T he mouthwash, fire ant killer, plant food and chalk shown on these pages have little in common as products go. Packaging, however, is a different story, as all four disparate products are packed in pouches that were named winners in this year's awards competition sponsored by the Flexible Packaging Assn. (Washington, DC). (For a look at other FPA winners, see stories on p. 46 and p. 62.)
Perhaps the most unusual of these is a stand-up pouch with a 63-mm, wide-mouth screw-cap fitment. One company, Bison Designs, based in a suburb of Boulder, CO, uses the pouch for powdered chalk. The chalk is used by rock climbers as a drying agent to absorb sweat on their hands to prevent slipping. The pack (1) is marketed as being both refillable and water-resistant.
Bison buys the pouch from Nalge Nunc Intl. Corp. (Rochester, NY), which markets it under the brand name Nalgene® Cantene. The pouch is also sold empty, primarily as a product for backpackers, as an alternative to rigid canteens for carrying water. The pouch actually is fabricated for Nalge by Pactech (Rochester, NY). It includes two parts: a neck finish assembly that's heat-sealed to the pouch, and a separate threaded closure that's connected to the neck finish assembly by a strap.
"The advantage of the pouch is that it's 'beefy,' it protects the product, and if [climbers'] backpacks get rained on, their chalk doesn't get ruined," says Dawn Homyak, sales manager at Bison. "When they're done, climbers can take the pack home, refill it and use it for the next trip." The wide mouth makes the package easy for customers to refill, she adds.
Bison's 3/4-lb Powder Keg pack, which debuted last August, retails for $20 in outdoor specialty stores. Bison sells a 4-oz refill bag for $1.65, considerably less on a per-oz basis. "The container [for the Powder Keg] is a strong part of the product, rather than just packaging," explains Homyak. "Consumers are buying it so that they can reuse it." Sold empty, the Nalgene Cantene retails for $8.99 for a 48-oz size, $9.99 for a96-oz size.
Bison fills the pack on modified cake mix filling equipment that it's had for years, which operates on a fill-by-weight basis. Operators manually hold the pouch under the fill tube, then screw the caps onto the pouch by hand.
Pactech purchases the custom film laminate from Georgia Packaging (Columbus, GA) and then converts it into the pouch. The clear pouch structure is a blend of nylon, ethylene vinyl alcohol and ultra-linear low-density polyethylene. The barrier layers are said to stabilize the pH of water to prevent algae formation as well as to allow the package to withstand boiling by backpackers who wish to purify water for drinking. Pactech also claims the pouch is hot-fillable, though neither Nalge nor Bison take advantage of that feature.
Pactech built its own heat-sealing equipment that seals the finish to the neck of the pouch material. The equipment also is able to heat-seal through four layers or 26 mils of film to create the bottom gussets. (The pouch material itself is 6.5 mils thick, both for the Nalgene Cantene and the Bison package.) The closure, finish and strap are injection-molded of high-density PE by Nalge.