Attendees gained insight on flexible packaging sustainability, brand success stories and more through nearly two days’ worth of education and networking at the event.

From the opening keynote to a special panel discussion on materials for standup pouches, sustainability and the future of flexible packaging recyclability were two topics discussed to at least some extent in nearly every presentation at the recent Global Pouch West.

Held December 5-7 at the Anaheim Marriott in Anaheim, Calif., the fourth Global Pouch West offered the nearly 250 attendees a pre-show networking reception and a supplier exhibition focused on pouch packaging, in addition to 14 educational presentations. And while the likes of ultrasonic sealing, child-safe packaging and pouch packaging of liquids were among the notable subjects covered, the hottest topics focused on sustainability and plastic end-of-life solutions.

“There’s a lot going on in collection that shows promise,” noted Nina Goodrich, director of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and Global Pouch West’s opening keynote speaker. Goodrich said more than 10,000 products are now using the How2Recycle label, which communicates recycling instructions to consumers on applicable packages.

“There needs to be an end-of-life strategy for recovery if we’re going to keep that social license to keep producing plastics,” she said.

Collection and finding an end-of-life solution are critical, considering factors like ocean plastic pollution and the potential for states to increasingly regulate plastic use, Goodrich noted. But despite flexible packaging’s end-of-life challenges, Goodrich and other presenters were also quick to point out all the positives of the packaging format as well. For instance, Goodrich said that food waste creates methane when it’s placed in a landfill—and methane is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas. Flexible packaging presents a packaging option to help combat the food waste problem.

“We’re growing [food] just to throw [it] away,” she said. “The more we can save, the better. We would meet our Paris Agreement commitment if we just didn’t put food waste to landfill. That’s how significant and important it is.”

Will Daniels, president of IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group’s produce division, noted in his presentation how flexible packaging’s barriers and ability to create atmosphere within the package can help prevent food spoilage and contamination. And Terence Cooper, CEO of Argo Group International, discussed other technologies that are poised to help with plastics recycling, from chemical recycling processes to delamination to the CreaSolv process developed by Fraunhofer.

Brands Showcase Flexible Packaging Success Stories

Beyond sustainability and recyclability, Global Pouch West attendees were also treated to a pair of significant flexible packaging brand success stories from Bare Bones Broth and Tahoe Trail Bars.

Katherine Harvey, CEO and co-founder of Bare Bones Broth, presented the story of her young company, which literally began in her and her husband’s kitchen, and how they bypassed traditional packaging to eventually settle on the pouch for their broth product. She said they carefully analyzed—and in some cases, tested – cans, cartons and deli containers before learning about the pouch and what it could do for their brand.

Harvey said deciding on the pouch was only half the battle though; they also had to have the right kind of pouch that would stand up to the rigors of the supply chain. Today, you can find Bare Bones Broth products packaged in a shelf-stable retort pouch in major grocers, such as Kroger.

Packaging can do a lot more than create a barrier for a product, and the story of Tahoe Trail Bars is evidence of that. Wes King, owner and CEO, said the brand had been in business for about seven years and just hadn’t made a dent in the market. Though it was an expensive investment, King decided on undertaking a packaging redesign/rebrand and called on Perspective: Branding to carry it out.

According to Simon Thorneycroft, founder and CEO of Perspective: Branding, he aimed to do three things with Tahoe Trail Bars’ packaging: make it visible, visceral and memorable. Thorneycroft helped King revamp the logos, design and moved the packaging to a new flexible format. The investment paid off, as Tahoe Trail Bars’ sales increased by 200 percent following the rebranding and redesign.

The 21st Global Pouch Forum will return to the Intercontinental Miami in Miami, Fla., June 13-15, 2018. The one-and-a-half day forum will feature 13 educational tracks and more than 10 hours of networking. Registration is currently open at