Zume partners with ABB to scale ‘100% compostable’ packaging

ABB Robotics announces its agreement with Zume to scale and automate the production of plant-based packaging that the companies claim is a fully compostable and cost-effective alternative to single-use plastics.

Over the next five years, ABB says it will integrate and install over 1,000 moulded fibre manufacturing cells (MFC), including up to 2,000 robots, at Zume’s global customer sites. Zime expects that ABB will equip its factories with up to 100 robotic cells each.

ABB will use its Global Solution Centers – a network of automation experts and programme managers – to provide the scale, modularity, and speed required to launch Zume’s packaging solutions.

Zume claims that its packaging material is made from sustainably harvested plant material left over from agricultural production, including bamboo, wheat, and straw. It adds that the plant material has a lower carbon footprint and uses less water and energy than plastic packaging, as well as being biodegradable after use.

According to Zume, the company has patented an innovative manufacturing process to develop the compostable packaging for applications including food, cosmetics, and consumer goods.

Containers can be moulded from the plant material by Zume’s moulded fibre cells integrated with two ABB IR 6700 robots, says the companies. Each cell can reportedly process up to two tonnes of agricultural material every day and create 80,000 pieces of sustainable packaging.

The companies add that with the automation, speed, and scalability provided by the MFC, each site could potentially process 71,000 tonnes of agricultural material annually, with the potential to produce up to two billion pieces of packaging each year.

A pilot project has been installed by Zume and ABB at Santia Industries Limited, a large wood and agro-based paper manufacturer based in India. This has created a facility of 50 manufacturing cells that will allegedly process 100 tonnes of what straw each day to produce compostable packaging for a range of industries.

Other planned pilot installations include Parason, a global pulp and paper industry supplier also based in India, and Jefferson Enterprise Energy, a compostable packaging factory apparently powered by renewable energy and located in Texas, USA.   

Sami Atiya, president of ABB Robotics & Discrete Automation, comments: “Automating production of Zume’s sustainable packaging with ABB robots makes this a viable and economic alternative to single-use plastics.”

Alex Garden, chairman and CEO of Zume, adds: “Using ABB’s global automation experts to develop and integrate automation solutions for our customers will revolutionize packaging and demonstrate what sustainable manufacturing can look like.

“The flexibility and scalability of ABB’s robots enables an efficient automated manufacturing process. This means we can offer a viable, cost effective, compostable alternative to plastic, and help manufacturers to become more environmentally-friendly.”

ABB says that its partnership with Zume will be part of its response to consumer and legislative demand for alternatives to single-use plastic, while using automated solutions to respond to the growing demand for packaging of all kinds. In September, ABB expanded its e-commerce solutions with the FlexBuffer application cell, which allows the storage and retrieval of mixed items based on the sequence in which they need to be dispatched.  


Paper Bottles Grow Despite Uncertainty

Frugal Bottle and other paper bottles see brand buy-in and strong growth, yet some experts question the sustainable value of this popular format.

There’s a lot of optimism in the high-interest paper bottle market that centers on continued traction with brand owners. Yet there remain lingering doubts from consultants and others about the sustainability value of the format.

On the positive side, the format is unquestionably in growth mode: the paper bottle market is projected to grow at a ~7% CAGR over the forecast period 2022-2030, according to a market study published in October by Research Nester.

The report notes that the PET beverage bottle is falling out of favor due to widespread environmental awareness. According to a UN Environment report, an astonishing one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, most of which end up in landfills and oceans because only 9% of plastic waste is recycled.

“Paper bottles offer a green alternative to plastic bottles, as they are biodegradable, and do not harm the environment,” claims the report, pointing to that as a major market driver. There’s a rising tide of replacements to plastics particularly through paper alternatives including for cups, straws, bags, and a range of packaging.

The largest growth market for paper bottles is anticipated to be for water.

While growth is spread globally, “the Asia Pacific region is [expected] to witness noteworthy growth over the forecast period on the back of rising government initiatives to reduce pollution and promote the adoption of eco-friendly products.” For more about the report, see Paper Bottles Market.

Another supportive aspect is brand buy-in.Frugalpac1-Frugal-Wine-Ftr.jpg

Brands embrace Frugal Bottle.

Since launching in June 2020 with a red wine, 3Q (shown above) from Cantina GocciaFrugalpac has experienced strong sales and interest from drinks producers around the world. A range of wines, spirits, and olive oils are using the format, which purports to cut the carbon footprint versus glass bottles by 84% and is five times lighter. The Frugal Bottle is made from 94% recycled paperboard with a food-grade plastic pouch to contain the liquid.

The feedback from industry and consumers continued to be so overwhelmingly positive it prompted Cantina Goccia to plan the release of two more wines in the Frugal Bottle in early 2022, a white wine and a rose. About 80% of the brand’s wine has already switched from glass to the paper bottle.

Frugal Bottles are now also used by a number of brands including The English Vine, the US’s Signal 7, and Spain’s Planet B for wines; NB Distillery and Silent Pool for gin; and Evviva and AONES for olive oil.

Launches are forthcoming for new markets including Russian vodka and honey soap.

Frugalpac reports inquiries from 55 other international brand, contract packing, and packaging companies to buy Frugal Bottle Assembly Machines in the coming months.

“Increased interest in our paper Frugal Bottle over the last few weeks has been incredible,” says Malcolm Waugh, Frugalpac chief executive. “It seems the rising cost of gas and the global supply issues for glass bottles has further focused drinks producers’ to consider more sustainable alternatives.”

Strong demand compelled Frugalpac to plan the opening a new Frugal Bottle factory in Ipswich in the UK.

In the accompanying slideshow gallery you’ll find a diversity of comments from two Frugalpac brand-owner customers and a diverse group of six industry professionals about the sustainable value of paper bottles. Their assessments are decidedly mixed.



2021 Packaging Sales Reach Historic Milestone

Worldwide packaging sales returned to solid growth this year after a 2020 slowdown, when many end-use markets were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Packaging is now a trillion-dollar industry.

Helping the economy recover from COVID-19-induced regression, the global packaging industry will reach $1 trillion in sales by the end of 2021, according to new data from Smithers. “The Future of Global Packaging to 2026” study also identifies the top consumption markets, packaging materials, and geographies.

2021 Value of Packaging infographic (720 x 1800 px)-2.jpg



Free The Birds refreshes Berocca packaging

Free The Birds has refreshed Bayer’s drink and vitamin tablets Berocca.

The colour palette was improved across the portfolio to ease navigation; primary Berocca colours define the Energy and Boost ranges whereas flavour colour palette differentiates the lozenges across the portfolio.

Free The Birds also created bespoke illustrations on packs to clearly communicate the benefit of each product and the iconic Berocca fizz moment, which is a key asset for the brand.

Chris Padain, VP head of design & packaging from Berocca added: “Our brand needed a refresh in order to further engage the consumers, who are putting self-care and wellbeing at the forefront of their shopping experience. Free The Birds has been an excellent partner to our brand journey and has reinforced our product benefits on pack, whilst remaining consistent with our legacy.”

Nick Vaus, partner and creative director at Free The Birds, said: “Berocca is a heritage brand that you can spot in almost every household. As such, the new brand identity had to retain the existing brandmark, but elevate its positioning on the consumer health market. The new global cohesive design framework stands out on shelf and emphasizes the brand’s key messaging around positive energy.”



Eco wine brand Tread Softly moves into spirits with design by Denomination

Denomination has created a powerful and category changing brand and packaging identity for Fourth Wave Wine’s Tread Softly Gin.

The brand packaging is quietly disruptive, moving away from the masculine block branding associated with gin to create a ‘gently powerful presence on the shelf’. The sustainable, feminine and natural style reflects the high percentage of female gin drinkers as well as consumers concerned for the planet.

All elements of the brand have been carefully selected based on the sustainability credentials of Tread Softly. The small font label is fashioned from natural paper stock and the design on the back is screen printed and features beautiful illustrations of flora and fauna – all of which can be seen through the glass and the liquid to amplify the natural message and reflect the brand’s awareness of its environmental footprint.

The glass is made from 100% recycled glass with a paper seal over a wooden stopper.

“The original brand was developed as a ‘new generation of wine for a new generation of drinker’, and it exceeded budget forecasts by 515% in the first year,” says Nicholas Crampton, co-owner at Fourth Wave. “We felt there was room for that ethos to be carried over into spirits to respond to the growing desire among consumers for brands that care about the planet.”

Rowena Curlewis, CEO at Denomination, says: “We originally created this brand to speak to consumers’ rising ethical engagement and awareness. One of the key objectives behind the strategy was to futureproof Fourth Wave Wine’s portfolio and make room for sustainable diversification. Taking this ‘gentle juggernaut’ of a wine brand into spirits shows just how effective brand strategy and packaging identity can be when they are developed to flex and grow, accommodating business development and changing consumer needs.

“This type of futureproof approach is becoming essential as our industry responds to increasing environmental challenges and consumer scrutiny. We wanted to create a brand that would convey Fourth Wave’s commitment to safeguarding the sector and the planet.”



StormBrands creates packaging for EBM’s kids’ cake range ‘smile’

StormBrands has developed the strategy and crafted a name, visual identity and packaging range for ‘smile,’ a kids’ single-serve, packaged cake range for international baked good company, EBM.

The new brand launch comes off the back of StormBrands’ partnership with EBM on ‘Cake-Up’ which has already established a strong position in the cupcakes category in Pakistan.

EBM, a market leader within the biscuit category has sought to significantly shake up the packaged cakes market under its Peek Freans brand in Pakistan. With cupcakes only making up 53% of the Pakistan cake market, the business identified an opportunity to launch a new format range of packaged single serve Doughnut Cakes with distinct positioning, marking a notable category innovation.

StormBrands said it approaches each new piece of work through the lens of their own purpose: “Energising brands to move mindsets, markets and culture.” In the case of ‘smile,‘ Storm’s brand strategy based on consumer insight was to allow kids to ‘eat happy!’

The new brand design for ‘smile’ reflects StormBrand’s strategy with playful typography and a colour palette based on the flavours of the doughnuts themselves. An integrated logo encompassing both typography and product photography brings the brand to life and the team at Storm have ensured coherency of the visual and verbal identity across the brand’s channels and all touchpoints.

Zoe Phillipson, StormBrands creative director, commented: “Our new visual identity and range design for ‘smile’ is bold, vibrant, happy and positive. The brand’s playful visual language is translated across the whole design from the name, identity and packaging design, right through to the hidden tone of voice inside the packs. In an increasingly complex and unstable world, we wanted to create a kids’ brand that promotes happiness and generates delight – a welcome relief to the serious side of growing up, and let’s face it no-one can eat a donut without smiling!”

Shahzain Munir, executive director at EBM added: “’Smile’ doughnut cakes are little icing coated, sprinkle covered, cream filled rings of delight.  They just taste of happiness!  Together with the team at Stormbrands we have created a brand that speaks to kids (and big kids) and counter-balances the serious by providing a generous dose of playful, fun! The brand is already loved by consumers and we’re seeing a tremendous impact in the market.”



Ardagh creates ‘sound wave’ look for Absolut limited edition pack

Glass packaging specialist Ardagh is behind the latest limited edition from vodka brand Absolut.

Absolut Voices incorporates a sound waves design and has been released to celebrate the “wavemakers and trailblazers of the world”.

Ardagh’s product design team worked with Absolut and design agency Brand Union. The limited-edition bottle is available worldwide in 700ml, 750ml and 1litre.

The sapphire blue-coloured premium bottle contains 80% recycled glass, the highest percentage yet for Absolut. Ardagh said that is thanks largely to the high recycling rate in Sweden, meaning more recycled glass cullet is available to Ardagh for use in the furnace

Elin Furelid, global head of Absolut portfolio and design, said: “Celebrating diverse and different viewpoints has always been in our spirit. We’re continuously inspired by the idea that the world becomes a better place when we come together beyond differences, share good times and empower one another. That spirit is what Absolut Voices is all about.”

Maria Persson, NPD project manager at Ardagh Glass Packaging – Europe, added: “We worked with Brand Union to ensure the design met the creative brief to convey the effect of expanding sound waves rather than ripples of water. The effect of the 360-degree design feature was achieved by creating irregular circles with shallow embossing to give life to the waves. Our product design team created the desired effect using their in-house sculptured embossing technology and expertise to give it a lifelike quality and standout impact”.

“It was exciting to see the first bottles come off the production line in the deep sapphire blue, with light bouncing around the bottle from the edges of the sound wave design.”



Wilko starts revamp of own label range with Free The Birds

High street retail chain Wilko has begun a revamp of its own label products, working with creative agency Free The Birds.

Beginning with its heritage paint and pet ranges, the brand refresh is part of a three-year partnership that will see Free The Birds’ designs rolled out across the company’s entire portfolio.

According to the agency, the new packaging design sees the brand architecture shift to a consistent and easier navigation system with Wilko’s logo at the top, followed by the product name below. Other elements of the design include the introduction of clear iconography on the front-of-pack, as well as navigation bars at the bottom to aid simplicity and browsing on the physical and digital shelf.

Nick Vaus, partner and creative director at Free The Birds said: “With a portfolio of this size, we had to create a consistent brand thread across varying labels that is delivered simply and effectively. We developed three overarching design structures ‘Core’, ‘Core Light’ and ‘Core Plus’ to help customers distinguish the different ranges. For the Paint and Pet labels, we introduced a coherent colour scheme and photography to offer a level of intimacy with consumers, making wilko feel both engaging and ownable in a crowded category.”



4 common paper recycling mistakes you need to avoid

It is estimated that only 6.1% of metropolitan households in South Africa actively participate in recycling. However, even the most environmentally conscientious people make recycling mistakes. You might even think your home is paperless, so you don’t need to recycle.

Have you considered the sturdy cardboard box and its moulded protective layers that housed your new TV during transit? Or the box from your latest online shopping haul? Cereal boxes? Milk cartons? What about the loo roll core? All of these are recyclable in South Africa.

Fibre Circle, the producer responsibility organisation for the South African paper and paper packaging sector, outlines some of the more common recycling mistakes, with some helpful tips to ensure that paper and cardboard get to where they need to be: to recycling companies in a good, clean state so they can be reprocessed and made into new paper products:

Mistake 1: Putting non-recyclable paper products into the recycling bin

Even though they are made of paper, several items are not suitable for recycling due to food contamination or elements such waxes, foils, laminates, and glues. These products should not be put in your paper recycling bin.

Fix it by putting up printable educational posters near recycling bins, so everyone knows what can and can’t be recycled.

Paper items such as magazines, brochures, newspapers, office and shredded paper, envelopes
Cardboard boxes of any kind, paper gift wrap as well as milk, beverage and food cartons are recyclable.

Wet or dirty paper and cardboard, used paper plates, disposable nappies, toilet paper, wax-coated, foil-lined or laminated boxes, cement and dog food bags as well as foil gift wrapping are not suitable for recycling.

Mistake 2: Food contamination

When wet waste – food waste, cigarette butts and soiled take-away containers – ends up in the paper recycling bin, this contaminates the paper and reduces its value. Paper also starts to degrade and reduces the strength of the fibres.

Fix it by using a two-bin system – place receptacles for recycling next to bins for food and non-recyclable waste – and chat to your family and domestic helpers about your waste separation system.

Mistake 3: Making it difficult and time-consuming for family members to recycle

We are all human. Nobody likes to walk too far to throw something away.

Fix it by placing recycling receptacles in key locations such as in the kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, office, near the front door or in the garage.

Mistake 4: Not knowing what to do with your recyclables

Your family has collected all this paper (and other recycling) and after a while, it all ends up in the general rubbish.

Fix it by keeping recycled paper in a sheltered area to keep it clean and dry. Chat to a local small business owner about their recycling collection programme or an informal collector about the recycling he or she collects. You can also look for a local school or charity’s recycling fundraising initiative to assist with your recyclables.



Reusable containers aren’t always better for the environment than disposable ones – new research

We are facing a waste crisis, with landfills across the world at full capacity and mountains of “recycled” waste dumped in developing countries. Food packaging is a major source of this waste, giving rise to an industry of “environmentally friendly” reusable food and drink containers that are projected to be worth £21.3 billion worldwide by 2027: well over double its 2019 value of £9.6 billion.

But while it might seem like reusing the same container is better than buying a new single-use one each time, our research shows that reusable containers could actually be worse for the environment than their disposable counterparts.

Reusable containers have to be stronger and more durable to withstand being used multiple times – and they have to be cleaned after each use – so they consume more materials and energy, increasing their carbon footprint.

Our research set out to understand how many times you have to reuse a container for it to be the more eco-friendly choice, in the context of the takeaway food industry.

We looked at three of the most widely used types of single-use takeaway containers: aluminium, polypropylene (PP) and extruded polystyrene (commonly known as Styrofoam, but correctly referred to as EPS). We compared these with commonly used reusable polypropylene food containers, popular among eco-conscious consumers.

Types of food containers we investigated

A: aluminium (single-use); B: Extruded polystyrene (Styrofoam; single-use); C: Polypropylene (single-use); D: Polypropylene (reusable). | Source: Author providedA: aluminium (single-use); B: Extruded polystyrene (Styrofoam; single-use); C: Polypropylene (single-use); D: Polypropylene (reusable). | Source: Author provided

The results showed clearly that Styrofoam containers are by far the best option for the environment among single-use food containers. This is mainly due to their use of only 7.8g of raw materials compared with PP containers’ 31.8g. Also, they require less electricity for production compared with aluminium containers.

Even a reusable container would have to be reused between 16 and 208 times for its environmental impact to equal that of a single-use Styrofoam® container.

We assessed 12 environmental impacts across the entire life cycle of a food container. These included the container’s contribution to global warming and to acid rain, its toxicity to humans and natural ecosystems and its effects on the ozone layer.

Taking these into account, you’d have to reuse a container 16 times to “counteract” the impact on air pollution of using the single-use container – and 208 times to counteract the impact of resource consumption.

When it comes to endangering our landscapes, reusable containers are always a worse option – regardless of the number of times used – due to the electricity required to heat the water for washing them. This is thanks to the emission of substances like heavy metals in electricity generation, which are toxic to many land-based organisms.

Offsetting damage through reuse

The number of uses of a reusable container needed to equal the impacts of a single-use Styrofoam container. | Source: Author providedThe number of uses of a reusable container needed to equal the impacts of a single-use Styrofoam container. | Source: Author provided

Similar results to ours have been reported for coffee cups, with one study concluding that it takes between 20 and 100 uses for a reusable cup to offset its higher greenhouse gas emissions compared to a disposable cup.


A common criticism of Styrofoam® containers is that they are not currently recycled. Although technically possible, the low density of Styrofoam® (containing 95% air) means that vast amounts need to be collected and compressed before they can be shipped to a recycling plant, making Styrofoam® recycling economically tricky.

However, we found that increasing recycling rates for the three types of single-use takeaway containers to the level of the EU’s 2025 packaging wasterecycling target (75% for aluminium and 55% for plastic) would reduce their impacts by 2% to 60%. This includes an annual drop in carbon emissions equivalent to taking 55,000 cars off the road.

That doesn’t mean that reusing containers is always worse for the planet. We just need to be realistic about the number of reuses it takes to make environmental sense. But reuse is a considerable challenge for an industry optimised for “on-the-go” consumption.

Unless it is highly convenient or they’re offered an incentive (such as money back), customers aren’t likely to carry around empty containers until they can return or reuse them. There are also potential issues with liability for food poisoning and cross-contamination from allergens when reusing containers.

Despite this, reuse has been shown to work in the takeout sector, as with reusable box schemes like reCircle in Switzerland. However, systems like this require considerable investment, particularly to help customers return containers.

Single-use containers are often more convenient for consumers. | Source: ArnoldUspt/PixabaySingle-use containers are often more convenient for consumers. | Source: ArnoldUspt/Pixabay

A more promising model may be one where the vendor directly collects empty containers from the customer to be refilled with the same substance, in the style of old-fashioned milk delivery rounds. Similar models, like Almost half of the plastic polluting the world’s oceans comes from takeaway containers.

But instead of switching from single-use, a better environmental solution may be to encourage food companies to invest in more efficient recycling systems worldwide.

The takeaway message? Individual packaging choices will have limited influence as long as the whole system remains in need of a complete overhaul. For example, a consumer might opt for a compostable container, but that won’t help if their area doesn’t have an industrial composting facility.

It’s time we shifted packaging design from being product-based – focused on providing maximum features and functionality – to user-centred, focusing on improving customers’ lives by empathising with their desires for a cleaner world.

That means coupling environmentally sound and low-impact materials with a waste infrastructure that appreciates how humans actually behave and is designed to help them lead sustainable lives. When convenience and sustainability are pursued together, everyone wins.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.