on our Case Studies page.