Carst and Walker
Woolworths sandwich

How green is this sarmie pack!

It’s 18 months since Woolworths announced its Good Business Journey as an official strategy and which has seen it implement some major packaging changes.

As Tom McLaughlin, Woolies’ foods technical manager told PPM last July, this broad initiative has some specific packaging targets, among them a one-third reduction of packaging in clothing and a 20% reduction in food packaging; to eliminate excess packaging; to restrict packaging materials to those that can and are being recycled locally; to include polymer symbols on plastic packages for easy identification; to incorporate recycled material into packaging whever possible and to introduce compostable packaging; .

The latest Woolworths’ milestone in putting this mission into action is a switch from plastic to cardboard packaging for its ‘To Go’ range of sandwiches. And a very eco-friendly milestone it is, too, that was initially developed by Nampak Europe but is now being made by Nampak Cartons and Labels at its Epping plant, Cape Town.

The cardboard used in the new pack is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as coming from a sustainable and well-managed forest, while the transparent window is made from PLA, the corn-based polymer. The innovation doesn’t stop with the materials; the cleverly-designed box ‘unzips’ into a handy, self-contained and disposal tray.

The retailer initially launched the new packs in the Western Cape and since last month has been rolling them out nationally.

Ian Vowles, Nampak C&L’s marketing head, says the division is particularly proud of this development, 12 months in the making, for several reasons. ‘This is a first for South Africa of its type – a sustainable and enviro-responsible sandwich pack – but we’re equally satisfied in our ability to produce a very complex and intricate pack.’

The pack comprises a food-grade, FSC-certified board imported from Iggesund in Finland and is polyethylene coated 17gsm on the inside. The window consists of a PLA material that’s imported from the US. The cartons are designed with a colour-break identifiying the different ingredients and allowing for multiple schemes (there are 21 variants) on the run.

Woolworths sandwich openWoolworths sandwich trayThe complexities Ian refers to are in making the carton easy to assemble, as well as the inclusion of a tear-off strip that opens out into a convenient ‘plate’ for purchasers: ‘The creation of this strip has entailed major structural development as it is die cut from both sides by the Concorra method, which calls for high quality cutting and creasing facilities,’ he comments. ‘The carton is sealed on a forming machine for an airtight pack which enhances product freshness and shelf life. In all, this is a good example of adding value to packaging and helping our customer achieve its aims.’

Last word to Woolworths’ head of Foods, Julian Novak: ‘Our new packaging is based on renewable and sustainable resources. We are particularly proud because it is the first time that certified sustainable cardboard is being used in South African food packaging.’

Nampak Cartons and Labels T +27 031 7178500

Another first for Nampak Cartons and Labels, Epping

NAMPAK Cartons and Labels, Epping, can take a second quality assurance bow. Following on the heels of being the first packaging facility in South Africa to achieve ISO 22 000 certification, it has just gained prestigious FSC certification – on September 23, 2008, to be precise – and the first in Africa to do so.

As mentioned in the main story, FSC stands for ‘Forest Stewardship Council’, an independent NGO established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests. All FSC-certified forests must comply with its rules on how they should be managed, while products carrying the FSC label are independently certified to assure consumers that they come from forests that meet the social, economic and ecological needs of present and future generations.

Nampak C&L’s certification, in turn, is the end piece of an information trail following each stage of ownership of FSC products, from the forest through all aspects of processing, manufacturing and distribution.

‘This is a credible guarantee to customers that the FSC packaging that we sell to them originates from well-managed forests, using controlled sources and reclaimed material,’ comments Nampak C&L’s Ian Vowles. ‘It re-affirms Nampak’s reputation as a responsible corporate citizen, and offers our environmentally-sensitive customers an opportunity to complement their corporate strategies in this regard.’

Woolworths’ Tom McLaughlin says he is delighted with Nampak’s FSC accreditation because ‘our customers no longer have to feel guilty about destroying the planet’s forests’.

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