In this part about the developments in stand-up pouches we will see various new applications for this popular packaging format. You don’t only see new and unexpected products packaged in stand-up pouches, but consequently new material structures to accommodate these products. Furthermore irregular shapes and forms are getting more and more popular on the supermarket shelves. Very interesting is the introduction of the stand-up pouch in the on-the-go market, where the pouch not only is a container, but also functions as an active packaging with in-built mechanisms for p.E. coffee brewing. And last but not least the dual-chamber stand-up pouch, which in some cases is a perfect alternative to bottled water with a dispensing cap for aromatics and supplements.
Let’s start with an out-of-the-ordinary product: motor oil.
Environmentally friendly oil packaging
Glenroy, a converter and printer of flexible packaging, and Lube-Tech, a lubricant formulator, claim to have developed the first stand-up oil pouch in the U.S. I say claim, as some months ago the first stand-up pouch for motor oil was introduced by Universal Lubricants for its Eco Ultra pouches.
But about that one in a minute. First the C-TEC2 Synthetic oil pouch, which is said to bring a new level of convenience to snowmobile oils. The lightweight and durable flexible pouch allows for convenient storage within an Arctic Cat snowmobile, while the pouch’s tamper-evident easy-pour spout and ergonomic angled handle facilitate fast and easy pouring of oil into the snowmobile’s compact oil reservoir.
The flexible stand-up pouch provides all the basic environmental benefits, as compared to a rigid oil bottle. A final important benefit that the flexible pouch provides is increased surface area to present the product’s benefits and attention-grabbing Arctic Cat graphics. Compared to an industry standard 32 oz. F-style quart bottle, which provides a total label area of approximately 29 sq. in., the flexible stand-up pouch provides almost 200 sq. in. of printed surface area.
Glenroy doesn’t divulge any information about the materials used, so we have to take a look at the original first launch of motor oil packaged in one-quart stand-up pouches for Universal Lubricants.
Developed by Star Packaging Corp. the Eco-Ultra Motor Oil FlexPak, is touted as the US’s first domestic, commercial launch of retail motor oil packaged in one-quart flexible pouches, As with all stand-up pouches, in comparison to their predecessor, the FlexPak enables significant reductions in packaging materials usage, energy consumption, carbon emissions, and landfill waste.
Star Packaging uses a 6-mil, 3-layer barrier construction of polyester, nylon, and linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE). The material is engineered to provide superior burst and seal strength required for containing oils and other hard-to-hold liquid products. The company claims that the pouches are designed for durability, and passed drop tests in excess of 20 ft (6 metres).
To manufacture the stand-up pouches Star Packaging uses stand-up pouch packaging equipment from Totani, while the pouch filling equipment is supplied by Innovative Packaging Network-IPN. Filling is accomplished through the “glug-free” pour spouts already affixed to the SUPs. The high-density polyethylene (HDPE) Clean Spout 106 XLR pour spout is supplied by IPN. The Universal Lubricants pouch material is printed in 7 colours on a W&H MiraFlex flexographic press.
Teardrop shaped stand-up pouches
Natura, a leader in direct sales of cosmetics in Brazil, introduced “Sou”, a new line of personal care products. Sou comprises products, ranging from liquid soap and moisturizing creams to shampoos and hair conditioner.
Sou is presented in 200 ml (6.7oz) stand-up pouches with a teardrop shape, sealed with a flip-top cap. All packages have the same size and shape, differing only in colour and text. According to the company, the flexible packs require 70% less plastic than rigid plastic containers of the same volume.
In the Brazilian market it is an interesting move. Stand-up pouches, sometimes with a fitment, are normally used as refill packs for rigid containers, not as primary packaging. Natura’s move into the market with the Sou stand-up pouch is therefore as the main presentation and primary packaging for its products. Furthermore none, as far as I know, Brazilian products are packaged in stand-up pouches with an irregular shape.
The packaging material, supplied by Dixie Toga, a Brazilian subsidiary of Bemis Corp, is a PET/nylon/polyethylene laminate, while the pouches are produced on form/fill/seal machines from Volpak.
The packaging is designed by Questo Nó and Tátil, which included a word-play in the design. When the stand-up pouch is turned upside down, the brand name Sou (“I am”) reads as Nós (“We”).
Stand-up pouch as coffee brewer
Some time ago I wrote about Danish coffee brewer Nordic, who created a stand-up pouch with a disposable French coffee press, called the Coffeebrewer, and that works right inside its own pouch.
Nature’s Coffee Kettle is following suite and introduces a self-contained, proprietary filter pack of ground coffee positioned within a stand-up pouch that allows the consumer to make four 8-oz (237 ml) cups of coffee when hot water is poured through the bag’s reclosable, zippered top.
The brewed coffee is dispensed through another opening in the faux kettle, a plastic spout with cap, positioned on one side of the bag. On the other side, two holes allow the user to grasp the bag and pour its contents.
Selected for its insulating properties and durability, the flexible pouch from Flair Flexible Packaging is a three-layer construction of adhesive-laminated PET/vacuum-metallized PET/cast polypropylene. The glossy package is gravure-printed in seven colours using water-based inks.
The development of the Dual-Chamber Stand-Up Pouch gives unprecedented applicatory options. It not only offers opportunities for mixing drinks or enhancing water with supplements, but also opens up opportunities in ready-to-eat meals/snacks to separate packing of p.E. sauces and pastas, avoiding the soggy result of the traditional offering. Furthermore self-heating and self-cooling applications are experimented, as I wrote about in my article “Self-Heating Packaging Containers – Part 2”.
Dual-Chamber Stand-Up Pouch
Last year I wrote several articles about dispensing caps for plastic or glass bottles. The advantages of storing ingredients separately are, I presume, well known. The most obvious one is the improvement of the shelf life of mixed products that are not stable or deteriorate rapidly. I foresaw the introduction of similar systems for the flexible packaging, as it is becoming one of the most important packaging formats. And here we are in Mexico where Simonalbag S.A., in cooperation with DuPont, patented the Mixpack.
The Mixpack is a flexible multi-layer stand-up pouch with an intermediate seal, which forms two compartments. Each compartment can hold a powder and liquid separately and be mixed just when it is consumed. The intermediate seal is designed in such a way that with little manual force it can be broken allowing the contents to mix.
In a similar way ScaldoPack’s Self-Heating/Self-Cooling Pouch works, although not with a supplement, but with a heating/cooling device in the sub-chamber.
The product consists out of a “pouch-in-a-pouch-concept”. The inner pouch serves as the reaction chamber while the outer pouch carries the consumable product. The consumable product can be heated by pressing the reaction chamber. By doing so, the exothermic reaction is activated, adding 35°C in about 5 minutes to a 200ml consumable product.
Read more about the ScaldoPack in “Self-Heating Packaging Containers – Part 2”.
Although the stand-up pouch has many beneficial features and is therefore a popular packaging format, it isn’t free of problems. Handling the pouch, particularly when it is heated in the microwave is one of the most important. Also large stand-up pouches require a better handle, mostly at the side of the pouch.
To solve that problem we have to take a look at the milk pouches from Ecolean, one of the first designs to add a proper handle to a pouch. The air-filled handle makes it easy to get a grip while pouring.
Ecolean engineered and shaped its flexible plastic package like a pitcher. The air-filled handle is an important detail in the clever design. It adds stability to the package. The packaging material consists of 40% chalk, so one could argue that half the package is made from chalk and air.
This idea of an air-filled handle as part of a stand-up pouch has been adopted by Method. It looks like Method took a close look at the Ecolean milk pouch, when it altered the typical Doyen-style spouted stand-up pouch for its detergent refills to make pouring with one hand more easily.
A narrow vertical pocket along the right side holds a rigid spine that creates a handle for consumers to grab and improves the pouring experience. Like the Ecolean handle Method’s PE-based 205mm spine is hollow and elliptically shaped.
The pouch is developed by Innovative Packaging Solutions (IPS), which proposed a laminated pouch structure of PET/ink/adhesive/ nylon/adhesive/LLDPE. The outer PET layer is reverse rotogravure printed in nine colours. The nylon layer provides needed puncture resistance.
I hope these 2 articles about developments in stand-up pouches has given enough food for thought and feed for a further evolution of the stand-up pouch.