News & Updates

6 Ways Packaging Can Fail & How to Prevent It

The purpose of packaging analysis is two-fold:

1. To prevent external contamination from entering the product to be ingested.

2. To avoid having the packaging become a source of contamination to people, animals, and the environment.

Packaging has become well-regulated and governmentally legislated with basic requirements that help protect consumers by ensuring the integrity and safety of ingested items. As indicated in the table, when packaging fails, serious and far-reaching problems can follow suit.

955313 AES Image of Table for Packaging Europe Spotlight

Most food packaging is multi-layered and made of laminates. Barrier layers within packaging can ensure food safety, add shelf-life, and can create an oxygen, aroma, and flavor barrier. Layered food packaging protects food, improves manufacturing operations, reduces damage and waste, enables better retail and food service storage, and more.

However, plastic packaging adds just as many layers of concern. In recent decades, it has been discovered that chemical compounds and microplastics can leach out of the packaging. As a result, scientists and government departments are collaborating to prevent leaching and other dangerous issues from occurring through the analysis of chemical structure, temperature, storage time, humidity, physical characteristics, and other factors.

  • For greater depth with data points on such analyses – read this Whitepaper on analytical testing during manufacture and recycling.

Food regulation continues to improve and evolve. Researchers and regulators are actively working together to identify leachable compounds and determine acceptable levels for the safety of human health, animal health, and the environment. New threats are likely to emerge. For example, PFAS started as an environmental issue and have rapidly evolved into a food safety issue.

Learning how to better test, detect, and measure plastic packaging will surely continue to evolve, creating real-world solutions to this ongoing concern.

  • Download the companion step-by-step Instrument Buyers Guide if you want to better understand which PerkinElmer instruments could best meet your testing needs.
  • Watch how research is helping to advance possibilities for recyclate polymer material in PerkinElmer’s Video at JKU Johannes Kepler University – contributing to clean energy transitions and sustainability.

You can learn more about PerkinElmer laboratory solutions for polymers and packaging at


News & Updates

What is ‘customised generic packaging’?

When it comes to packaging design, factors such as brand identity and recognition, together with iconic shapes and custom designs, generally tops any reputable brand manager’s list. But what if all these requirements can be met by a generic packaging solution? Let’s explore the benefits of a ‘customised generic pack’.

What is 'customised generic packaging'?

Reducing cost without reducing quality

In addition to eliminating initial expenditure, such as investments in moulds, a generic pack is often the more cost-effective option due to economies of scale. Being produced in larger quantities, production costs are kept at bay due to fewer mould and material changes in the convertor’s factory.

Moving towards a generic design also affords smaller and well-established brands the benefits of stock security, shorter production and delivery lead times; and improved cash flow due to more frequent, smaller order volumes.

Customisation options

But the humble generic pack does not necessarily eliminate all customisation. Packaging requirements have moved beyond the days of “you can have any colour as long as it is black”. Generic packaging items can still promote brand identity and recognition by being customised, within parameters. Colour, decoration and embossing variations that drive brand differentiation is achievable and can even allow for the same packaging item to be used across diverse product categories.

What is 'customised generic packaging'?

Keeping EPR compliance front of mind

What is 'customised generic packaging'?

A generic pack can easily become the environmental star of the show, offering various benefits across the value chain. From a manufacturing perspective, the environmental cost associated with producing multiple moulds are naturally eliminated. A converter can also offer the generic item to a range of brands, allowing them to contribute to larger volumes and lower carbon footprint through more streamlined production processes. This does however mean that the converter will have the responsibility to guide the generic design to remain within the parameters of ‘designing for recyclability’ in order to achieve an optimal recycling rate. This in turn, assists the brands to also move towards full EPR compliance.

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What is 'customised generic packaging'?

Mpact Plastics is a leading producer of rigid plastic packaging and cling film in southern Africa. We operate out of nine production centres across the country, providing packaging from plants with relevant certifications. We service the food, beverage, personal care, home care, pharmaceutical, agricultural and retail markets. In upholding company values, and as a supporter of the circular economy, we positively contribute to industry associations, enabling various communities to participate in recycling solutions.

For more information and a comprehensive FAQ contact us on Mpact Wadeville FMCG: 011 418 6000 | |


News & Updates

Henkel SA expands into Zimbabwe through new distribution partnership

Industrial and consumer goods company, Henkel South Africa, has expanded into Zimbabwe through a partnership with Cluster Diagnostics. Officially launched in Harare on 26 January 2023, the partnership will see Cluster Diagnostics in Zimbabwe distribute Henkel industrial adhesives to the local market.

Cluster Diagnostics was established to provide diagnostic solutions to areas in the SADC region with limited resources. The company has been signed on as a Henkel Premium Partner, and as such, will have access to technical support and training, up-to-date marketing material, and products and solutions that will benefit customers.

The partnership is an expansion of the Henkel business and is aimed at growing the customer base in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.

Packaging and labelling

The industries of interest are the packaging and labelling industries, with a possibility of expanding into others as the business grows. Cluster Diagnostics will distribute the industrial adhesives Technomelt and Aquence used for end-of-line packaging and labelling applications. Plus, service products in the form of Technomelt liquid and solid cleaners, used to remove residual adhesive, grease, and grime before the next manufacturing application.

“Henkel South Africa has been looking for a partner to expand into the Zimbabwean market for a while. The partnership with Cluster Diagnostics is a couple of years in the making, and we are thrilled to officially welcome them on board,” says Trevor Bolton, Adhesive Technologies sales manager, Henkel South Africa. “The timing is also quite auspicious, as Henkel celebrates 100 years of adhesives globally,” he adds.

Siphiwe Mthembu, head of the adhesives division for Cluster Diagnostics, comments, “We are proud to be associated with the world’s number one adhesives producer. As part of our value proposition, we want to be a support centre for all Henkel customers in the country and facilitate the seamless movement of Henkel products between countries. This is a great opportunity for Henkel to grow their footprint and to have in-country support for their customers through Cluster Diagnostics.”


News & Updates

Coca-Cola Beverages expands rollout of 2L returnable PET bottles

Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) is rolling out its 2L returnable bottle, also known as its refillable PET bottle (RefPET), in Mangaung in the Free State and Northern Cape, as part of its stated commitment to reduce plastic waste.Source: SuppliedSource: Supplied

Since 2019, CCBSA has successfully launched RefPET in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo, North-West, Mpumalanga and parts of the Free State and plans to expand this offering in a bid to include consumers as an important part of the recycling value chain.

Food and beverage packaging is important to ensure food safety and reduce food waste, but packaging has also created an environmental waste problem that requires a comprehensive response.

As part of its responsibility to help address this challenge, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa, a subsidiary of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) and a bottler for The Coca-Cola Company, has committed to help collect a bottle or can for every single one it sells by 2030.

It will also use 50% recycled content in all packaging and make 25% of its packaging reusable by 2030, while making all its packaging 100% recyclable by 2025.

“We are very excited by this progressive phase of our RefPET rollout in the two provinces. This innovation is part of our World Without Waste Vision 2030, which relies on partnerships with customers, consumers, communities, industry, and governments to succeed. Our vision and annual targets are ambitious, but our results have shown us that it is possible to make a meaningful contribution towards helping create a waste-free planet,” said Velaphi Ratshefola, CCBSA’s managing director.

Ratshefola added that the consumer response to the new 2L returnable PET bottles has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Where we have launched RefPET, we have seen consumers switching to purchasing the returnable 2L bottles and returning them after consumption. This is what we envisioned with this innovation, to encourage consumers to return the bottles for reuse, for as long as the bottle passes the quality test. We are excited about this next phase of the project in the two provinces,” says Ratshefola.

How the system works

The returnable PET bottles are identifiable by a paper label, with ‘RETURNABLE’ appearing in green on the front of the bottle. To start the communities and households on this loop, the company will give each household a 2L RefPET sample that they can exchange for a deposit when they buy any of the products available in a 2L RefPET from the local store.

The recommended retail price for the 2L Coca-Cola Original Taste – Less Sugar beverage is R16, which excludes a R9 deposit. Other brands, like Coca-Cola No Sugar, Sprite and Fanta, are also available in the new 2L returnable PET plastic bottle at a recommended retail price of R14 excluding the R9 deposit. This means a saving of around R9 per bottle, depending on where a customer purchases their favourite beverage.

Once a bottle is returned to CCBSA, it goes on a looped journey to be cleaned in accordance with Coca-Cola’s stringent measures and requirements, then refilled to start its next lifecycle. When the bottle reaches the end of its useable lifecycle, it joins the recycling value chain and is repurposed into another PET product.


News & Updates

The message in a bottle shape – container trade mark disputes

Looking at brands, consumers tend to focus on logos, but the distinctiveness of product’s shape or its packaging can be just as important in identifying a brand. The South African Trade Marks Act specifically includes both “shapes and containers” in the definition of what may constitute a ‘mark’. Trade mark practitioners get excited when the shape of a product finds itself at the centre of a trade mark dispute.

With this in mind, we review the trade mark dispute between Dart Industries Incorporated and Another v Botle Buhle Brands (Pty) Ltd and Another [2022] (1 December 2022). As Judge Makgoka, who delivered this judgment, described it: “This is a trade mark dispute about a shape of a water bottle.”

Dart Industries Inc was the registered proprietor of a trade mark filed in 2015, registered for: ‘Household containers; kitchen containers; water bottles sold empty; insulated bags and containers for beverages for domestic use; beverageware; drinking vessels.’ It was endorsed as consisting of ‘a container for goods’, and was represented as follows on the trade marks register:

The message in a bottle shape - container trade mark disputes

Tupperware Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd, and its South African representative and licencee in South Africa were the second Appellant. Tupperware had been selling a plastic bottle, in the shape for which it has been registered, as a trade mark since 2011, marketed as the ‘Eco Bottle’.Tupperware Eco BottlesTupperware Eco Bottles

In 2019, Botle Buhle Brands started to market and sell the following bottle:

The message in a bottle shape - container trade mark disputes

Tupperware approached the high court to restrain Buhle Brands from infringing its registered trade mark and sought a restraining order based on passing off.

In response, Buhle Brands launched a counter-application for the removal of Tupperware’s trade mark registration. Initially, the High Court found that Tupperware’s registered trade mark was neither inherently distinctive nor had acquired distinctiveness as a result of prior use, and Tupperware’s application was dismissed and Buhle Brands’ counter application was granted. This made it unnesessary for the High Court to decide the infringement issue or Buhle Brands’ other grounds. On deciding the passing-off issue, the court found that, although the bottles were virtually identical, taking into consideration the sales model used by both parties, there was no likelihood of deception or confusion.

The matter then went to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), where the court first considered whether the shape of Tupperware’s Eco Bottle as a mark should to be removed from the register, specifically considering the bottle shape’s inherent distictiveness or acquired distinctiveness.

Inherent distinctiveness

In considering the question of whether Tupperware’s mark was inherently distinctive or not, the court had to consider that the function of a trade mark is to indicate the origin of the goods or services. (In the case of shape marks, the perception of the public is crucial. If the public relies on the distinctiveness of the shape as an indicator of the source of the goods, that then denotes the shape of a product as a trade mark.) The question therefore had to be asked, whether the public would perceive the container to be a badge of origin and not merely another vessel.

Tupperware contended that its Eco Bottle, ‘departs significantly’ from the shape of other water bottles in the market. They also claimed that the use of the specific hourglass shape with indentations was unique and unknown to the market at the time the bottle was launched in South Africa. The court then applied three steps in deciding whether the mark differed significantly from the norms and customs of the sector: Firstly, one needed to determine what the sector was. Secondly, to identify any common norms and customs of that sector and lastly to decide whether the mark departed significantly from those norms or customs. There was no evidence before the court that consumers appreciated that the bottle conveyed trade mark significance.

The court was not convinced that customers would consider the shape of the Eco Bottle alone as a guarantee that it was produced by Tupperware, as ‘containers and shapes generally do not serve as sources of origin.’ The SCA agreed with the High Court that the Eco Bottle did not have an inherently distictive character.

Distinctiveness as a result of prior use

There was no evidence before the court that the purchasers of the Eco Bottle perceive the shape of the bottle as an indicator that it originated from Tupperware. Tupperware also never marketed, promoted or sold the bottle with reference to its shape.

The Eco Bottle is also embossed with the Tupperware trade mark on its side and the court was of the mind that the public might rather perceive the bottle as originating from Tupperware because of the well-known embossed trade mark and not because of the shape of the bottle.

In conclusion, the court found that

the shape of Tupperware’s Eco Bottle did not distinguish it from water bottles sold by others and therefore was not distinctive, and the High Court was correct to uphold Buhle Brands’ counterclaim by ordering the cancellation of Tupperware’s registered mark.

Passing off

The court also had to determine whether Buhle Brands was passing off its water bottle as being Tupperware’s Eco Bottle. Passing off implies that in a representation by one person, that his business or merchandise, is that of another, or that it is associated with that of another’.

In passing-off proceedings, the court must consider many factors in determining whether there is a likelihood of confusion between products and brands. The court considered the shape, colour, material, and the caps of the bottles, as well as the placement of the respective ‘Tupperware’ and ‘Botle Buhle’ trade marks embossed on the side of the bottles.

Below are representations of the respective water bottles:Tupperware Eco BottlesTupperware Eco BottlesBotle Buhle bottlesBotle Buhle bottles

The requirements for a successful passing off action also require proof of reputation or goodwill, and a reasonable likelihood that members of the public may be confused into believing that the business of one is, or is connected with, that of another.

The Tupperware Eco Bottle had been promoted extensively in catalogues, newsletters and promotional leaflets. Considering the extensive and undisputed sales figures and marketing information, both the High Court and the SCA, found that Tupperware had established the necessary reputation in the Eco Bottle.

Both courts were in agreement that the bottles of both parties were ‘virtually identical’, with the only significant difference between the two competing bottles being the embossing of the words ‘Tupperware’ and ‘Botle Buhle’ on the side and cap of the bottles. The embossing was considered by the court to be “inconspicuous, and does little or nothing to distinguish the two products.” The High Court concluded that given the sales model, there was no likelihood of confusion. The High Court confined its enquiry, however, to Tupperware’s unique sales model – commonly referred to as ‘Tupperware parties’ – which includes the hosting of parties by a magnitude of consultants, predominantly at their homes.

Judge Makgoka remarked, quite firmly as follows: “It seems to me that the overall design of the Buhle Brands’ water bottle was not to distinguish it from that of Tupperware, but rather to associate the two. In other words, Buhle seems to have strained every nerve to associate its water bottle with the Eco Bottle.”


The Judge remarked that the enquiry whether a likelihood of confusion exists should extend beyond the Tupperware parties. Consumers may encounter the competing bottles at a party where both products are sold. Both the competing products were also marketed online, and in some instances catalogues of both products are depicted side by side. This, in the view of the court established the likelihood of confusion between the two products. It was therefore very likely that a customer would encounter the two competing bottles side by side and make an association between them – this is even more likely when making online purchases.

The SCA also remarked that, “This type of confusion, which results in consumers purchasing one product thinking that it is the one they know, or is associated with it, is at the heart of the action of passing-off.” The court found that the likelihood of confusion therefore did exist.

The third issue in passing-off is damage to a brand. Regarding damages, the court remarked that

by adopting the same marketing strategy as Tupperware, Buhle Brands had sought to associate its product in every respect, with that of Tupperware. This would enable Buhle Brands to trade its water bottle upon and benefit from the reputation of Tupperware’s Eco Bottle. The damage to Tupperware is inevitable.


This case is another great example of how shapes and containers (or even a combination of the two) clearly can serve a distinguishing function. It remains however, important for the owners of these shapes and shape trade marks to consider carefully the way in which they wish to protect their products and how they wish to distinguish their goods from those of competitors. It remains clear that relying only on shape as a trade mark can be tenuous and should be considered only part of a product’s identity.

News & Updates

Pick n Pay removes plastic barrier bags from till points

Pick n Pay has removed all plastic barrier bags from its till points, claiming to be the first retailer in South Africa to do so. The supermarket group notes that the move will prevent over 20 million of these small bags from entering the environment.

Barrier bags are traditionally used by stores to separate selected products, such as fresh produce, toiletries or cleaning products, from other groceries.

Vaughan Pierce, executive: ESG at Pick n Pay, says that the company has been on a journey to reduce problematic single-use plastic packaging. “These small clear plastic barrier bags are not currently recycled effectively, and by removing these at till points, we can play a part in reducing reliance on unnecessary single-use plastic.”

Pick n Pay will still have barrier bags in its fruit and vegetable section for loose produce but continues to encourage customers to use alternatives, such as re-useable netted produce bags, which it stocks in all its stores nationwide.

This latest development is part of Pick n Pay’s journey towards its 2025 plastic waste reduction targets. Over the past five years, more than 10,000 tonnes of plastic have been removed from the environment to make Pick n Pay’s 100% recyclable blue plastic bags, and over 11 million plastic bottles have been recycled to manufacture the retailer’s reusable shopping bags since 2018.

Pick n Pay is a founding member of the SA Plastics Pact, launched in January 2020 to establish a collective commitment to ensure plastic never becomes waste or pollution in the country. As part of this, the retailer committed to various 2025 targets, which include ensuring that 100% of its private label packaging is reusable or recyclable. This number has shifted from 67% to 80% in the past two years through various changes.

“We all need to accelerate the transition from a linear to a circular economy of packaging as this will drive positive change on a much larger scale,” says Pierce. “Packaging, particularly plastic, plays an important role in protecting products and reducing food waste. By committing to creating a system where packaging is treated as a valuable resource that can be used, re-used, collected and recycled in a closed loop, it supports the principles of a circular economy,” explains Pierce.

Beyond groceries

Pierce adds that Pick n Pay’s commitment to recycling extends to increasing the use of recycled materials in clothing products and store refurbs. In 2021, Pick n Pay Clothing sold 1.5 million items of clothing that included recycled content.

He says that repurposing plastic extends beyond simply helping the planet; it also supports local charities and creates jobs through the informal economy as waste pickers generate income from recycled plastic.

“We regularly introduce new reusable plastic bags, which are 100% made from locally recycled plastic bottles. Each with a unique design, these promote sustainable shopping habits as customers reuse the same shopping bag. But the designs also create awareness and funding for local non-profit organisations as proceeds from these bag sales go to selected charities.”

For February – the month of love – Pick n Pay has introduced a rainbow-coloured ‘Love Bag’ celebrating love, inclusion and acceptance, and the proceeds from the sales will go to the Other Foundation.


News & Updates

Create something good, pack it in Octagon

A simple packaging solution that makes sense.

Our fully IML-labelled Octagon range optimises on-shelf brand exposure, boasts exceptional versatility across a wide range of industries and product categories; and offers maximum decorating space to align with your product vision.

vailable in 250g and 500g, and being fridge and freezer friendly, the Octagon tub is truly versatile across markets and product categories. With the introduction of larger sizes later in 2022, this product range boasts maximum on-shelf brand exposure as both the tub and lid are fully IML wrapped and available in a vast range of colour and label designs.

The nestable design optimises transport and warehousing, and the tub and lid is produced from fully recyclable polypropylene. With its interlocking rim, the tub is leak proof. The tamper evident tab stays attached to the tub when broken, making it compliant to EPR regulations.

View the product in our online catalogue here.

Create something good, pack it in Octagon
Create something good, pack it in Octagon


News & Updates

Plastic producers warned against making unverified environmental claims

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) recently published new requirements and guidelines for the marking and identification of environmentally-friendly production and processing of degradable plastics and plastic products. ‘Degradable plastics’ include but are not limited to biodegradable, compostable, oxo-biodegradable and water-soluble plastics.

The new South African National Standard (SANS) 1728 was published by SABS to ensure that proper testing and certification are followed before manufacturers can make claims that plastics are environment-friendly or non-polluting.

Dr Sadhvir Bissoon, acting CEO of the SABS explains that vague environmental claims such as ‘environmentally safe’, ‘environmentally friendly, ‘earth friendly’, ‘non-polluting’, ‘green’, ‘ozone friendly’, plastic ‘free’, etc., are specifically cautioned against in SANS 1728.

“Manufacturers that wish to claim their plastic packaging are degradable need to subject the packaging to the relevant testing and certification requirements,” he says.

SANS 1728 advises consumers to recognise the correct markings and to be aware that any product that claims to have biodegradable plastic packaged, needs to be verified according to the standard, which is aligned with global requirements.

Material identification code

SANS 1728 requires that the plastic material used in the packaging must be presented on the packaging, using a material identification code from 1-7, and contained in a triangle.

• 1 = PET (polyethylene terephthalate)
• 2 = PEHD (High-density polyethylene)
• 3 = PVC (Polyvinyl chloride)
• 4 = PELD (Low density polyethylene)
• 5 = PP (Polypropylene)
• 6 = PS (Polystyrene)
• 7 = all other materials (e.g. ABS, PLA, SAN, etc.)

Source: Supplied

Should the plastic packaging be of a degradable nature, it will be indicated below the triangle.

“Currently, in South Africa there are no products that have been certified by the SABS as compliant or meeting the requirements of SANS 1728 and consumers are urged to be vigilant when purchasing plastic products that make false claims of being degradable or ‘environmentally friendly’ or plastic free.

“Basically, manufacturers need to ensure that they have verified the type of plastic in their packaging before they can make any claims about their products,” says Bissoon.

In South Africa, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment holds the authority and regulatory power over packaging. In May 2021, the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) recommendations became regulations and include requirements for packaging and correct labelling of products and packaging.