New plastics technology improves sustainability spice packaging
Specialized plastics manufacturer, Meredith-Springfield Associates, Inc., provides innovative approach to save on costs and environmental impact of household brands
Classic spice brand, Mrs. Dash is using pioneering technology from. Meredith-Springfield Associates, Inc. (meredithspfld.com), a world-class plastics manufacturer specializing in extrusion blow molding and injection stretch blow molding.
“An analysis of the Mrs. Dash packaging process revealed the need to create a more sustainable bottle,” says president and chief executive officer of Meredith-Springfield, Mel O’Leary, Jr. While sustainable packaging has become a point of interest for manufacturers with regards to environmental benefits, significant cost-savings can also be realized. “Sustainable package innovation offered by advanced plastic molding technology minimizes packaging costs – which in turn reduces warehousing and transportation costs, as well” says O’Leary.
Meredith-Springfield constructed pilot molds and conducted design experiments with the objective to reduce the amount of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) used in the creation of Mrs. Dash packaging. “Manufacturers seeking more sustainable plastic packaging should look for innovative ways to reduce PET,” says O’Leary. “For Mrs. Dash, we are using the most advanced plastic molding technology to alter the amount of plastic and place PET only where it most impacts package performance.” By adjusting the weight bearing performance of the packaging, Meredith-Springfield was able to reduce the weight of a Mrs. Dash bottle by more than 25%. The more sustainable packaging saves B&G Foods an excess of 200,000 pounds of PET resin per year and reduces related costs of optimizing other aspects of the molding and delivery process. “In reducing the weight, we carefully engineered the placement of remaining mass of plastic to go into the areas of the bottle which would maximize top-loading ability,” says O’Leary. The entire re-design resulted in a significant cost-savings for B&G Foods, but required in-depth research and development.
“We never single source,” says director of global procurement of B&G Foods, Marty Schoch. “We always look at our alternatives and benchmark our current suppliers. Meredith-Springfield’s customer service, exceptionally low defect level and willingness to conduct research and development set them apart from the competition.” Schoch also identified Meredith-Springfield’s competitive pricing for a niche market and consistent, timely delivery as valued components to the working relationship. “The new packaging process for Mrs. Dash was able to save B&G Foods a double-digit profit percentage without impacting the brand ID,” says Schoch. “Despite a complete packaging overhaul, the bottle is not noticeably different to the consumer.”
The new extrusion blow molding machine produces more than 100,000 Mrs. Dash bottles in each 24-hour production period and is capable of delivering more than 35 million units per year. “This process is a major volume addition to our evolving PET business,” says O’Leary. “It provides economies of scale with resin, packaging and transportation purchases so it helps lower all costs and adds to our critical mass on both extrusion blow molding and stretch blow molding capabilities.”
The machine is a one-step process for making specialty PET bottles versus a two-step process used to make carbonated beverage bottles. Beverage bottles require multiple steps; first, a “perform” is molded in an injection molding machine and then transferred to a reheat-stretch machine. “Our technology is the most energy-efficient method available,” says O’Leary. “It goes from plastic pellets to finished bottles on one machine.”
In addition to cost-savings, the new Mrs. Dash bottles also save the environment; 100% of the PET used in the bottle is recyclable through curbside collection. “The plastic from these bottles may find their way into new plastic bottles or may also be used to make other things like polyester-based clothing, carpets or automotive interior components,” says O’Leary.