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Article | January 31, 1995
Reusability wins awards
The Ron Hayter Awards, for plastic packaging designed with environmental impact in mind, were announced November 8. Sponsored by the Environment and Plastics Institute of Canada (EPIC), headquartered in Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, the awards program is in its fifth year.
This year's winners included a reusable plastic beer case in the consumer category and a reusable plastic box for apples in the industrial category. Known mainly as a manufacturer of intermediate bulk containers for apples IPL's (St. Damien Quebec Canada) choice to design a reusable apple box was largely a response to customer requests. It can be reused up to ten times and if implemented nationwide it could eliminate approximately 350 waxed corrugated boxes in Canada yearly. Made of high-density polyethylene the container incorporates molded hinges that hold the bottom and lid together. Because they're plastic they can't rust the way metal hinges do. The stackable and nestable box measures 24" x 16" x 14" and it can hold up to five times the amount of apples as traditional corrugated boxes. Among IPL customers using the container is producer Les Pommes BM of Ange Gardian Quebec Canada. From Les Pommes' packing house the containers are sent directly to stores. "At first our customers were not that happy that we were charging them up to $18 for a deposit on the box" says Claud Menard president of Les Pommes. "But the boxes are very good-we ship fresher apples with fewer bruises." Stores return the containers when they're empty thus creating a closed loop. The reusable apple box was introduced in 1993 in Quebec. Distribution now extends as far east as the Maritimes; distribution in British Columbia and the U.S. is anticipated for this year. The reusable beer case that won in the industrial category is made by Tri-R Packaging (London Ontario Canada). If adopted by major Canadian brewers it could save 17 tons of corrugated yearly in Ontario alone says Tri-R president Barry Luce. Test-marketed by Tri-R in cooperation with the Guelph Ontario Canada-based Sleeman Brewing and Malting Co. the "Luce-Pack" proved highly successful. Its future however hinges on whether major Canadian brewers like LaBatt and Molson are willing to incorporate it into their distribution systems. Because unless these big-volume players are using it smaller brewers that do decide to use it will face costly sorting and handling fees for using a package so radically different from the norm. For the Sleeman test 12-oz bottles of Creme Ale were packed in the reusable case in eight of Ontario's 460-plus beer stores. Sleeman charged a $4 deposit per case. "Everyone loved it" says John Sleeman president and CEO of the company both for its durability and its recyling benefits. The high-density polyethylene case weighs only 1.4 kg (2.75 lb) and can be reused up to 100 times before being reground and recycled into new cases. Using only a fraction of the material contained in a conventional shipper a paperboard lid protects the beer from exposure to ultraviolet light. It's also the vehicle for whatever graphics are required. In Sleeman's case the lid was made of F-flute corrugated 80% of it made from recycled content. So what kind of future does the Luce-Pack have? It still depends on Canada's big beer marketers who with some prompting from the government are now taking a good look at the novel package.
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