During her career as a registered nurse, Debbie Mabrouk of Strongsville, OH had repeatedly observed an issue negatively impacting part of the patient population. Odor removers are routinely used in medical facilities to combat unpleasant odors, but most odor-removing products available at the time weren’t truly removing these odors. Instead, they were masking them with perfumes and fragrances. Not only were these products ineffective at removing stubborn odors, but they contained allergens and airborne irritants, triggering issues for patients with allergies and/or respiratory issues.

Smells like entrepreneurial spirit

Debbie and her husband Issa felt that there must be a better way, and the idea for ZORBX Odor Remover was born. Fast forward 17 years, and ZORBX Inc. now has a cult following in the healthcare industry, along with a full line of home care and pet care odor removers available in big box stores across the country.

ZORBX Odor Remover is a rarity because, while most odor removers intentionally leave some sort of residual smell behind, ZORBX products are designed to do just the opposite. In fact, the brand proudly touts that it “removes odors instantly, leaving behind the sweet smell of nothing.” In addition to being fragrance-free, the product is all-natural, hypoallergenic, nontoxic, biodegradable, phthalate-free and contains no harsh chemicals or enzymes.

Breaking the mold with a better package

In the same way that Debbie and Issa observed the opportunity to create a better product, they also saw the opportunity to create better packaging. All liquid odor remover products were packaged in traditional trigger sprayer bottles, but ZORBX Odor Remover wasn’t a me-too product, and the brand’s founders weren’t seeking out me-too packaging.

They knew they had an effective and unique product on their hands, but in the retail environment they were competing against behemoth brands with well-known products. Ultimately, if ZORBX Odor Remover didn’t attract shoppers’ eyes, the brand wouldn’t be closing sales at the shelf. The Mabrouks sought out a better package – something more convenient for their customers, and something that would create contrast on the shelves. Enter: flexible packaging.

Thinking outside the bottle

A light bulb went off for Issa Mabrouk, president and CEO of ZORBX Inc., when he had the idea to put ZORBX Odor Remover in a lightweight stand-up pouch rather than a bottle. He began searching for a company who could help him turn his idea into reality, and online research led him to Glenroy (glenroy.com), a flexible packaging manufacturer in the Midwest with expertise in producing pouches for liquids.

Glenroy was game for the challenge, and confirmed for Mabrouk that making the leap to flexible packaging would yield many benefits for both the ZORBX brand and the brand’s consumers, since pouches:

  • are conveniently lighter and more portable for today’s on-the-go consumers.
  • use approximately 60% less plastic than rigid plastic bottles.
  • require approximately 50% less energy to produce.
  • require fewer trucks for transportation – reducing fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions as well as transportation costs within the distribution channel.
  • allow for more efficient warehousing (since unfilled pouches take up significantly less space than bottles).
  • produce less landfill waste.
  • generate less CO2 emissions during production.
  • reinforce the high-performance and environmentally-conscious attributes of the brand.
  • can be extremely durable and withstand rigorous burst testing and drop testing.

Glenroy’s packaging engineers first worked with Mabrouk to understand the product’s formulation, and then proceeded to engineer a durable, high-barrier flexible packaging lamination that would provide puncture resistance and durability for the pouch. 

Once an ideal flexible packaging structure was selected, multiple pouch prototypes with various fitments were created and evaluated. When developing prototypes, Glenroy took into account many key factors such as consumer demographics; where and how the product would be used by consumers; where and how the product would be stored by consumers; the product’s lifecycle; the filling process; distribution methods; and retail display requirements.

The winning prototype then underwent a series of testing, including drop testing, puncture resistance testing, product/packaging compatibility testing and seal testing, among others.

While the process may sound smooth, there were bumps along the road. The process of finding a filler was a challenge. “While there are many bottle fillers, there are far fewer fillers for this type of package because it’s not the norm,” Mabrouk explained. “Glenroy pointed me in the right direction to find a filler.”

The sweet smell of success

Despite the learning curve of converting to a new package, when asked if he would recommend making the switch from rigid bottles to flexible packaging, Mabrouk issued a resounding “yes.”

“Pouches have been a great move for ZORBX. For example, when I need to bring in 50,000 pouches, they might take up three skids. But if I order the same amount of bottles, I might have two truckloads coming in. Most importantly, our product looks great on the shelf, consumers have been very receptive to the new package, and we’ve experienced exponential growth.”

The stand-up sprayer pouch looks nothing like its shelf neighbors, easily cutting through the visual clutter. A novel package is just one more ingredient in the unique formula of ZORBX Inc.’s success.